Uridium 2 - Graftgold

Uridium 2

Reviewed by Akira

Back in the day when computers loaded games off cassettes, the golden era of the 8 bit computers, there was a guy called Andrew Braybrook, who just jumped from programming stuff for the Dragon 32 in a company, to develop games for the Commodore 64, because the Dragon collapsed. And with this move, one of the legends among european programmers was born. Andrew created some of the most stunning games of the time. This guy had a hobby (or obsession?): to squeeze the most out of the platform he was working on. From his mind came the much acclaimed Uridium on the Commodore 64, and a good number of years later, he made the much-wanted sequel, which Uridium fans bought by the lorryload. But were they ripped off or was that hard-earned cash well spent? Let's take a look...

In Uridium 2 you fly your Manta ship towards the incoming fleets of Leviathan dreadnoughts. There are 6 fleets in total, each containing a number of dreadnoughts (I think about 5 or 6). When you face each dreadnought, you have to attack the ship's onboard defense vessels, and also the deck defense system it has. Your goal in each dreadnought is to destroy a number of enemy attack waves, and then proceed to land on the dreadnought's deck, breach into the reactor core and destroy it. To complete the task, you can choose from various game modes:

One Player gameplay : Take on the Leviathan fleets by yourself.
2 Players Simultaneous gameplay: Grab a mate and kick Leviathan ass together!
2 Players Alternate gameplay: Oldschool style, compete to see who does better!
One Player+Drone gameplay: If you don't have a mate to play with, use a drone!
Alternate 2 Players with Drones gameplay: Same as 2 Players Alternate, but each player has a drone.

The game delivers as expected. The gameplay from the C64 version was retained, along with obvious tweaks and enhancements here and there, like the ability to grab various powerups (shown below).

From top to bottom, left to right: 500 points, 1000 points, Twin Laser, Twin Bombs, Aim Bomb, Shield, Beam Laser, Homing Missiles, Earthquake, Circle Laser, Ripple Laser, Spread Shot, Seeker, X2 and 1-Up

Graphically the game is good. The dreadnoughts are nicely drawn, with lots of detail and little animations everywhere. The sprites are good looking and well animated. Attention to detail is big.

The sound is good. The background music fits the levels well, fast tempo songs that fit the 'kill kill kill!' mood. Sound effects are the usual thing: sampled female voices here and there, stock shmup laser sounds, you know the deal.

Gameplay is the most important part of the game. The game is original. The game is fast. It has to be the fastest shmup the Amiga has. It scrolls to its side but it has a top-down view, and you control the scroll's direction and speed. In later levels, even walls appear in the deck, which you will obviously have to avoid, making for some evasive actions (or explosions) worth to be seen. However the walls don't appear from thin air and smash you. You have a scanner in the bottom of the screen, which shows a simplified dreadnought map, and it serves the function of locating walls, incoming ships, deck foes and Uridimines...

As for attack waves, they're not fixed. There is completely no memorization to be done here. Attack waves appear randomly at you, from your back or your front, but they don't just pop up in front of your nose and blast you. Everytime a new attack wave appears, you hear a sound that alerts you and then you can check the scanner to see where they're coming from. Some waves have a formation leader, which is painted in another color and will give extra points and a Victory point once shot. These Victory points allow you to get to the end of level a lot faster.

How the enemies work is something else, which I have not seen in any other shmup. The little ships actually have some slick AI routines. You might start to chase them, and suddenly, they change the formation to avoid your bullets, or to make you smash into a wall, or even worse, they might do a wickedly fast loop, get on your back and shoot you to death. They're really very smart and each one in the formation seem to know what the other one is going to do.

There's a lot more to say about Uridium 2, since as the levels progress, gameplay elements are added (like scanner jammers), but this revie wcan't take forever, so I suggest you to give this game a go. No flashy cut-scenes, no intros, just 100% pure shoot'em up action. This game is a shmup you just don't want to miss, so I'd say that if you don't have an Amiga, you should be getting one right now =)

This is as far as mid-level eyecandy goes in Uridium 2. It shows you dta regarding the forthcoming fleet, like the name, what kind of walls are there, and how that fleet's Uridimines look like.

These Uridimines are homing mines which you can get rid of with a well aimed shot, or by escaping from their range. Look out for any opening in the dreadnought's deck, since they usually hide Uridimines or deckguns

Attacking the first dreadnought. Up there in the middle is my manta ship, which is right now on its side. You can rotate the Manta keeping pressed the fire button and pushing up or down.

Look at the landing field down there. Those ships can take off in any minute and you can shoot'em down of course.

Damn, in this screen I can barely see myself. Anyway, that round thing is a Victory Point. When some enemy releases one of these, your time to end the level comes closer. And if you grab the icon before it leaves the screen, you will split it into 3, thus making the time to land even shorter.

Look at the bottom right. That ship took its place on the track and is about to take off! Of course you don't want that to happen, do you =)

When you have killed the needed number of attack waves (or grabbed enough Victory points), you will hear the female voice say 'Land Now!'. At this point you must head for the runway which has 2 big arrows pointing at it, aim straight between them, and the Manta will land.

Once landed the pilot jumps on his mecha suit and enters the core of the dreadnought. First it has a shield and some defense weapons, which you must take down. some tihngs worth of note here: Your mecha has some heavy inertia, your recoil pushes you backwards, and you can switch sides by going to the edge of the screen.

After you take the shields down the core starts spewing rocks and crap towards you. Avoid'em and shoot it into oblivion! (© Corny Captions 2001)

Once destroyed everything starts to fall apart. Stone shards will fall and you must avoid them, while grabbing the yummy powerups. Before your energy runs out, escape the ship leaving the firebutton pressed and entering the warp gate that appears.

When playing in simultaneous 2 player mode, one player is lead and the otehr is wingleader. Once each level ends, the player who got the most points in that level will lead in the next one. This will allow a bit of 'fighting' for the best score.

Here are the 2 Mantas in simultaneous 2player mode. The silver one is leading, so it controls teh general direction of the scroll, the speed, etc. The Wingleader manta will only be able to move vertically. A bit limited but it works out, and it's not that bad when you get to nab the lead.

2 players core action. Be careful with one extra thing here: you can shoot the other mecha. So unless you have something against each other, be careful!

That cannon shot almost got me! As you advance, ships get bigger and you can also scroll vertically. Be careful of those little hatches in the deck, from there Uridimines come out.

Here I am chasing some attack wave. It's not unusual that these bastards might make a wicked turn and end up shooting at me from the back.

Lots of defenseless ships on the deck for me to shoot, nyahaha. The Silver Manta is wearing an exclusive Circle Laser weapon design, made by Jean Paul Gautier XIX in the year 2350.

Around the 3rd or 4th dreadnought of fleet 1, we start seeing walls. Check out that scanner! Oops, somebody broke the scanner! Bloody emulators!

KABOOM!!!!!!!!! There goes the dreadnought.

I never understood why they designed these ships with flaws that allow small ships to break in and blow them up big time (read: Death Star effect)

Onto fleet 2. Again, they show you the updated look of the Uridimines, walls, deckguns, etc.

More walls than ever here. This is a very nice wave. In the middle we have a formation leader which will reveal a Victory point once shot. And no, the ship on the top has not been damaged. That is me in the deck exploding to pieces.

Ok, these are the most mean enemies I have found in the game so far. They nicely go in a line, shooting aimlessly and pretending to be shite. But when you start to chase them, and get hot on their tail, they do what you see in the screenshot, very fast, getting on YOUR tail and shooting you. Way too smart, I hate them!

Only way to avoid that attack is to react fast and start rolling to a side. Even you do so you might not save your ass.

I'd like to se where I am here. Ok I got it. That Uridimine hit me and I'm dead. As always.

As you progress, the core gets more protection. Here it has developed the ability to create the NEEDED Shmup-Snake©.

I always loose a lot of lives in this level. It's full of walls and you need to do quite a bit of scanner-navigation... However I have no scanner here, thanks to the stupid emulator.

Be sure to rack up those 1ups, you get one every 10k points, and you'll need'em.

'Look ma'! Upside down! Upside down!' BOOM

I can't keep on playing without the scanner. Damned emulators. I'm turning on the Amiga, nothing beats the real thing...

Well, what did I forget to say? If you play the game in an Amiga 1200 (or any other AGA powered machine), you will get extra treats, like smoke trails coming out of the missiles, extra sound samples and a special game mode called Mayhem, which seems to be for the very masochist shmuppers out there.

Gosh, I wrote a lot up there. And I left out quite a bit! =P

- Akira


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie