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Ocean Software Ltd
1990
Arcade: Action
£9.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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44
Richard Eddy, Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

Spook city, ahoy! Welcome to Midian, home of mutants, beserkers and psychotic killers. Not the place you'd normally pick to get away from it all, but playing Boone this is where you are. Y'see Boone has been accused of a series murders he didn't commit and as he runs for the prarielands of Canada, stumbles across this long-forgotten necropolis.

But in the game there's no time to stand around like a lemon catching up on the storyline, because the colourful scenery is packed with vicious attackers. The assorted hordes (some almost human, though mostly a lot of huge ugly bugs) are trying to prevent you reaching Mask, arch enemy in the game.

Nightbreed is essentially, a beat-'em-up played across a huge map. Scenes are viewed side on, and the screen flips between areas as you control Boone's movement to the left or right. If a route is available up or down the screen, arrowed gateways mark the turning point.

Boone is unarmed to begin with and it's up to you to control his attacking moves such as punching and kicking. Most of the human-looking mutants can be defeated with a good few solid blows, as long as you lay into them before they pull out a gun or flamethrower! Midian's monsters are slightly more difficult to kill outright, though a swift sliding kick knocks them out of your way - giving you, at least the chance to escape! Some armed attackers, when knocked out, drop their weapons - pick 'em up and success should be easier to achieve (use sparingly: bullets are limited!).

There are three different levels to explore (above Midian, in Midian and the bowels of the necropolis), but, and this is the rummy thing, you don't have to complete one level before progressing to the next. Often you don't have a lot of choice - holes open up in the ground and downwards you plummet. If you collect secret pass codes you can enter one level automatically, instead of playing through others.

Sound's fun, eh? Well, this is where the most annoying element of the game comes in: it's a multi-load and every level is loaded independently of each other, and that - includes the main part of the program and the introductory screens. The effect is like playing a game on ITV: you just get into the action when you have to stop for the ads (here, the next part to load). So, in one game you could spend more time forwarding and rewinding the cassette and loading rather than playing the game!! Boo! The disk version makes everything a lot better because of the rapid access.

The gameplay is good fun and not as predictable as most beat-'em-ups - just as you begin attacking one enemy, a bomb, or another mutant flies onto the screen causing extra hassles. Though packed with colourful graphics from start to finish, the layout of a scene (you often walk behind objects in the foreground, disappearing from view) may make it difficult to see what's exactly going on. An enjoyable, playable action game packed with lots to discover, Nightbreed should hold your interest for a long time.

RICHARD ... 80%

CRITICISM

'As colourful as Night Breed is, it 's a wee bit over the top. Both the character sprite and attackers are monochrome, and against a colourful background they're very difficult to see. Add to this the very, very annoying multi-load and I was turned against the game very quickly. But after a bit of perseverance (and a lot of peering myopically at the screen) I started to enjoy myself. Boone has a hard time of it initially as he only has his fists and feet to defend himself but later on weapons of varying effectiveness come into play. It's a shame the multiload is such a pain because after initial doubts I quite liked this - but not when you have to reload whole sections of the game.' MARK ... 69%

Playable beat-'em-up on disk, overall 12% less so on cassette multi-loads.

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