Take a pinch of knowhow gained from past smashes like Beach Head, Crystal Castles and Solomon's Key, sprinkle in a little Speccy magic and blend in the entire ingredients of a brilliant arcade game, et voila! (Wot! Ed) the new US Gold hit, Rygar.
If, like me, you've gone absolutely ape over the arcade version, don't be too upset to learn that your Spectral friend doesn't quite cut it as a slot machine. You may get something that looks like gold if you mix gold and silver, but it's never quite the real thing.
Enough of the profundities - on with the game it's 2.5 billion years on and, Rambo-like, you battle your way through rough terrain, exterminating or avoiding the various creatures you encounter. You're armed only with strong legs for lumping and what looks like a tethered circular saw blade for flinging at opponents.
As you race through the levels, boulders sprout up like mutant cabbages and when shot disappear, leaving behind some sort of goody. Normally you just score a few bonus points (useful) but others give large bonuses (v. useful) and the odd extra life or increased time (mega useful). Periodically one of five icons will drop which increase your performance in various respects (oo-er).
Upon completing each of the 27 levels (all the original arcade screens are here), you're awarded bonus points for the number of creatures you kill and the time remaining on a 99-second clock. These can be mutually exclusive, though. Race through, stopping for nothing and you may get a respectable time bonus, but you miss out on the goodies on route. Spend the time killing things and there's a bonus for each hit - but only for fatalities notched up since the start of your current life. Many is the time you polish off 30+ opponents only to die inches from the end!
Naturally each level poses different problems, but please note, unlike the arcade when you fire, you stop moving, and this can be deadly. If things really start hotting up, you can swing your weapon in a satisfyingly destructive half-circle (not the full 360) by pushing the joystick forwards. In this version an enemy just appearing may be made to vanish if you move briefly in the opposite direction.
You lose graphically on this version (not surprisingly), but everything moves well and the screen scrolling is excellently smooth. Differences aside, this is a great game.
I have only one major complaint - it's causing me far too many sleepless nights. Excuse me while I go and burn the midnight oil.
Fair-ish arcade conversion but an absolute cracker of a game in its own right.
The trick is to keep running and blasting - preferably both! Since attacks come from all sides, don't forget to look behind you occasionally. You're even attacked from above, by the headless wonder dropped here from the talons of a pesky bird. Note that the bonus boulders appear just about anywhere.