Ivanhoe (Ocean) Review | ST Format - Everygamegoing

ST Format


Ivanhoe
By Ocean
Atari ST

 
Published in ST Format #10

Ivanhoe

With the recent release of Ghouls 'N Ghosts, Strider and Rick Dangerous, the horizontally-scrolling action game has become the latest fashion craze - play one or be square! Before the excitement subsides, Ocean are cashing in with Ivanhoe - an action game in which you clash swords with all sorts of no-neck muscle-bound nasties in spooky forests.

You start the game on the outskirts of one such daunting forest. Before you're given any chance to draw breath a barrage of ugly swordsmen descend upon you and the action begins. From here, it's an unremitting battle with one enemy after another. These bad guys can move fast but the action speeds up even more when your trusty horse rears his head. In a fast horizontally-scrolling level, you need to control your horse carefully so that he leaps cleanly over any obstacles in the way.

As the levels proceed, the enemies change from wizards and pirates to dragons and hunters, and each is harder to beat than the last. But it's when they gang up on you that you really want to dive for cover. It's not uncommon to find yourself trapped between foes, desperately shielding yourself in a frantic effort to stay alive.

The shield and sword are controlled by logical joystick movements, but the weapons change as you progress through the levels so later on you can easily find yourself shooting fireballs instead of slashing with your sword. In the middle and at the end of each level, you encounter the standard guardians who try to prevent you from going any further. Defeat them and you pick up scores of extra points.

In between levels there's a short bonus section where you attempt to plunge your sword into the gut of a massive Arab. It's an awesome task but if you manage to piere his bloated belly then you pick up extra points.

Effects

More and more games are fully exploting the superb graphic capabilities of the ST, but it isn't often that we see something as stylised as Ivanhoe. The graphics have been designed by the same cartoonist who worked on the Asterix movie and his characters move and die in a dramatic manner - particularly Ivanhoe who raises his arm to his head and swoons like Gloria Swanson.

All of the action takes place against a beautifully detailed and extremely colourful horizontally-scrolling backdrop.

Sound effects are appalling and inexcusably confined to dated 8-bit beeps. Supposedly tuneful, they do nothing but give you serious earache.

Verdict

Ivanhoe is a horizontally-scrolling action game elevated out of the forgettable morass of other clones by some brilliant graphics. The scrolling is smooth and the animation looks fun, even if the movement of the characters is slightly jerky. The enemy sprites are superb; all sorts of bad guys lurk in the shadows from dangerous knife-wielding pirates to ugly and malicious muscly thugs.

Unfortunately the moves required to tackle the menacing enemies have little variation and, with few bonus weapons to pick up, Ivanhoe can quickly become tedious. Unless you're a dedicated hack-'em-up player, Ivanhoe is unlikely to hold much appeal once the novelty of the stunning visuals has worn off.

Mark Higham

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