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I was really looking forward to this one after playing the brilliant 16-bit versions and reading all the review quotes on the back of the box which compared it favourably to the coin-op original. 'Oh wow', I thought, ' this could be another incredible Speccy horizontal shoot-'em-up to rival R-Type in the arcade accuracy and general all-round fabness stakes'. Big (big) mistake.

Loading this one up seemed to take forever, but when I finally got the first level up and running (it's another one of those horrible beasts, a game which multiloads even on 128K machines), I was mortified to find myself playing a hideously slow, graphically abysmal, impossibly tedious load of old junk that bore about as much resemblance to the gorgeous coin-op as I do to Princess Anne (or, indeed, the horse she rode in on). The actual playing area is tiny, but in order to make it seem bigger the programmers haven't put any kind of border around it, so that you can easily find yourself moving up the screen to avoid a bullet, only to discover too late that you can't actually go any further, although there doesn't appear to be anything in your way. So you die, get sent back miles through the bits you've already ploughed tortuously past, and do the whole thing again until you die of the boredom of seeing every attack and every alien appear from the exact same place every time.

And as if that wasn't enough, the far-from dazzling pace drops to a crawl whenever more than about four sprites are on the screen at once, making the game an utter chore. The only light at the end of the tunnel comes from some of the big, nicely animated enemies like the robot tigers and the gigantic bull at the end of level one, but they're not worth the damage you'll have to wreak on your keyboard to get to see them.

If you haven't got R-Type yet, go out and buy it at once and forget about this dross. If you have got R-Type, go and play it at once and forget all about this dross. Ugh.







St. Dragon is actually one of the lesser-known figures from contemporary mythology. His name is a corruption from the Russian Draganovikov, and it was for his missionary work among the Ukrainian peasants in the 12th century that he was adopted as the patron saint of potatoes.