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Melbourne House
1989
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
£9.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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42,43
Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

It's as if these Eastern types didn't have anything better to do all day. I mean, all we seem to hear about is them dashing about, laying into each other with kicks, headbutts and other assorted acts of violence. Distinctly unsporting, and probably completely untrue too.

But whatever the reason, they're at it again. Once again the dimly-lit backstreets of the city echo to the sound of arms being dislocated, kneecaps being cracked and plans for future generations of karate trainees being abruptly terminated. And as usual it's all over a woman. Yup, a damsel in distress, being held prisoner by the Black Warriors. Squawk! Sexism! Just as well we Spectrum owners are a pretty unimpressionable lot.

As we previewed this one many millennia ago, I don't need to mention that it's a conversion of the very juicy coin-op, it multiloads (even on 128K) and it's possible to have two players doing it at once (hence Double y'see). Or that it pits you against literally(ish) billions of different assailants, all armed to the tonsils and bitterly opposed to your policies regarding the rescue of the aforementioned damsel.

It was also pointed out that the graphics are quite good. Sort of 3D. with bits you can climb up, in order to leap down onto your opponent with a toenail-curdling scream. (You have to supply that, as the sound FX are pretty seedy.)

As is normal in predicaments of this type, the only way to tackle the game is to battle through a number of scrolling levels. Five actually, although a couple of them are broken down into two loads. Due to the system of 'credits' used, losing your last life doesn't necessarily mean packing it in, dumping the computer out the window and going off to soothe your fevered brow with an iced Ribena. Just press fire, watch your score reset to zero and carry on the fight. This means you should get to see most of the levels without too much hassle, although, as in the arcade, you tend to run out of ten pees at the crucial moment.

You'll remember that I said there were quite a few baddies to contend with. Well there are, and quite a few of them come armed with an implement which, if left in their hands, could cause serious remodelling of your anatomy. The answer is, of course, a wellplaced kick in the fruit counter. This causes them to be parted from their weapon so you can use it for your own enjoyment. Once in possession of their knife, whip or whatever you're in with a much better chance of success, particularly against those big guys who just never seem to give up.

Ho-hum, you're thinking. So what? I've been beating the egg fu-yung out of ninjas for years, what's so special about this one? Ah ha, well the fun doesn't really start until you get one of your chums to come round and plug himself into joystick port two. Then you can distract one of the baddies while your accomplice nips round and gives him one on the botty. Much more relaxing than being out-numbered 89 to one and getting duffed up before you've even had a chance to work out which bloke you're s'posed to be in control of.

It's a perfectly respectable conversion of the coin-op, on the whole. Nice to look at, great to play, even greater with two players, and plenty of levels to load in if you're into desecrating your tape-deck.

A generally competent beat em-up, and one you're likely to return to again and, er, again.

Beat and slash like you've never done it before! And try the game too. It's a cracker!

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