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Melbourne House
1984
Strategy: Management
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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50
Chris Bourne

Mugsy is the first interactive video comic strip. So says the cassette inlay, and they're probably right. Mugsy is a strategy type game in which the graphics are the stars. In a sense, what Philip Mitchell and his team have done is to bring graphics to the strategy game in much the same way that they did in The Hobbit for the adventure game.

You play Mugsy, Godfather to a gang of wise-cracking, back-talking hoodlums, and your aim is to be the toughest and most powerful gang leader in the city. To do this, you have to manage the gang by making money and deals, buying them weapons. You must decide how many 'clients' will be protected and how many 'squeezed', make deals with City Hall and play the rackets (no, this is not a tennis simulation). If you are a success your hoods will stay loyal, but if you are too successful one of the other gangs may hire a hit man to get rid of you.

The game is played along much the same lines as any other strategy of its type. But the look is very different. The loading screen sets the tone with its large comic strip graphic of Mugsy's mug. This cuts to a waterfront scene of heavily shadowed hoods staring out over the night time city reflected in the still water. Information is imparted in comic strip balloons - a run down on last year's activities, how many hoods are still loyal and how much dough there is in the safe.

It is then time to begin deciding how much dough to spend and on what to spend it on. In several dynamically drawn scenes, your friendly sidekicked accountant tells you each item and asks for the sum of money you are going to use. There is another comic strip balloon with a flashing asterisk In it. As you input the required figures, so it appears in your balloon.

When these decisions are completed, you are treated to a micro-movie highlight of the year before battle begins again, Should a contract be taken out on you by another gang, the scene cuts to a cafe interior and you have to shoot it out with the hit man.

CRITICISM

'A video comic strip eh! Well this is quite a good idea involving you in making decisions and running a Mob. The game is quite playable for a few games but soon gets a little repetitive. The graphics are excellent and the animation is also very good (it's only used in places). Generally a good game but it didn't have too much lasting appeal for me. The comic idea is a wonderful one and could be expanded upon to make a more involved and interesting game.'

'The graphics, which were all done using Melbourne Draw, are quite stunning. Not only because they are large, but because they really do look as though they have come from a comic strip. The scenery, the angles from which things are seen, like the overhead view of Mugsy and sidekick walking into a doorway, are all authentic and owe a lot to those 1940s American gangster movies as well as comics. I love the micro-movies - such a pity there aren't more of them. One is a street scene with a street walker passing by the window on the other side of the street. Then a large limo pulls up opposite and someone leans out to fire a burst of machine gun bullets at your window. Unfortunately there really isn't enough to do for the player in the game, as this program largely plays by itself. All you have to do is type in the sums of money to be spent and then sit back and watch the results.'

'It says stunning graphics on the cassette inlay, and for once its right. The amazing scenes are generated very quickly and the game can be speeded up in the informational sequences by pressing any key as soon as the balloon has been read. The problem I found with Mugsy is that it isn't really much of a game as such, and after a few 'years" have gone past, you have seen all the pictures there are and it begins to lose interest. What we need now is the graphics of Mugsy and the complications of a real teaser like The Hobbit. Is it too much to ask? I hope not. Mugsy probably is worth buying though, because it certainty looks good.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: (arcade scene) I/P left/right, Q/Z up/down, B, N or M to fire
Use of colour: very good, comic colours on strong black and white
Graphics: excellent, with some amazing animation
Sound: poor - a very good typical tune, but no sound during play
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 1
General Rating: An unusual, original presentation for a somewhat simple strategy game - a game that points the way forward, without, perhaps, doing itself enough justice.

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