ZX Spectrum Silkworm
The 'prequel' to arcade classic game SWIV (which I looked at last week - check out SWIV ZX Spectrum) was a very good conversion of the popular arcade game by Tecmo in 1988.
Once again I am looking at the ZX Spectrum version (emulated on a +2 machine with AY sound) and the Commodore Amiga version at the same time - see my Amiga Games blog if you want to compare them for yourself.
Anyway, arcade conversions were all the rage on the Speccy, and to be fair this was a good conversion of a game that was way beyond our beloved 8-bit hardware...
As most of you will know the coolest aspect of the game was being able to play as a helicopter or a jeep (more difficult) and also the two player co-op mode, with one player choosing a vehicle each.
The game featured decent enough scrolling (although we had seen better with the likes of Green Beret, Hysteria, Uridium and Cobra) and to be fair the sprites matched up to the arcade version about as well as could be expected on the Spectrum.
All of the classic arcade game features are in here: large bosses to overcome, weapons powerups, enemies that would 'pop up' and surprise you... the list goes on.
The dual fire was especially great for wiping out hordes of bad guys, the heli and jeep could cut a swathe through the enemy targets with ease.
As you progressed through the game the background scenery did not change a great deal - it was the ground that the jeep rolled over that was altered on each level. I suppose the developers were limited and concentrated on gameplay - I can understand why.
The enemy sprites changed as the game progressed though giving the game some degree of variety. The game did have the 'self assembling' enemy helicopter (that was pretty damn cool in the arcade game) which could be destroyed for weapons powerups.
Playing as the helicopter was generally regarded as being easier than playing as the jeep as the latter would have to destroy or jump over obstacles in it's path.
Also, when playing in two player co-op mode each player had to 'cover' the other which made the gameplay more interesting and imposed a small tactical element to the proceedings.
For instance the helicopter could only fire forwards, so the jeep would have to cover the rear with it's swiveling gun turret. However, when covering the rear the jeep was vulnerable from frontal attacks, so the helicopter would then have to provide covering fire for it.
Saving your best pal was a great laugh and almost made you feel like a combat expert. :-)
All in all Silkworm is a true classic arcade game that was converted very well to the Speccy when you consider the hardware. For me there are better scrolling shooters to play, but it is still a good example of how to develop a horitzontal shooter correctly.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Side Scroller)
RELEASE DATE: 1989
RELEASED BY: Virgin Games
DEVELOPER(S): Random Access
PRICE: £9.99 - UK (£2.99 on re-release)
Classic Arcade Action:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games