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MORE TEA, VICAR?
By Jonathan Cauldwell, for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K upwards, on cassette.
Cast your mind forward, if you will, to the year 16384 AD. Decades of drought on Earth have turned farmland and plantations alike into parched wilderness and arid desert. With hundreds of billions of mouths to feed across the solar system, the floors of planet Earth's oceans have been given over almost entirely to the production of food. Space is at a premium, and there is little room for anything seen as a luxury item. Rationing has been introduced for many items, while others, such as tea and coffee, are almost impossible to source.
Divided by bickering governments, the United Planets, the successor to the UN, has been noticeably inept as the situation spirals out of control. Bureaucrats accept bribes, governments prevaricate, oppositions posture and arguments and accusations are batted to and fro across the debating chambers of the world.
Fortunately, the Reverend Wayne Fleet of St Leonard's Chapel near the Sea of Tranquility, part-time farmer, gun runner and smuggler, has a substantial plantation on the red planet, on which he grows his illegal genetically-modified tea plants. Each year he is able to produce hundreds of tons of low grade yet highly sought-after Earl Grey tea which he is able to sell on the black market to the highest bidder. All this while preaching the gospel to audiences across the solar system, and beyond.
The Reverend Fleet's activities make the authorities deeply uneasy. This illicit tea cannot be easily taxed, it is not rationed, and is beyond the control of authorities around the galaxy. In a fit of pique, the powers-that-be finally pass their first successful resolution in many years. Tea smugglers are declared outlaws and a bounty is placed upon the head of known traffickers.
...it provides a healthy challenge, and aesthetically holds up with the very best of them. It also bucks the trend in the genres of retro homebrew releases on the Spectrum and this in itself is enough to warrant your time and attention.. 4/5
OLD SCHOOL GAMING:
That said, More Tea, Vicar? is without doubt one of the best Spectrum shoot 'em ups going and is certainly up there with classics like Zynaps and probably even the revered R-Type as well, so it's absolutely worth sitting down with for anyone with a love of the genre. But bring along a decent joystick for this one, because the fire button is going to take a serious hammering! 9/10