Some highly unusual mechanics spice this contest in which the player must defend the ramparts of a castle against a host of ravening orcs and their various supernatural allies. The besieging force has decided to go allout in its assault, and the harried defender will have to use the three main weapons - rocks, swords and burning oil - quickly and effectively to keep the subhuman warriors from racing up their scaling ladders to overwhelm the imposing stone fortress that fills the entire play screen.

The well-drawn defender zips back and forth across the top of the screen on the battlements in response to the joystick. He moves at a fairly rapid pace, however, so that it is necessary to press and hold the action button to slow him down enough to make accurate aiming of missiles directed at the orcs possible. Before the player's onscreen character can do anything to deter the advancing army, he must get a weapon by visiting the caches located at the extreme left and right edges of the display. Once armed with a rock - the usual weapon - he can drop it on the ladder-climbing orcs below, slowing their progress up the wall. Since there are many orcs and only one defender, the player must rush hither and yon, making splitsecond strategic decisions on the fly and not forgetting to watch out for sneaky ninja orcs which don't even need ladders to climb the wall.

If the orcs do get a ladder built that carries one to the battlements, the program automatically gives the defender a sword instead of a rock the next time he rearms. As the orc tries to stab the defender with a dagger, the player's man can swipe at the loathsome creature with the sword. Pulling the handle straight toward the arcader causes the defender to make an especially strong cut with the blade. Too many of these tiring strokes weaken your man, so they must be used with some restraint.

The burning oil is a clever device used to end each wave of attack. When an oil flash appears, dropping it on the attackers causes them to burn up entirely, clearing the way for another assault at a more challenging level of difficulty. And when even those crossbow-firing savages fail to strike terror in the player's heart, look out for the spell-casting wizard, repulsive stone warts, and the demon trolls which appear in a tower of flame.

Orc Attack's greatest strengths are its clever graphics, distinctive playaction and entertaining premise. It can also be a tiring game, one that most home arcaders will not want to test their mettle against too many times in a row. It's great fun to play as a change-of-pace from other, more standard action games, though, and strongly recommended to Atari computer-owners for that reason.