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Uridium Plus ZX Spectrum
Uridium was the game they said could never be converted to the ZX Spectrum.
This classic shoot em up was known as a Commodore 64 game, and there was no way it could be replicated on the Speccy. No sir, it just could not be done.
Up stepped stalwart publisher Hewson and developer Dominic Robinson to prove that theory incorrect.
Uridium was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1986 to lots of high praise, and a few months later those nice chaps at Hewson gave us an updated version called Uridium plus. This revision featured differing level layouts, and gave us fans of the first game more exciting game-play to get our teeth into.
So let's have a look back at one of the best scrolling shoot em ups to ever grace our favourite Sinclair machine.
Uridium Plus on the ZX Spectrum
Games From Hewson
First off I have to say that Hewson always impressed me as a software publisher and released many quality titles for the ZX Spectrum.
Their games were always highly polished and featured superb gameplay and programming innovations.
This game is no exception. The scrolling is rapid yet smooth, the graphics are virtually flicker free and the way you can loop and bank your ship is nothing short of brilliant.
With games such as this, Technician Ted, Firelord, Cybernoid, Exolon, Avalon and Zynaps they rarely delivered nothing short of excellence for our favourite 8-bit machine.
Hewson are perhaps a company that do not quite receive the recognition they deserve...
Attempting an attack run in Uridium Plus
Back story to Uridium
Like any good arcade game of the era, a back story set the scene and let you know why you had to skim the surface of these behemoth space vessels and destroy everything in sight!
Different space battle-cruisers (referred to as 'Dreadnaughts') were moving into orbit around various planets to prepare for a massive invasion.
Each Dreadnaught required vast amounts of fuel and would acquire it by tapping planetary cores and draining them of valuable minerals.
Of course this meant that the planet would be destroyed in the process, killing every living thing residing on it. If you were a resident then it would not be one of your better days.
To prevent the destruction of these planets, it was up to you to take on these giant ships in your trusty Manta fighter and blow them out of the stars.
Uridium game presentation on the ZX Spectrum
The effort put into developing Uridium on the Sinclair Spectrumwas apparent as soon as the game loaded.
The way the title text was displayed with a multi-coloured font, the nice synth-tune and the rather cool 'roll-down' high score table all oozed class, quality, originality and polish.
As I have already stated, Hewson's games were known for quality throughout the whole experience and not just within the actual game-play.
I was always impressed by Hewson's output; for me they released top-notch titles and are one of the best publishers of game on the ZX Spectrum. This is yet another game from them that did not disappoint.
Loading Screen and Title Music - Uridium Plus ZX Spectrum
The First Dreadnaught in Uridium Plus ZX Spectrum
Uridium Plus - Level One Playthrough
Uridium Plus ZX Spectrum Gameplay
Piloting your trusty Manta space fighter (with three lives to play with) you had to fly across each 'Dreadnaught' inflicting as much damage as possible, whilst also destroying or evading the squadrons of enemy fighters sent out to destroy you.
Your Manta was a nifty little beast. It was armed with front firing laser cannons and was incredibly fast and agile.
It would zip across the surface of each giant ship at breakneck speed and you needed the reflexes and skill of Han Solo to pilot it correctly.
Scrolling from right to left you had to make to the far end of the enemy cruiser, destroying as many of the surface installations as possible.
You could make the Manta peform a nifty loop and turns allowing you to fly over the dreadnaught in both directions allowing you to traverse the whole ship as you pleased.
Wave after wave of varying enemy squadrons would be sent to destroy you and taking out an entire 'wave' earned you valuable bonus points.
Some types of enemy fighters seemed to be more deadly than others - sometimes the best ploy was to use your manouverability to 'loop back' and find yourself sitting nicely behind them.
The hunters had became the hunted, as you now had the opportunity to mow them down with relative ease, which was one of the great points about this game.
There were plenty of obstacles to avoid on the dreadnaught's surface such as pylons, masts high walls and more.
In some areas you would have to fly through a narrow passage to progress along the ship by making your manta 'flip' onto it's side; it was the only way to make it through these tight and narrow passages.
Homing mines would also launch from pods on the dreadnaught and chase after you, relentlessly homing in on your craft until they either took you out or self-destructed.
Fancy flying was needed to outwit these boys; again looping your ship was a great way to out-manoeuvre these things.
Each dreadnaught was named after a different element and in this 'plus' version of the game they had all been re-named and re-designed.
I would say the designs were equally as imaginative as the first game, but the new layouts meant that the game was a little trickier overall. Let's be honest here, Uridium was never a walk in the park, so this updated version is not for the faint of heart.
The final dreadnaught was still the ultra-precious 'Uridium' (this one was really difficult to beat), and destroying it meant that you had completed the game and ended the alien invasion.
After destroying surface installations of the dreadnaught (such as parked fighters, gun emplacements and radar domes) the signal 'Land Now!' would appear.
Making your way to the right most end of the huge ship and landing on the strip there would ensure the destruction of the dreadnaught and move you onto the next level.
After collecting your end of level bonus it was on to the next ship, and believe me each one was more difficult than the last.
Uridium Plus - Level Two Playthrough
How does Uridium Plus fair today?
Okay, (Uridium) and Uridium plus, by today's standards, are pretty simple side scrolling shoot em up games.
Having said that, for me it these are games that still hold up pretty well.
The scrolling is plenty smooth (and very impressive for a ZX Spectrum considering the details of the bas-relief background graphics, shading and shadows) and the game-play is fast, fluid and tricky, yet manages to remain rewarding.
There is a challenge in here and the Uridium games are still fun to play, addictive and full of action. Be warned though, both Uridium games are by no means easy, and Uridium plus is a real challenge.
You cannot rely on your quick trigger finger and reflexes to beat this game; you will also need to take time to learn the layout of each of the ships in order to progress.
For me it's a classic game from a classic company that generally achieved a high standard of programming during the 8-bit era.