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Domark Ltd
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Linda Barker
Chris Bourne

I'd make a really good pirate. I'm dead 'ard, you know Could grow some stubble (or failing that, slap on the shoe polish!) I've already got an eyepatch and some raggedy trousers, so I'd just need a sword and a parrot after that. Yes, indeedy - it certainly beats being a lusty wench and getting tied up by rough sailors!

You probably know all about Skull And Crossbones already 'cos Andy megapreviewed it just a couple of issues back. But in case you were snoozing at the time. let me gently remind you. (And don't drop off again this time!)

Right, matey, you are now a pirate! AS either One Eye or Red Dog you get to slash 'n' thrust your way through 8 ship and land levels picking up food, digging for treasure and crossing swords with pesky pirates, nippy ninjas and sabre-weilding skeletons. These hoodlums are the personal army of the evil Sorcerer who pops up at the end of every other level (the land bits) in disguise - and he's a dab hand with the old dressing up box. Par example, at the end of the 4th level (after getting rid of enough ninjas to fill a bottomless coracle) you come across a cross-legged Contucius look-alike. Don't be fooled, 'cos this peace-loving old gent turns into none other than Mr Master Ninja himself. Give old Conf a good going over with your ol' blade and whaddaya know? Mr Wiz? We meet again.


End-of-level baddies aside, most of your adversaries are a bit hopeless, especially in the first 6 levels. You'll get onto the poop deck and suddenly about 7 nasty looking pirates appear. Eek! Time for a swift getaway. But (and it's a big but) only one comes at you - so you get rid of him. And all these rotten scoundrels (instead of going for your throat like any self-respecting vagabond) simply line up, waiting to be stabbed in the stomach and go up in a puff of smoke. This makes the whole game a lot easier than it otherwise might have been and it's all a bit of a let-down. The best of the bunch are the ninjas. Dressed to kill (in black, of course) they come rolling silently behind you curled up into little balls. Then they uncurl and give you quite a bit of grief. How sweet!


And now for another let-down - the graphics. The scenery is excellent and clear but the sprites, unfortunately, aren't. They blend into the background, as well as each other, so things get really confusing. There were points where everything was corkingly clear but then I'd move forwars a bit and it was more a case of "Eh oop, where am I?"

Skull And Crossbones is addictive fun but it's a touch too easy - especially if you master the backslash early on. (Wah-hey! Bit of a tip there, Spec-chums!) It wasn't until the sixth level that I started to get into trouble, and I'm usually crap. If I got up on Saturday morning, went into twon and spent my hard-earned cash on this then I'd be a bit upset if I'd finished it by the time Beverley Hills 90210 came on. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not a tenner is too much for a day's entertainment? And I think it is. If Skull And Crossbones was £3 I'd recommend it, but it's not.

Fun but facile coin-op conversion. A piratical slash-'n'-pick-'em-up with confusing sprites.


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Become a pirate in just 10 8 easy steps - simply follow the YS cut-out-and-keep guide to piracy!

1) Get an old coathanger and saw off the hook bit. Hold it tight, pull your sleeve down to cover your hand, and voila - an ideal back-scratching device (and pretty good at scaring off very little children).

2) Get some pinking shears and cut your school trousers off so they're just below calf-length. Don't worry about cutting in a straight line - the more uneven, the better! (And remember kids, no shoes!)

3) Get a white shirt and ask a friend to hold one end while you keep hold of the other. Then both pull in opposite directions. If you haven't got a friend, then a dog will do just as well.

4) Tie a scarf (or maybe one of your dad's ties) round your neck. (Anything you wear should be covered in dirt first. It just makes things a little more authentic.)

5) Smear the lower half of your face with boot-polish - this looks amazingly like stubble! Cover the remainder of your features with dirt and rub lots of dirt and cooking oil in your hair.

6) Swords are quite hard to get hold of, but a reasonable imitation can be produced from cardboard and silver foil.

7) Run, screaming, down the road to the park. Remember to wave your sword about a lot. Get a boat out and there you go. You're a fully-fledged trainee pirate. Well done.

8) And, erm, that's it.

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What pathetic baddies, eh Spec-chums? In two seconds time they'll all be dead (cos that's the kind of nippy pirate I am!)

Don't worry, love! Ole Red Eye's here to save you! (And give her a coat to wear hopefully. She does look at bit chilly, doesn't she?)

And we see one of our pirates callously bashing up a half-dressed pensioner. What a star, eh?

Here's loads of screenshots of the second level all put together. Follow the arrows around, walking over dem bones to unearth lots of lovely treasure, like money and grapes. (And yes, we know it looks a bit odd in the middle but that's just the way it is.)