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Shadowfire

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Released: 1985

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Beyond

Developer: Beyond

Submitted by: Ian Marks

What most impressed me about Shadowfire was the fact that enabled you to pretend just for a few hours that your ZX Spectrum was a new fangled Macintosh. It had a pointers and icons interface. You selected your characters by clicking on their picture. You told your characters what to do by clicking on action buttons. It all worked very well, and really made Shadowfire seem like a step forward in the ZX game world.

The game put you in charge of a group of criminals who were now working for the good guys. There was a bird thing, a bald large chested woman, an insect, a boring human, a flying colander and a robot that looked like a dog. The gang was all here.

They all had different skills. One of the most important was Manto, as he was the only one who could use the teleport. Without him you were stuffed. So you had to protect him carefully. The others you could lose, but the game was harder if you didn’t have a full set of convicts.

Your mission was to rescue a funny named ambassador who’d been kidnapped by General Zoff (you knew he was evil with a name like that). The game had a bit of Rebelstar Raiders in it. You had to negotiate a starship (viewed in plan view), opening doors and destroying enemy troops and robots. Once the ambassador was rescued you had to get him off the ship before it exploded.

It was all very complicated with Movement Screens, Object Screens, Status Screens and Battle Screens. All selected by moving your cursor over the relevant icon. It felt like the future of computer games and in a funny way it proved to be true, with RTS games such as Dune II and Command and Conquer following in its wake. I’m not suggesting the authors of either of those games had ever even seen this game, but Shadowfire was ahead of it’s time.

There was a sequel Enigma Force I think it was called. I bought it eagerly, but it had over egged the pudding. Whereas Shadowfire balanced it’s complicated nature with good gameplay, the sequel tried too hard to be clever.

A great game from Beyond… who very rarely released a duff one.