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Reach For The Sky

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Released: 1986

Publisher: Gremlin Graphics

Developer: Micro Projects

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

Gremlin Graphics were at the forefront of C16 games development, with many exclusive releases on the system. And while their efforts were always solid, they very rarely hit pure gold on Commodore’s forgotten format. Reach for the Sky is a typical example of Gremlin’s nearly but not quite efforts.

Although the Battle of Britain theme is obviously present, both in the title and the cover artwork, Reach for the Sky is quite clearly a clone of Capcom’s classic arcade game 1942, and in fairness it’s quite a decent stab at recreating the excitement that that glorious shooter pushed out into the arcades during the mid eighties.A bit like the arcade original, we find our plane flying not over green fields, but rather a constant blue block of background – I prefer to use my imagination and pretend I’m flying over the English Channel; makes things a lot more realistic.

Most of the key elements from 1942 are here – you control a lone fighter pitted against countless hordes of enemy attackers. Special formations appear; destroy them for a power-up, just as in the arcade version, and after further prolonged  blasting a big enemy bomber will appear, spewing huge bursts of fire from its tail, again, very similar to the 1942 arcade game. The action can become very intense as well; however one key element is missing here – your plane is unable to perform the barrel-roll from the arcade version, a vital defensive strategy that helps immensely by giving a few seconds of breathing space when the action become too hot. Without this key move the game becomes very hard, especially during the bomber attack phase, which is much more ferocious than it really needs to be.

The graphics are clear and sharp, the play is really smooth, with lots going on on-screen, and no noticeable slowdown, and the sounds, while basic, capture the feel of Capcom’s classic somehow. This missing key element of the barrel-roll in the gameplay, and the rock hard difficulty is a real shame, as everything else from the cult arcade shooter is more or less here, albeit in cut down form.