Micro Mart19th September 1991
Published in Micro Mart #151
Henriques brings us another selection of New Releases
Fantasy Zone is a tough shoot-'em-up, one for the real expert of controls and you need to be quick at zapping and moving your tiny spaceship around the picturesque and colourful scenery. Move in any direction, but this will not keep you safe as bouncing, darting objects and creatures move towards your craft as thought it was their own safe haven.
Any contact and you are dead. Giant green burgers need a few shots or a single bomb to distinguish but most others on screen forms only need one shot! Clear a few waves and you are then rewarded with falling coins that you must collect so, when you visit the shop to buy some sought-after goodies, you can better equip the ship.
Frustratingly hard, but once you come to terms with the many ways to steer a straight course whilst firing, you will be a little less annoying at staying alive a short time.
One to persevere with, great and exciting and very playable.
This is one of the classiest-looking games coded outside of Japan. Beautifully drawn, with large and well-animated characters, make it a real pleasure to play. Although it is essentially a hack and slay game you have more than a club, bombs and crossbow to fend off the total "onslaught" as you move within the medieval and mystical lands.
Outside of the castle, you fight off a myriad of battling warriors. As you kill each enemy an icon appears for you to collect and usually it is added ammunition in the form of smart bombs or magical spells.
By using your control pad, you can instantly select any goody you have acquired and wreak havoc. Climb ladders, jump across open pits, mounted horses charge past and either you must jump out of the way or take a pot shot at the wild beasts.
Soldiers pour boiling oil over you as you enter the castle as the battle rages. A large map displays the locations you will visit, and the hardest confrontation is with an octopus-like guardian that you must kill in a one-to-one fight that is deviously difficult.
This game offers plenty of great gameplay with excellent sonics.
You will not see better black and white graphics as all games with the Sullivan Bluth name, a former Disney artist, ensures this. The game itself, however, is let down by its lack of variety, as you must search for a life stone that has been shattered into 194 pieces that you must collect throughout this particular adventure.
Jumping, walking, and not standing on the many treacherous surfaces whilst obtaining his objective is far from easy as you are under a barrage.
Riding on train carriages and on floating leaves requires skill and patience. Locations you will visit include outer forest, troll village, valley of the sphinx. A mystical treat full of atmospheric backdrops and well worth a viewing.
I once described this game on the 16-bit as "an audio and visual treat" - a comment that was taken up by the company and used as part of their promotion in this latest reincarnation. Two years on and expertly placed onto the Sega, its majestic beauty will still impress the game player.
The rustic palette that has been used conjures up a really atmospheric offering from the moment you start playing. Badh and Crone are coming to darken the land of fairies and already a number have been captured and trapped. You, as the "Stormlord", must free the world of this nasty creation and free the winged creatures.
With the aid of the great eagle Mael, who will transport you to certain locations, you are in for a real treat. As the day clock slowly turns to night, which will end the game, you have to search out a set number of fairies per level.
The usual obstacles and meanies will make your task harder but collecting keys and magical potions will aid! Stay clear of the spitting venus fly traps and gargoyles as you move deeper into the forest.
Jumping and moving along a correct route (there are many!) takes some clever thinking. Inside the castle, roaming in the chambers as the game becomes more complex and harder, adds to the gameplay.
Armed with shot and flying daggers, you are well equipped to survive, but be prepared to die a good many times before you unravel the way to get to some well-guarded fairies.
A great adventure game full of surprises - check this one out!
This is Electronic Arts' latest motor racing simulator for the IBM PC and Compatibles. It is totally different in both design and concept to their earlier (superb) program, Indianapolis 500.
Mario Andretti is a much more involved type of game (simulator, I prefer!). You start off in sprint cars, and progress on to modified, then stock cars, prototypes, formula one and finally Indy cars. This, I might add, is no easy task; in order to race in the big events you have to earn a place first by finishing in the top three of a whole series of smaller meetings.
Fortunately, EA have been kind enough to let you practise in any car you like and at any track - there are twelve by the way! - and all very well depicted, including the tunnel harbour section at Monte Carlo (everybody seems to miss that bit out).
The display itself is of the now-familiar 3D vectored images, similar, to Indy 500. If you have the hardware, up to VGA graphics are available, and the sound effects through my ADLIB board are excellent, Roland and Superblaster boards are also catered for.
Once you have entered your name in the Career section, you need to obtain some sponsorship money to enable you to buy your first ride. You are then placed behind the wheel of the particular car you have chosen, with full instrumentation and rear-view mirrors, a small window to your left shows your current on-track position and speed. Control can be either keyboard or joystick, and the game can be saved and reloaded at any time.
Pressing F1 gives access to the instant replay feature; this gives you multiple viewpoints to see the action from (It's interesting to see how you just wiped out half the other drivers!). The action is fast and furious when you've had enough practice and try your first real race. I lost! Getting into one of those first three places is not easy... for me, anyway.
I will probably get a bag full of letters now telling me what a useless driver I am. The screen update is quite high, but again this will depend on your hardware to some extent, you can however choose to have less detail if your machine is a bit long in the tooth.
The manual is very comprehensive, some 51 pages, including a five page interview with Mario himself, who incidentally pops up in the game from time to time to give you some advice.
Altogether a well-produced piece of software, I still feel that Indy 500 has the edge for realism but, unfortunately, once you have mastered the Indy circuit, that's it, whereas Mario Andretti could keep you occupied for the next few years.
Nebulus 2: Pogo-A-Go-Go
Hewson comes back under a new company name, 21st Century Entertainment 1991, and they could not have had a better or more impressive title to relaunch them onto the scene.
This sequel initially looks very much like the original game but the technical specifications are very hard but challenging gameplay are exceedingly impressive. You have twelve towers to complete that are split up in six journeys going up and six down, plus a collection of sub-games.
One tower on its own will tax even the best player as it blends together strategy and arcade elements to frustrate and challenge. The towers have a complex network of ledges and doorways that you must move up/down in a sequential order, but reaching the next ledge that is enticingly just above the head of the green hippo is far from straightforward.
To help Pogo through this perilous journey are parcels scattered along the way that are essential acquisitions. Once collected, you can turn them into one of a collection of goodies that are displayed along the bottom of the screen. It is choosing the correct one that makes it so devious.
At the start, you will require a certain object to start moving upwards and if you make the wrong choice you are stuck. The items you can select when you collect a parcel which are stored for later use include: a set of eyes - to get a panoramic view of the task ahead as it will take you for a short trip around the tower and place you back where you started, magnets - that when placed at strategic points move you up towards another platform, rockets - that clear the enemies from your path, and keys - to open doors. You can store five bonuses, to be used at will.
Hidden doors appear unexpectedly. As you slowly move flying monsters wing their way past and you must quickly get out of their path or you will be thrown from the tower to lose a life. Neb has firepower but most baddies are immune to his bullets! Hidden within the walls lurk terrible monsters that shove you to your death as you move past them.
Hands appear from the platforms also to hinder progress. Jumping from platforms, shooting little orbs is easy but you will soon find you are stuck and it will be time to use a bonus. Certain platforms have elevators and pulling the joystick forward will move you higher!
Going in and out of the doorways as the tower spins to show you your present location is cleverly executed. Once at the top, the journey downwards can be just as hard as you must reconstruct the edges and platforms you may have destroyed using the bombs that are also to be found!! Trapping baddies in between platforms is another facet of the game.
Nebulus' main fault lies in the fact it is so damned hard and if you have not the patience of a saint may end up throwing your computer through the nearest window, but you will also find you will nevertheless come back and see if you can get that bit further!
Its presentation is flawless, with arcade quality graphics and stunning sound effects and music. A three-player mode, and even an option to print out a matrix of the towers. If you want a game that will not be completed within days and is full of hidden surprises and puzzles galore then Nebulus is it.
A compilation of the best ingredients that go into making a fun game.
This is one of the toughest motor-biking games around. Three modes of play are on offer - race solo - via video link or against the Gameboy's World Champion. Be warned: you could end up with sore fingers!
You must complete each course within a certain time limit and with eight courses and three skill levels you are in for a mud bath. Racing on dirt tracks, controlling and keeping your motor cycle from crashing after each obstacle is a nightmare.
The first level is a mixture of skyramps, hills and sandpits. Using not only the control pad, but buttons A and B fast and accurately, ensuring not to use the wrong one, is one of the hardest features of the game, but once you have come to terms with these intricacies you will be zooming around large sky towers, flying over voids and cycling huge, ringed ramps where you must ensure your inertia propels you to the end. If not you will drop from the top and bite the dust.
There are many different routes to take on a course and moving from ramp to ramp ensures a fast time; if you end up on the ground, you will be bogged down in the sand dunes. Rocks are another nasty feature and guiding your bike over them requires two manoeuvres on the control pad and one on a key button!
Evil Kinevil would be in his element! Plenty of icons can be touched and collected en route and this includes boosters to give that extra thrust power, a speed up, so you can move as fast as lighting and better tyres giving greater traction, etc.
The game is a cross between racing and performing stunt tricks, but the onus is on finishing each section. This one is certainly different and, if you are a speed king who wants to show off your skills not only at wheelies but mastering Gameboy controls this will more than adequately fit the bill.
You are up against a cold-blooded breed of aliens who have transported to Earth battalions of tanks, stealth subs, lazer cannons and fighting androids.
The vipers have taken control of a special secret laboratory to do dastardly experiments. Your five missions as a soldier of fortune are to battle it through to the final confrontation in the lab. Sideways on and plan views present fierce fighting areas you will travel through.
Non-stop military action as you run, jump and become the all-round action man. Plenty of hard fought out-and-out destruction as you infiltrate and kill some really horrid creepy crawlies.
It's hard to imagine the Gameboy has been with us for over a year now. Is it time for the Gameboy 2? Hold on and hang into Micro Computer Mart, and you may well find out!
This really shows off the potential of this new hand-held. Cartoon presentation with chunky characters makes for excellent play. Select either match play, training or a full 18 hole tournament against a friend or the console.
Full selection of clubs, and the ability to hit the ball with plenty of top spin is easily accomplished. Each hole comes complete with fairways, trees, bunkers, water, rough, etc. You can panoramically view the hole you are playing at any time and the screen scrolls so you can see any major hazards before you make a shot.
Great use of colours complete with a full array of on-screen help aids that include score, strength of shot and even the lie of the greens! Excellent!
Ace Of Aces
This is probably one of the best simulators you will find on the system. Whether you are fighting in a one-to-one dogfight, swooping low to bomb a few submarines there is more to this than just firepower.
You are given missions and you must guide your Hobson FB 61 fighter bomber to your destination, usually Germany, on a bombing raid. You are shown maps of the destination and you must switch screens to ensure you are taking the right route.
With a full onboard cockpit control panel that you must check constantly for altitude, speed, etc, plus going into bombing mode when over the target and fighting off enemy craft you will have your hands full!
Although graphically not perfect, there is enough solid gameplay to keep the avid simulation player happy!
Talmit's Adventure (aka Marvel Land)
One for the kids is this fun and colourful journey in an enchanting fairy story land. Full of surprises and nice-looking baddies as you jump your way to success, collecting treasure as geese on wheels and pirates block your way so either jump on them Mario-style or straight over them.
Moving platforms in the form of billowing clouds, rock ledges and even moving scales where you have to balance as you hop makes for real zany play.
Crawling on all fours gets you out of some really tight spots. No shooting, just jumping, with solid gameplay relying on instinct and an abundance of eye-catching scenery makes this a close comparison to Rainbow Islands, but far easier.
Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, from Accolade, is far from impressive with some rather jerky animation and overbright use of colours. It loosely follows the plot of the blockbuster movie and is supplemented with unexciting and short arcade sequences together with digitised sound!
The game begins with Bill and Ted failing grades in history if they don't pass the final report. The night before the exam, they ponder their misery and Rufas materialises in a slightly modified telephone booth. Bill and Ted are told that they can use the booth to travel through time and space to locate historical figures to being back for their oral exam and this, in effect, will be their only chance of succeeding.
You must recover as many characters as required and return to the high school to make their presentation. To further complicate their task, several objects have been scattered throughout history that they must retrieve s this is the only way you will entice some famous celebrities to travel with you.
Four degrees of options of play can be selected ranging from easy to hand but, in effect, they are all relatively easy!
After you have been given your assignment, you will find yourself in the parking lot of a supermarket. Before you realise what is happening, Rufas, the narrator, appears out of nowhere in his time travelling phone booth. He explains how you can use this phone booth to go to different time periods which is relatively easy.
Simply dial the year that you want to visit and you will then be placed in a different time zone. When you locate someone, you must figure out how to get him/her to go with you. Some of them won't go unless you give them something they want or need. The booth will only carry Bill and Ted and two others so regular trips back to the supermarket are required but once you drop off the celebrities you find they will wait for you!
You use the joystick to manoeuvre Bill and Ted through the scenes and then the keyboard to use the objects that you find, i.e. if you dial 1878 you will find yourself in a bar with a group of men playing cards at a table and a barman.
When you move near a retrieval object a message will appear on screen as is the case at the bar - you see a twinkie here, stand in front of the twinkie and push your fire button; this will pick the object up and put it in your inventory (located on the left side of your screen).
Short arcade segments blend together the adventure but are pretty fire with awful sprite detection and responses from both joystick and character. A fight scene will have you screaming with laughter, it is so bad!
Bill And Ted features most options in adventure games but lacks polish and depth, and this is a case of a film licence trying to hide a rubbish program. Distributed by Accolade, you would've thought they would have wanted to hide this particular offering for it is sure to tarnish their reputations.
The Rescue Of Princess Blobette
This game is about a boy and his blob (ghost) which have been locked in a castle tower. The object is to free the beautiful Princess Blobette.
Effectively your mission is to collect as many magical jelly beans as possible in order to transform the ghost into many different things which will help you on your perilous quest like a cola bean - will turn into a bubble which will help you float around the screen, a mint bean - will turn into ice (logical enough, I grant you), then liquorice - will present a ladder, while root beer causes a rocket to appear [Hmmm, that never happens in McDonalds - Ed].
If you just happen to fall more than one and a half screens you will die. Such is life, and death in games like this, but five peppermints will help you to gain an extra life.
There is much Multi-directional movements with lots of climbing, jumping and puzzle teasing to keep you sustained here. Baddies and traps make life, as you seek and search that much harder. One Man And His Blob - is a David Crane presentation.
Hiro, the swash-buckling character of this six horrendously long-levelled fighting jaunt, must not only have a good sense of direction but be a really tough warrior. Just the first level alone is big as you will find there is more than one route to explore.
As in real life, the first one you choose ends up a dead end and after fighting off a myriad of mutant insects, staying clear of the laser guns strapped on the wall and being really clever and picking up a whole host of goodies to supplement health and fighting power, you have to retrace your steps and go in another direction.
Collect enough money along the way and you can visit a shop to buy some extra-mean weapons but first you must find the shop door!
From sewer scene to ice fields to waterfalls, the onus is on fighting! Climbing and extra high jumping gives our hero a neat repertoire of moves. If you liked Strider, this is for you. A straightforward, hack-'em or shoot-'em with some mapping a priority. Contrasting monsters, backdrops and actions with great music!