Uridium was the game they said could never be converted to the ZX Spectrum. The Commodore 64 classic just could not be replicated on the Speccy, nope it just was not possible.
Up stepped Hewson Consultants (and developer Dominic Robinson) to prove that theory wrong.
This classic arcade game was finally released for the ZX Spectrum in December of 1986 to lots of high praise.
The whole back story to Uridium (every good arcade game has one!) was to do with different battlecruisers (called Dreadnaughts) were moving into orbit around various planets to prepare for invasion.
Each Dreadnaught required vast amounts of fuel and would get it by tapping planetary cores and draining them of valuable minerals. Of course this would destroy the planet and no-doubt annoy the inhabitants a tad in the meantime.
To prevent the destruction of these planets, it was up to you (as always in classic arcade fashion) to take these giant space leviathans down.
The class and effort put into developing Uridium on the Sinclair Spectrum was apparent as soon as the game loaded. The way the text was displayed, the nice synth theme tune and the rather cool high score table all oozed class and polish.
The impressive title screen and high score table in Uridium:
Armed with nothing more than your trusty Manta space fighter (you had three to play with) you had to fly across each Dreadnaught inflicting as much damage as possible whilst destroying or evading the squadrons of enemy fighters sent to destroy you. The cards were dealt, the odds were against you, cue dark and forboding music.....
Your Manta was a nifty little beast. It was armed with front firing lazers and was incredibly fast and agile. It would zip across the surface of a dreadnaught at breakneck speed and you needed almost inhuman arcade reflexes to pilot it effectively.
Scrolling from left to right you had to make to the far end of the enemy cruiser, destroying as much of the surface of it as possible. You could make the Manta peform a nifty loop and turn allowing you to fly over the dreadnaught in both directions.
Wave after wave of enemy squadrons would be sent to destroy you and taking out an entire 'wave' earned you bonus points. Some types of enemy fighters seemed to be more deadly than others - sometimes the best ploy was to 'loop back' and take them out from behind. Sneaky.
There were plenty of obstacles to avoid on the surface such as pylons, high walls and so on. In some areas you would have to fly through a narrow passage by making your manta turn onto it's side - it was too wide to fit through otherwise!
Homing mines would also launch from pods on the dreadnaught and chase after you - relentlessly homing in on your craft until they either self destructed or took you out. Fancy flying was needed to outwit these boys.
Each dreadnaught was named after a different element (the one they would drain from the core) so you be taking on Zinc, Copper, Gold etc. The final dreadnaught was the ultra-precious Uridium - and destroying it meant completing the game.
After destroying a certain on the surface of the dreadnaught (such as parked fighters, gun emplacements, domes etc) the signal 'Land Now!' would appear. Making your way to the right most end of the huge ship and landing on the strip there would ensure the destruction of the dreadnaught. After collecting your end of level bonus it was on to the next ship - and believe me each one was more difficult than the last.
Uridium had been highly anticipated before it was released and many felt that it would not do justice to the Commodore 64 original. Well they needn't have worried as ZX Spectrum version was nothing short of brilliant. From the excellent menu screens right through the smooth scrolling bas-relief graphics and fast gameplay, Uridium was a top class arcade game. The gameplay was spot on and touches like your Manta's shadow on the surface of the dreadnaught demonstrated the effort that Dominic Robinson had put into the game. Class.
The test of time:
Okay, Uridium is a simple shoot em up. But here in Spectrum Games we reckon it still holds up pretty well. The scrolling is plenty smooth (and very impressive for a ZX Spectrum) and the gameplay is ultra frantic. There is a challenge in here and Uridium is still fun and full of action. A bona fide classic arcade game.
Go on, pretend you are Han Solo and stick it on. It's Uridillant!
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum Emulator and download Uridium for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: December of 1986
RELEASED BY: Hewson Consultants
DEVELOPER(S): Dominic Robinson (Andrew Braybrook developed the original)
PRICE: £8.95 - UK
The first dreadnaught meets it's doom in Uridium - classic arcade action:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games
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