C64 Review of Marauder from Issue 40

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In centuries past, the legendary Jewels of Cyzmandius were stolen and buried beneath the planet Mergatron where they have remained until now.

The automatic defences still function to this day, ready to spring into action against any potential intruder aiming to retrieve the Jewels. But you, Captain CC Cobra, have made it your job to infiltrate the base on Mergatron and return the jewels to their rightful home. The Marauder battlecar is your transport, and its weapons and defences are all you can depend on.

Steering your battlecar along the vertically push-scrolling scenery, the main means of attack is the laser cannon mounted on the top of your vehicle. Gun-emplacements, flying drones, electro-hoverers and defence beacons all fire at you and must be evaded, along with seeker missiles which home in one the Mauauder craft. All on-screen enemies can be destroyed by activating a smart bomb with a push of the space bar, but only three of these are provided, so discretion is needed.

The tops of defence beacons constantly change between six colours, and the effect of destroying a beacon depends on it current colour. Extra smart bombs, lives and shields (invincibility for ten seconds) are all available, but so too are the loss of a life, confusing control reversal, and laser jamming (for a ten second period) - so fire with care!

At the end of each level, the defences fire all they can at you, and if you survive you are transported to the next level, until the Jewels of Cyzymandius are yours.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Luke

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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.

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Paul Sumner
Hewson have developed a good name for themselves with a number of high quality releases, but they won't do their reputation many favours with Marauder. The rather tired vertically scrolling shoot'em up style doesn't fit in with their reputation for innovation. The only original features in Marauder are the defence beacons, and their colour-coded destruction result. A high difficulty level (enemy missiles abound) is off-putting, but perseverance does reap rewards. The most attractive feature is Barry Leitch's in-game music, a slow melancholy tune with a pulsing bass line and thoughtful lead line. The title music and sound effects, by comparison, are below par, and are a big disappointment. I would maybe advise someone in the market for a shoot'em up to take a look at this, but there are many better examples of the genre.
Paul Glancey
Waah! Marauder's very high difficulty level makes it one mean vertical scroller, and I had terrible trouble just getting to the end of the first level. Strangely enough, though, this made for quite an addictive and challenging game which had me coming back to the joystick more than a few times. Surprisingly for a Hewson game, this isn't very highly polished graphically or sonically. The sprites are, with one or two exceptions, unimpressive, and I couldn't get on with the Barry Leitch soundtracks which accompany the title and high score displays. Definitely worth a look, but you won't be missing out on much if you can't spare the tenner.
Gordon Houghton
After all the classics which have been released under Hewson's auspices Marauder is a surprising retrograde step. The graphics and presentation on the whole are rather unattractive, and the high level of difficulty make the game hard to get into. A few games are all it takes to discover the nuances of marauding, though, and interest slowly swells. Some of the enemy attack sequences are very nicely done, particularly the air attack with its bouncing bomb, and the swerving homing missiles. However, such niceties have trouble making play attractive in the face of a slow rate of progress through levels, a consequence of the high demands the game puts on the player's reaction and shell-dodging skills. This overall toughness almost becomes discouraging, and I expect that it would put many players off the game after a while. Either that or the annoying warbling title screen tune.
No options or title screen to speak of.

Small squashed-up sprites and detailed but slightly dull backgrounds.

Brilliantly atmospheric in-game music but little else to speak of.

High difficulty and tired scenario are an instant turn off.

If you have the patience, there is some lasting interest to be had.

A difficult but eventually playable shoot'em up which slightly mars Hewson's excellent reputation.