The Crap Games Corner
Hosted by Paul Howard

Greetings all, and welcome to Crap Games Corner - the place where the most useless, terrible games ever made get the slagging they deserve! In fact, having looked through my stacks of tapes for a suitable candidate, it’s surprising how few really crap games there are for the Spectrum; although graphics and sound are poor by today’s standards, most Speccy games seem to retain a considerable amount of playability.

However, my eye has just alighted upon what I firmly consider to be the most crap game ever released: Alien Destroyer by Kuma Computers. (Does anyone know of any other Kuma games? If so, keep them to yourself, please).

The imaginatively named Alien Destroyer, released circa 1986, is essentially a varient on the old Space Invaders theme and was probably the worse version ever to make it into the shops. The cassette cover boasts the Sinclair Quality Control (!) logo, intended to distinguish between Spectrum compatible games and those for other machines, but never adopted by the bigger software companies.

The instructions run as follows: “As the last human left on the fortress planet of Roolfhtenin it is your mission to delay the evil forces of Crabok for as long as possible. You have three laser bases at your disposal with which to shoot the hoards, but the longer you survive the faster the aliens will attack with waves of dive-bombing ships. They have unlimited forces; all you can do is buy time”.

“Roolfhtenin” - gosh isn’t that “Ninth floor” backwards (and spelt wrong)? How witty! And then there’s also the other mistake of ‘hoards’ instead of ‘hordes’ - but never mind, let’s load up the game. The uninspiring plain text menu page which eventually appears has an annoying tendency to flicker whenever a key is pressed, and the game itself is so laughable you’ll think I’m exaggerating unless you’ve seen it yourself.

As the ‘hoards’ judder left and right in huge leaps of eight pixels, the entire screen redraws itself, making everything flicker! It’s also rather slow. In fact, all the signs point to the use of a BASIC compiler - or possibly even straight BASIC. When you fire, a straight line is drawn vertically up the screen, which may take out an alien if you’re lucky; you can often hit an alien without destroying it! But what about the exciting ‘dive-bombing ships’ mentioned in the instructions?

Occasionally an alien will jerk down the screen to the accompaniament of some awful beeps, attempting to crash onto you, kamikaze style. The bullets fired look suspiciously like standard Sinclair characters, and the effect when you die is well down to the game’s overall standards. Of course, the evil aliens have unlimited forces so you could play all day - but sadly nobody would actually want to do so.

This game really is a prize turkey, particularly since it was released and marketed in 1986 - just as the Spectrum +2 hit the shops. Someone actually had the audacity to bundle Alien Destroyer with the Sinclair games pack!

Since this is a review of sorts, let’s give Alien Destroyer a suitable rating:

Graphics 14% - Awful animation and a few UDG type ‘sprites’.
Sound 9% - Released for the 128k +2 but only one or two sad beeps are heard.
Playability 11% - Whoever wrote this game had never heard of it.
Overall 11.3% - I think that says it all!!!!

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