Mike Roberts goes for it!
Something not very well known about Ariolasoft is that it is backed by a very big German corporation. So, with this in mind, it is not too surprising that their latest release for the Amstrad (or rather Schnieder) is from a German company.
Werner - Mach Hin! is a game based around a cult German comic character called Werner, a biker with a rather large nose and a taste for good (or bad, or any!) beer and large motorbikes. The tape has four games (five on the disk version) that have nothing to do with each other, have no real score, but all feature Werner.
The first game is called 'Diddle' and seems to be based on a pub game played in Germany, where the idea is to out-cheat your opponent! To play the game, you need two dice, a non-see-through shaker, and fourteen beer mats. One of these mats is called the 'diddling mat'. Any number of players can play the game though it is better if two or three people play against Werner to make it a bit more interesting. The thirteen mats that are left are put into the middle of the table (or just in a pile somewhere).
The first player puts the dice on the diddling mat, places the cup on top and shakes the dice. Then the player peeks under the cup to see what score is shown. The dice are scored using the higher value as the tends and the lower value as the units. So throwing a five and a two world score 52. That player then replaces the cup over the dice and slides it to the next player announcing his score, without letting the other players see what is actually on the dice.
Of course the idea is to lie and cheat your way around the game as the score you have to get is dependent on the score that the person before you threw (or said they threw). When the next person gets the cup he can either accept the score as being correct, or call his opponent's bluff. If the score stands true then the person who called the bluff gets a beermat from the pile as a penalty. If, however, the previous player was bluffing, then he gets a beermat.
When all the beermats have been taken from the pile, if any player has no beermats then he has won. Since this is rather unlikely, the game repeats with players putting the beermats onto the pile when they successfully complete a move. The first person to get rid of all their mats wins.
How does this fit into the context of a computer game? Quite simple really. A huge picture of Werner appears on the screen showing him sitting at a table with a cup in front of him which he vigorously shakes. When he is satisfied he will look under the cup and a speech bubble appears telling you what he claims to have scored. You can either accept or reject this. If you reject it then Werner will show you what is under the cup. If you are right, then a beermat with the Werner logo on it will appear.
If not, then you must press the space bar to indicate that you took a mat from the pile. This bar must be pressed whenever anybody takes a penalty mat so that Werner can keep track. When you tell Werner what score you got, he will occasionally ask you to show. When this happens, you should type in the actual score.
All through the game, Werner's facial expression changes dramatically from staring vacantly at you to scowling and showing extreme rage. The animation of him playing is also very good.
The next game is where Werner is driving along in his car and has to avoid all the manic creatures and objects that are chasing him, such as a drill that will bore a hole in his petrol tank, a manic ignition key stealer and flying water melons. The further he goes the more beer he collects for a party. The idea is to collect four crates, or they won't let you in.
The section after this is very similar, with Werner in the same car, but this time he has to collect the four most useful objects that he passes and avoid the dangerous ones like the sunglasses (you can't see anything and crash) or the bomb.
The final game on the tape version is probably the most entertaining. Werner has a huge selection of motorbike parts, including huge frames, different engines, fuel tanks, seats, handlebars, etc. Your task is to build the ultimate bike for sale. However, all is not easy because you have to get the bike past the scrutinizing eye of the local plod who seem to dislike certain V8 engines and chopper forks. However, if the bike isn't sufficiently flashy then you won't be able to sell it. In fact, the buyer takes one look at it and throws up!
The last game is only available on the disk version of the game and shows a rear view of Werner on his massive motorbike driving down a road. He then enters a tunnel and emerges in dense fog. You then have to guide him around the headlights that you see dimly in the fog.
Whilst all the games are excellent graphically, and are extremely original, they tend to lack substance. Only the diddling game has any long lasting appeal, and that is still very limited. The build a bike game is more of a puzzle and it will take you quite a while to work out which bits work with what. This will last for a certain time, but even then I don't know what its lastability will be. The other two car games are very simple in content, whilst being very difficult to do in themselves. The last game on the disk has some good graphics, but is almost no game at all.
In the end I could see this as a good set of games, with some really fantastic graphics. However, the lastability of the games is not very high, and where the cult aspect of the character gives a spin off in Germany, he is not known in Britain at all and half of the in-jokes are wasted (Like, what is the "white sausage belt"?). And at Ariolasoft's prices, I think that the number of people who will find the games funny enough for the asking price is limited.