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atari st:
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Space Gun.

Space Gun title screen
(In the title screen above, the alien is actually wiggling its tusks back and forth. It looks sort of like a cross between Predator and the creature from the Aliens series of movies).

Kill. Kill. Kill, kill, kill, kill-kill, kill. Kill? Kill! No, that's not the slogan for a new beer, it's a quick précis of the techniques required to master Space Gun. This game (originally a Taito coin-op, competently converted for the ST by Ocean) is basically Operation Wolf with aliens instead of enemy soldiers, and it's about as subtle as two-thirds of a cinderblock tossed through a plate-glass window. Ignore the story ("rescue the hostages") and blaze away with all the weapons at your disposal. The aliens are very hard to kill, and they do a lot of damage very quickly.

I suspect that the original coin-op had guns mounted on the cabinet; the game is fairly difficult to control with a mouse, and you can forget about using the keyboard or joystick, they just don't have a fast enough response time. This control problem is compounded by the fact that you don't really have a sight, and you have to guess where you're aiming with a brisk burst of plasma-roton-whatevertheheck-raygun fire.

Space station
In-game screenshot

This is not your deep cogitative ponder-and-move type Kasparov lookalike, Space Gun is more your visceral waste-everything-that-moves kill'em up. The 3D is quite primitive by modern standards, but at the time it was state of the art (for home computer systems, anyway), and it is smooth and well-written, with well-drawn sprites (hand-drawn at different sizes, which must gobble up a lot of disk space and RAM).

In an amusing gory touch which Taito never would have been allowed to do with human sprites, you can blow off the alien's arms and head, and it still keeps coming. These creatures seem to need about twenty direct hits to the .. er .. whatever that purple thing dangling between its legs might be, before they give up and splatter over your helmet's visor. They also move VERY quickly, which makes aiming a real test of mouse skills. Carpal tunnel syndrome, here I come - particularly since I'm playing it mostly on a Macintosh PowerBook with a trackpad instead of a mouse.

Verdict: Good conversion, if a bit samey. Good, clean fun if you enjoy wasting aliens and ... oops ... hostages.

Ratings (five stars = maximum)

Graphics

Sound/Music

Gameplay

Overall

*****

*

***

***


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