Ian McArdle released two FPS titles in 1987, one called Catch 23 and this one. Both are broadly similar, vaguely sci-fi games released exclusively on British computers, with both being released on the Spectrum and CPC, while Catch 23 was also on the ST. I have played Catch 23, and found it unplayable, with a Silent Hill level of draw distance with a basic wireframe that barely shows what's going on. This does not put me in a good mood for Red Scorpion.
The story is the player has just been selected to join the Terran Confederation Star Commandos, owing to bringing great dedication and stamina at his old sanitation job. Hey, some of that famed British humor I've heard so much about. I didn't get it at first, but when I did, yeah, pretty sweet. His first mission, to defend the Bombyx Moons from the Necron Empire, who wish to steal Talanite from the people of the moon. We on the other hand, will give them pulpburgers and synthocola. To accomplish this, the player takes control of the Death Scorpion Mk.IV. This, I should warn you, is the only part of the game that's actually good.
|This wouldn't be bad if this were a strategy rather than reflex game
Let's go over those functions, from left to right.
- AP missile. Armor Piercing?
- CB missile. Cluster bomb? It destroys enemy buildings at least.
- Manual aiming. Never, ever use.
- Sonic blaster. The default weapon...?
- EW system. Press 0 and 1 until you get the right pattern to destroy a missile. Its magic.
- Identify object.
- Various view options.
|Usually when I get one of these screens I'm just messing around, not doing what I normally do!
|Manual aiming and trying to deflect missiles, fun things to do at the same time
Getting past the early game difficulties reveals that the game suffers from several poor design choices. The first enemy is behind you. Some distance away, but you have to turn around. Which takes 5 seconds every time the game starts up. Second, you can and will hit something you're not supposed to. Especially if you can't see it. And at some point someone was shooting at me, and I shot them...and the game was over. This happened several times.
|After destroying some random obstacle
Basically a selection of different weapons for different targets. 2/10
One-hit targets, some move, some don't. 1/10
I guess there are some? They're not very helpful and might be hostile to me. 0/10
There was effort put in, its not just some random mess of stuff, but it sure feels that way. 1/10
Controlling everything was a confusing task, and even when I had it figured out it was just so slow and poorly thought out. Shooting in the center of your movement cluster is just such an awful thing to deal with. 1/10
Simple wireframes and a pathetic excuse for draw distance. 0/10
Doesn't really matter once you start it up. 0/10
A bunch of clicking noises that don't really seem to be connected to anything. Could be the emulator itself, even. 0/10
That's 5. Been a while since I had a properly awful game. Considering that other people have gotten much better out of the ZX Spectrum and Spectrum-like machines, this is just embarrassing for everyone involved.
Period reviews were mixed. And by mixed, I mean even the most favorable review towards the game still criticized the controls. Nobody cared for it.
I would say that's it for 1987 and earlier, but I just keep finding more games from the period. Now there's a few titles from the TRS-80 Model III, CoCo. I didn't even realize there was something interesting on the system.