Right, first off I ought to tell you that Hostages is French. So guess what? Yes, okay, so it comes from France, but what else? Well, bearing in mind everything we know about French games, don't you think it's fairly likely to be a bit, well, 'funny'? You know, packed with lunatic premises, bizarre futuristic sporting contests, badly-translated English and the odd naked woman? Mmm, you would, wouldn't you? Well, prepare yourselves for a surprise. 'Cos spookily unbelievable as it may seem Hostages is actually a reasonably straightforward arcade-cum-strategy thingie.
Here's the plot. "Innocent people have been swiped from under your nose, terrorists have abandoned their cars, entered an Embassy and taken over the building. You have to get six men into the building and rescue the hostages." Gulp! (Excuse me a mo while I just nip to the toilet for a second.)
Right, I'm back from the loo, all dressed up in my best anti-terrorist balaclava and ready to go. So now what? Well, first I've got to get three of my men into sniper positions around the building. But (oh no!) the terrorists seem to have worked out a 'cunning' plan to rumble me - they'll simply shoot anyone they see approaching on sight! A bit of a problem, you might think, but luckily nightfall comes to the rescue. All the terrorists can see now are the bits where their searchlights are shining. Duck, leap and roll your men one by one across the horizontally-scrolling screen, until they (hopefully) reach their pre-set starting positions, and we're ready to go.
Now for the next level, which is the assault on the embassy. All you've got to do is get in the building and kill all the terrorists (without injuring the hostages) - simple, eh? You've got two ways to go really. Either a) abseil some men down the side of the building with some gentle wibbling of the joystick, enter through a window, find the terrorists and shoot them, or b) have your sniper try and shoot them through the windows. Clear a floor of terrorists, and you can place the rescued hostages in a safe room before moving onto the next floor. Of course, you can flip between characters, using them in combinations to clear particularly tricky rooms, and it's often wise to use your snipers to take out anyone foolish enough to lurk too near a window.
In the graphics department things are good - very good in fact, especially the first level. The only problem is it's all a bit easy. Again, the first level (the positioning of the snipers) is the best, but without wanting to sound smug or anything, I can complete it without losing any men every time and then it's on to the second level which is a lot harder, and does (I'm afraid) get a bit boring after a while as well. An excellent conversion but - was it really worth it?
Nicely presented arcade strategy game, well put together, but just not quite 'it'.
Ah ha! I'll get you this time, you good-for-nothing terrorist. (Blam! But then again, perhaps not).
I always wondered how to abseil. And I'm still wondering.