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Ocean Software Ltd
1990
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
£9.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

16
Rich Pelley
Chris Bourne

Cor blimey, Spec-chums, Shadow Warriors looks such a scorcher that this could quite possibly be the first review I've ever written that doesn't once resort to the word 'crap'!! (Oops! Well, perhaps not.) And you can rest assured that I definitely won't be using the words 'boring', 'un-addictive', or indeed 'not very colourful' anywhere either. (Well, not outside of this intro bit anyway.) You see, it's actually a bit of a corker!

So what's it all about then? Well, it's a beat-'em-up, but rather a different offering from most of the ones we've seen lately. It's a scrolly for a start (so all you people hoping for straight hand-to-hand combat can go away right now), and (secondly) it's got blinkin' massive sprites - just take a look at the screenshots for proof. Happy yet? Well, if you're not just check out the 'thirdly' - the scenery's not just there to look pretty, ho no. You can actually 'do things' with it too! And fourthly, it's, um, erm... I can't think of a 'fourthly' actually, so let's leap straight into the review.


Right, here we are in the game and just look at my muscles! (Big, eh?) But (uh-oh) they're not as big as the ones on these guys heading straight towards me! A quick waggle with the joystick should sort them out I think, but what's this? I don't seem to be attacking them, just doing some sort of funky dance instead. What's going on, readers? (Actually, what's happening is that I'm doing this sort of fancy kick which involves hurling all your limbs around aimlessly - come to think of it, it is rather like my dancing actually - so all I have to do now is move a little closer to them and - yes! - I'll knock them to the floor.)

You see, unlike most beat-'em-ups, you don't have to keep wibbling your joystick to repeat a move, you can just sort of hold it in one position and your character will keep going until you let go. Other moves include jumping in the air (to get out of trouble, or up onto an overhead platform), rather groovy back-flip-cum-kick-the-git-in-the-head thingies, and all sorts.

Onto the next bit now, and I'm wading along a road packed with baddies, this time including some nasty big ones armed with whopping great tree-trunks! Slapping the joystick into first (ie pushing it upwards) I leap high in the air and find myself swinging back and forth from a lamp-post thing above them, clobbering them a few good ones on the head. (Told you you could interact with the scenery - you can swing from it, you can jump up onto it, you can kick suitable-looking bis to reveal handy bonuses and so on. It really is the biz!)

On the baddy front, there's lots of variety too. Fat ones, thin ones, sort of average-looking 'normal' ones, hog-mounted bikers (who chug onto screen) and (of course) your unfeasibly gigantic end-of-level ones, some of whom are actually larger than the screen - they're all here. It's all very colourful too, which makes it even more remarkable. Watch out for some incredibly neat background effects as well, particularly the massive cars that rumble diagonally across the screen on Level Two.

It all sounds pretty good so far, dunnit? And believe me, it is. Although it doesn't demand as much skill as something like Renegade (speed and luck are what's called for really) It's still very involving to play. I did find it a bit too easy to completely trapped between two blokes who were more than happy to punch me to death, but perhaps that's just me being crap. (Oh no, there's that word again!)

So there we have it. Shadow Warriors - a very technically impressive beat-'em-up (with perhaps the emphasis slightly more on being technically impressive than on the actual beating-people-up bit) that's not 'boring', not 'un-addictive' and not 'not very colourful'. And it's not 'crap' either. (Of course, it's multiload - on the humble 48K, that is - but what do you expect with all those fancy graphics?)

Technically astounding beat-'em-up, full of colour and action (but doesn't need too much skill).

79%
93%
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90%

Banner Text

Every time you get knocked over you lose a little blue square of energy, which looks like this. Lose all four and you lose a life. Lose all three lives and you lose a credit. Lose all six credits and, erm, it's the end of your game, matey.

As this piccie shows, it is possible to find a sword somewhere along the line. (try kicking in phone boxes etc, things.)

You can jump onto these strange hook thingies and swing about - belting any nearby enemies in the head (should you wish).

These cars don't actually do anything (I think) except look 'nice' as they drive diagonally across the screen.

And here's the big bloke himself. He'll take quite a few knocking-downs before he finally dies.

Yikes! That big bloke looks like he's clobbered me one with his big stick!

There's a sort of 3D effect so you can walk up and down the screen. Coo.

Screenshot Text

As you can see there's loads of colour and squillions going on at once - that huge mess to the right is actually loads of people coming to duff me in. Oo-er!