15 Jan 2010
Spectrum Games - Pheenix - ZX Spectrum Retro Game
Pheenix ZX Spectrum
Classic, classic classic! A real golden oldie this one. Phoenix was an arcade game that was released way back in 1980 by Amstar Electronics.
By the time it was converted to the ZX Spectrum (as Pheenix) by the curiously named Megadodo software in 1983 it was already a bit of a classic game.
Anyway - Pheenix was a very faithful arcade conversion that really did the original game justice - and all within 16K of RAM too!
The game had five skill levels to pick from, and five screens to play through. Like many arcade games from that era - it was a top down viewed shoot em up set in outer space.
Once the various options had been chosen, such as skill levels, the game began with a nice little melody which was qutie like the arcade original (in Spectrum Beeper style). The scrolling stars were in there too.
In screen 1 (your craft appeared at the bottom of the playing area) very colourful 'birds' form up on the screen, one or two breaking formation to attack you. For defence your ship was equiped with a laser cannon and also a funky electro force field that could be activated in those tight spot moments.
Screen 2 was very much like the first but the birds were a different colour (with animated flapping wings now!) and they attacked you more frequently. Luckily you're rate of fire was increased to help you out.
On screen 3 you a not so nice surprise was sprung on you. Weaving eggs were there to be shot at (did the laser fry them?)
Anyway - shooting the weaving eggs caused them to split open with the points awarded inside, the two halves of the egg shooting off to either side of the screen, just as in the original arcade game.
After three passes of the eggs over the screen, the birds inside hatched out, and each flapping creature were more intent on killing you than previously.
I found using the force-field barrier quite useful on this stage as the birds swoop down to crash into you and also drop bombs. The force-field only lasts for a few seconds and then needs a few more seconds to recharge - so a little strategy is needed.
On the fourth screen the birds behave in a similar fashion to those on screen three, but in a nice touch sort of 'squawked' if you hit them with a non-fatal shot.
Finally we come to the most tricky part: The mother ship.
The object here is to destroy the area/barrier beneath the ship and kill the big bird inside.
Once you had popped a cap in big birds ass you were given a congratulatory message before being returned to level 1 - with the game speed increased.
Well Phoenix was already a bit of a classic game by 1983, but it had been very popular and a nice twist on the Space Invaders genre. Pheenix was quite popular on the ZX Spectrum and is probably one of the better shoot em ups from the early days of Spectrum games. For those folk that had a 16K Spectrum it represented a sound purhase.
The test of time:
Well if you like a quick blast on a simple shoot em up then you can't go far wrong with Pheenix. It is still playable and fun, and getting past the mothership is quite challenging. Pheenix is a true classic game on the Spectrum and is worth playing again to remind us of the very early days.
Play this again and let the Pheenix rise. You could stay up late and play it you fancy a bit of Pheenix nights.
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Pheenix for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Please see our other ZX Spectrum games reviews and programmer interviews - all links are in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: 1983
RELEASED BY: Megadodo
PRICE: £5.50 - UK
Die you viscious alien space birds! Pheenix still plays well...
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