Jail Break is the first conversion of an arcade game attempted by coin-op kings Konami all by itself. Past form has always been to do the games via licences with the likes of Imagine.
With a few ifs and buts I'd say its first solo outing is a big success. Better, mostly, than the usual standard of the Imagine licenced deals.
You're a lone American cop with strange legs and a nifty peaked cap. And what with the hoards of criminals making a break for it from The State Pen you're kept pretty busy. Them and their hostages assorted men, women, children and wardens who it's best not to kill. (Occasionally, well pretty often actually, they are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for an orderly society and you'll just have to kill them).
If instead of killing a hostage you manage to actually rescue one you are rewarded not only with a warm glow and plenty of bonus points but a handy too like a bazooka or a tear gas gun. The three types of weapons - standard pistol, bazookas and tear gas gun - are all necessary at different times to achieve different tasks.
The pistol will kill convicts and fires repeatedly quickly.
The bazooka will knock out almost everyhting including the barrels the convicst have placed to block your way.
And the tear gas gun deals with people for one reason or another immune to bullets like the skeleton in the first section.
Convicts come in two main types, those with guns and those with what may be either bricks or bottles (I'm not sure which). Guns must just be avoided carefully - these convicts run in approximately straight lines (thought the bullets seem to curve mysteriously). Brick-wielding baddies are much more tricky - they run straight for you in an act of mindless aggression. Don't try to reason with them.
I'd say the game was pitched at just about the right level of difficulty. The first couple of times you die immediately and yell 'fix!' Then you survive a minute and finally you start surviving for several minutes at a time.
Graphically the game looks good. Fair sized sprites for cop and convicts, goodish background detail, smooth movement (mostly).
Bad points? Well the screen scroll is very jerky and sometimes you bite the dust for reasons that do not seem entirely fair - just passing within feet of a convict sometimes kills you and generally there is something peculiar about the perspectives.
Jail Break is a good start for Konami. A better than average conversion that tops the mindless violence league for the year so far.
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Good adaption of the original arcade game, compulsive and frenzied. Good start for Konami's DIY approach.
HINTS AND TIPS
Kill bomb throwers the moment you see them. You won't get a second chance.You need a bazooka to blast barrels the tear gas gun to get the skeleton.Blast the convicts in the manholes before trying to get past them.Even approaching near a convict can kill you.Try to fire at specific targets, stray bullets are bound to kill hostages.