Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Mega Cartridge: £19.95
Sega can, perhaps, be forgiven for using old ideas in Action Fighter because at least they are their own old ideas. Pinching the base elements of that ancient Sega coin-op Spy Hunter, and using the bike from Hang On, they have incorporated the bits into a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up with a difference ...
Action Fighter takes place over five stages. Top secret instructions at the beginning of each level detail which targets need to be destroyed - the level one objective is to destroy three nuclear submarines, on two it is six missile tanks, followed by mystery craft on later levels.
Starting off on the Hang On bike, you travel along a twisting road avoiding other cars, bikers and ambulances travelling the same route. A helicopter flies over the road dropping a mine ahead of your vehicle. Signs flash by, indicating bends in the road, and crashing into the kerb or colliding with other vehicles is, naturally enough, fatal.
A timer ticks down from 999, during which time the biker is invincible and this is the best time to amass enough points to get extra lives, because upon reaching zero the player is vulnerable to knocks and collisions, and with only two start lives some careful driving is required.
The vehicle is equipped with twin-cannon, upgradable to air-to- air and air-to-ground missiles simply by entering a Sega weapons truck (a la Spy Hunter). As the biker roars along, letters from A to F float down-screen, collect four letters and the bike can transform into a Porsche providing added protection (useful for ramming other road-users). Collect all six letters and the Porsche turns into a flying car (don't ask) and takes to the skies.
Once above the clouds, enemy planes, helicopter gunships, and spaceships missiles swoop into the attack. The action continues until either you lose all lives or the task on each level is completed. Once the enemy at the end of each stage is destroyed, it's onto the next level to destroy a different, deadlier set of opponents.
Action is the name of the game as the bike moves along at a fair old speed. The control pad is a pain to use, the slightest movement causing the bike to career off the road - a prime case of a game warranting a Sega joystick. The instructions are translated from the Japanese and they look it. Driving along the road Is enjoyable and marginally more fun than the sky sequence, which Is a very standard shoot-'em-up. Action Fighter is not a demanding game, with its fairly basic graphics, limited appeal and simplistic gameplay, but it is enjoyable, reasonably addictive and provides a good few hours distraction.