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Published in 1994 for AGA machines only, Banshee has much in common with Apidya. It’s an Amiga exclusive, it looks and sounds utterly fantastic, and it could easily be said to be the finest example of its genre – in this case, vertically-scrolling shoot-‘em-ups – ever released for the format.
Graphically, Banshee is extra-special. It takes full advantage of the AGA chipset to make everything look as sumptuous as possible, and the attention-to-detail in the sprites and scenery is a treat to behold. Soldiers hop from the backs of trucks, parachute from planes and pop up from behind trees and packing crates to take pot-shots at you. Level crossings activate to announce the approach of trains. Rain, fog, snow and sandstorms test your flying skills as enemy projectiles suddenly become that much more difficult to see. Infantry zombies emerge from graves. Eskimos glance around furtively before detonating their igloos…we could be here all week listing all the smashing little visual touches.
The gameplay more than lives up to the quality of the presentation, with the many and varied baddies coming equipped with all manner of different ways to blast your souped-up biplane out of the sky, requiring a surprising amount of strategy to keep yourself airborne. The neat power-up system adds another strategic element as you can change the bonus tokens by shooting them, so you need to keep your eyes peeled to avoid grabbing them at the wrong moment, or inadvertently colliding with something as you race to grab the bonus you want.
For its final release Banshee was graced with a soundtrack by Martin Iveson, including a punchy title theme, but the developers ultimately decided against having any in-game music. However, the Banshee demo given away with Amiga Power's 37th issue *did* feature an in-game tune, composed by another Martin altogether – Martin Schjøler – and it’s this stirringly adventurous theme that’s being remixed for the Amiga Power album, courtesy of Brian Sadler, the man behind the music for Harry Partridge's ace animated series Starbarians.