Sinclair User4th February 1989
Published in Sinclair User #86
Well, flip me if it isn't a real man's life in the President's Own Royal Highland Cong-Shooters. You've just finished blasting one nest of Commies in Platoon, when you're called back to finish the job in Butcher Hill, Gremlin's multi-stage 'Nam epic. All the familiar elements are there; gunfire, bombing, jungles, instant death; they're just arranged in a different order.
Butcher Hill is a three-stage arcade extravaganza written by Imagitec, who were responsible for the Spectrum version of the remarkable Captain Blood. Butcher Hill isn't so innovative, but apart from some minor faults it's a workmanlike effort.
Part one sees you steering a motorised dinghy along the swampy waterways, searching for a jetty. The river is blocked with rocks (which your craft can bounce over), reeds (which slow you down and sap your energy), and mines (which blow you to bits). Unfortunately, it's very difficult to distinguish one type of object from another, so it's easy to blow yourself up on what you thought was a patch of weeds. To make things worse, planes zoom overhead, dropping either ammo supplies or bombs which look like squashed seagulls. You can pick up ammunition along the way, which you use to blast obstructions, but it's used up very quickly, and some has to be saved for the next stage of the game.
Once you reach a yellow jetty, you can come to a halt, disembark and head into the jungle. The first section, then, suffers from confusing graphics (and, incidentally, jerky scrolling and slow control response), but fortunately things get better from there.
Part two is a jungle maze represented in an unusual 3-D form. With the aid of a compass you should have picked up in the river section, you head North-East towards the enemy village. Every so often you come to a clearing where the action gets heavy as you take on the enemy forces; steering your gunsight around the screens, you bump off the enemy snipers as they pop up from windows or behind trees. This bit is pretty similar in intent to the shooting range section of 19 Part One - Boot Camp, but it must be said that the Butcher Hill version isn't as smooth or graphically detailed.
If you make your way through the jungle without stepping on too many landmines or falling prey to snipers, you finally reach the enemy village. Here your aim is to rescue prisoners, using your machinegun and grenades to eliminate enemy soldiers and blow up buildings. Destroy the lot and the game's over, and you are rewarded with a final victory screen.
Apart from the disappointing first section, then, Butcher Hill is a decent piece of work. Without the attraction of a big licence or obvious new idea, it maybe won't do as well as it deserves, but give it a go; there's plenty in it to keep you occupied.
Reasonable but not awe-inspiring three-part war epic.