C64 Review of Delta from Issue 24

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


Deep in an area of uncharted space lies a strange alien region known only as 'Delta'. Several ships belonging to the Terran Merchant Fleet have gone missing while flying through this mysterious area, and it has been rumoured that the Hsiffan Khanate, dreaded opponents of Terra, are operating from within its confines. The powers that be have decided to send a fighter pilot to investigate, and, bored with your current position, you decide to voluteer.

Dropped off within range of Delta, your objective is to progress as far as possible thorugh the region and erradicate the Hsiffite menace.

Following an initial onslaught of alien ships, individually named sections of the region are encountered. These include particular hazards, which appear at the top and bottom of the screen and correspond to an area's name - for example, in the 'Rocks of Death' section, suitably desolate rock formations scroll past. In all cases, contact with the landscape destroys your ship.

Learning and memorising the alien formations is necessary to ensure progress, and complete destruction of attack waves earns credits. These are used to accumulate additional equipment, increasing the ship's firepower, speed and shields.

Seven icons periodically make their way across the screen, some grey, some blue - depending on how many credits you have amassed. Colliding with a blue icon adds the item in question to your ship and the icon reverts to a grey colour - hitting a grey icon results in the loss of a life. The added equipment has a limited useful life, so further additions are necessary as you progress.

Battle your way through thirty-two levels, and Delta is once more safe from the alien threat. But the Hsiffites don't give up that easy, and return a decade later. Once again it's up to you, now an older and more experienced pilot, to deal with the alien attack force. You're not the only one to have gained experience though - the enemy have also had time to improve their fighting skills and are now a more formidable opponent ...

This review was typed in/OCRed by Jianso

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 85%

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womblingfree - 24 Aug 2007
This is one of the best games on the C64. Full Stop. I though the review was a joke at the time and I seem to remember Julian Rignall saying not to listen to the othere two and give it a go. Glad I did! Excellent presentation, incredible music,and hauntingly addictive gameplay. The reviewers complaining about flying in a straight line and shooting pattern enemies were missing the point entirely. Easily up there with Iridis Alpha and Wizball.

Rating : 97%
jrsenior - 30 Dec 2004
The last game I played on the c-64, and one of the best. Looking at the screenshot it`s hard to believe the graphics blew me away but they did, perfect music, great gameplay ( all scrollers should be about learning patterns) Never got through the "fire level" though (those flames are the best piece of graphics seen on c-64 imho).

Rating : 99%
Pondy - 24 Sep 2004
One of my all-time favourites. Learning the attack patterns is what the game is all about. Yeah, there were problems (particularly with the insane difficulty increase) but there are few games that have the atmoshpere and uniqueness of Delta. I think Thalamus were the masters of the shoot em up!

Rating : 90%
Rick - 10 Jul 2004
Side scrolling shooters were just too abundant on the old 64, and even back then I feel players were getting jaded. This is one of the better ones, but it came too late to make an impact.

Rating : 65%
PaulEMoz - 17 May 2004
Delta is one of the best tech demos on the C64. Unfortunately, it's a little lacking as a game. There are some good ideas, but it suffers from "one death and it's Game Over" syndrome, which can be incredibly frustrating. The music is unbelievable, which helps soothe your irritation and bring you back to the game, but the flawed weapons system spoils what could have been an absolute classic.

Rating : 74%
Ender Wiggin - 9 Jan 2004
The one I love the most. Great animations. Great music.

Rating : 97%
biggestjim - 2 Dec 2003
Gary Penn was right, most of the time. But not this time. Delta rules supreme for over 15 years now. The majority of c64-lovers (including me) still play this game, they can't be wrong. Fab game and a real classic, no doubt about that.

Rating : 96%
CraigGrannell - 2 Dec 2003
Gary Penn was spot-on. I thought this game looked fairly nice (if not amazing), had an excellent soundtrack, but played like a dog. With one leg. Who liked to walk in circles a lot. Very, very boring stuff, and having to choose the exact weapon each time did not make for an exciting SHMUP - it's more like a puzzle game.

Rating : 50%
SLF - 1 Dec 2003
Underrated for sure.

Great outer space, dreamlike atmosphere, this is one of the few cases in which gfx and above all music do a lot to enhance the overall experience. The level names are so cool and the game plays very well.

The waves predictability is not a major flaw in my view; it is a typical aspect of this kind of game (and many arcade games in general), and Delta still requires a lot of skill on your part besides having a good memory: in fact I do love the blend of mnemonic and arcade abilities you need to succeed.

My niggles are the time-based power ups' expiry (rather than number of shots based) and the quite lame extra weaponry (warper and shield are useless and the rotating rasor-thing actually makes the game much harder!).

Still, one of the very best c64 shmups, as it offers a great and long-lasting challenge: in its time it should definitely have sizzled, although Armalyte is probably better (but it lacks an in-game soundtrack).

The cover art was great too!

Ironically, I never liked the mini-mixing desk (Hawkeye's infinitely better)!

pr 92, gr 91, so 98, ho 91, la 94

Rating : 94%
Iain - 1 Dec 2003
This has got to be one of the most under-rated games that Zzap reviewed.

The attack waves are predictable but that doesn't really make the game any easier and a lot of shoot-em-ups have non random attack patterns.

This game still holds my attention and is great for a quick bit of shooting.

I'd lower the graphics rating 20% or so, there's no fancy backgrounds here, the sound I would nudge up another 1% and lastibility would have to go up 20% (if I'm still playing it now, it has to!)

Rating : 96%
Julian Rignall
Delta is very impressive. The graphics are superlative, the effects are stunning and the music is nothing short of amazing. Delta's most impressive feature though, is the enormous amount of objects whizzing around the screen... bullets, rocks, enemy craft and swirling aliens - the action gets incredibly busy, and you really need the extra weaponry to survive. The thirty-two levels are varied, and there are some really neat ideas to surprise and thwart the player. If you're into shoot 'em ups, take a look at this - you can't get much better within the horizontally scrolling format.
Steve Jarratt
Delta is a very smart looking game. The graphics are really neat, with a great parallax starfield and some lovely aliens. The music is superb, especially the main track that runs throughout the game. The gameplay, however, is a little on the weak side - learning the attack formations is essential but more often than not monotonous. Delta offers sufficient blasting for you money, but may lose its appeal quite quickly due to the predictable gameplay.
Gary Penn
I like to dictate the action - I don't like the computer doing it for me. Which is why I find Delta very frustrating and quite boring. There is a distinct pattern to follow throughout the levels, which soon proves tedious, and you have to collect certain weapons at the right time, otherwise progress is impossible - regardless of how skillful you are. If bi-directional or multi-directional scrolling had been incorporated it might have been a different story, but simply flying in a straight line, encountering a set pattern of opposition is not very appealing. Also - if the ship had a limited supply of ammunition, instead of the existing time limit, there would have been more skill involved as the player would have to be shot conscious. Delta is highly polished and mildly playable, but on the whole I enjoyed the mini mixing-desk loader more than the game itself.
Presentation 97%
Innovative loading system and slick in-game presentation.

Graphics 92%
Very effective parallax starfield , pretty sprites and landscapes, and varied alien movement patterns.

Sound 97%
Excellent Rob Hubbard soundtrack and some good spot effects.

Hookability 79%
Easy to get into, but predictable after only a few plays.

Lastability 63%
32 levels and roughly 200 attack patterns, but very little real variety.

Value 72%
There are cheaper shoot 'em ups, but few as polished.

Overall 74%
A high quality production which lacks substance.