The rather ridiculously-named Slubberdegullion is something of a sequel to Jonathan Cauldwell's previous Cybernoid-inspired flick screen shooter Rough Justice and, since the original proved very playable we looked at it back in 2004, I was looking forward to sitting down with this one. As with it's predecessor, the game world is a series of flick screen rooms which can only be travelled through by the one route, but rather than the simple four directional controls and bi-directional firing, the player's ship now rotates and thrusts to move around, bringing it more in line with another Cauldwell game Blizzard's Rift.
It has to be said that those new controls were something of a surprise and, although there isn't any inertia to make things more complicated, they do take a while to get used to - but after that acclimatisation period, which was accompanied by a stream of invectives for good measure, it all starts to click. Those changes also make a difference to the way that the ship's main weapon is used; the ability to fire shots at just about any angle rather than purely to the left or right as in Cybernoid makes it possible to take out some of the defences which would otherwise be inaccessible or blow away nasties approaching from above or below but at the same time the need to rotate the ship to line up a shot can leave it exposed to attacks from other angles. Pulling down on the stick selects a secondary weapon which is launched with a stab of the fire button.
BILL AND BEN WERE SAT IN THE BATH
The in-game graphics look pretty decent throughout with a good selection of detailed and well-animated sprites inhabiting the levels, each of which sport a distinctive look and feature quite a bit of colour to boot - in fact the only let down is the loading screen since it's not a patch on Rough Justice's picture. Sound is equally accomplished, with the Spectrum's beeper being used for sound effects during play and, if the machine is equipped with an AY chip, an up-tempo piece of music plays throughout as well.
As with its predecessor the difficulty curve is pretty steep but generally speaking not as truly evil as the Cybernoid series. Roaming droids materialise from vortexes before getting in the way of the player, robotic skulls discharge spinning bullets, ground-based rockets launch when they detect an intruder nearby and occasionally the odd ceiling block will unexpectedly work loose and plummet down the play area. When some of these defences are destroyed, they drop numbered tokens which top up stocks of the secondary weapon and diamonds which are... well, all pwitty and there for bonus score. Fans of Rough Justice or the Cybernoid games should give this a look because it'll be right up their alien artillery-laden street.