Title           Awesome
Game Type       Shoot-em-up
Publisher       Psygnosis
Players         1
Compatibility   OCS/AGA
HD Installable  No
Submission      Eric Haines

     From the creators of the Beast series comes this outer-space blaster
(with some strategy bits thrown in). At the time, it certainly seemed to
live up to its title with Psygnosis' trademark, excellent graphics and
sound. But is there any gameplay? Actually, yes.

     To keep things interesting, the game consists of several different
stages that make up each level (of which there are eight). You start out
piloting a spacecraft, seen from an overhead view. If you remember the
arcade game Bosconian from ages ago, it's a bit like that, except that
your ship stays still in the middle of the screen and everything else
whirls around you. Pretty nifty. There are aliens to blast and coins to
collect for later use, and sometimes Asteroid-esque levels throw lots of
space rocks your way. One problem here is that your ship is pretty big, so
by the time you see an enemy ship you may have already run into it. This
can be a little frustrating, but fortunately there's a radar to help out.

     After a few levels of this, you enter a psuedo-3D stage that involves
shooting a large space worm. This was way before the days of 3D
accelerators but manages to be reasonably impressive nonetheless. Once
it's destroyed, you head toward a planet, whereupon your ship lands and
the game turns into an overhead scrolly shooter reminiscent of Alien
Breed. The graphics are well done but somehow the gameplay is off; it
feels like this stage wasn't as well thought-out.

     After you've blasted the baddies, avoided obstacles, and made your
way to the end, you enter the planet and take a well-deserved breather.
You have several options here, the most important of which is selecting
which planet to visit next using an orbiting solar system chart. Your fuel
will be a factor so you have to be careful. You can buy weapons using the
money you've hopefully managed to collect during the early levels. Once
you've decided on your next destination, it's off to do it all over again,
but with different challenges in each stage. If you manage to complete all
eight levels, well then, you've won.

     Overall, this works rather well. The graphics and music keep things
going, and the interest in seeing what awaits en route to (and on) the
next planet keeps you trying. It's quite difficult, especially at first,
but not unmanageable. And fortunately, when you get blown up, you don't
have to start all over from the beginning. (You would think this goes
without saying, but not from the makers of Shadow of the Beast....) The
game supposedly supports machines with expanded memory to reduce disk
loading (a good thing with a total of three disks to deal with), but this
didn't seem to work consistently. The biggest let-down is the rather fatal
bug that crashed the game when I finally made it to the last level. Maybe
there were other versions that fixed this, but it was quite a
disappointment in an otherwise cool game.

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