Cheapo Round-Up Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

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Cheapo Round-Up

Published in Commodore User #73

Cheapo Round-Up

Something of a disk special this month for cheapos, and only one new C64 release. Come on guys, let's see something other than re-released licences.

Alien Syndrome (Rad, C64)

I remember an excited young Mark Patterson telling me about this a couple of years ago, and after seeing the coin-op, I had to agree that it was a very, very good game. The Edge/Softek/ACE or whatever they were calling themselves at the time got the conversion, and a bloody good job of it they did too.

Gauntlet-like in presentation and game style, you and a friend were given the perilous task of ridding a space station of unusually shaped aliens. What sort of shape is unusual for an alien, you might ask. Well, these aliens are shaped exactly like poo poos!

The scrolling is smooth, as is the animation of all the characters. Some of the sprites are a little blocky, but the game as a whole most definitely has all the atmosphere of the original. The great spot FX help that along too. Great.

Storm Warrior (Encore, C64)

These original budget games are becoming a bit of a rarity these days. We've got one of them this month, and even that's far from brilliant. You are the Storm Warrior, and you are the only hope of saving the world from a perpetual reign from evil.

Enter the castle of Satan himself, fight his ghostlike henchmen and traverse the terrible traps in your quest to rid the universe from evil once and for all. The only thing that can save you now is your sword skill, or so the plot says.

Funnily enough, I couldn't find any point at which I had to actually use skill. At all points, it seems to be just a matter of holding the joystick in a certain direction and let your on-screen personage hack away constantly. Which, I might add, he does very smoothly.

Basically, Storm Warrior is just a very dull Barbarian clone. I wouldn't waste the money on it. The only thing it really has in its favour is the energy meter. At the bottom of the screen is a picture of a graveyard, and the more hits you take, the further along the graveyard the character of death walks. Still doesn't merit purchase, however.

Saboteur II (Encore, C64)

The original Saboteur has been killed by the evil forces of Sammyhagar, and the time is upon you to avenge his death. You are the sister of the Saboteur, and the mission you have before you is far far greater than the one of your deceased relative.

For a start, the map is much, much bigger, and much more of a maze. The bad guys are tougher, and there are more of them. However, dispatching of thugs and hitting dogs with bricks is all in a day's pay for a trained assassin, that family favourite, the Ninja.

Even though the map is huge, it's got enough variety to keep it from getting samey. A map is essential, as there are more than one or two one-way situations, such as falling a great height. The sprites aren't the best animated ones in the world, and they are slightly smaller than the original's, but this doesn't spoil the game too much.

There's a lot there, and an absolute bargain at the price. Looks like it's cheapo of the month!

Bombjack 2 (Encore, C64)

What I want to know, and could somebody please example to me, why Bombjack 2, the sequel to that amazingly popular chartbuster Bombjack, has the theme tune for Thundercats as its in-game tune?

Aside from that little puzzler, however, I think it's only fair to say that Bombjack 2 is crap, pure and simple. The idea is the same as before: leap from platform to platform, collecting all the pods on each level, only now you can fly. You can only leap straight up and straight down provided there is a platform directly above or below you. This is just a little bit restricting. The other real restriction is the fact that there are only two screens, one really easy, and the other amazingly difficult. This shows nothing more but poor design.

And that's a term that applies equally well to the graphics. Small and blocky, they carry none of the character of the original. Surely the C64 deserves better than this?

Deep Strike (Encore, C64)

Well, the idea's original. Fly a WW1 biplane, and use it to defend another WW1 biplane, which has been given the task of bombing the enemy. Fly through a crowded sky, full of barrage balloons, enemy fighters and flying bullets. Shoot the enemies with your chain-guns, but be careful not to hit the plane you're defending, else it'll plummet to earth, nothing but a mess of flames.

The only real problem with Deep Strike is that it originally was a dated Spectrum game. This might not seem so bad, but it still is a dated Spectrum game. The limited colour palette and jerky movement shows that. But it also plays very limited. After the first go, you do find yourself getting a little bored as you find less and less exciting to do. A poor product, maybe it was strong at time of release, but then again that was a while ago.

Turbo Esprit (Encore, C64)

Turbo Esprit has to have been one of the best games ever to appear on the Spectrum. The idea was truly original. Surely it could only benefit from the Commie's technically superior sound and graphics.

Or maybe not. Turbo Esprit seats you behind the wheel of the car of the title, and pits you as a drugs cop with a mission. There's a bust going down tonight, and it's your job to stop it. Use your computer-controlled map and the constant datalink with base to keep track of the four pick up cars and the armoured car. Follow carefully and arrest each delivery car after it's made its pick up by gently bumping one to a stop, and then go after the armoured car. Follow carefully and arrest each delivery car after it's made its pick up by gently bumping one to a stop, and then go after the armoured car. But don't let them see you; they will flee the city, leaving you with egg on your face...

Or could that be a graphic, who can tell? The scrolling is unbelievably slow, the update is appalling, there's no sense of speed at all, response time is disgusting and basically it's a mess from start to finish. What went wrong?

Soldier Of Light (Rad, C64)

Soldier Of Light, or Xain'd Sleena as it's known in its native Japanese, has to have had the most unusual graphics system ever. Cut out paintings moved smoothly around over glorious backdrops, the only problem being that they looked like they were just stuck on, not being any part of the backdrop.

This has flickery sprites, loads of blocky graphics and almost no playability. The sound is the only thing that's recognisable from the coin-op. An abomination upon release, and a true bastardisation of what was a fun coin-op.