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Uridium

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Released: 1986

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Hewson

Developer: Dominic Robinson

Submitted by: Gavin Eke

 They said it couldn't be done. C64 gamers & magazine writers everywhere dismissed the notion that their classic shooter would ever see the light of day on a Sinclair machine. However, this idea was torpedoed like an Argentine warship off the Falkland Islands. Exclusion zones notwithstanding, Dominic Robinson tore up the rule book and threw the remnants in the faces of C64 elitists.

It was time to see what all the hype was about. Andy Braybrook's original game was hailed as a C64 masterpiece, so could the ZX version live up these high standards? The answer was pretty much as could be expected, if not a bit more.

The premise, was that your ship, called a "Manta", was tasked to fly over & destroy various Dreadnoughts seeking to deplete the resources of planetary bodies. To do this, your fighter had to face waves of enemies together with homing missiles whilst avoiding crashing into the Dreadnoughts own structures.  The Manta is highly maneuverable & could flip over in a trice before pulling away in the opposite direction. This would prove handy because the enemy fighters could appear both in front & behind your craft at any time. Once a certain amount of destruction has been dished out, you were ordered to land your Manta on the Dreadnought, thereby completing the level. Later Dreadnoughts would prove to be more challenging with additional structures for your ship to navigate often requiring you to flip the Manta on it's side.

Hewson, had once again provided Sinclair owners with a polished slice of shooting action. The scrolling was fast & smooth with your Manta being exceptionally responsive. Although lacking in colour, the graphics were more detailed than the C64 version. However, this was also it's achilles heel. Uridium is a very fast game, but it is very difficult  to discern enemies & structures because they all use the same monochromatic colour scheme. This leads to many frustrating deaths & gnashing of teeth. It's akin to facing hoards of laser spitting chameleons with sonic speed Jet-packs.

Despite a high level of difficulty, Uridium is worth a look. It's up there amongst the highest rated shoot-em ups on Sinclair's baby. However, for the definitive Uridium experience I would recommend the sequel on the Amiga, particularly the AGA version with all it's extra bells & whistles. Uridium 2 added the one aspect this game really needed which was a radar for advanced warning of enemies & buildings. Not forgetting the terrific techno soundtracks of course!