Another classic game for the ZX Spectrum from those excellent folk at Special FX software.
Once again the fantastic Joffa Smith was the main programmer behind the game, and once again his attention to detail and overall polish soon becomes apparent.
This review is a tribute to Jof.
This arcade game was released in 1987 by Software Projects and was met with a lot of praise (let's be honest, most of Jof's games were, his name attached to a game was generally a seal of quality.)
An interesting back story really set the scene...
Someone is changing the future by altering the past. A powerful entity is being summoned forwards through time in an attempt to disrupt the future balance of power. You are the last survivor of the 'time corps', and it is now up to you to prevent this from happening and restore order to the timeline.
It was an interesting slant on some good old classic arcade action! Anyway - the game was a parallax scrolling headbutt em up / shoot em up game that focussed on frantic action and excellent powerups.
You began the game armed with a 'sonic headbutt', which although short-ranged was still pretty powerful. Now comes the clever bit. As you run across the scrolling landscape destroying and evading enemies, worms will periodically pop up from the ground.
Collecting a worm by walking or flying over it will enable you to select a different weapon if you wish. To activate the current weapon type (indicated by an arrow above the icons at the bottom of the screen) press down and fire. The icon flashes, and you are powered up nicely. This was done a little bit 'Nemesis' style I suppose (I wish Jof could have coded the Speccy version of Nemesis - it would have been fantastic).
The same weapon powerups could also be collected and chosen by walking over a lemon! So, a lemon or a worm could increase your firepower - genious stuff!
You are also packing an energy conversion kit which allowed you to change ordinary objects into a powerful array of stunningly useful mega-utilities!
Destroying certain hostile characters and objects will leave behind a clue, which would lead to the identity of one of the conspirarators (symbolized by a jigsaw piece).
Collecting these pieces exposes the entity which will appear (as a classic arcade boss) to battle you. Hit it enough times and it will retreat to another time - allowing you to move to the next level and continue your task in another era.
You only have a limited energy supply which is depleted a little each time you are hit. It was topped up on each new level though. You also have a shield which is to be used sparingly.
Once again this game was well recieved and was regarded as an essential purchase for your Spectrum. Apart from the gameplay, what was impressive was the attention to detail. For instance you could set the game background to monochrome or colour, turn the sound effects off and entering your name in the hall of fame was superb! Utterly cool.
We were also treated to another great piece of plip-plop music which had become a trademark since the technique first appeared in Ping Pong.
Some gamers tended to prefer Jof's other uber scroller Cobra (which was a fantastic game and hilarious to boot), but Hysteria was regarded as a top arcade game in it's own right. For me this game just edges Cobra - probably because I can actually play this one quite well and I've always been crap at Cobra! Doesn't stop me trying it again and again though....
The Test of Time:
Well Hysteria is still fun to play. The graphics move very nicely and the parallax scrolling is top notch (amongst the best on a ZX Spectrum). The neat touches really set it apart from other arcade games of 1987. Once again from top notch stuff from Jof and Special FX Software.
Get yourself hysterical and play this. Now.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Hysteria for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Side Scroller)
RELEASE DATE: 1987
RELEASED BY: Software Projects
DEVELOPER(S): Jonathan M Smith, Karen Davies, Stephen Wahid, Tony Pomfret
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Classic scrolling arcade action... note the high score table too.