It's a race against the clock, as you take on some of the fiercest Kung Fu fighting Ninjas the Spectrum has ever seen. Would-be anarchist Sue Denham dons her fighting togs and battles through the endless maze of Durell Software's smash game Saboteur.
There have been a fair few martial arts games released or due for imminent release on the Spectrum of late - System 3's International Karate, Melbourne House's The Way Of The Exploding Fist, Imagine's Yie Ar Kung Fu and US Gold's Bruce Lee to name but a few! But none is quite like the latest offering from Durell Software.
The scenario for Saboteur thrusts you into the part of a sabotaging Ninja warrior, sneaking around an enemy warehouse that's much more than it seems at first sight. Your task is to search out a floppy disk from one of the many computer terminals scattered around the computer complex and escape with it. But before you go, you've got to leave a little present for your pursuers - a time bomb. Which doesn't leave you too much room to negotiate a safe path home!
The game itself comprises 118 different screens, which all go to make up the four-level warehouse - there is the warehouse itself, a computer complex, and two layers of labyrinth-like sewers; the latter areas have a tendency to look the same, which can be a great problem for those who have an aversion to making maps of the best route to safety. All the weapons a self-respecting Ninja could want, can be found by stumbling across them on your adventures. But you can only hold one weapon at a time and, once you've used it, you'll have to search round for another. Points are awarded for killing the guards - by weapons or skilful use of martial arts - but your real adversary is time... and the final objective of stealing the floppy disk and getting clear of the warehouse before the fuse burns down.
Overall, the game is addictive and great fun. There are nine levels of difficulty - but on the easiest level, you can work out the structure of the game and prepare yourself for the terrors of playing at the higher levels. Map-makers will be in their element when they first start playing the game, but it will be the rugged Kung Fu fighters who will out in the end.
Saboteur manages to combine the good graphical representations of the other Kung Fu games with the solid background of an action-packed story. One to be recommended.
These items look a bit like the cameras that follow you round in supermarkets making sure you don't steal the wares. But, don't be fooled - they're actually quite deadly laser guns that fire at you should you hesitate in your mission.
The Ninja is able to climb up the ladders, which is quite useful as your adversaries are limited to patrolling the flat. You do not, however, build up your life energy when you are on a ladder, and you're not completely out of danger from attack by one of the warehouse's defenders.Keep your eyes on this box as it'll flick up the icon of a weapon when one is in the vicinity. But if, as is often the case, you're in a hurry you may miss finding the all-important bomb which you'll need if you're going to put paid ti the enemy warehouse. Picking up or exchanging a weapon is done by pressing the 'Fire' button.This box gives you an indication of your life energy - when it turns completely blue, you're dead! Stand still for a few moments and, gradually, your energy is built up to normal - but keep an eye on the clock, as well as any enemy guards and dogs that may be in the vicinity.This box tells you how much time you've got left to find the disk and, once found and the bomb set, how little time you've got to escape! Your time limit is linked to which of the nine playing levels you choose at the beginning of the quest.
Here you can see how much blood money you've earned from your death-dealing antics. Killing a guard with a weapon will up your cash flow by $100 - but using a few Bruce Lee kicks to do the same will get you $500.
As the lead character in this story, you can move up and down ladders with ease, duck down, jump and crouch, kick and punch your opponents, and throw weapons with surprising accuracy. Not bad for a beginner, eh?On the easier playing levels, all the doors around the warehouse are kept open. Once you opt for the more difficult playing levels you will find many areas are closed off to you until you unlock the doors using the computer terminals.The Ninja has no problems falling any distance from a ledge or a hidden hole in the floor - except for the fact that you don't know what sort of trouble you might be falling into!It is possible to kill the dogs by firing off your weapon and ducking at the same time - but the programmers frown on this activity and you won't get a penny for carrying out this dastardly deed. But you might live a bit longer....The enemy guards (although looking like rejects from the Village People!) not only carry an endless supply of weapons, but also are keen Kung Fu adepts. Martial arts enthusiasts may hang around for a friendly bout, but your first few games it's recommended that you dispatch them as quickly as possible.The weapon you are holding - be it a dagger, grenade, pipe, shuriken or whatever - is shown here. It doesn't seem to matter what weapon you use to kill the guards as they all seem to have the desired effect.
Travelling around between the different areas of the game is done by shuttle - which is reminiscent of the vehicles used at most modern airports. The Ninja merely walks inside to start the journey and strolls off at the destination point - and not a ticket-collector in sight!
The sewers are dark and unfriendly, especially when a guard or dog comes bounding out of the gloom intending you no good at all. If you are going to make a map of any area of Saboteur, you could do worse than start with the sewers.