Sword Of Sodan (Discovery) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing


Sword Of Sodan
By Discovery
Amiga 500

Published in Computer & Video Games #90

Sword Of Sodan

Blinking sorcerors! They learn a couple of nasty spells and they just take over the place, transmogrifying people left, right and centre and generally subjugating the populace. Zora is one such magician, whose latest victim happens to be your poor old dad! So, it's time to get the ceremonial sword off the mantlepiece and sally forth to Zora's city, hack your way through his nasty lackies, finally to enter his fortress, Castle Craggamoor and do battle with the man himself, thus avenging the death of your father.

Sword Of Sodan is a hack and slay arcade game in the grandest of styles. You start the game by selecting either a male or a female warrior as your on-screen persona - (they have identical fighting abilities), then BOOMSHANKA, there you are outside the walls of the city. Have a quick look at the map to check where you are, then you're off.

Your repetoire of fighting manoeuvres is limited to high, middle and low swings - no Barbarian-style flying neck chops, unfortunately - and being a lithe young barbarian, you can evade blows by leaping ducking. Each enemy you come across has a small energy bar at his feet, and each hit you manage to score knocks pixels off the bar, until it disappears completely and your enemy keels over, dead. Your warrior is similarly equipped with an energy bar, as well as a supply of lives which can be replenished by picking up items left behind by recently deceased enemies.

Other collectables include Magic Zappers (essentially smart bombs), magic shield and increased hit strength. You can hold up to four extras at once and activate them individually using the function keys. The extras have to be used judiciously, as certain nasties, particularly the magic-users on the later levels, cannot be beaten without help.

Zora's hench-beings come in numerous forms, starting off as lance-wielding soldiers, then armoured axe men, followed by club-bearing giants. As you approach the castle, you're faced with scorpion-lizards, vomit-spitting ghouls and, in the castle, wizards who fire lightning bolts at you.

Some of the scenery is just as dangerous. Level two is played on a wooden bridge which has mental spikes popping through it at regular intervals. Even larger spikes make an appearance on level six, accompanied by lava balls which scoot along the ground, stone columns which drop down from the ceiling and moving stepping stones which cross pits of flame.

Getting caught out by one of the spikes is pretty impressive visually - the screen shows the barbarian being impaled through the chest! There are other gory touches throughout the game, the most spectacular one that I've seen being the decapitation of the giant at the end of level three. There are also bloody spurts accompanying successful sword blows, and sampled moans from dying soldiers.

Indeed, the Amiga's sound and graphics capabilities are used very well throughout, the former being put to work on excellent music, sampled sounds and vocal hints, and the latter producing huge, colourful sprites and lovely, parallax - scrolling backgrounds. The animation is slightly ropey, but I'm a tolerant sort of bloke, and it soon became unnoticeable.

There are one or two gameplay bugbears that I would gripe about, though. The main one is the length of some of the early levels, which, once mastered, take no time at all to complete. The short playing time is offset by lengthy pauses between stages, during which the next part of the game loads from disk, the map is displayed, and you're given a piece of poetry describing the way ahead. All fine the first time around, but when you've played a few games and are keen to get on, it becomes a bit of a pain.

My other complaint is specifically to do with the traps which appear on level six. There take the form of pits which appear out of nowhere, swallowing your warrior before you get a chance to take any kind of evasive action.

Apart from these two things, I was well pleased with Sword Of Sodan. It's not a complicated game, nor is it terribly difficult to play (things don't get difficult until level eight). I doubt whether it's worthy of the title, "best Amiga beat 'em up" - IK+ is a more pure example of expertly-digitised violence - but it's variety kept me at the joystick, and I'll stick with it until the end is in sight. Real case-hardened warriors may find they finish it before they've had their £25 worth, but anyone in the market for a playable, visually and sonically impressive game would go well to check this out.