RetroReview : April Amiga Apocalypse – Part Four
Dateline 25th April 2012
When I first got my Amiga it came with just 3 games, of which 2 were awesome Ocean Software releases (Batman The Movie and New Zealand Story). The other was F-18 Interceptor and was my first taste of a flight simulator. It was only enjoyable for it’s San Francisco surroundings and the fact you could roll the plane under the Golden Gate Bridge. Otherwise it was confined to the back of the drawer. The rest of the software was educational and most of it was a waste of time especially the word processor as it needed another 512K worth of memory in order to be able to save things. Thus my first few pages of my first draft of a new Pink Panther movie was never saved. I think considering how the Steve Martin remakes turned out, it was a crying shame mine was never saved and unleashed on the world.
Anyhoooooooo no more crying over spilt milk, time for some more Amiga goodness…….
NEIGHBOURS – You often wonder who thinks up the ideas for games like this. Surely a game based on the incredibly popular (at the time) Aussie soap opera should have been role playing based with some typically bizarre storylines ? Oh no, not on this occasion. It was more apt and therefore more appealing to the kids to have the chance to put Charlene, Henry, Mike, Bronwyn and someone called Matt in a race against each other, using a variety of roller skates, go-karts and skateboards to get from start to finish. You have to avoid children with radio controlled cars, kangaroos, ostriches, Bouncer the dog, Mrs Mangel and Harold Bishop who infiltrate the course and make it harder for you to win. I wish I was making this shit up, but sadly I’m not. There is nothing redeemable at all about this game….well OK the theme tune is vaguely like the original but that’s it. One idea that should have stayed Down Under…….
OPERATION THUNDERBOLT – Operation Wolf had made arcade first person shooters fun again, except it was always going to be hard to replicate the mounted gun on the arcade cabinet in the comfort of your own home. Operation Thunderbolt suffers from the same thing, and this time you can have a mate with you to sympathise if you so wish because this can be a two player experience. The premise is still the same – shoot the bad guys and get to the end of the level, but now you can have a chum with you. It’s all good fun and the Amiga makes a good job of the arcade conversion meaning you feel very happy with the programming. You must make sure it’s played with a mouse though, as always with a joystick games like this are often too difficult and too frustrating. If you’re feeling in the mood to kick some terrorist butt, this is as good a game as any to take out your frustrations on.
PLAGUE, THE – When I first played this I was quite impressed by how it all looked and felt. It was easy enough to play and quite enjoyable. However time has not been kind to The Plague and back in the day I was still able to get through the game quite easily. This definitely has the feeling of a mid 1980’s arcade game with basic moves, basic weaponry, linear levels and an all too easy learning curve. The graphics look great, well drawn but lacking decent animation. The sound effects and music are pretty awful and sadly the whole thing is too damn easy to master. A few tweaks here and there and this could have been a bit good, as such it’s not even averagely average and as side scrolling adventure/shooting games go it’s all a bit bland and crappy. It simply cannot compare to games like the Shadow Of The Beast series it appears to be copying and falls far short on all counts.
QUATTRO SPORTS – The great thing about the Amiga from late 1989 onwards was the arrival of budget games, or older titles re-released at a much more acceptable price. However as with the 8-bit era, budget software usually meant an awful lot of dross floating about that required sifting through to discover the gems. Quattro Sports from Codemasters falls somewhere between the two. BMX Simulator is an OK reworking of their massive 8-bit seller which, despite having tarted up graphics, plays pretty well as you guide your biker round the course in a top down racing style. Advanced Ski Simulator is also not bad, though suffers from some pretty clunky controls and the odd insanely difficult moment. It is pretty solid if unspectacular (you can find a review of the C64 version on the Russian Roulette of Retro). The other two games aren’t much cop. Italia 90, despite having a nifty little training section which is good fun for a short while, is an incredibly awful football simulator with ridiculous game physics (goals from the halfway line are common an the AI of the goalkeepers is woeful), duff graphics and all the lastability of an ice lolly. Pro Tennis Simulator is not much better, using cartoon graphics and a squashed playing area to compensate for a lack of options, a limited selection of shots and a feeling that going out and playing tennis for real is a better option. It’s that last line that does it for me – why on earth would you ever feel the need to play tennis for real ?
RODLAND – Yet another cutesy looking, garishly coloured platform game with a bit of a difference. This time you are armed with a rod of power that, when used, paralyses and traps your enemies. You then have the power to lift them up, whack them a couple of times on the floor before they turn into fruit or collectable items. It’s all done on a single screen, so clear that as quickly as possible and move on to the next one. Fondly remembered by those who played it and largely forgotten now, Rodland does deserve to be mentioned alongside perennial favourites Rainbow Islands and Bubble Bobble because it is good, it is a lot of fun and you keep going back to it. It’s a little on the easy side but you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to notice. Some may find the cutesy look and sugar coated visuals too much – especially if you are a diabetic – but grab a mate and you can guarantee many hours of fun. One of the Top 20 Amiga games you have to play.
SHADOW WARRIORS – Ninja escapades ahoy as you don your ninja suit and go about slashing and hacking bad guys before reaching the end of level boss. Yes we have all seen, heard and played this a thousand times before. This game tries to be a little different, meaning you have a few more moves to hand than just the usual punches and kicks. For example you can swing on lampposts, do somersaults and pick up handy weapons. It doesn’t sound very original and to be honest it isn’t. It all looks very nice, with some very impressive bosses, but the whole thing is on the slow side and, quite frankly, there is nothing ground breaking or new here at all especially if you have already played Final Fight, Double Dragon et al.
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