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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (42143)
Written on  :  Sep 30, 2021
Platform  :  ZX81
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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If you think the ZX81 is incapable of scrolling, then you thought wrong

The Good

Defender was a popular arcade game released in the early Eighties by Williams, and official ports and clones were released on popular systems at the time. Sinclair’s ZX81 machine missed out on one, probably because developers thought the machine couldn’t handle the frenetic gameplay that it had. Quiksilva, a small British company, did a half-baked version that was originally called QS Defender. Williams objected to the name, so it was re-released as Defenda. In Quiksilva’s version, there is no such thing as a radar, nor are there any humans you need to rescue. Furthermore, enemy ships are represented as a simple Basic character.

To make up for these shortcomings, you can purchase a sound generator from Quicksilva themselves that will give you little explosions when you shoot down enemy ships. The wind effects sound fantastic. The scrolling is impressive, and it shows what the humble ZX81 can do if programmers put enough effort into their work. I like the way the game gets difficult as you progress. This is evident when you face only one enemy ship at the start, but face three or four at a later point. One thing I really like is that if you move your spaceship while shooting, it leaves a trail of bullets behind, making it easier to kill enemies.

The game awards you with nine lives, which is probably a more than enough reason to “score attack”. It is programmed in Basic, and anyone who is familiar with the language, can modify it for their own personal use.

The Bad

The game lacks a title screen, and you are kicked to Basic after you have lost your lives.

The Bottom Line

QS Defenda may be a half-baked version of Williams' classic, but that is understandable given that the machine that this game was designed for had very limited hardware. The ability to use a sound generator makes up for the missing mechanics, and it shows people that the ZX81 was actually capable of hardware scrolling. It would have been nice if there was a title screen, which you go back to if you run out of lives. Other than that, this is a very good Defender clone ZX81 users should be proud of.