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The Devil Rides In

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Released: 1983

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Carnell Software Ltd

Developer: David Abrahams

Submitted by: Stephen Westwood

Ok, during this review I will try to work out why I am currently addicted to this old as the hills Spectrum game.

Firstly, the title.  Now notice that the ‘devil rides in’ not ‘out’.  I’m not sure if that is to distance itself from the excellent 1968 Christopher Lee Hammer film, but it does seem a little scarier if the devil is coming ‘in’ rather than letting himself ‘out’ and going off home.

The packaging is very nice, and I’m a sucker for good packaging.  It strikes me as that this kind of care would have been a good defence against piracy.  Actually, the box is bigger than the game itself, promising grand things.  The instruction booklet has the horned one in outline drawing on the front, making you feel as though you have acquired an ancient satanic volume.  Where as the front cover shows the devil looking quite affronted at being zapped in the arse by the magic talisman of a nonchalant wizard.  He will, no doubt, get his own back in the finale of the actual game though, especially as the graphical representation of the wizard is a piddley stick man and the devil and his minions are much bigger and better drawn.

While appearing to be a very simple single screen shooter, there is one game mechanic that makes it much better and, I think, along with its ‘one more try’ difficulty level, is the reason I enjoy it so much.  You can move and fire in all four directions but you can also rotate your aim in order to fine tune the firing of your ‘talisman’.  It can be a little fiddly as I have to use the keys due to no Kempston joystick option, but it works well and gives you just the right proportions of frustration and addiction.

Each level has different enemies, which move sedately but behave in their own ‘ways’; they also shoot at you… quite a lot if you play on a higher difficulty setting.  You have to destroy them all in order to go on to the next level, and I find myself swearing when I lose my last life with only one or two denizens to kill off.  Somehow, even though a lot of early Spectrum games only have different enemies to differentiate the levels, you really, really want to get to the next one and see what lies ahead!

During the battle against evil, just like in the Hammer film, you have to stay inside the sacred circle, though I doubt that Christopher Lee would have lost a life if he touched the sides of it.

The game is very basic, and it isn’t the most polished either, not even for its time, but I really like it and I will be damned if I’m giving up till I get to level six.

Get ye behind me Satan.