>> Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Steel Machine is another SPC Vision classic on CD-i and in some form a sequel to the Alien Gate gameplay from 1993. The main difference between Alien Gate and Steel Machine is that the latter is scrolled horizontally and Alien Gate moves forward in a vertical direction. However, Steel Machine is like a million times harder than Alien Gate. I may not be a true game-king, but I had the most difficult time to get passed the first levels! It's all very fast-paced, something you're not used to in CD-i action games. This is some rock-bottom action on CD-i, a true 2D shooter that may be as well a game on Super Nintendo. If you like shooting, explosions and retro style action games, Steel Machine is perfect for you.
You`re the pilot of the Steel Machine - and it`s up to you to fight off an attack by six battle cruisers on invading your planet. They`ve broken through all defences, now the Steel Machine is the last hope. You will have to fight your way trough six levels of deadly combat, and battle with fleets of enemy ships sent to destroy you. It`s your toughest challenge ever! You might think that this is a sidescroller like the million others out there (Gradius, R-type, ...), but believe it isn`t. The gameplay is bit like defender, but not completely :). I try to explain. Your ship, the Steel Machine, has been warped under the shield of a battlecruiser , there you have to destroy the main reactor to destabilise the battlecruisers structure, causing the cruiser to blow up. But before you can destroy the main reactor, you have to destroy the smaller ones who supply the forcefield which protects the main reactor with energy. To destroy the reactors you need missiles, but you can only get a missile by destroying an entire fighter squadron (five ships). These squadrons appear randomly out of hangars on the battlecruisers. How further you get in the game the harder the enemies get,one to look out for is the mothership, on contact with a mothership you die on the spot.
Graphically this game looks very Super Nintendo, there has been done nothing to enhance the graphics. They are simple but sufficient, but a bit more animations would be welcome. But soundwise this game is fantastic with a cool rock/techno soundtrack. The music is really great and sucks you completely away in the game.And as a bonus you can also play the music on a normal CD player!
Were this game really shines is in it`s gameplay. The coder of this games thanks Jeff Minter for his influence (Jeff Minters newest game is Tempest 3000 on the Nuon, which is actually a platform a lot like the CD-i). The games requires a lot of practice, I mean this game is hard! I`ve had it for a couple of weeks now and I`ve only gotten as far as level 2. This by the way one of my only complaints about the game, it`s steep learning curve. This game is really too hard from the beginning. The first levels should have been somewhat easier. But since the game only has 6 levels, this might be the reason why they made it so hard.
This game isn`t just some mindless shooter, it requires a lot of strategic thought. Which makes last much longer. The controls of the game are pretty tight (Which is pretty rare on the CD-i). But a game in this genre without tight control shouldn`t be released.
A Minter fan, can`t stop playing defender, like a tough challenge? I suggest you check this game out then. But beware this is one of those games some love and others hate. Sadly it never got any recognition. This 2D shooting genre is a popular genre on CD-i, and similar games can be found like Alien Gate, Testuo Gaiden and old classics like Galaxian which appeared in CD-i's Arcade Classics, and Invaders which appeared in CD-i's Golden Oldies serie 1.
1)The manual says that you should avoid the clusters. Don`t do so, they're easy to destroy and they give valuable powerups
2)Stay around the exits of the hangars until the squadrons come out to shoot them for missiles. This will save your ships energy as you will get shot a lot by groundfire if you fly around a lot.
3)Use the radar a lot it will help you recognize the ships that are coming.