Martian Threat Review

Martians are attacking the Earth and are planning to destroy all life on it – sounds familiar? ;-)

No worries, this is not the 1024th Space Invaders clone, this game is completely different. A dish shaped Martian space ship is approaching planet Earth – and the Martians have nothing good in mind. Fortunately a big laser cannon has been built on Earth, capable of destroying the Martian space ship. The problem is, that this laser cannon is not quite ready – so your task is to stop the Martian threat as long as possible, to gain time fo the specialists on Earth to complete the laser cannon.

The SIDO (Space Intruder Defense Organisation) managed to infiltrate the Martian space ship with a fighting probe. You can steer this probe with your joystick. On four positions in the space ship Martians can appear, throwing energy bombs at your probe. So your task is, of course, to destroy all Martians and energy bombs.

You can move your probe freely in the space ship, but as there is no gravity or atmosphere in the ship, the probe will continue moving after you release the joystick. So to stop it, you have to give reverse thrust. It takes some time to master the control of the probe. The probe can fire only diagonally, that makes your task even a bit harder.

First the Martians will throw green energy bombs, those don’t contain much energy. Later the energy bombs change to blue, purple and finally red – each of them containing more energy. So your probe can take more than ten hits from green bombs, but only three hits from red bombs – this way the game gets harder and harder over time. Additionally, the first energy bombs are pretty slow, but later in the game they get faster. The probe will also be destroyed if you touch the hull of the Martian space ship. So there are many obstacles you have to watch out for.

Graphically the game is good, but not really outstanding. What makes it special is the fact that it contains two ending sequences, very unusual for a Videopac game! If cou cannot stop the Martian threat for at least 64 Videopac seconds (that is 64 “real” seconds on an NTSC console or 77 seconds on a PAL console), the laser defence cannon on Earth will not be finished. You will see how the Martian space ship moves around the Earth in an orbit, throwing a deadly virus bomb on the planet and killing all life on it. But if you manage to survive for at least 64 Videopac seconds, the laser cannon on Earth will be finished and you will see how a laser beam is shot from the Earth into space, destroying the Martian space ship. That is pretty impressive!

The sound is typical for a Videopac game, but at least it is not too annoying. Technically the game is programmed very well. It is easy enough in the beginning, but gets pretty challenging over time. It is not easy to survive for at least 64 Videopac seconds, particularly on PAL consoles, where a Videopac second is 1.2 real seconds (50 Hz PAL instead of 60 Hz NTSC). So you have to fight the Aliens for almost 77 seconds on PAL consoles to see the positive end sequence after the game.

All in all Martian Threat counts for sure to the top third of the Videopac games.

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