Tuesday, 28 June 2011

F**k Me! It's Crap Game Corner!: The Evil Dead (ZX Spectrum, 1984)

The cover from the C64 version. Best thing about the game, really.

You've watched the movie, you've worn the t-shirt (probably), you've worn the badge (probably not), now, from Palace Software, creators of the rather excellent Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior, comes a game so terrifying, you'll shit yourself. At least, thats what we're meant to believe. You see, the subject matter was based on Sam Raimi's cult horror flick, which was banned for years because of it's graphic content of violence (eyes being poked in, and pencils being rammed into peoples ankles) and some disturbing scenes (a woman being, erm, porked by a tree, anyone?), it was finally allowed on video in the mid 90's, but was heavily cut and made absolutely no bloody sense at all. So, along comes DVD, and the movie in it's uncut form (hooray!). I loved the film so much, it made me want to try the game from 1984. Now, I wish I hadn't. So, open the Necronomicon, play the tape recorder, and load your shotgun, as this is gonna be a long night.
Even this looks crap.

The game is viewed from above, and it's your job to close all the doors and windows to stop the Evil from entering the cabin you're trapped in and, eventually must pick up The Book of the Dead and destroy it to complete the game. You can pick up the trademark chainsaw and shotgun, with which to blast away at the evil little bastards. And, if you have Currah Speech enabled, you get a rather distorted 'JOIN US' blurted to you. But how does the game look? Being this was made in 1984, it's ok. It's rather sparse with the detail, and simplistic, but they do their job. Just about, anyway.
I thought the cabin was supposed to be made out of wood?

The gameplay is where the game falls flat on its arse, but not in a comedic way. More a sort of drunken stumble. Theres only so much of closing windows and doors and shooting possessed friends you can do before you feel like doing something else. Like watching Emmerdale. Or, *shudder*, The Only Way Is Essex whilst tied to a chair with Jordan (and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy).

No, it's not as bad as Predator, but it's certainly a load of old bollocks. So much so, it wasn't even sold on the Spectrum, but given away with Cauldron on side B instead. But, I'd still feel cheated.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Herr Bartlett, put your hends....Eppp!: Escape from Colditz - Digital Magic Software (Commodore Amiga)

It's 1943. The world is gripped by war. The Allies are preparing the plans to overthrow the German War Machine on the beaches of Normandy and the ill fated Operation Market Garden in a years time. But, for some, they have no choice but to sit out the war, in Stalag compounds and one war time prison. The most infamous of them all. They said it was impossible to escape from. They were wrong.

Based on the 4 books by Major Reid (one of the escapees), you control one of 4 main characters of various nationalities that you can switch between at any time. Your job is simple: escape by any means necessary, either by tunneling out or in a wooden box (if you attempt to just run out the front door). You can do this by picking up keys, lockpicks, German uniforms and the required papers, shovels and saws, and using them accordingly (for instance, certain panels can be sawn out, and either stuff hidden underneath, or tunnels can be dug.). Certain areas are considered off limits, like the German Quarters, and if you are caught, any items on your person will be confiscated, and you'll be thrown in solitary confinement.

The game is really deep, as there is so much to do: dodging guards while out after hours, digging tunnels, impersonating guards while finding the relevant tools, escaping the guards who have found you. The graphics are great, even with the minimal use of colour (especially when you've been put in solitary). Another element consists of when you get caught in an out of bounds area (as mentioned before), all the tools and items you were carrying get taken off you, meaning the game gets harder as you've less of the tools to help you escape. This throws a bit of intensity into the game, meaning you have less tools to work with, which means working out what rooms to open or not, as some are only furnished with a bed or a table or even contain a lockpick or key.

The guards' AI is extremely on the ball. And if you're not meant to be somewhere, they will catch you, or shoot you. This also adds another bit of intensity to the game, and it's refreshing to see this in a game, and it never feels unfair.

If you can't find the original version on the Amiga, grab the recently released PC port, which is nigh on perfect, and even retains the original music, which is awsome.
And not a Bottom reference or an image of David McCallum in a dodgy moustache sight!

Oh, bugger!

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Drop in the Ocean: Shadow Warriors (Spectrum)

How awesome is that box art? And it's even been faithfully recreated as the screenie below shows.
Ninja Gaiden was a great game. Ninjas, fights, weapons, ninjas, somersaults, ninjas, big ass bosses, awesome graphics, ninjas, great music, and ninjas. Oh, did I mention it had ninjas in it? Tecmo decided to port it's coin op to our side of the pond under the guise of Shadow Warriors, and was still as good and full of ninjas as it's japanese cousin. And, obviously, Ocean decided it was too, and ported it to the home micro's at the time. One version in particular, was a great version. One version kept the huge sprites, fast gameplay, and tough bosses. The humble Speccy version was a mission impossible. But it was done, and boy was it good.
Still just as cool, even given the Speccy's limited palette.
You start off on the streets of, lets say for the sake of argument, Los Angeles (cant remember the name), and it's your mission to go around and beat the crap out of any bad guys who foolishly get in your way. The plot goes, that your ninja brethren have been brainwashed by some big bad evil dude, and with you the only one who's unaffected, must go and make things right, all the while fighting your brothers, and people who dress up in hockey masks and red t-shirts. The levels range from streets, to crossing packed highways (a right bastard of a level), and going through a theme park/casino. You get three hit points, three lives and from what I can remember, two continues. And, believe me, you'll need every single one of them, as the game is tough from the get go.
Between a rock, a hard place, and two ugly dudes!
You get ambushed as soon as you start, but along with your ninjitsu moves, you can grab poles above you, and kick people by swinging on them, smash oil drums and telephone booths for power ups and use various weapons that are littered about. The game is a challenge, but it's a worthy challenge. As I mentioned before, the graphics are big and chunky, but are awesome all the same and are loaded with colour, and are really detailed. There is only a quick ditty before you start the level and on the main menu, but when you land a punch or kick, you do get a satisfying crunch sound effect, and you even hear it when you get run over by the cars on the second level.
The graphics still look awesome even to this day.
All in all, this was another solid arcade conversion. Tough, great looking, and really enjoyable. Even the box art was awesome. It's just a shame we don't get box art like this anymore.