AGH Lynx Review:

by Songbird Productions

Remnant Pic 1
With each successive Lynx programming exercise, Carl Forhan of Songbird Productions seems progressively master the portable Atari machine's hardware intricacies. Both SFX and Ponx were unique in their own right, but were simple 2D efforts which set the stage for his latest and greatest shooter, Remnant: Planar Wars 3D. As the name indicates, with Remnant Forhan has eschewed 2D (which was his original intention with Planar Wars) in favor of a snazzy 3D environment which amptly shows off the Lynx' capabilities, especially in the area of scaling.

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Gameplay wise, it's all old school. You won't find much in the way of frills. Your foes basically consist initially of hostile alien UFOs and stray asteroids (there are a few others in later levels, including the vaunted "sleds"), and there are no power-ups or weapon options to choose from. The player's goal is simply to defend his quadrant from the endless waves of enemy ships by blasting them as they appear.

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Remnant puts you in a first-person, in-the-cockpit view, looking out of a transparent window into space. You're presented with a crosshair in the middile of the screen, which is the indicator of where you're firing (a-la Star Raiders.) When an enemy appears on the screen, the goal is to match up the crosshair with the UFO or asteroid and shoot it. Kill a set number of UFOs, and you're off on your next -- more difficult -- mission. Subsequent stages pit you against multiple simultaneous enemies and hordes of stray meteors which must be either dodged or shot down.

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The UFOs are a handfull, to put it mildly. They definitely are not "dumb," and they don't all behave the same way, either. They zigzag around the screen, making it very difficult for them to be gunned down, especially from long range. You must also contend with enemy first as well -- there's only so much damage you can sustain before you're an interstellar carcass. Simply put, if you can see the cannons or plasma shots at the time they reach you, you've been hit. The way to avoid them is to maneuver in one of the four directions so that the shots are no longer viewable. You cannot be sniped from the side or behind.

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The gameplay might appear pretty simple and ordinary, but that's where Remnant surprises -- and shines. There's no ending to the game; like with most true classics, you fight to the death. Forhan has done an exceptional job fine tuning the difficulty so that it's easy enough to get into, but gets progressively challenging that will make gamers say, "just one more play, I can do better!" The enemy AI is quite intelligent, and did I mention they were quick? As only UFOs have been rumored to do, they zigzag, change directions abruptly, fly around in circles, and swoop in and out of your screen as if it's toying with you. Thankfully, the animation and framerate is exceptionally smooth, so keeping track of them will not cause an eyesore. Their shots also are a thorn on the side, as just when you think you've honed in on the UFO, he's beat you to the trigger and you're left to temporarily focus on dodging his shot instead.

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The graphics in Remnant aren't mind-blowing, but its effects, animation and smoothment of movement which will wow you. The UFOs, Sleds and Asteroids are pre-drawn sprites, but the scaling effects of both of them are not to be missed, and the rotating animation of the meteors are also a treat for the eyes. Sound effects are quite minimal, with simple sounds of your ship thrusting, shots being fired and of things blowing up. On the other hand, the sound quality itself is crisp and clean, particularly the explosions. There is no in-game music in Remnant, but the intro music somewhat makes up for it... it's one of the best tracks ever heard on the Lynx.

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Bottom line: Many sci-fi 3D shooters have more frills and options, but Remnant does its gameplay right. It's also augmented by some very nice special effects. Classic fans will love it because the object of the game is to get the highest score possible, giving the game a longer life than most. A very solid 7. Thumbs up.

To get your copy of Remnant, or other Lynx games by Songbird, pay a visit to the Songbird Productions website.

Remnant tip:
As in most shooters, the key to survival is to be constantly moving. But even more important is how and where to move. In Remnant's case, the majority of it should be done vertically. The general point is to avoid the UFO's shots by moving out of view of the cannons, and considering that the Lynx screen is wider than it's tall, it's quicker to dodge them by moving up and down. In fact, I eventually settled on a strategy of continually moving up, shooting at the UFO when it appears, then dodging its shot by continuing to move up. This effect works, of course, because after a point, you wrap around to the other side of the screen. Good luck!

Title Remnant: Planar Wars 3D
Publisher Sonbird Productions
System Atari Lynx
Graphics 7
Sound 5
Gameplay 7
Overall 7
Reviewer Keita Iida

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