Let's get one thing straight right here, right now - Axis Assassin isn't a clone or a knockoff of Tempest, like some people might say. Yes, Tempest was a great game. Simple, but great. Only problem is, there wasn't much in the way of variety in the game.
Axis Assassin takes the original version of Tempest, makes a couple of changes to the basic gameplay, and turns up the difficulty about sixteen times. In fact, think of Axis Assassin as more of as Tempest's younger, yet bigger and meaner brother, the real bully of the family. If Tempest just took your money, Axis Assassin would laugh at you, grab you by the ankles, hold you upside-down and shake you until all the change falls out of your pocket. It's harder, and requires more than just a quick trigger finger and the ability to turn a dial.
First thing's first, on the title screen, you can pick one of three spiders. This should be self-explanitory; the bigger the spider, the harder the difficulty level. Onto the grid.
Each grid is in a different shape. Few, if any of the the grids are circular. Meaning that there's only so far you can move to the left or the right, and it won't wrap around. Your ship looks like a little wedge, just like in Asteroids, and it starts at the near end of the grid. You can move left or right, forwards and backwards, and you can shoot towards either end of the grid.
As each level starts up, you'll notice a ship drop little bars across some of the columns in the grid. They're not bars, they're webs. Remember that spider that's on the title screen? See the connection? That's the big baddie. He's the one you're aiming to blow up. In the meantime, the enemies come at you fast and furious. There's several types, from the regular ones that just fly down the columns, shooting all the way, to the ones that will stop at the end of the grid and come after you. There wil also be enemies that lay down more webs on the columns. You'll find that clearing out a column will be crucial.
Right before a level is about to end, you will probably see all the columns in the grid deluged with spider webs, and you will then see the big bad Spider pop up on the screen for about a tenth of a second or so. All the enemies disappear, and you get pulled to the next level. You'd better have a clear column to go down, because if you hit a spider web, it's lethal. You'll still go to the next stage, but minus one life.
Got the hang of it so far? Good, because we're not done just yet. On each level, you have a "smart bomb", as the manual calls it, triggered by hitting the space bar. When the big spider pops onto the screen, fire off the smart bomb. If your timing is right, you'll be whisked away to a flying stage, much like you would see in "Asteroids", which is where it looks like your ship came from. All the enemies you didn't destroy on the grid will be here, along with the spider safely behind a shield in the middle of the screen... along with another one of your ships. You've got to blow a hole in the shield and dock with your ship to get an extra life. If you get shot or collide with something, you lose a life. Shooting the spider will just add more enemies to the stage. And yes, they're just as nasty here as they are on the grid. Wether or not you're successful, you're whisked back to the grid for more Tempest-type fun.
The grids become increasingly difficult, as shown by their colour. White is the easiest, blue the middle, and red is the hardest, with the red grids being invisible during gameplay, I believe.
Don't think for a moment that this game replaces Tempest in any way. You can't replace Tempest. But this is definitely a worthy successor to the game, even if only in spirit. Electronic Arts did a good job writing this game, and I recommend you at least give it a try before you pass judgement on it.
Having never beaten the game myself, I just wish I knew if you ever did get to blow up that spider in the end.
|GRAPHICS - 7/10|
|It's not vector graphics like Tempest, and it's hard sometimes to keep track of your ship and all the enemies on the grid, but it's still a good job.|
|SOUND - 3/10|
|No music, just some simple sound effects.|
|PLAYABILITY - 9/10|
|The hardest part for beginners will be getting the timing of the smart bomb down. But everyone should be able to get the hang of this one quickly. |
|OVERALL - 8/10|
|Don't knock it until you've tried it. Trust me.|