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Zeppelin Games Ltd
Brian Cross, Tink
Arcade: Maze
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Tony Dillon
Chris Bourne

A tacky budgetty sort of title, seems to automatically ensure a cheap tacky budgetty sort of game, but Ninja Commando, despite the awful title is a surprisingly enjoyable game.

You, are as usual, a Ninja Commando of the highest degree. Unstoppable is how he's described on the back of the suspiciously-Code Master-like packaging (complete with authentic quotes such as 'Brilliant graphics' and 'Excellent animation'). Didn't seem very unstoppable to me. When I was controlling him, he was stopped more than once or twice.

You run from left to right over a monochrome multi-level scrolling landscape, jumping on and off platforms and fighting the bad guys. Fighting started as being a bit of a problem. You can collect weapons as you progress through the game, The weapons are obtained by killing the bad guys. The only problem is that you don't have a weapon at the start of the game, and contact with the bad guys means instant death.

What the instructions don't tell you, and this is something that took me more than one or two failed attempts to discover, is that you actually have to jump on the bad guys to kill them when in unarmed mode. Make a note of that, you are the first ever easily stoppable unstoppable ninja who knows absolutely no form of martial art or self defence.

So, you're running along from right to left, leaping on and off platforms and killing the bad guys, But what exactly is the game about. Well, it's about running from right to left, jumping on and off platforms and killing the bad guys, that's it. Now come on, how is anybody supposed to take a budget game called Ninja Commando seriously if it doesn't have a really far fetched plot about some evil emperor and contains lots of names like Ken-oh and Dan-oh.

The graphics are small, but very well defined and animated. So, the main character (the ninja) looks more like Morph than a black assassin of death, but at least he runs convincingly. The backdrops are a little samey in places, and the complete lack of colour anywhere, including the front end, does spoil the look of the game a tad.

It plays well, and after the immediate gameplay glitch of working out how to kill anything, it does become enjoyable. Very, in fact. It's nothing special or outstanding, and it won't set any new standards, but it's still good. One of the better budget releases.

Label: Zeppelin
Author: Brian Cross
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Another fine game from Zeppelin.