ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games

5 Jun 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - TLL (Tornado Low Level) - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Game TLL
TLL or Tornado Low Level was released for the ZX Spectrum by Vortex software in August of 1984. Spectrum gamers were enthusiastic about the game due to it's nicely rendered graphics and eight-way scrolling.

The developer of the game, Costa Panayi was already well known for his previous games on the ZX Spectrum (also released by Vortex) Android and Android 2. TLL was a good arcade game that enhanced Costa's reputation further.

The story behind TLL was that you take control of a Tornado jet (swing wing model - not real methinks!) to eradicate some 'evil dots' that have appeared on the landscape. Bizarre I know. These enemy dots were 'dotted' around the ground (and sometimes on the sea), usually next to buildings and in hard to reach places, making your mission all the more tricky.

To rid the landscape of these dots you had to fly your jet directly over them at an extremely low altitude. Acheiving this 'low level' pass would remove the dot permanently from the map - and there were a few dots to be removed on each playing area.

You would observe your jet and the landscape via a 'birds eye' view - which was very effective for the game. At the start of the game a map would display the location of the dots before switching to the game view, showing your Tornado sitting on a runway, ready to take off into the wild blue yonder.

It was up to you to accelerate towards the end of the runway and pull up into the sky, and on first playing the amazement of seeing the shadow of your aircraft on the ground (beneath your Tornado) would probably cause you to crash into a building or a telegraph pole! The whole environment was represented in a sort of pseudo 3D style, all items on the ground (buildings, pylons with wires, poles, trees etc) showing 'depth' against the ground. Impressive visuals.

There were also rivers running throught the area which were lower than ground level, meaning you could streak along a river below ground level, take out a dot, fly under a bridge then pull up and streak away across land. Exciting stuff.

Your tornado could fly in eight directions (sort of north, north east, east etc) and the landscape scrolled nicely in the direction you were facing. Pretty smooth scrolling too. To the right of the screen your instruments were displayed such as height, fuel and so on. Running out of fuel resulted in you crashing, so making it back to the runway to top up was always at the back of your mind.

On later levels the dots were placed in hard to reach places which even Pete Mitchell would have found hard to take out. The game was over when you lost all three of your Tornados, usually caused by crashing into cliff faces or pylons.

On Release:
Gamers marvelled at the graphics in TLL, and the use of bright and normal shades from the Spectrums pallette. The shadow of your plane (which also 'broke up') when half over a building and ground was impressive stuff. The smooth scrolling (which was very quick when you engaged swing wing mode) added to the playability of the game, and the fact that you could fly under bridges and power cables was a real bonus. The only downside was a lack of enemy aircraft to avoid or destroy, but the fact that TLL was a bit different from anything else on the market added to it's appeal.

The test of time:
We here in the land of Spectrum games reckon that TLL should be regarded as a cult classic game. The 3D effect was quite something back in 1984, and many people spent time flying along rivers and under bridges and not bothering with the dots! (which was fun in itself). These days TLL does not have much depth, but it's still a fun way to spend 20 minutes.

Give TLL a go and try to acheive that 'low level'. Up up and away eh?

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download TLL for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online. Keep it on the low low.

GENRE: Arcade Game (3D scoller)
RELEASE DATE: August of 1984
RELEASED BY: Vortex Software
DEVELOPER(S): Costa Panayi
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

Mart tries to keep fast and low in a different arcade game:

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