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SHOOT 'EM UP CONSTRUCTION KIT
Outlaw Productions, 14.95 cass, 19.95 disk, joystick or keys
Create your own sizzlers with Sensible Software's SEUCK!
Reviewed in ZZAP! issue 33, December 1987

Opinions | Rating

Sensible Software, whose previous successes include Parallax and Wizball, are set to take the vertically scrolling shoot 'em up market by storm with their Shoot 'em up Construction Kit, a utility which allows a person with absolutely no knowledge of BASIC or machine code to create their own stationary or vertically 'scrolling one or two player head-to-head blasting games.

The SEUCK allows all the variables of a shoot 'em up to be defined to suit the user's requirements. Sprites may be designed and animated, backdrops drawn, alien attack patterns set up and even scoreline and bonuses fixed. A completed game may also be saved and played independently of the designer program.

Designing a game starts with the main menu. From here the user selects one of nine editable features: sprites, backgrounds, objects, sound effects, player limitations, attack waves and levels to the character set and front end. Choosing one of these results in-a sub-menu appearing, which gives further options for the editor in operation.

The chess pieces move like real chess pieces!

The SEUCK even allows two players to do battle on screen at the same time

For example, when 'the 'Edit Sprite' option is chosen, the screen prompts: select, edit, edit colour, slide, mirror, copy and erase. This comprehensive series of options allow up to 128 12x21 pixel sprites to be designed, coloured and animated. These may be saved out, or used immediately in the 'Edit Objects' mode which allows the animation to be defined and polished as required.

Backgrounds are designed and drawn in a similar fashion, with an extensive sub-menu allowing a char(acter) to be selected, edited and coloured, and all the chars to be put into blocks and used to create a very large scrolling map.

This screenshot was upside down in the original review

The 'select block' mode, displaying the separate blocks available to create your scrolling map

Once the backdrops and sprites have been prepared, the limitations of the player and enemy sprites are set. Here, the user defines the enemy attack patterns, the level of their aggression and sets the players' movement.

The game may be split up into separate levels, the duration and type of which can be specified, including a static bonus screen at the end of each, if required.

This screenshot was blurred in the original review

To add to the atmosphere, some suitable spot effects may be created using the 'Edit Sound Effects' option. This sound generator is akin to a miniature mixing deck and allows up to 24 different sound effects to be generated by adjusting the on-screen slide controls. The wave, attack, pitch, plus speed and time of the rise and fall can be altered to create a wide variety of sounds, from soft gongs to raucous white noise blasts.

Use a joystick or keys to move around quickly In space no-one can hear you shoot... no sound in a vacuum

Alien attack patterns are easily defined and stored in the program

For the finishing touch, a title screen is also written and 'colour cycled' by selecting one of the 23 predetermined patterns. The character set may also be redesigned to give the game that final polished appearance.

As the creation process progresses and new features are implemented, the game may be play-tested and tweaked as necessary. Finished games are then saved to tape or disk using the storage facility, and run as an independent program.

You've got a (slap) fight on your hands

Fancy a bit of Slap 'n' Tickle? It's free with the SEUCK

To show some of its capabilities, and give the user something to practice on, the package comes with four demo games: the cheekily named Slap 'n' Tickle, a variant on an Imagine licence, Outlaw, a Gunsmoke clone, Transputer Man, a Robotron game and Celebrity Shoot 'Em Up, a blaster containing sprites designed by many famous names within the industry.

You must be truckin' mad

More blasting chuckles with Slap 'n' Tickle


PAUL SUMNER:

Paul Sumner gives SEUCK the thumbs up!

This has to be one of the greatest packages ever released on the 64. The games that come with it would be worth the money alone, but this gives you the ability to make your own. You've got an excellent sprite designer and graphics utility with features, such as slide and mirror, that are hard to find on some dedicated art packages! There's also a brilliant sound effects mixer thrown in for good measure. All this is so compelling, I defy anyone not to become totally engrossed as soon as they start using it. Its beauty is that it enables virtually ANYONE to produce high quality bashes of virtually infinite variation. The incredible feature of the package though, is that just when you think you've exhausted its resources, you find some other little trick it can do - such as the independent file saving. With people able to create high quality stand-alone games quickly and easily, it shouldn't be too long before we see the first SEUCK Sizzler or, dare I say it, Gold Medal?

STEVE JARRETT:

Steve Jarrett gives SEUCK the thumbs up as well!

What a great idea! OK, it isn't the first, but it's certainly the best executed and most comprehensive (non-adventure) game designer to date. I couldn't believe how quickly and easily a simple game could be created. The whole package is brilliantly designed and so pleasant to use. The sprite designer alone is great fun and aspiring Disneys will appreciate the animation facility. I won't say that SEUCK will be everyone's cup of tea: some people have neither the time, imagination or inclination to sit down and design their own games. And don't kid yourself - it does take time to create a really good game - but if you fancy designing your own Sizzler, then SEUCK is just what you've been looking for.

JULIAN RIGNALL:

Julian Rignall goes wild for SEUCK!

Sensible Software have certainly come up with something special this time! If you've got the time and patience, you can use the SEUCK to create some really incredible games. Earlier attempts at game designers have failed due to the lack of freedom. SEUCK gives the user an incredible amount of space in which to develop his ideas - it'll take a long time before someone manages to push it to its limits! The thought that has gone into its workings is absolutely phenomenal, so much so that you can sit down and start designing without reading the instructions - we did! You do have to refer to them eventually, and when you do they're helpful and informative. The package comes complete with a quartet of games, all of which are extremely good - in fact they're better than some full-priced games! The Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit is a milestone in computing history. It mightn't appeal to all 64 owners, due to the amount of attention it requires, but if you've ever wished you could design your own game, this is a dream come true.


Edit sprites on the big grid... ...and see what they look like top left

The highlight of the construction kit: the superb sprite designer, editor, animator...


There's no doubt that The Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit is an exceptional piece of software - the Gold Medal award is thoroughly deserved. However, since it's in a class of its own we feel that it's unfair to compare it with other software on the market, and therefore there are no ratings. We have offered three individual opinions as a guideline, but ultimately it's up to you to decide whether or not you'd like to try and design your own games.

Screenshots in this review have been re-created in the VICE emulator


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