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Round 42

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 1986, Mike Pooler

One of the best Space Invaders clones ever made, Round 42 is also one of the first freeware games I really like. The name comes from the fact that there are 42 rounds of battle against invading alien spaceships. The game is very easy to learn: you move by pressing the arrow keys on the numeric keypad, and attack by pressing the F1 key (to fire normal bullets) or the F2 key (to fire a special weapon called the phasor). Your ship has a limited number of phasor charges, which are shown as lightening bolts next to your score near the top of the screen. Each ship begins with one charge, so you have to use it sparingly. You can get more phasor charges simply by staying alive: one charge (as well as one extra life) is awarded every 7500 points you earn, as well as at the beginning of each round.

So, what makes Round 42 a lot more fun than most Space Invaders clones? I think there are three major answers. First, each of the 42 rounds introduces a new and different type of enemy. It is a lot of fun to try to discover their flying patterns and fighting logic. This contrasts sharply with the “been there, done that” feel of most similar games, where you run out of new enemies after the first few levels. Second, there is a cool ‘warp round’ after every four rounds. In these rounds, your job is to move the ship left and right throught the maze without hitting the walls. This is a nice change of pace, and a good way to let you rest that sore finger before the action starts again. Third and last, the game makes incredible use of the PC speaker to generate a wide range of cool sound effects. These are not as revolutionary as human voices in Silpheed, but they are still much better than the typical bleeps and bloops. Overall, a very fun and addictive shooter that can remind us all how little space a good game needs :) Two thumbs up, way up!

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