LED Storm, Commodore 64

Well. Come. Back.

Dateline 1989: LED Storm, ladies and gentlemen is an absolute banging C64 game and arcade conversion from those plucky people at Software Creations. Now, I'll be honest, unlike other arcade conversions, I am pretty certain I never actually played (potentially even saw) LED Storm in the local arcade "Dusters" back in Plymouth as I was growing up in 1988. However, I absolutely, and with great fondness, recall getting a copy of and playing for some hours at a time the C64 version.

Who cares about the premise? Not I, m'lud, I hear you cry and I tend to agree and frankly, the 'story' behind LED Storm is immediately forgettable. Something, I am sure, about a "Red car and a Blue car had a race... But all Red wanted to do was stuff his face...", oh and the ability to transform your vehicle from a cool, squat fat-looking (hyper) sports car into some sort of motorised cycle. And "L.E.D."..? Laser Enhanced Destruction Storm - of course!

But that's not what's important, said the Apostrophe King, from the off you're presented with a glorious loading screen, which depicts the action fairly well - red car, majestically leaping the BRIDGE OUT and a futuristic city-scape. But the real beauty occurs as soon as the game has loaded.

Now, I know we all have our favourites: some Hubbard, some Galway, some Daglish, some Maniacs of noise, some Walker, some Gray - the list, rather enjoyably, is long and lustrous. I tend to lean toward Rob, myself, but, I am always returned to a few of this SID Wizard's Masterpieces and LED Storm is no different. Take a bow: Tim Follin. The title tune buckling off from Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water, to the excellent stage intro music as your onboard computer Max is chatting to you about the stage ahead - the music is really, really spot on - a clear highlight of the game.

The game itself, is, as par the course for many a game back in the day, pretty difficult. I think I have managed to get to maybe Stage 6-7 out of the 9 or 10 stages you need to complete. Doing so is an engaging affair though and importantly: fun. Arrows point to potential hazards, choices to be made left or right; the screen actually scrolls left and right, if you steer hard one way or the other - key when you're in the desert / canyon level for not exploding into the tunnel walls.

You can pick up various bonus that boost your speed, fuel and energy; jumps get jumped; space froglets attach themselves to the back of your vehicle and need to be shaken off; "bosses" appear that, well, can simply be avoided and you just wait them out, and of course - your NEMESIS racing against you, is always about somewhere, notably always in the same guise as yourself: car or bike. Sneaky.

The parallax scrolling is smooth as butter, the graphics pretty nice for the time, with only a few glitchy flickers here and there (but they are mos def there!). The music holds it all together, even the 3 cycling stage tunes are really good at keeping the action pacey and the frantic joystick movements moving. There ain't no party like a Tim Follin party...

Moreover, when you die, the ending tunes and the funky AF hi-score tune are also top notch and after the first few bars of Smoke on the Water at the titles again, you simply just want to press fire to "hear" Max discussing the first stage with you, alongside that glorious thirty second SID tune blasting out as the volume bar spanks back and forth, before the bonkers racing actually begins again. And it does begin again, just like Michael Finnegan.

LED Storm was a Capcom arcade that had a decent cabinet and saw a lot of love. The C64 conversion, handled by Software Creations for Go! (I think Go! did all of Capcom's home computer conversions at the time?) is another absolutely stunning example of what the old girl could do back then. I wonder, as I often do with lots of these older games, how a "new" conversion of it would look, play and feel if someone picked up the mantle in 2023/4?

I think, it would be absolutely bloody genius.

Zzap64 Issue 47: 94%
Download: LED Storm
YouTube: LogrusUK