RISC World

4th Dimension Shoot-em-up Games CD

Matthew Thompson

This is the next instalment in the range of 4th Dimension game collections, and this time we have a number of shoot-em-up games. There are some classic alien blasters here, plus a few not so classic ones as well!

The line up for this compilation is :

  • Apocalypse
  • Drop Ship
  • Euro Blaster
  • Galactic Dan
  • Nevryon
  • Quazer
  • Shoot-up
  • Technodream
  • X-Fire

Installation of the CD-ROM is straightforward, and is the same as all the previous 4D games collections. Upon loading the CD run the installation program and then follow the on screen instructions and the installation should now begin. Once it's done it's time to get zapping those aliens!!


Apocalypse is a game set in the future, as most of these shoot-em-up games seem to be. This time you are the pilot in a spacecraft known as the Llanerk, a very high tech craft which is the only way of destroying a race known as the Rakonans. They have taken over a number of planets and it is your job to destroy the Rakonan colonies on these planets to an extent that they cannot survive and the planet is then 'sterlised'. It can then be re-colonised by the original inhabitants.

Upon starting the game your craft descends to the planet surface and the battle begins. There are plenty of things to destroy, mainly on the ground, but from time to time you will come under attack from flying saucers and other things in the sky. You are initially based on the ground, but it is possible take off and fly your craft around in the air. However your craft's energy is drained much quicker when flying so to recharge the energy levels you need to return to ground level and stay still for a while.

Your craft is protected by shields and they can take a number of hits before they are finally destroyed. Shields can be recharged by moving your craft away from enemy fire. Once the shields have been destroyed one single enemy shot will finish you off.

As you progress around the landscape you will encounter buildings and objects, all of which can be destroyed. However some don't need to be, for example there are small houses which can be flattened but these are harmless so you don't really need to worry about them too much. You should pay more attention to the other objects that fire back at you - these need to disposed of as soon as you see them.

When you have destroyed enough objects on the planet to sterilise it the mission will end. You will then be presented before the Royal Guild of Spacing who will assess your performance. You will also end up here when your game ends. There are nine planets to sterilise and at the start of the game only one is available so you have to complete each of the planets in order to gain access to the next one.

Apocalypse is not a difficult game to get into, just move your ship around the planets and shoot and destroy everything that you come into contact with. Control of your spacecraft is with the mouse, with the keyboard used to perform specific functions such as the viewing of planet map and the firing of bombs.

The levels get progressively more difficult with a higher percentage of objects which need to be destroyed before the planet is sterilised. The amount of enemies increases to make the task more difficult. There is a large variation in the number of different types of objects on the ground to destroy which adds to the interest of the game.

Graphically I think Apocalypse looks good. It doesn't seem to have dated too much and the graphics still look OK now with colourful landscapes, well drawn ships and objects. It has a lot of attention to detail with things like rivers with a boat that moves along it, plus there are great big explosions when objects are destroyed.

This is quite a noisy game, with plenty of in game shooting noises, explosions, and when your energy levels are getting low a continuous alarm noise rings out. When your game is over and you visit the Royal Guild of Spacing, a sampled voice states "We are the superior beings" stating that the Rakonans are a better race than the humans. This sampled voice is actually a dalek and comes straight from the record "Doctorin' The Tardis" by the Timelords.

Overall I quite liked Apocalypse. There's not a high amount of variety to it really, just nine levels of destroying everything in sight, but despite that I found it a quite entertaining game and it certainly had the "one more go" appeal to try to complete the level. Overall not the greatest game ever but certainly it's one worth playing.

Drop Ship

The year is 2030 and planet Earth receives a transmission from a colony on Mars stating that there has been an outbreak of radiation and that their defence systems have gone haywire and are on the brink of meltdown. The only way to stop this is by shutting down all the reactors on the Mars colony - so guess what your mission is in this game?

Dropship places you in control of a small ship and you must shut down the reactor on each of the 15 levels. However there is a bit more to this task than simply shutting them down, you have to collect all of the power crystals on each level. Once this is achieved then head to the exit and the level is complete and the reactor can be closed down. To obtain the crystals you need to destroy the crystal bases. When a base is destroyed the crystal will appear and float around the screen until it is collected.

You will encounter numerous hazards on your mission to obtain the crystals. Most notably the defence systems which will shoot at you should you get near them, so blast them away before they do the same to you. On later levels you have to shoot pressure points to make doors open to let you into other parts of the level.

Dropship is a tricky game to play, most notably due to the added factor of gravity. Take your finger off the the thrust key and your craft will plummet towards the bottom of the screen, and if it hits anything then you will lose a life. Anyone who played Thrust on the BBC will have a good idea of what this is like. You can control your craft via the mouse, but this is not particularly easy at all so keyboard control is the best option.

There is a password system available to jump the earlier levels which will no doubt come as a relief as this is no easy game and once you've cracked a level you won't want to keep replaying it to get further into the game.

During the game when you destroy aliens and defence systems, bonus credits will appear. Collect these and in between levels you can spend them in the shop to buy upgrades for your ship.

Graphically Dropship looks good and hasn't aged that much at all. Sprites are well drawn and detailed and suit the game well. As for the sounds, not much really apart from the usual in game sounds of shooting, explosions and for the collection of pickups. There is a rather good title page tune which is very typical of the 4th Dimension releases of this time.

There is a slight problem with running Dropship on these later RISC OS 4 machines, and that is the speed, it runs way too fast and makes the game impossible to play. Due to the fact you need a bit of skill and concentration to complete this levels, one wrong movement and you can be in the wall without realising, so you have to slow this game down. The best option is to use a RISC OS 3 machine if you have the option to, failing that I found running !Vsync before you run Dropship seemed to solve this problem and make it more playable.

(There is actually a Module on the Games Page on the APDL website called Slow Motion which is intended to solve this problem. It can be used with almost any game and will slow it down by any amount you choose. DH)

Overall Dropship is a pretty decent game. It is quite challenging and not the easiest of games to play. You'll need a lot of skill and patience to complete it, but having said that it's entertaining to play and is definitely worth a go.

(There seems to be a bug in this version of Dropship which causes the game to crash, if you collect any credits it will crash the game when you complete that level, however if you do not collect any credits during the game then it will not crash. The chances of you not collecting credits at some point is highly unlikely so be aware of this. Dropship was tested on VirtualRPC so may be OK on a real Risc PC, hopefully this issue can be resolved at some point as it spoils the game).

Euro Blaster

In short this game is basically Space Invaders, but it's a very good version of the old classic arcade game. It was written by the demo coding team Gek Programs, and was originally released by legendary Public Domain library 'The Datafile'. Euroblaster now finds itself preserved on this Shoot-em-up games collection.

Upon loading you will see the title page. From here you can select music and sound options and also redefine the keys. When you are ready press the Space bar to start the game.

Euroblaster consists of endless levels of fast and furious arcade action. The object of the game is to destroy every alien which appears on the screen. These appear in various shapes and sizes and in formation patterns, and it's your job to wipe them out. When all the aliens have been destroyed the next level will begin. That is all there really is to the game - destroy aliens, but then if it wasn't it wouldn't be Space Invaders would it?

The early levels are very straightforward but the further you get into the game the harder it gets. More aliens appear, the game gets much faster and the aliens have different formation patterns and will start shooting back at you. Try not to lose too many lives in the earlier levels and build up a good stock of backup lives.

Euroblaster sounds a lot better when played through external speakers turned up loud with plenty of in game explosions and shooting noises, plus a really good in game tune which sounds even better when played loudly. On the visual side of things the graphics are quite basic but they are effective and it all looks good and suits the game well.

Overall this is a great little game. It doesn't look much but I found it to be really good fun to play, very easy to get into and rack up some really high scores. I also found it addictive and certainly made me want to have another game. Simple but effective sums this game up nicely I think!

Galactic Dan

Galactic Dan is a futuristic 3D maze game in which you take on the role of special agent 'Galactic' Dan Quicksmart and your objective is to rescue hostages from the planet Lygon. The natives there are Poloids, and they have been taken prisoner by an evil race known as the Vorians.

Or to put it another way you have to move round a maze environment and collect a number of items then get to the exit to complete the level and then move onto the next one.

The game is controlled by a combination of the mouse and the keyboard and this seems to work quite well. Once into the game, you move round the corridors and must locate and rescue the Poloid hostages. These are funny looking things which look something like a green space hopper wearing a comic relief nose!

These things bounce around the levels and when you rescue a hostage it will thank you for rescuing it by saying "Thank You" in a very high pitched voice. Where this is sampled from I'm not totally sure, but it does sound very much like it could come from an episode of "A Bit Of Fry & Laurie" where Hugh Laurie sings "Hey Jude" on helium, and afterwards says "Thank You" at the end and it sounds very much like this!

Poloids are not the only things in the mazes. There are a number of enemies out there who are guarding the hostages and will shoot at you if they spot you. Luckily you can return the favour and shoot at them as well. There are pickups dotted around the maze which give you extra energy and different weapons. Sometimes the enemies will drop pickups when you destroy them so keep a lookout for them.

Each level has a required number of Poloids to rescue. This has to be achieved within a time limit otherwise it's game over. Once you have rescued the required amount of hostages, make your way to the exit to complete the level.

The graphics of Galactic Dan are a bit hit and miss. The actual mazes themselves are pretty much just plain walls, but the characters within the games are very well drawn. They were created using the ray tracing program Render Bender II from Clares Micro Supplies from many years ago. The whole game is really bright and colourful, but it does look a little bit dated now. On the audio side nothing particularly impressive just in game noises of footsteps, gunfire and a few sampled voices and that's about it.

One thing about the game, on a RISC OS 4 machine (virtual and real) it runs at a ridiculously fast pace and makes it a bit too difficult to play. There are public domain utilities which will slow it down. I find !Vsync does a pretty good job that, so best to run the game first before loading it.

Overall this isn't a bad game. It's quite easy to get into, but I didn't really find that interesting or exciting. There is one thing that could have been included which I think would have made it a lot better, and that is the inclusion of a map. Many times, especially on the later levels, I had rescued all the hostages but could not find the exit and kept going round and round in circles and then the time ran out. A little on screen map, showing the exit and perhaps flashing dots for each hostage on the level would have made the game a lot better. Galactic Dan is an OK game to include on a compilation and certainly worth giving a try - it's good but could have been a better.


Nevryon is definitely one of the stars of this compilation. It's clearly inspired from the classic shoot-em-up game R-Type. This is one game that RISC OS gamers should definitely have in their collections and if they haven't yet then now is the time to do so.

The game involves controlling a spacecraft through a number of sideways scrolling levels. On each of these levels you will encounter hoards of aliens which you need to destroy. Should you reach the end of the level you will then meet with the 'End Of Level Boss' as they are affectionately known. Defeat the boss and the level is complete.

During the course of each level various collectables will float towards your ship. You need to acquire these to increase the power of your ship. These collectables include faster firepower, mines, protector droids and shields to name but a few. After a while you can make yourself a really strong and powerful ship.

Playing Nevryon is quite challenging. The first couple of levels are fairly easy to complete but the further you get into the game the more difficult the levels become with more alien craft, more parts of the landscape which can damage your craft, so the more collectables you get to power up your ship the better.

There is one very annoying thing in Nevryon and that is when you lose a life you have to start that particular level again. This is very irritating for two reasons. The first is that you lose your extra weapons you have obtained from collecting all the collectables. Even more annoying is the fact you get transported back to the start of that level. This does kind of spoil the game and is the only real criticism of it. Thankfully in the sequel game, Technodream, this has been changed.

On the graphics side of things Nevyron looks excellent. It did back then when it was released in the early 1990s and still does now. The graphics don't look dated at all, and the levels are very well drawn, with a great attention to detail on the various alien crafts, the landscapes and the big explosions when you destroy things or get destroyed yourself. The whole game looks really good.

The sound effects of Nevryon are just as good as the graphics with a good quality introductory tune and plenty of in-game noises including explosions, shooting things, pick up noises, plus also a number of different in-game tunes which are of a good quality as well.

Overall this is a quality classic RISC OS game and is highly recommended. This is a game which no RISC OS gamer should really be without. Also worth checking out is the BBC Micro version, not quite in the same league as this version, but it was still a very good game for the BBC.


This was one of the first commercial games released for RISC OS computers, in fact we might have even been still on Arthur when this game first appeared although I think RISC OS 2 had just arrived (you were right the first time, it was Arthur - ED). Anyway this game is an upwards scrolling shoot everything that moves type game. It reminds me a bit of the BBC Micro classic game, Firetrack, but doesn't come anywhere near close.

Quazer is simple to control. You move your spaceship left, right up and down and then fire at whatever is moving about on the screen. Simple to play and it's easy to get into and progress through quite a number of levels quite quickly.

The graphics of Quazer are bright and colourful and there are a number of different alien types to deal with over the levels. They are a bit basic, as is the game in general, but it's a bit unfair to criticise considering that the Archimedes machines were in their infancy when this game was released.

On the audio side of things there are plenty of in-game explosions and shooting noises, plus a not particularly brilliant title tune. The game has a password system so that you can return to your highest level each time rather than having to wade through all the early levels again to get back to the point where you got killed last time.

Not really much else to say about this game, overall nothing spectacular, but as part of this compilation can't really complain. Plus it gives a retro look back at early RISC OS gaming if nothing else!

(As an aside I challenge anyone to complete Quazer, cos it can't be done - ED)


This game makes Quazer look like the best shoot-em-up game ever! To be fair Shootup is a public domain game so if you aren't paying for it can't really complain, and it's basically a bonus on this CD collection.

Shootup is very simple to play and very basic. In short you shoot everything on the screen before it gets you. There is any energy bar and when that runs out it's game over.

The graphics are pretty basic and stay the same for all of the levels I saw, although the colour will change for each level. The only variant seemed to be adding more and more aliens on each subsequent level. Overall nothing special, but it is a freebie.


This is the sequel to Nevryon, and was originally advertised as a 4th Dimension release, but the project was binned. It was later revived and released by Superior Software, so although not a 4D release it does warrant a place on this compilation.

Being the sequel to Nevryon, this is pretty much more of the same. It's a sideways scrolling game in which you fly your spacecraft through a number of different levels of varying difficulty, shooting anything that moves, and in some cases shooting things that don't move as well.

When you shoot aliens random collectables will appear. The more of these you collect the more powerful your spacecraft will become. These collectables include shields, mines, bigger guns, faster firepower and protective droids which you can fire in front of your craft to clear the way ahead for you. Very useful indeed!

There are 18 different levels, each divided up into zones, and they are passworded so you can skip early levels and get straight back into the action where you lost your last life. At the end of each level you have to defeat the 'end of level boss', in order to move onto the next level.

One of the most annoying features of Nevryon was that when you lost a life you would have to start that level again right from the beginning. Thankfully this has been changed in Technodream so that when you lose a life you just carry on, minus that life, but you do still lose the power ups you collected.

Another new feature is the introduction of a two player mode. This is a proper two player mode where both players are on screen at the same time, not waiting for your turn whilst the other person plays. You can team up together to complete the levels or play against each other.

Technodream is definitely an easier game to play than Nevryon. The first couple of levels are relatively straightforward to get through, but the difficulty level does increase on the later zones. This is where the password system comes in so you can go straight back to the game and try again should you fail, but the overall aim is to complete them all in one go without using any passwords.

The sounds in Technodream are reasonably good. There are the usual in game noises of explosions and shooting noises, plus an in game tunes which definitely sound better with the volume turned up. Plus there is introductory sequence music. Graphically Technodream looks good, the spacecraft is the same from the first game and there are plenty of aliens of each of the levels to destroy, plus of course the end of level bosses. The levels have different backdrops and landscapes to help to keep the game varied.

Overall then it's a decent enough sequel to Nevryon. Not the greatest ever shoot-em-up and pales a bit in comparison to Nevryon, but is still well worth playing, I liked it and definitely enjoyed playing it.


You would be forgiven for looking at this game and thinking that doesn't look particularly exciting, and to be fair it doesn't look like much of a game, but you would be very wrong indeed. Despite the look of this game it is a very addictive (and annoying at times) arcade shoot em up.

The game takes place in a maze. This screen layout stays the same for every level, although the colours and the graphics do change on each level to add a bit of variety. The object of the game sounds simple, just guide your craft around the maze and blast everything that moves. When all the aliens have been destroyed the level ends and it's on to the next one.

Sounds easy doesn't it? It's not as each level contains a number of different nasties who each have their own strengths. The bug looking creature which is known as "Henry" is easy to dispose of but the "JCB" is indestructible from the front so you have to have to shoot at it from behind. On later levels mines get laid around the screen to add to your problems.

These are just a few of the alien enemies who are out to get you but luckily there a number of power ups to collect to assist you in the destruction of aliens. The best one is the "Immediate Zap" which does exactly what it says on the tin! Collect this and all aliens on the screen are destroyed instantly, so best to wait until the screen is quite busy then go and get it. Other pick ups include bombs, shields and small zaps which you can collect and use them as and when you need them.

X-Fire is pretty straightforward to play. Guide your craft round the screen and shoot at things and avoid getting killed, that's basically it! It doesn't sound much but I found that the game is very addictive and you certainly has the 'one more go' appeal, as you have another go straight away to try and get a bit further. It can be very easy to get killed if you aren't careful, but with a bit of practice and a good collection of weapons you should be able to progress quite far into the game.

As you can see from the screenshots it's not the most spectacular of games to look at but it makes up for that with good gameplay. Each level has it's own colour scheme and graphics to keep the game varied, the aliens are colourful and well drawn and I think it looks very good, and doesn't appear dated at all. The sounds are noisy and effective though there is a looped backing track which can become annoying. In addition to that there are plenty of explosions and shooting noises, but the sampled voice of "You're Dead" each time you lose a life can get irritating, but maybe this is because it's reminding you that you've just lost another life!

Overall this is a great game, and the old saying "don't judge a book by it's cover" is very appropriate here. One other thing, this copy of X-Fire on the 4D CD was my official 4th Dimension patched version which I supplied to APDL, so when you see the high score table you may notice some rather strange names appearing there. To the best of my knowledge John Craven hasn't played X-Fire, well not on my machine anyway!

All the games on this compilation, except for Dropship, will run on any RISC OS machine without any problems. They have all been updated to run on the later RISC OS 4 Strong ARM machines and are now hard disc compliant so no need to insert the key disc to run them anymore. So if you had these games on their original 4th Dimension release and you can't get them to work on later hardware you will find that these new versions will work fine.

The Iyonix compatibility of this compilation is suprisingly good, using Aemulor Pro quite a few of the games work perfectly, the ones that work fine are :

  • Apocalypse
  • Galactic Dan (it's fast on a Risc PC, it's ridiculous on the Iyonix!)
  • X-Fire
  • Shootup
  • Nevryon (seems to work but after the main title page I seem to get a page of rubbish displayed, this may be my LCD monitor being awkward but if you can get past this screen by clicking the mouse and pressing keys then the game itself works fine)

The following games didn't run on the Iyonix under Aemulor Pro.

  • Technodream
  • Euro Blaster
  • Drop Ship
  • Quazer

Overall this compilation follows suite of the previous 4D games collections in that you get a very good collection of quality RISC OS games at a fraction of the original price that they all would have cost individually.

For me the best games are Nevryon and X-Fire, closely followed by Technodream, Apocalypse and Dropship. The only game which really isn't up to much is Shootup but this was a public domain game anyway so it can be excused. With eight decent games for the bargain price of £15.00 this compilation is definitely worth checking out.

Product details

Product: Shoot-em-up Games CD
Supplier: APDL
Price: £14.90
Address: 39 Knighton Park Road Sydenham London SE26 5RN
Tel: 0208 7782659

Matthew Thompson