Activision Inc
1987
Arcade: Action
£9.99
£2.99
Multiple languages
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

110,111
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner
Chris Bourne

Howard is an extra-terrestrial duck who has been mysteriously spirited to Earth. He looks a bit odd, but is an amicable fellow with two friends. Beverly and Phil. Beverly and Phil are good sorts too, but they have just been kidnapped by the Dark Overlord, who has taken them to his abode on Volcano Island. Howard is a mite peeved at this, and so he sets out on a rescue mission. What he doesn't know is that the Overlord is expecting this sort of reaction, and has set traps to capture the feathered hero.

To begin with, the player's name is typed in and the level of play selected from the four provided, novice, intermediate, advanced and expert. The levels differ in the number of lives granted, the enemy's aggression level and the length of the game.

The screen displays a view of the island, with Howard automatically parachuting onto a pathway. The joystick is used to move Howard around, and he can go anywhere as long as the landscape allows, scrolling the scenery as he goes. The fire button makes him jump, kick and punch, the action depending on his situation.

The first part of the mission follows Howard's heroic journey across the island. First he has to find the back-pack which he dropped during the parachute drop. This contains a Solar-Powered Jet-Pack, a Microlite Flying Machine and a portable Neutron Disintegrator.

Having friend the pack, our feathered friend makes his way around the island to a volcano, home of the Overlord. Hazards are encountered throughout this journey: mutant slime has to be jumped and mini-mutants intent on Howard's capture pop up from molehills. These are dispatched with swift, well-aimed kicks, and jumping on the molehills prevents their re-emergence.

Should Howard reach the foot of the volcano he is automatically strapped in to his microlite. He must then fly over the mouth of the volcano and parachute in.

The penultimate section involves a dangerous run through a crumbling cave, where falling stalagtites and holes in the floor impede the duck's progress. When this has been negotiated, Howard meets the Overlord in a final, deadly confrontation. The evil kidnapper dies when shot three times with the neutron disintegrator.

CRITICISM

'A film tie-in which actually relates to its subject matter is an unusual event, soon this level Howard the Duck is quite a pleasant surprise. The program sticks as closely as possible to the film (considering the limitations of the computer game format), so the only real pity is that the film was so naff! The presentation is up to Activision's usual standard, and the graphics and sound are competent and functional - the only problem gameplay-wise is that the control method is quite tricky. Howard the computer game is an average, but ultimately uninteresting product - and quite expensive to boot.' BEN

'At first sight Howard The Duck Is a very attractive Spy Vs Spy look-a-like. The graphics are very well designed, combining some good detail with lots of colour. The Instructions are commendably friendly, giving all of the necessary facts. I particularly liked the difficulty ratings - they improved the addictiveness ten times over, and should appeal to all types of player. Howard The Duck is a pleasing game, although the price is a bit over the top.' PAUL

COMMENTS
Control keys: 7/6 up/down, 5/8 left/right, zero to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour: varied, and generally clash free
Graphics: small sprites on a lively background
Sound: limited to rare spot FX
Skill levels: four
General Rating: A slightly above average game which has sprung from a dreadful movie.

77%
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