domingo, 24 de maio de 2015

Stormfinch [2015, ZX Spectrum] Review - It's a Pixel THING - Ep.#51

Right at the start we’re greeted by this rather amusing plot:
“Greetings pilot. You are Commander Armstrong and you must destroy the evil empire of Mandarax. Actually let’s be honest. There is no evil alien empire. You are not a hero. Probably. You are not the last hope of mankind. You enjoy blasting space aliens. These aliens are specially bred to feel no pain.”

Dave Hughes’ team, Stonechat Productions, released, last week, Stormfinch, a shoot-em-up where the player has nine lives to battle through 10 levels and defeat 9 bosses and, as well, the entire galaxy!! Let’s face it, in real life we only live once.. I think! So, why not only one life and an energy bar along with some scattered power ups for us to pick up?

Our ship provides two types of weapons: lasers and plasma rays, but, just like in R-Type, there’s also an extra capsule that can be oriented around our ship and do multiple shooting, highly useful as the enemies pop up from all directions!

Enemy detection could be better, but the game is so highly enjoyable for its smooth scrolling only, that I can live with that!

Stormfinch is an awesome accomplishment on the ZED X Spectrum. It brilliantly uses Einar Saukas’ NIRVANA engine that, since it was released in late 2013, was only being used to create beautifully colored puzzle and reflection type of games. These two are a good example of this.

Never crossed Spectrum users’ minds, like myself, the possibility of multicolor tiled display, like the one shown on this screenshot. This is a new frontier for homebrew developers and a beginning of a new Era for Sinclair’s machine 33 years since the very first ZED X Spectrum model arrived and it’s now proven that this brand new engine can produce amazing games like the one we’re looking at!

As said before, the engine is capable of multicolor tiled display across 30 columns and 22 rows and it is capable of changing color attributes every two scanlines delivering an 8by2 “almost full screen” pixel display.

So, we’re looking at a multicolor shoot-em-up, something unthinkable to ever get to see on a Spectrum. A lot of people believed that the NIRVANA engine wasn’t capable of showing lots of action onscreen at the same time. Here’s the proof that they were wrong!

Stormfinch isn’t better than Electric Dreams’ extreme quality conversion of the original R-Type, or the awesome Zynaps from Hewson Consultants, or even 2010’s Genesis: Dawn of a New Day from RetroWorks. But this one will surely beat those three on its visual beauty of these multicolor animated sprites that the NIRVANA engine can provide.

This nonstop shoot-em-up also offers the player this awesome tune that fits perfectly into the action, even if it loops after a couple of minutes. Nonetheless, after I’m through with the game, I just kept on whistling it!

We’re on the right path to a ZED X revolution where developers have, now, these awesome tools to create a brand new world for 8bit gaming awesomeness!

I’m so thrilled and I can’t wait to see what’s coming in the future!

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