Playing Ano Gaia (Spectrum)

Another week and another shoot ’em up… hardly surprising considering it’s me writing, but perhaps I need to go looking a little further afield at some point. Anyway, this particular blaster is Ano Gaia, which was developed by Simon Tillson (with some great, beeper-powered title music by Andy Mills) and published on the cover of Your Sinclair during 1992 so presumably the only thing preventing it from getting a full commercial release was only that it arrived pretty late in the day. The storyline that YS were provided with apparently talks about “pollution, luxury spacecraft, gigantic pirate ships which swallow up everything in their path and waistcoats” so can safely be ignored because the game itself is about flying a spaceship through scrolling landscapes and blasting anything that moves even if it hasn’t actually started to.

The ship starts off moving slowly and pretty much under powered for the job, so it’s very convenient that random enemies will leave a power-up behind when blasted. There are two to collect – a cyan one that boosts the ship’s speed or the red one which beefs up the weaponry – and passing over these items with the fire button held down will bolt them on. Dying resets the ship back to the start of the current stage and downgrades both speed and firepower by the equivalent of one item, but it doesn’t take long to build everything back up again.

Keeping the ship to one or perhaps two speed ups is best because it becomes surprisingly unwieldy at top speed, something which isn’t helped by the collision detection being unforgiving. There’s also a couple of rather cheap deaths to be found where the background splits with one path leading to a literal dead end but, for players willing to sit down and learn their way through it as would more often be expected of a horizontally scrolling example of the genre, Ano Gaia is enjoyable stuff and technically impressive as well.

4 thoughts on “Playing Ano Gaia (Spectrum)

  1. First off, it’s really irritating me now… the main ‘laser’ effect… where have I heard it (or similar) before?!?!

    The power-up feature, graphic style and status panel on the left reminds me, for some reason, of the Spectrum version of one of my all time fave blasters, ‘Slap Fight’ (or Alcon if you so wish).

    However, the graphics here, while not being mind-blowingly original, are *really* well pixelled and are very colourful! Thumbs up!

    The title screen beeper tune deserves to be played through some kind of mega-bass disco system I think. Great tune! I really must use Beepola more and write something beeper related…

    The ‘dead ends’ don’t bother me too much. I was mauled to death by that feature as a child playing Mastertronics ‘Dark Star’, so I’m used to it.

    Nice game!

  2. I can’t think of anything that sounds exactly the same, although it does ring a few bells. That said, there’s only so much you can do with the beeper during play.

    And Dark Star… oh dear, those memories really aren’t good. People who put dead ends in their fixed speed scrolling shoot ’em ups should be taken outside and yelled at loudly until they stop… and that includes the Bitmap Brothers with Xenon 2 because putting a bloody reverse gear on the spaceship is just papering over the crack!

  3. The sound engine sounds very much like the one used for Hewson & Graftgold titles.

  4. Christian Urquhart (who did various stuff for Hewson) also did at least two games in this style: “Master Blaster” and “Xecutor”. I wonder which game first launched this specific style of vertical-only scrolling space shooter. They always seem a bit similar, with static guns shooting across horizontally, gates opening and closing, etc.

    BTW, don’t believe any ostensible game plot fed to you by YS! They loved making up silliness.

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