Product: Eliminator
Publisher: Electron User
Compatibility: Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #49

With games such as Superior's Ricochet (and a whole host of Amiga and Playstation releases) under his belt, Chris Warburton's BBC/Electron Public Domain arcade game Eliminator seemed as set to make mouths water as those other remnants of the Eighties, Opal Fruits. Written almost totally in 6502 Assembly Language, it's a fast and frantic space invaders zap-'em-up with a backdrop of smooth scrolling pixel stars.

In the time-honoured tradition of these clones, you control a craft at the bottom of the screen shooting the invaders above and, also not unfamiliarly, the strange creatures seem to consist of only an evil looking red face!

The game is in Mode 5 and it works well, running at just the right speed on a standard Electron and a challenging one if you've upgraded to 64K. You use the Z and X keys to zip from left to right and try to take out as many of the aliens as possible by firing a stream of bullets up towards them.

Frequently you miss them. This is because their formation, although mainly stationary, consists of alien - gap - alien - gap is a criss-cross pattern with spaces either side of both alien and gap. You are prevented from positioning yourself carefully to aim by the one or two aliens that try to eliminate you by bouncing around the screen. Unlike their stationary friends, these have no qualms at all about bombing you into submission and their trip around the screen is not purely pinball-style. When two of them start on your craft, you really know about it...and it's hard to survive more than a couple of levels!

Assuming that you can hit an alien though, it will disappear with a suitable vapourising noise. The object is, of course, to destroy all the aliens, although the game continues infinitely so this is completely impossible [The object of the game is to get the highest score! - Ed]. A nice touch is when you are collided with or blasted, you do not have to begin the current level again with a full sheet of aliens; you pick up where you left off. This makes the game much 'fairer' than some others.

Each hit of RETURN shoots a bullet skyward with a whistle and you are rewarded with a bonus for wiping all aliens on the screen. Usually the last two are the hardest to pick off and it is often a question of whose bullet reaches the other first that determines whether you win or lose - often, you'll see the "Bonus" message superimposed on a background testifying your lucky escape from a bullet just inches from the craft!

In a nutshell, that's it. Despite its professional origins, it only sports the two bouncing and firing aliens feature. The rest seem perfectly content simply to act as cannon fodder and there is little more to emphasise. Although very playable, the sprites are nothing special and each 'level' seems exactly the same as the previous one. Yet it's well presented, has a bright high score and, if released at the start of the Electron's life, could have easily taken its place on the shelves next to Electron Invaders, Positron Invaders and Arcadians. Just finding its way into the world now though, it doesn't seem to be sure of what it is - an example of assembly code, an arcade game, a demo or a work in progress!

Still, it's not rough around the edges and it is bug-free. Plus, it's great to know we still have support from programmers who've moved onto the MegaMachines. The game itself is compatible with each and every 32K BBC computer produced and this is also something of an achievement.