MegaPhoenix by Dinamic Software 1991
Most of us of a certain age will have played the game Phoenix, whether the arcade original or on any one of the old school computers or consoles from the 8 bit era. The basic premise is stopping the alien scum from taking over somewhere or other by killing them all. Where Space Invaders started out and Galaxians followed, Phoenix added a little more. Starting in a Galaxians style of attack where the bird like Phoenixes swoop down at you randomly, we continue to the next level where we see them hatch before diving at you, and thirdly protecting the mothership.
So what does Dinamic Software bring to the table on the Spectrum? Well, we have here MegaPhoenix, it’s kind of Phoenix really but very big and Spectrum styled. All of the sprites are larger, but amazingly fast considering it’s on the humble Speccy. We also get the option of 48k/128k or a 48k AY version with much improved AY sound and music.
In terms of gameplay, we can use either a keyboard or joystick (Kempston was my choice of weapon) and one or two players. The large sprites really do move quickly, and the birds swoop and dive at you making avoiding them and dodging the bullets from above very difficult particularly as your ship moves left and right quite slowly in comparison. We are offered the same levels as the original, a Galaxians styled starter of two courses, followed by the main course of hatching birds, then the Mega Phoenix, and finally the mothership.
Each level looks brilliant with a nice full screen background of planets, huge monochrome sprites (presumably to get around colour clash) and yet it all still moves fluidly and quickly. Sound is reasonable in standard beeper mode, but a little better on the ears in AY mode. Technically then a pretty good game.
The all important question is “is it worth playing?” and the answer is that if you like shoot-em-ups like Space Invaders and Galaxians, then MegaPhoenix offers a similar experience; Easy to pick up, tough to beat and endless fun… as long as you restart when your lives run out!
For me Megaphoenix is a great find and an enjoyable game to play, but then I do like Space Invaders et al.