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Beyond Belief
Brian Cross
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Jon Pillar
Chris Bourne

As Patrick Wayne said in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, 'A handbag?' Kung Fu Warriors is another you-against-most-of-the-world thang, borrowing heavily from both Shinobi and Dragon Ninja( or should that be Dragonninja, or even Dr Ago Nnin Ja, or something? Whatever) in that you can chuck dangerous stars at people and jump onto different layers of platforms to escape really tough nasties. That's the theory anyway.

The face KFW presents to the world is a pretty and fresh one. The same enormous scrolling screen as Hands of Stone does wonders for the splendidly detailed backgrounds and energetic sprites, though its markedly slower this time around. There's also an unusually well thought out structure to the game - on Level One you're simply attacked by kamikaze ninjas; on Level Two they start somersaulting around and firing back; by Level Three they've taken to using swords and on Level Four the rascals are appearing in magical puffs of smoke. What a pleasant change to have your ribs smacked in by a completely different set of enemies each time (Erm, quite. Ed) As with Shinobi, you can fire sharp star things at the bad guys (but with a limited supply) and there's a (generous) time limit. Oh, and there are boss baddies as well.


What a shame then that the gameplay is so awful. Lets play through a couple of games. Here we are in the Forest. Oh no! We're attacked by large numbers of ninjas from both sides at once. Seems a tad unfair. (Prods controls.) Phew. A crouching leg sweep seems to be fairly effective against everybody. Right, let's start moving. (Edges forward for a bit scrupulously disposing of all the enemies on the way.) This is getting a tad boring. There's no end to all these bad guys. Ho hum (A few more minutes of edging forwards, fighting all the way.) Oh dear, out of time (Starts again.) Let's try something different. (Runs through the entire level without stopping.) That's cracked it. The baddies who attack from behind you stop at the middle of the screen, so if you keep moving you can avoid them. And the ones in front can't fire fast enough to kill you off before you reach an energy icon. (Reaches end-of-level baddy.) This should be good. (Kills end-of-level baddy by crouching down and leg sweeping a lot.) Oh, it wasn't. (Goes onto Level Two... and so on, and so on.)

Fatal flaw or what? It does get nasty on Level Four, but as this is the last level of the game and I reached it in one go, we're not talking lasting appeal.

Uppers: Jolly graphics and a set of baddies that evolve new tactics as you go. Downers: Holding down the 'right' key is not my idea of stimulating gameplay. Somebody hit those playtesters with an oiled cricket bat.


Screenshot Text

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