Fortress, BBC Micro

Fortress on the BBC Micro is a bland and overly-difficult Zaxxon clone written by Matthew Newman and first published by Pace in 1983.

The diagonal scrolling is juddery and the sprites are flickery, which don’t give a good first impression, but at least you can easily judge where your ship is in relation to the environment (mostly due to the shadow it casts on the ground). What Fortress doesn’t have much of is: variety and detail. It has some of the basics of Sega‘s famous coin-op, like the fuel containers, the walls, the rockets and the approaching enemy craft, but it lacks anything more. Worst of all it lacks finesse. It also plays too fast for my liking, has some dodgy collision detection, has a backwards and confusing fuel indicator, and the rate at which your fuel disappears is frighteningly unfair, all of which make the game far too frustrating to be fun in my opinion. Plus: the game is incredibly short, which is why it’s so difficult – the author made it that way so he could hide that fact.

Early home computer arcade clones like Fortress do tend to be severely lacking, because the programmers usually lacked the experience to push the host system properly, or the foresight to add their own small details to make the game stand out. And Fortress is a good example of that.

You’ll have seen pretty much everything Fortress has to offer after just a few plays and the game becomes boring quickly. It’s not a game I would recommend on the BBC as it’s dated badly and doesn’t offer much in terms of enjoyment or playability.

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