Since the beginning of gaming, vertical scrollers have eaten through millions of fans' quarters while giving out hand cramps and eye strain in return. Arcade classics like Raiden Fighters, Strikers, and 1942 each spawned series that are still popular today. This phenomenon isn't limited to just stand-up consoles, though. The Mac platform was struck in 1998 by an unassuming -- yet just as carpal tunnel inducing -- title from Ambrosia Software called Mars Rising. Like others in the genre, it featured fast-paced action with wave upon wave of enemies to shoot down. Critics and fans hailed it as a shareware success and one of the few of its kind to play natively on a Macintosh. Now David Wareing and crew are back on the prowl with Deimos Rising, a sequel that looks to make improvements on every front while retaining the same simple gameplay fans love.
Back to BasicsWhile there are obviously distinguishable differences between vertical scrollers, they all share a common playing style. Deimos Rising follows the pattern of the classic Xevious where there are two levels of control. The first is your main attack, which you use to knock out many waves of different airborne enemies. Your standard laser does a good job against the lesser foes, and holding down the weapon will allow it to charge up and really tear through opponents. The other half of the battle is learning to use bombs to get at the ground-based units. As you progress up in the game’s twelve stages your firepower will increase appropriately.
This simple gameplay formula is surprisingly addictive. A similar trend can be seen in the first-person shooter market, as companies move backwards to the days of DOOM and Wolfenstein. While ‘smart shooters’ like Deus Ex take the opposite tack, many gamers will always have a soft spot for a shooter or FPS full of countless baddies coming at your from every corner.
There are a few other items to find along your journey which will certainly help out your situation and keep things interesting. The main source of special objects are green question marks placed strategically on the landscape. When bombed they will release any number of different powerups like extra shielding, double points, or even a free lives. Watch out, though, because sometimes they will release nasty surprises like mines that can take out your ship with ease.
Eye CandyIf Mars Rising is the DOOM of vertical-scrolling titles, then you can call Deimos Rising the equivalent of Quake 3: Arena. Every graphical piece and user interface screen in the game has been revamped for a very polished look. Your ship and those of your enemies are all very nicely pre-rendered, along with whiz-bang goodies like particle effects and translucent animations. The game is rendered in full 16-bit color as well.