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Ocean Software Ltd
1991
Arcade: Action
£10.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

8
Jon Pillar
Chris Bourne

Time traps. They're a bit funny, aren't they, readers? If Johnny Alpha, of 2000 AD's famous Strontium Dog, found himself in a particularly tricky situation, he'd whip out a time trap and hurl it at the villain, dooming them to play out the last two seconds of their life forever. And, in an incident relatively unknown to the general public, Johnny visited Ocean HQ just after the original Robocop had been written, and detonated the biggest damn time trap you ever saw. This explains why every single film licence since has involved the picture's hero running around some platforms and fighting people, with a couple of sub-games chucked in to break up the pattern. And the 2000 AD final-framestyle twist is that every follow-up to Robocop has been complete tosh.

Darkman is complete tosh. In an attempt to promote some sort of reviewer-reader media interactive experience. I'll run through the game live during the review, but to distance it from a review I remember writing in exactly the same style, I'll be wearing a hat. Okay, here we go. Level One: Chinatown. Darkman has to steal a gangster's drug money to finance his plans for revenge. He doesn't carry a gun, so it's a beat- 'em-up. A flick-screen beat-'em-up, to be exact, which doesn't allow you to leave the screen without killing the bad guys. Each screen follows the same format - two bad guys wander on from the left and right, shoot at you if you're far enough way from them, punch at you if you're up close, and do nothing if you're somewhere in between. As soon as the chap on the left appears, kick him twice (if you punch people, they take three hits). Then walk across the screen, ducking the bullets, and do the same to the other man. Then walk off to the right, as some deadly blobs will immediately appear on the left of the screen and start chasing you. After a couple of screens, an invincible dog appears, running from right to left, and a few screens after that, another visibly half-hearted villain joins the man on the right. A little while later some crap ninjas appear, jump around a bit and poke their swords in your general direction. Oh, and occasionally there'll be a screen empty of villains, but with loads of blobby things to avoid. And that's it. Some nice touches, such as the bad guys pausing to draw their guns from their jackets, but lots of poor touches, such as the absence of gameplay.

Ha ha ha ha ha. (Maniacally)
The sub-game which pops up from time to time: The photo session. You have to snap one of the villains from a tower-block full of randomly-moving people in order to construct a mask to fool the bad guys on the next level, so they'll leave you alone. Great idea, and a funky sub-game as well. Not only do you have to snap the right man, but you have to get a clean shot - too much wall or window and the computer rejects the picture. Pity you can just leave the camera over one window and wait for the villain to pop up there, but . still, eh?

Level Two: The factory.
Eight-way scrolling, lots of jumping, villains who are only stunned, a crap routine which lets them beat you up five times in a row and chuck you off a platform without you getting a blow in, and dangerous machines which fling exploding things at you. Oh, and the first sight of any energy-replenishing hearts. Damn. I forgot to mention you only get one life in the entire game, didn't I?


Level Three: The rooftops Run along and jump to avoid the grenades being fired by a helicopter baddy. The grenades are random and the explosions massive, and there's a time limit, and if you miss a rooftop you plummet to the the pavement, so tediously hard is the order of the day.

Level Four: The warehouse lab. Build a bomb, run around, jump.

Level Five: Swing from Level Three's helicopter as it dips into traffic. Overhead view, over-the-shoulders-glances-at-anything-else-at-all gameplay.

Level Six: Jump, jump, jump, push somebody off a skyscraper.

Level Seven: Drive at high speed avoid the trees, shoot the fleeing bikers. Oh. sorry. I seem to have switched off Darkman and loaded up Death-chase instead.

So, as we come to the end of our interactive experience, three things are obvious. One, Deathchase is a great game. Two, Darkman is not. And three, a hat really sets off my cheekbones quite nicely.

Uppers: The film was really good. Nice sub-game. Downers: Clumsy beat-'em-up bits, tedious jumping parts, one life to nurse through the whole blessed game. Get Robocop instead and pretend about the graphics (and the guns).

22%

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GRATUITOUS SAM RAIMI TRIVIA

Sam's father, Leonard Raimi, owns a furniture and appliance shop in Detroit.*

*Condensed from six pages of material and photographs by Andy. (Damn these silly rules. Ed)

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I think that's fooled him. Look, shush, keep your voice down. Sam Raimi directed five pics: The Evil Dead, Crimewave (which he disowned), Evil Dead II, Darkman and Army of Darkness. All are well worth watching, if you're old enough, and Evil Dead II is an acknowledged masterpiece of comic horror.

A bit of a change from walking around platforms, but still utterly tedious. Run along a bit, jump the gaps, try to avoid the random bombs, watch out for the sense of empty despair and hopelessness, keep checking the time limit. (Now mind you keep to that straight, relevant style, Andy) Right-ho, Andy.