The Game: Destroy massive motherships while fighting waves of enemies and avoiding obstacles at breakneck speeds in this groundbreaking horizontal SHMUP. There’ll be time to rest when you’re dead. (Hewson, 1986)
Memories: Uridium is one of the fastest games I’ve ever played. At top speed, things whiz by you so quickly that your reflexes simply aren’t fast enough. You’ll have to memorize the levels to fly at that speed – too bad you can’t memorize where the next wave fleet of enemies will be coming from.
It doesn’t matter that the box says you’re piloting a Manta class Space Fighter. In Uridium, you fly a snowspeeder from The Empire Strikes Back, making horizontal runs along the surface of big huge ships called Dreadnaughts (which might as well be Star Destroyers). Similar to a side-scrolling Zaxxon, players must destroy guns, ships, and parts of the Dreadnaughts themselves by shooting them. To complicate matters, youâ€™ll be under constant attack by waves of enemy fighters who don’t take too kindly to your attempts to destroy their star cruiser. Fly too slowly and you’ll be hunted down by a smart mine. Fly too fast and you’ll discover the hard way all the walls, antenna, and other indestructible objects that have been mounted to the deck of the ship.
Destroy enough of the ship and youâ€™ll be given clearance to land, after which the Dreadnaught will begin to self-destruct. Don’t spend too much time celebrating. Another ship is always waiting in the wings.
Uridium was one of the first games I ever saw on the Commodore 64 that made me say, “this looks good enough to be an arcade game.” It looked and played that good to me. From your ship’s spinning 180 degree U-turns to the shadows cast on the decks of the Dreadnaughts, Uridium was a graphical masterpiece. Programmed and designed by the legendary Andrew Braybrook (also responsible for Paradroid and the C64 port of Rainbow Islands), Uridium raised the space shoot-’em-up bar to an all-new level. Along with a catchy theme song and some exciting sound effects, Uridium sounded as good as it looked.
Fans of the game should also check out Uridium+ and Uridium II, which combine the same frantic gameplay with all new layouts. Uridium was also one of the games included on a recent all-in-one Commodore 64 plug-and-play gaming joystick.
Despite its breakneck speed and overall lack of depth, Uridium is a classic entry in the shoot-’em-up genre. Just when computer games appeared to have hit a plateau, Uridium blew the Commodore community away and sent programmers back to the drawing board collectively scratching their heads.