Ivanhoe (Ocean) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

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Ivanhoe
By Ocean
Amiga 500

 
Published in Zzap #63

Ivanhoe

'Deliver King Richard' might seem like an instruction more appropriate to a postman or a midwife than a knight, but it's Ocean France for 'rescue' and your task is certainly formidable. King Richard has been kidnapped by his evil brother, who's become very happy being King John of England while Richard fights Holy Crusades abroad. The warrior king has been imprisoned in a castle in Austria, which is even more boring than Switzerland.

Your quest will take you over five different regions: an English forest, a cross-channel boat trip, a ride from France to Austria, an Austrian town and finally the Castle. Most of the regions are packed with archers, sword-wielding barbarians and sorcerors. Walking right triggers them, so taking things slowly is a good idea as long as you remember the time limit. As you'd expect, Ivanhoe can crouch, jump and attack with his sword. More unusually, if you push the joystick diagonally without fire pressed, Ivanhoe puts up his shield. You can then move the joystick in any direction to block blows with it.

Killing certain baddies reveals special weapons such as a bigger shield, Fire Sword (destroys all enemies when it flashes), Extra Life and a Triple which miraculously causes two other Ivanhoes to appear around our hero. These can be very useful as energy is very quickly lost. But should you hack through to the level's end, a bonus section is loaded in. In this static screen, you must battle one of two types of superbaddie for an extra life.

There's more to the game than hack 'n slay though. Level two has Ivanhoe on a fast galloping horse which must leap various obstacles, while Ivanhoe shoots enemy knights with a crossbow. Later on in this lengthy level he can pick up a lance to use on the villains. And the final level adds doors to the basic arcade action to create a challenging maze!

Phil

This is a bit of a disappointment coming from Ocean. The first level features repetitive hack 'n slay action and the strange control method is frustrating, especially when you get stuck in shield mode. Later levels are an improvement, adding variety, but generally it's not of the high quality usually associated with Ocean products. Graphics are detailed but jerkily animated with a very subtle (bland to you and me) colour scheme. The lengthy disk accessing on dying is also annoying and surely unnecessary on level one. I just hope Ocean France do a better job with Golden Boot.

St

Ocean were showing off these superb graphics over six months ago. Drawn by an Asterix artist they're full of humour, originality and character. Ivanhoe himself may look more like a French hairdresser than a knight, but static the games compares even to Psygnosis masterpieces.

Unfortunately, once the graphics move, things aren't quite so good - Ivanhoe moves from walking to attacking without any frames of animation in-between.

But that's a minor problem, and the game is packed with variety in both graphics and gameplay. Level three is a really fun horse riding game, with Ivanhoe hanging off his saddle to make low shots with his crossbow, then even picking up a lance.

All in all, Ivanhoe seems like an 80%-plus game... until you actually play it. Once you do, the defensive-posture makes controls fiddly, and the tough arcade action more frustrating than enjoyable. Particularly daft is the fast that the birds on level one restore energy randomly - and usually not at all.

Still, practice allows progress for the determined.

Verdict

Presentation 70%
Good packaging, attractive if simple opening but the lengthy reloading when you die on level one is irritating.

Graphics 85%
Superb backdrops and some great sprites, but animation isn't as smooth as it could be.

Sound 63%
Some nice tunes which, while sounding vaguely like summery pop songs, don't quite make full use of the Amiga

Hookability 59%
Quirky control method and high initial difficulty level discouraging

Lastability 64%
Plenty of variety in both graphics and for a slash-'em-up gameplay.

Overall 61%
A great-looking game with some good ideas, but lacking playability.