Scrolling games are very popular on the Atari which is not surprising when you consider the powerful facilities of the Atari which enable games to run both fast and smooth. Needless to say, the scrolling in SHADOW WORLD is well up to standard. It is eight-directional but unlike almost any other game of its kind, it features split screen scrolling over different directions at the same time, but more of that later.
The idea of the game is to protect the planet Jantor, a Terran Tricasmium Colony. Tricasmium is the wonder find of the future. It powers starships and planetary defence systems but most importantly it makes replicators possible. These can duplicate anything from an atom to a starcruiser. With properties like that you can bet that there are going to be a whole bunch of nasty bug-eyed aliens who want to get their hands on it. These aliens come in the form of Rigillians who drop 'seed ships' into the atmosphere which in turn drop skimmer craft which scour the planet's surface for Tricasmium nuggets. If they find one, they bring it back to a seed ship whereupon the seed ship replicates itself and heads for the planets surface. If it reaches the surface it mutates into a coloniser which can only be destroyed by dropping a Tricasmium nugget on it. You must stop all this happening by shooting the seed ships while in the air.
Unfortunately the seed ships are constantly producing large numbers of guardian drones which will stop at nothing to kill you. Also making life difficult is the fact that if five ships reach the surface the planet will blow up.
The 1 player game involves you piloting a hornet interceptor against the Rigillians in a pretty standard version of Defender but with eight-directional scrolling, twenty times more aliens and a highly detailed landscape. A very good shootout but it tends to get impossible after the seventh wave.
The 2 player game is however totally amazing. Imagine Defender with both players playing at the same time. The top half of the screen shows players one's view and the bottom half shows the view of player two. Player one controls the hornet interceptor with the other player controlling a helicopter. Both screens scroll independently of each other in response to each players joystick control. The effect is incredible! The two players can work together or shoot it out with each other. Either way it's great fun.
SHADOW WORLD is another winner from Synapse and one of the best two player arcade style games for the Atari.
Review by Gavan Moran