What do you get if you take seven parts Ikari Warriors, three parts Gauntlet, mix them together, pull out all the colour and then slow down the action? Give up chumbles? Then I'll tell you: You get the latest coin-op conversion from US Gold. Known as Halls Of Kairos in the arcades, the home computer version is called, for some reason Desolator.
Oh dear, it's blurb time, and bimbo here's only gorn and lost the blurb sheet. Still, I can remember the gist even if I can't remember all the silly names; here goes. You play a geezer called Mac and you have to explore a castle. Problem is that the castle happens to be owned by the most evil person in the whole multi-verse, Kairos the Great Satan. Crikey. And more - the castle is populated by his family and friends (and this is where I forget the names so I'll make some up) - Xaxixjex, Pippin the Wondermule, Ron Hardman and Major Binkie Smellybot to name but a few! They're all horribly horrible and try to stop you rescuing the 'babies,' for that is your quest.
Like Ikari Warriors, Desolator is a vertical scroller with a not overly generous horizontal playing area. The whole thing's monochrome (the five levels have different background colours,) but the sprites are all clear and easy to see. Also like I.W., you view from above and behind but, (and this is where the Gauntlet element comes in), there are rooms to be entered and certain routes to be avoided. Also more in the Gauntlet mould are the nasties: sword throwing knights, zombies, fire breathing wall thingies and, well, general 'evil castle' spookery.
There're end of level mega-nasties to kill (fiendishly difficult to begin with but sussable) and babies to collect. These babies, called Peters, are trapped behind various mirrors in the complex. Near each mirror is a shield which has to be punched to release the vile balms who can then be collected by contact. Now, here's a funny thing; in the blurb it says that picking up six of these horrid little yukkies makes you invincible for a bit. My experience was that picking up eight made the screen go red but there was no sign of invincibility - unless of course the power only lasts for thirteen picoseconds. Oh yes, your weapons: fists to begin with, but grenades can be picked up along the way.
Anyway, what do I think about Desolator overall? ... I think it's okay, actually, but I have got a bit of nitpicking to do:
Nitpick 1: Control of the main Character isn't 'crisp' enough for my liking.
Nitpick 2: Loading (especially on 48K), is a real pain - takes ages.
Nitpick 3: There are bugs. The game isn't riddled with them by any means, but it did freeze up on me twice forcing me back to Nitpick 2.
Nitpick 4: The sprite for the main character is exactly the same sprite used for a lot of the nasties. Can get confusing.
Nitpick 5: The heads of Kairos at the end of level one look exactly like a bloke I know called Frank, who's a social worker. I wonder if Kairos, too, drives a clapped out Renault four?
Actually, that last point was quite a smooth link into my end piece - yet another of my infinite supply of unbelievably hilarious jokes.
Question: How many social-workers does it take to change a broken light bulb?
Answer. None - they're all too busy trying to change the one that works.
Birrova hybrid of Ikari Warriors and Gauntlet, quite good fun, but not as good as either of the above.