Commodore User1st July 1989
Published in Commodore User #71
The New-Zealand Story
A kiwi that has his friends stolen by an Atlantic seal and has to rescue them by flying around on balloons and throwing bombs at teddies riding on inflatable ducks? On, please leave it out, what was the programmer of The New-Zealand Story on when he came up with this game idea?
In truth, The New-Zealand Story is a cleverly constructed example of that increasingly rare specimen hoppus frustratus, commonly known as the platform game.
Take control of the little yellow bird (Tiki to you) and make your way around the screens in an attempt to discover the other kiwis, imprisoned in cages. There are five stages and four maps to each stage, turning the game into an equivalent of twenty levels of mouth-foaming action.
The days of the platform game as a collection of levels that take you up and down in one dimension have long since passed, there are variations here. The New-Zealand Story is set in a national park where there is land, sea and air, and the kiwi has to contend with all three environments. Thus, odd sections require you to take him underwater. He's equipped with goggles and a very small supply of air to make it through to the other side. An oxygen meter shows you how much time you have left.
Making your way around the platforms can be a tedious business so you can take to the air by shooting characters who float down from windows on teddy heads or balloons. Grab one and you can move around freely. It's not a passport to completing the level though, because there are prickles and thorns everywhere, not to mtention all manner of creatures bent on popping your inflatable and ending your little furry life.
As platform games go, The New-Zealand Story conforms to the rule that they have to be astoundingly tough and desperately frustrating to play. It managed to achieve something of the cult status in the arcades, and there are obvious similarities here to that classic with cute characters, fruit picking (for bonuses) and a novel rendition of a well-worn theme.
Ocean's conversion is near perfect, though I swear I don't ever remember it being this tough. Graphically it's as close a replica as you could wish (and rightfully expect) whilst the sound is spot on too, right down to the little squeak the kiwi makes when he loses a life.
This is a must for all fans of the genre. It's an excellent conversion but beware, you need patience to complete this. Me? I'm off for a quiet game of Speedball or something a bit more relaxing.