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Lightforce

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Released: 1986

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Faster Than Light (Gargoyle Games)

Developer: Greg Follis / Roy Carter

Submitted by: Gavin Eke

 If you're a regular visitor to Seadog74's profile on the Retrogamer site, you'll notice a review of a CPC shooter called Lightforce.

As Seadog74 had already covered the game I was a little reluctant to write about it again. However, seeing as the Spectrum version was a technical minor miracle, I thought that it deserved special praise.

Coders, Greg Follis & Roy Carter set up the Faster Than Light label as an arcade off shoot of Gargoyle Games which was already known for classic adventures such as Tir Na Nog & Dun Darach.

However, although I was expecting the usual high  standards from Follis & Carter, I didn't anticipate such an enjoyable shoot-'em up coupled with so much colour & vibrancy. Whilst colourful games were common on Sinclairs' machine, they often suffered from the dreaded clash. Usually, the main sprite would overlay it's colour onto the background causing a horrible blocky mess. Good evidence of this could be found in the Wally Week series such as Pyjamarama or Herbert's Dummy Run. Various workarounds had been attempted to negate this Spectrum idiosyncrasy, however, none of them had been completely satisfactory.

However, Follis & Carter seemed to have found a method of displaying the colour without it leaking out into the backgrounds or nearby/passing objects. If you study the sprites you may notice they're surrounded by a thick black outline that keeps the colours separate. This graphical technique was also found in Mike Singleton's Dark Sceptre.

Lightforce was more than just an impressive technical demo though. It is an addictive shooter that made me feel as if I were playing a game from my local arcade within the confines of home. The difficulty was pitched nicely being not too onerous, enabling the player to see much of what the title had to offer. Whilst the CPC game was a decent conversion, the Spectrum had once again proved that it was a home for the best programmers, enabling Sinclairs' machine to jump through hoops.

You want smooth vertical scrolling, full colour backgrounds/sprites & frenetic gameplay with no hardware assistance? Then look no further…………