L.A. Swat, Panther / games / commercial

From: Michael Current (aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 12/31/91-08:16:55 PM Z

From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: L.A. Swat, Panther / games / commercial
Date: Tue Dec 31 20:16:55 1991

Reprinted from Atari Explorer, Vol. 10, No. 1, January/February 1990
Copyright 1989 by Atari Explorer Publications Corp.  
Reprinted by permission.
Software Survey
L.A. Swat/Panther
Review by George Hulseman
     The latest release from Mastertronic International for 8-bit Atari 
computers includes two games on one disk.  L.A. Swat is a combat game 
that takes place in the streets of Lost Angeles, and Panther is a 
futuristic, fast-paced aerial game that challenges you to rescue 
prisoners from the hostile planet surface of Xenon.  Both games offer 
good graphics and acceptable playability and combine to make the package 
worth a good deal more than the asking price of $9.99.
     The goal of L.A. Swat is to steer a squad of three men through the 
streets of L.A. to save hostages being held by terrorist gangs armed 
with grenades and rifles.  The graphics and animation are well done, but 
the gameplay is somewhat limited.
     You control the leader of the squad, helping him avoid grenades and 
sniper bullets.  At the start of the game, you have three lives, just as 
you do in many other games.  The difference here is that your extra 
lives are participants in the action; if your team leader gets killed, 
one of the remaining team members assumes the position of leadership.
     You are equipped with a short-range machine gun, which is the only 
weapon that works against the many gang members who attack you from the 
top of the screen.  If one of these gets past you, he can complicate 
your defense by sneaking up behind you.  If you get too close to an 
enemy gang member, a brief moment of hand-to-hand combat ensues, but the 
other guy always emerges the victor.
     You shoot by holding the joystick button down and aiming, a task 
that is made more difficult by the barrage of grenades that falls almost 
     Eventually, your team reaches a crossroad, where a continuous 
attack of enemy forces attacks from the top of the screen.  When all of 
these attackers have been dispatched, a single gang member emerges 
holding a woman hostage.  The object is to shoot the gang member as he 
weaves back and forth across the screen without hitting the innocent 
hostage.  No matter how well or badly you do at this, you advance to the 
next level, where you take on a tougher band of terrorists
     L.A. Swat, although challenging, becomes monotonous after a while.  
But I guarantee you will get $9.99 worth of enjoyment out of it before 
that happens.
     Panther is an aerial shoot-'em-up that makes exceptional use of the 
graphics capabilities of the 8-bit Atari systems.  Unfortunately, the 
game suffers from a lack of documentation and is so difficult to play 
that you may be tempted to give up long before you master it.
     Panther puts you in command of a spaceship that looks like some 
kind of hovercraft.  The scrolling graphics and perspective will remind 
you of the popular Blue Max, but the similarity ends there.
     You have five ships with which to complete your mission, which 
requires that you overfly a variety of landscapes while battling enemy 
aircraft.  The enemy ships are difficult to hit.  To shoot one, you must 
take your craft to the same altitude, which doesn't seem that difficult 
until you learn that you must do so while dodging missiles and avoiding 
hazards such as buildings and telephone poles on the ground.
     If you destroy an entire attack wave, you get a chance to land and 
rescue prisoners stranded in bunkers on the surface of the planet.
     The very brief instructions on the back of the game box describe a 
spaceport on the other side of the city, but how you get there remains a 
mystery to me.  Before you even reach the city, you must survive several 
attack waves, which is a difficult task in itself.
     If you do get there, almost immediately upon entering the city, the 
screen displays the message "Fly Under Radar."  About the time you 
finish reading the message, your craft is blown to smithereens by 
barrage of missiles.  It is possible to shoot and dodge some of the 
missiles, but the outcome of the encounter is always the same.
     The control panel of your ship provides such information as your 
current score, the number of ships you have left, and the number of 
enemy aircraft currently attacking.  The joystick controls all ship 
movements and gun firing.  The keyboard is not used in either Panther or 
L.A. Swat.
     The main thing that makes Panther less than a winner in my book is 
the fact that it is simply too difficult to play, a shortcoming that is 
aggravated by the dearth of documentation.  The graphics, however, are 
excellent, and the action is certainly there.
     Overall, this two-in-one package from Mastertronic is a good buy, 
and I hope to see more similar releases in the future.
         L.A. Swat
                  out of 10
CHALLENGE                 8
GRAPHICS                  9
DOCUMENTATION             5
OVERALL RATING            8
                  out of 10
CHALLENGE                10
GRAPHICS                  9
DOCUMENTATION             2
OVERALL RATING            6
System: 64K Atari 8-bit computer
Required equipment: Disk drive; joystick
Copy protection: Yes
Summary: Two action-packed games for the price of less than one
Price: $9.99
  Mastertronic International
  18001 Cowan Ave., Ste. A
  Irvine, CA 92714
  (714) 833-8710
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
      BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@interbit / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700

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