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Ocean Software Ltd
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

He's big. He's mean. He's got a spikey haircut. But that's enough about Jim - what about the game he commanded me to review, Red Heat?

The latest in a long line of Arnie Schwarzenegger movie conversions - remember Predator, Running Man, and, er, that's it really - Red Heat sticks pretty closely to the plot of the fillum. In which a Russian cop (Red Heat, geddit?) comes to America to track down a ruthless gang of drug smugglers who've offed his partner. Arnie's character is SO HARD that he can juggle hot coals, punch thousands of people and shoot his huge pistol dozens of times without ruffling his startling spikey haircut, and this aspect of the film is well represented in the game.

Oh, we forgot to mention, Arnie's American liaison is played by James Belushi, less funny brother of the dead John, and he pops up between levels doing some sort of song-and-dance routine. Weird.

The actual action of the game largely involves Arnie PUNCHING people with unerring accuracy. As you move across the screen - right to left on the first stage, left to right later on - attackers swarm towards you from the far side. This ill-assorted bunch of thugs and hoodlums try to knock you down with an assortment of chops and jabs; you have to time your punches correctly to knock them across the screen, or duck under their blows. If you take a knock, an energy meter shows your falling energy. You have the traditional three lives to complete the game.

As you progress, the scenery changes from the opening scene in the bath-house to a Moscow winter, then to the interior of a hospital. By this time you're armed with an enormous GUN, which certainly makes life easier.

The main punching action is interrupted by sub-games based on sections of the film. Each time you pick up a Bonus token you have a chance to score extra points by completing a sub-game. There are several different types of sub-game; in one, you have to re-arrange the jumbled sections of a key. To do this you move a cursor over a piece, and press fire to swap it with the adjacent piece. In another sub-game you're shown a dollar bill divided into blue and green squares. By moving the joystick in different directions you can make different selections of squares change colour. The aim is to make them all turn green.

For joystick-wagglers there's a sub-game in which Arnie's fist squeezes a hot coal - waggle like mad to get the waggleometer up to the top.

My favourite sub-game shows a selection of three doors, which pop open in turn to reveal either gun-toting thugs, or innocent bystanders such as doggies. schoolgirls and naked women (?!?) The aim is to gun down the thugs and avoid shooting the bystanders, but the temptation is to shoot the lot. Each sub-game is, of course, played against a time limit.

The final aim is to confront and eliminate the arch baddie in a scene of such awesome wonderfulness that we haven't actually seen it. After all, completing all the sub-games to finish the game is a mammoth task.

Red Heat is most notable for its excellent comic-style graphics. Though they're monochrome, the animation and design are excellent, and because you're only shown Arnie's top half, it gives an impression of great size.

Label: Ocean
Author: Special FX
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Straightforward licence of the all-action Arnie cop film.