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Blue Max

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Released: 1983

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 8-bit

Publisher: Synapse Software

Developer: Synapse Software

Submitted by: Anthony Staude

Original Atari 8-bit game.

The aim of the game is to fly your biplane over enemy territory and destroy the primary objective whilst also doing as much damage against targets of opportunity as possible.

The game follows the exploits of British Max Chatsworth flying his Sopwith Camel. The Germans have annonced a bounty, offering their Blue Max medal to anyone who could bring him down.

The game plays like a hyrbrid arcade/simulator so it's not goggles on, chocks away, last one back's a a rotten-egg, hooray!

Even taking off has to be mastered. You have to wait until your plane reaches flying speed before you can pull back on your stick to attain flight. The same goes for landing.

Once in the air you can zip around, the controls are responsive and follow the standard convention of piloting a plane (ie. pull back to go up).

The Sopwith Camel is equipped with machine guns to shoot other planes and can also be used to straffe if you fly low enough. You also have a supply of 6 bombs – but you need to be careful as aiming them is difficult and you need to keep at least one to try and bomb your primary objective.

Flying along the river is dangeous. Fokkers will approach from 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock so you need to have your wits about you. Targets need to be bombed with accuracy. There's no going around and trying again so you get one shot at it.

The isometric viewpoint lends a nice sense of height to the game, the shadow on the ground tells you how high your little biplane if flying. It's also a useful method to judge the height of the enemy so that you can shoot it down. Perhaps inspired by Zaxxon?

The Atari handles the graphics nicely. The background scrolls past smoothly. Sprites are small and colorful. Sound is good and consistent with the game including the drone of your engine and that stacatto fire of your machine gune.

It's a wonderful game and comes in two formats – cartridge and disk. I always prefer the cartridge version because they are durable and quick loading.