The ZX Spectrum conversion of Realtime Software‘s classic Carrier Command is arguably even better than the 16-bit originals. Mostly because it’s been tweaked a little to accommodate it on the humble Speccy, and as a result it plays really well as a strategy game, with extra action elements. Carrier Command on the Spectrum is for 128K machines only and was first published by Rainbird Software in 1989.
The aim of the game – just like in the original – is to take over a series of sixty four islands and to destroy a more advanced, AI-controlled enemy carrier that is trying to dominate you. To do that you must send out tank-like ground vehicles, called Walruses, to set up base installations that allow you to exploit resources on the various islands. This in turn allows you to manufacture fuel, weapons, and other vehicles (like the aircraft you can control, called Mantas), and slowly extend your reach throughout the archipelagos.
Carrier Command‘s ingenious point-and-click interface allows you to automate vehicle movements and micro-manage resources, as well as monitor your progress on a zoom-able map system. If you need to take manual control of a Walrus or a Manta you can do that, which allows you to destroy enemy bases and plant your own bases in their stead.
The game can be saved to either disk or tape, depending on which version you’re playing, which means that you don’t have to complete the game in one sitting. If you’re playing in an emulator, though, you can obviously make quick saves to speed that process up.
Graphically, the Spectrum version uses shaded polygons to depict the world you’re exploring, and while they are simple they’re also effective. Frame rates can drop to about a frame per second at times, but it doesn’t hamper the game too much.
Carrier Command on the ZX Spectrum is classic 8-bit game, an excellent conversion, and although it might not look as good or move as smoothly as its 16-bit cousins, it is definitely on-par with them in terms of gameplay.