Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Almost 3D Shmups #2

Luna Crabs (1983)
By: M J Estcourt / Micromega Genre: Shooting Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 560
Also Available For: Nothing

As any student of science knows, the moon has long been suspected of harbouring some type of scary, malevolent horde of creatures. Having somehow concealed them-selves from our acutely cautious gaze, they've been there all this time, waiting, biding their time. But no longer! Having crawled from their lairs en masse, they are now on the move, but what exactly are they? Lord save us, they're crabs! This is actually not the set-up for this 16k Speccy game - the real back-story sets the action on an unnamed Saturnian moon (which kind of negates the whole 'luna' thing) where some research team has stumbled upon the rather aggressive crustaceans who are apparently in residence there. Does mean we're playing the part of the evil invading interloper? Quite possibly, but I think I like my own back-story more anyway.

The stupid scuttlers attack en masse at the start of waves...
Regardless of stories, the objective is the same: you simply need to survive as long as possible through the endless waves of killer crabs. Under your control is the cannon at the bottom of the screen which can be moved left and right freely. Each wave is home to fifteen side-crawlers and all must be reduced to crab paté using the powerful 'guided photon bolts' that are your only form of attack. It's a painfully slow-firing cannon though - just one 'fooming' shot at a time - and, for some reason, if you move left or right after firing, your shot moves too, as it's travelling into the screen! This can be a help or a hindrance as you might imagine, but it does make things a little more interesting either way. Something that is even more of a hindrance, however, are the 'deadly acid-balls' the crabs spit at you relentlessly. If any of these green blobs touch your cannon, it's toast (well, you lose a life).

The crabs move around sideways as well as into and out of the screen, but they can be shot at any time they're visible. They're worth 10 points each, and you get a 100 point bonus for finishing each wave. Since you have to shoot all the crabs in each wave, though, that basically just makes the score an indication of how far you've gotten into the game, but it's good fun while it lasts. The audio features a nice (and creepy) 'scurrying' effect and the colourful looping landscape and sprites are decent enough, if somewhat repetitive. More importantly though, its simple gameplay is addictive and enjoyable enough to keep you returning for a good while despite the slightly wonky collision-detection and occasional unavoidable death. To be honest, I haven't played too many 16k Speccy games (yet) but Luna Crabs is pretty much what I would hope for from the better examples.

RKS Score: 8/10



  1. I thought I recognised the name M J Estcourt. He also programmed the splendid 'almost 3D' Deathchase for the Speccy. I haven't played this game before so will have to give it a whirl.

  2. Sweet! :) That game is also on my (very long) list of games to review. I've heard very very good things about it over the years so I'm looking forward to it.