Right, let's see who can find the YS back issue with Rick Dangerous I in it first, shall we? Ha. Beat the lot of you - issue 43, page 61. It appears that Jackie gave it a big thumbs up and 78 (but she was slightly alarmed by how hard it was). And now here's Rick II. So what's it like? Easier? Harder?(!) Better looking? Bigger? Spankier? Well, you can cross out all those question marks because just about all of the adjectives apply.
But first, the plot. Er, there isn't one. At least, if there is I haven't seen it. I'd offer to make one up for you, but it'd be extraordinarily awkward. There are four 'preliminary' levels, you see, and they all take place in completely different settings. There's Hyde Park in London, the Ice Caverns of Freezia, the Forests of Vegatablia and the Atomic Mud Mines of, erm, it doesn't say. And there's another level as well, which can only be played once you've completed the first four (in any order you fancy). Anyone who can come up with a plot to link that lot deserves a prize, in my opinion. (Tell you what - write a plot and send it in to Rick Dangerous II Plot Compo at the usual address and we'll come up with a prize for the best one.) (We will? Ed)
So, no plot then. But a heck of a lot of explanation to get through. For a start you can tackle the levels in whichever order you like by selecting them from a menu at the beginning. A wise move, that, as you're unlikely to get terribly far with any of them. Not at first, anyway. As with its predecessor, this one's Hard. On top of the huge array of cunning booby-traps and the continuous onslaught of baddies you've also got some pretty dodgy collision detection to cope with. It's a vast improvement on the original's, I'll agree, but I still get a bit teed off with being wiped out by a boulder that seems to be about 3,000 miles away.
As for Rick, well, he's still the highly-talented little chap he always was. He can run, jump, duck, crawl, punch, shoot and lob grenades, and still manage to look cute 'n' cuddly at the same time. What a guy. Mind you, he needs to be pretty versatile with the odds he's up against. Right from the word go he frequently finds a boulder heading towards him, looking alarmingly hefty. Later on there are icy floors, lifts (some of which need to be switched on before they'll do anything), lightning bolts, missile launchers and, ooh, all sorts of things to cope with.
They're never terribly obvious either, so he's almost always wiped out by them on the first couple of tries. After that it's a case of remembering where they are and avoiding them next time round.
The general 'look' of things seems to have been spruced up since the first game. Rick I had a very monochromey appearance, even though it wasn't short of colour (if you see what I mean), but the sequel's got the rainbow stuff oozing out all over the place. There are plenty of sound effects too, beep-fans will be pleased to hear. (Oh - bit of a pun there!)
So, just what is it about these Rick games that makes them so devastatingly addictive? Erm, well... Actually I've got a bit of a confession to make. I hated the first one. Loathed it. It was just too flipping difficult for me. However (and that's a heavily-emphasised 'however'). Rick II had me absolutely hooked - I couldn't tear myself away. And what brought about this astounding turnaround? Well, it's still hard, but I reckon just a teeny bit easier than the first game. Not much, but just enough to keep you coming back for more rather tahn switching it off in frustration.
So I liked it then? Yes, I certainly did. Although in theory it ought to get roughly the same score as the first Rick, for some spooky reason I'm going to give it a whopping great Megagame. Weird, eh?
More explore-and-collect frolics, but a whole lot better than the original.
Three seconds into his adventure, a huge salvo of laser bolts narrowly misses our hero. having recovered from that shock he spots a robot heading towards him. Yikes! Opting to jump over it (only girls use weapons), and climbing a ladder to the top of the screen, Rick is alarmed to find the robot coming up after him. Luckily a rogue laser bolt takes it out. Upstairs, Rick crawls under a nasty-looking spark thing, flips a switch at the side of the screen (disabling a missile launcher blocking the exit) and heads off to the right. A few more dead robots later, Rick flips another switch, activates a lift, jumps on, ducks to avoid another missile and picks up some extra ammo. He then dispatches a few more robots and scales a pipe, only to have his clogs popped by a missile he hadn't spotted.LEVEL TWOIt'sa bit chilly in here, but Rick doesn't notice the cold as he zaps a guard, dodges a falling icicle and chucks a grenade at a couple more soldiers. he then weaves his way round a few more guards, past a clockwork bird and slides uncontrollably along an icy platform. he switches on a lift, jumps onto it, leaps off at the top and... oh dear, gets impaled on a pointy thing.LEVEL THREERick finds himself in a jungley bit, with a gorilla heading straight for him. He shoots it. Deftly leaping over a rolling boulder, he finds himself with a choice - off to the right, or up? He goes up. No real problems here as Rick takes out a couple more gorillas and shins up a 'column'. He spots a launcher on the right of the screen and ducks in the nick of time as a poison arrow whizzes over his head. Laughing quietly to himself he climbs up a bit further and... oops, treads on a sharp stake.LEVEL FOURRick jumps over a couple of runaway barrels, clears away a few guards with some carefully-aimed grenades, jumps down to the bottom of the screen (avoiding the missile-launcher, of course) and flicks a switch. Nothing happens. He jumps blindly onto the screen below, landing on a moving railway truck. (Phew.) He rides to the end of the line on it, jumps off and climbs further downward. Then, just as things are looking up, he walks straight into a jet of flame. And dies, Again.Then there's always the fifth level if you get through that lot intact.
Score, lives etc.
A rather nasty spark thingy. Best to crawl under this.The man himself.This switch deactivates......this. It's a missile launcher.A handy resting place, free of nasties.A couple of lasers which were causing problems earlier.
Oh no! A giant Rick Dangerous sign seems to have rolled over this bit!
About now I'd start quaking with fear, but not our Rick. Just look at that grin - he's loving it!
At a guess I'd say it's some spooky underground alien planet type place! (Colourful, isn't it?)