Sunday 20 May 2012

T.L.L. - Sinclair Spectrum - 1984

TLL or Tornado Low Level to give the full title is an arcade game for the Sinclair Spectrum released in 1984.  In the game you control a Tornado bomber and have to destroy targets laid out over a scrolling wraparound play area.  There are five targets which are shown on a map at the start of each mission.  You ‘hit’ targets be flying over them at (surprise, surprise) low level – you don’t need to press any key to hit the targets it is done automatically.

The landscape is displayed in a skewed top down view which gives a 3D effect.  As I said the play area is wraparound which makes it seem larger than it actually is.  This makes the targets easy to find on your radar, and some which appear far away on the map can actually be quite close.  As you have to fly at low level the difficulty comes with avoiding structures such as buildings, electricity pylons and bridges, though you can fly under the bridges and cables.   A neat touch is the shadow of the plane which helps gauge your altitude.

There is no doubt that TLL is a hard game.  The plane flies at two speeds – fast with the wings swept forward and faster with them swept back.  This makes hitting the small targets challenging and requiring several passes.  Later in the game the awkward position of the targets in difficult terrain doesn’t help. The time limit and finite amount of fuel just add to the pressure, although you can land to refuel.

It’s still a very good game though, with a graphical style that surprisingly was only used once again in the follow up, Cyclone.  The scrolling is fast and smooth for the time, though the sound is limited.  The game is colourful too with the dreaded Spectrum attribute clash being well contained.  Although TLL is a difficult game it is still addictive and takes a while to get frustrating.

The round object is one of your targets.

The mission map can be viewed when the aircraft is on the ground.

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