Da-daaa! Here's the one we've all been waiting for - the world's first scrolling horse-'em-up! And is it a load of manure? Neigh! In this case, four legs are certainly better than two. In fact, it'll probably shoot straight to the top of the Gallop chart! Dynasty Wars? It's my mane game! Last month's Megapreview should have set you in good steed, but I don't want to saddle you with something you're not going to enjoy so let's give it a thorough brushing down. I won't take too long as I've got to hurry back to Canter-bury tomorrow!
Ahem. The idea is that you're one of these eastern warrior types, mounted on a horse, and you've got to ride through eight scrolling levels killing other eastern chappies and collecting things. You've got four blokes to choose from - Shang Fei, Liu Bei, Kaun Yu and Shao Yun. Quite a line-up really. Your choice is made harder as not only do you have to find one with a name you can pronounce, but you've also got to weigh up their pros and cons. They've all got different characteristics, you see, so it's up to you whether you go for a brainy one or a muscley one. Then, of course, Player Two will also need someone to control (assuming, that is, there is a Player Two). It's one of those simultaneous two-player jobs, so it might be worth trying to work out some sort of 'matching pair'.
Put your horse into 'First' and off he'll trot. The landscape scrolls along to keep up, and everything's lovely. But suddenly, as if by magic, a whole load of baddies appear! Oh no! It's time to being your big rod thingie into play. With a defiant cry you bring your thumb down onto the Fire button, your bloke raises his stick and a little energy bar at the bottom of the screen starts climbing up. Release the button again and a jet of flame shoots across the screen, its ferocity dependent on how long you held the button down for (just like R-Type really). It's either that ore you can just tap it, giving them a quick prod in the eye. Occasionally I found it tricky to actually hit anything at all, which may well be a slight glitch in the collision detection. Or maybe I'm just completely crap.
There are all kinds of baddies to deal with, ranging from little chaps with swords through to archers and even horsemen. And, um, that's it. There are only three kinds actually. But they're very nicely done. The swordsmen can be blown away by the truckload with no further thought, but the archers are a bit more tricky. They appear in groups, dot themselves around the screen and then start chucking hundreds of arrows at you. They're devils to get rid of too. And the mounted guys are another kettle of fish altogether. They get their own energy bars and everything, and a huge battle is guaranteed whenever they appear.
Oh yes, the things to collect. These include energy bubbles and extra weapons. The latter act as smart bombs, unleashing barrages of either firebombs or boulders on the enemy.
The graphics in Dynasty Wars are undoubtedly its big selling point. Those horses are corkers - their legs move properly and its amazing that no-one's done anything like this before. Horses are miles more fun than spaceships. And the backgrounds are pretty nifty too. Although they're massively detailed you don't tend to get lost in them like in some other games. Everything's in dullsville monochrome, naturally, but most of you will've resigned yourselves to this sort of thing years ago.
The problem however (here it comes) is that there isn't actually that much to do. I'm sure you known what I mean. One level is pretty much like another. And the same with the baddies. But, looking on the bright side, the two-player option is good fun.
It's a good conversion of the coin-op, the graphics are ace and the horses are currently the best on the Speccy, but whether or not you'll 'get hitched' to it is another matter. Worth very much more than a passing glance though.
A brilliant scroller horse-wise, but slightly questionable in the old durability department.
Here's a typical battle in progress. There are arrows everywhere, and some chaps with swords creeping up from behind.
Here I am with my shoot-o-meter wound up 'to the max', readly to lay on some flames. That looks like an ancient oriental pylon in the background.