Reviewed by John Beckett
Ninja games are always welcome in my house, and this one has a plot to die for. Ronnie Reagan has been kidnapped by ninjas and you, as the ‘Bad Dude’ Blade, must rescue him. But instead of launching a full-scale investigation, Blade sets out to find the President by walking along the back of trucks and through the sewers, taking on whole armies of ninjas! Cool! Well, actually, not that cool, because this game could have been so much better. The graphics are nice and colourful, if a little blocky, and the sound is fine; it’s just the lack of a two-player option, and a general rushed feel to the game that let it down. Still, lots of cool power-ups, a good variety of levels and some great end-of-level bosses rise this above the average.
Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard
- Knowledge of French is required in order to play this game properly.
This adventure game, taking place in a neo-punk universe (hence its title), is a failed attempt at creating a game using stereo vision. Remember the movie Jaws 3-D, which you had to watch wearing ridiculous red and blue glasses? Well, if you have a pair of these glasses left, you may have a look at this game. At best, you’ll get a real headache! Now, the graphics (in red and blue) are far from great, the parser is rather poor (but at least you can get the list of all possible actions, which is useful), and you must be familiar with French slang if you wish to understand a few sentences. Consider it as a curiosity...
Most of the Earth has been turned into a wasteland, and the only form of entertainment is racing, with bullets and missiles. There are three drones (cars), and to stay in the game, you must win all the races which take place over four laps, although there are oil slicks, bombs, and spikes which litter each track. During the race, spanners appear on the track, and collecting these lets you upgrade the car or buy some missiles. The game is too easy, though, and you can tell it’s a Spectrum port by the graphics – they’re terrible!
(Radical Software, 1993)
Isn’t it amazing how the simplest ideas often result in the best games? As an example, take nine levels of horizontally scrolling action, and make the player control a metal ball, but only allowing them to move it up or down while it bounces left and right off the walls. It really is surprisingly addictive. Your aim is to collect all the rings on each level, although a bug in the game means you can avoid collecting one ring. There are various power-ups to collect, some of which are nasty and alter the ball’s controls. Even with three lives, the levels aren’t very tough, but you will keep coming back to it.
Breakout in isometric 3D – now that sounds interesting. As well as a ball, the bat is also armed with some missiles, which you’ll need to blast the monsters and certain bricks. It’s not just a case of destroying all the bricks; on some screens, you’ll have to make use of the power-ups that are there. It has got some colourful graphics, and the music is pretty good (although it can be switched off), but the isometric style doesn’t work well, as it’s difficult to judge where the ball will go. There is also a sequel, Ballbreaker 2, with lots of new levels for you to try out.
A thousand years in the future, Ballblazer is the most popular sport in the galaxy. It’s a very simple game where two players control a vehicle known as a rotofoil and hit a ball (or a plasmorb as it’s known in Ballblazer) into the opponent’s goal. Each game can last between one and ten minutes, and the first player to score five goals, or the most goals when the time has run out, is the winner. It sounds simple, but it’s rather tricky to play. There’s no map to let you know where you are on the pitch, although when you’ve got the ball, you’ll always face your opponent’s goal. Getting the ball off your opponent is also frustrating, especially on the higher skill levels (there are ten in total). It is a very fast-paced game, but it also has some flaws.
Meet Eric, a bouncy green ball. What he has to do is to make all the tiles in one layer the same colour as the one shown below the TV screen by continuously bouncing on it. When you’ve done that, another layer appears, until you reach the tile below the TV and go on to the next level. Various objects appear from the TV to make your life that little bit harder, though, but there are lots of bonuses to collect as they fall from the roof. This game is rather average and is a bit easy as you start with ten lives, and I think it’s really aimed more at children.
(Blue Ribbon, 1989)
Buster the clown has to burst all the balloons on each level in the correct sequence of colours – red, green, yellow and blue – by throwing a ball into the air, and he can only burst one balloon at a time. He also has a time limit to beat. It really is a children’s game and it shows. For a start, it’s a bit easy, and each time you lose, you can simply restart from the level you were on. It’s true that it’s extremely colourful, but not only is it easy, it also becomes boring rather quickly.
Guide the red balloon through sixteen screens littered with obstacles, without touching any of them. On each screen is an electrified window, and you must manoeuvre the balloon carefully and skilfully to the master switch so that the electricity can be switched off, allowing you to exit through the window. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it seems, thanks to the monsters, walls, laser beams and spikes that must be avoided. The first few screens are a gentle introduction to the game and are fairly easy to complete, but some very accurate control will be required to complete the later screens! The graphics are colourful and there are several merry tunes that play throughout the game. The concept of this game may be very simple, but it will take a lot of skill to master.
Banger racing involves a lot of people driving unroadworthy cars around an oval circuit and smashing into each other, with the sole survivor being declared the winner. In this management simulation (well, what else did you expect from Cult?), you’re a young racer taking part in a league consisting of three divisions, the aim being to reach the top of Division 1. Each season consists of 30 races, in which around 20 drivers compete. You start off with a fairly poor car and not much skill, but booking training courses will help, and as you start to win prize money, you can improve your car, buy mechanics and get some sponsorship. This is one of Cult’s better games, and it’s the only game of its type that I know of, but the options are rather limited and it eventually becomes repetitive.