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Harrier Attack

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Released: 1984

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC

Publisher: Amsoft

Developer: Durell

Submitted by: Darran Jones

When I first received the bumper pack of free Amsoft titles that came with my CPC 464, Harrier Attack was one of the last games I played.

In awe of the huge, cartoon-like visuals of Roland On The Ropes, and suitably impressed with the Amidar-like action of Oh Mummy!, Durell’s basic looking shooter didn’t get a look-in and it was several days after my fourteenth birthday, when, bored with continually losing at Xanagrams, I decided to give Harrier Attack a try.

I carefully read through the instructions, took off from the large aircraft carrier and promptly flew straight into the first bit of flak that appeared on screen. Unperturbed by my five seconds of airtime, I immediately took to the skies again, and after another close encounter with an enemy missile, flew straight into the plane that had fired it. This wasn’t going to be easy…

And indeed, Durell’s blaster wasn’t easy – even if the premise itself was simpler than Ardal O’Hanlon’s character in Father Ted. All you were required to do was fly across a war-torn landscape and destroy as many opposing forces as possible. Of course, the enemy forces were far from defenceless and the sky would be filled with enemy planes and huge amounts of flak. Get hit and you’d immediately explode into several pieces and would be thrown back to the start screen.

What made Mike Richardson’s game so fun to play though was that you always felt in control. Collision detection was extremely tight, and when you did fly into an enemy missile, or got caught in a section of flak, you never blamed the computer, just your own lack of self-control.

Eventually, you’d get the chance to refuel on your carrier, ready for another round of airborne mayhem – unless of course you were foolish enough to bomb your own ship as you were taking off (come on, we’ve all done it at least once).