At first this looks like just a very odd game, with you having to fly a buzzard around the screen, and jousting with various knights also riding other birds. Then, when you see it is made by Aardvark, creators of the classic Firetrack and Zalaga games, you cannot help but feel intrigued. This is a conversion of the classic arcade game Joust, the main aim of the game being to out joust all the other opponents on the screen. You fly around, a knight on a buzzard, trying to kill all the evil knights, you do this by getting your joust stick above theirs when you both make contact, if you don't then you die, if you manage to do it then the knight dies and an egg is released. You then have to catch this egg before it hatches and a new knight is released, then a new bird comes along and the knight mounts it and you have to kill him again. There are different types of knight, each with their own intelligence, you start off the game with very stupid knights as your opponents, but then they get harder as you progress, some of the actually have very good artificial intelligence (or at least they seem as if they do)
The graphics in this game, are very nice, they are drawn in low resolution, but are quite detailed, and the designer hasn't gone over the top with fancy backgrounds. Anyway, graphics isn't what this game is all about, it is about sheer one or two player fun involving large birds and a big lance (steady on!). The sound is also quite minimalistic, but never annoying like so many other games.
Overall, I would say it is a classic, definitely on my list of all time favourite games, and you should definitely get this game!
By Fair Means Or Foul
As you probably won't have guessed by the title, this is a boxing game. Basically there aren't any plots to sports games, but the task you have to achieve as a trainee boxer is to reach the status of world champion by knocking out successive opponents, which get harder and harder each time. The game is played from a side on view of the boxers, and the referee is also present, he watches your every move, and penalises you if you commit any foul moves. Yes, that's right, this game actually lets you cheat! You can kick your opponent in the private parts, head butt him, or punch below the belt. At the top of the screen there is an outline of your boxer, and this changes colour depending on what chance you have of landing a foul punch without the ref seeing. Also in side the outline is a number, which is the number of 'lives' which you have left, and when you get hit or seen by the referee, these lives get taken away.
The gameplay is quite good, you always feel in control of what your boxer is doing, the controls are responsive, and generally it is an all round good game. The only slight niggle I have is that it is sometimes hard to block punches, because the computer does not allow your boxer to react fast enough. Slight cheating on the part of the computer! Again I was impressed with the skill of the computer in this game, the different opponents have different tactics, some hold off, others go straight in, and it really does make the difference between a good and average one player game if you can believe that you are fighting someone real. The two player mode is of course, full of foul punches, especially when playing against a mate!
The graphics are drawn in low resolution, but have good character, and are nicely done, the large sprites don't even flicker a bit! The game has a lot of nice graphical touches, like the way that the crowd shout out different things to the boxers, which is shown in speech bubbles. The sound is also quite good, with the roar of the crowd, and the ding ding of the bell done to perfection.
Another great game, especially in two player mode!
The Last Ninja
A game written by one of the best programmers the Beeb was ever lucky enough to have, Peter Scott. If you pay any attention at all to any of my reviews, then you'll know that I think this man is an excellent programmer, and he can really do a good game on just about any subject, which is quite remarkable, as different genres require vastly different skills. Anyway, back to the game, this is a shoot-‘em-up, done in solid isometric 3d, with you playing the part of the Last Ninja, trying to achieve your goal and get to the end of the three levels, which are all set in Japan. There are authentic weapons aplenty in this, Nunchakus, Shuriken stars, Long Poles, Samurai Swords, everything any self respecting Nija could want actually! You have to get to the end of each level, which sometimes requires some good timing, and slight problem solving (although the problems are very easy to solve).
The game itself is very nice, a good fun game to play, it is quite varied, the controls are responsive, and nice to use. The only problem comes when the fighting starts, it is very monotonous, there are only two moves you can do with each weapon, and it is really just a matter of going in close and tapping the fire button until the opponents is dead, not at all like a real Ninja (what the hell am I saying, I've never even seen a real Ninja!).
The graphics are good, the 3d engine can handle every situation in the game, and the whole thing is very nicely presented. There is a slight problem in that sometimes the graphics engine mucks up a bit and you can walk on top of objects you shouldn't be able to, but other than that it is very good. Sound is minimal, and I wish there had been more, maybe a nice oriental tune at the start!
Overall, a good game, but by no means a classic, still, it's entertaining enough!
The only other game not to come from Superior on the compilation, this one is by far the least good (I won't say worst because that would make it sound bad). It comes from Alligata, they basically didn't stand a chance of me giving this game a brilliant review, because of the company it's in on this compilation. Well anyway, this is a sort of Manic Miner clone, you have to move around the screen, which is shown in its entirety by one physical screen, collecting the keys whilst dodging the various obstacles in your way, liking moving objects, conveyor belts, and ground which disintegrates when you walk on it.
The game is quite hard, and you really have to get a good look at the level before you even start to move, because it isn't the type of game you can just go through! Having said that, it suits this compilation to have a game that moves at a slower pace, and isn't all action. The only thing I would say against it is that it can be very frustrating, as the collision detection isn't exactly crash hot, and the main character does move quite slowly. Also, it isn't exactly original, it borrows a lot from various games, mostly Manic Miner as mentioned before, but also others.
The graphics are, as seems to be the theme of this compilation, low resolution, and although they are quite nice, in a small sort of way, they don't really stand up to the same sort of level as in the other games. The sound is also quite minimal, and very annoying at times, the sounds they use to depict things just grate.
Overall, a nice puzzler, nothing special, in fact it's rather average, but not so bad that it isn't worth just one play once in a while!