US Gold's deal with Capcom has already brought us some real corker conversions such as Bionic Commandos, Strider and Ghosts 'n' Ghouls. And here's its latest offering - a nifty little number by the name of Black Tiger. "Funny, Johnny Morris never mentioned these on Animal Magic!" I hear you say. Yes, well, that's because this has absolutely nothing to do with dirty furry felines, does it?
The plot revolves around the well-worn 'save all of humanity' theme. This involves you, Blackie, one very hard monster-mashing dude, setting out to slay a particularly sadistic dragon, who's obviously got nothing better to do than make peoples lives a misery. However, before you can confront this fiend, you must thrash your way through six levels of multidirectional scrolling caves, catacombs and fortresses, all seething with dragon-breath's hench-things. Yes, the dragon has hoards of cronies for you to contend with. These vary from the evil-looking, axe-wielding trolls to intimidating killer onions (well, they look like onions to me).
Obviously, all these monions - sorry - minions are going to become a bit overwhelming if they're not put in their place, so it's a good thing that our hero comes equipped with a veritable barrage of weapons to assist him. One jab of the fire button sends a couple of knives slicing through the air, as well as activating your powerful mace. Once activated, this nifty piece of medieval weaponry launches itself rather like a demented yo-yo. Unfortunately, most of the nasties require a couple of whacks before they bite the dust, so if you're the impatient sort you'll have to fork out some dosh to improve your arsenal.
Scattered around the landscapes you'll stumble across vases which, when whacked a couple of times, reveal the ever-important cash, keys or even extra time. (Oh sorry, did I forget to mention that there's a time limit? Well, there is, and if you don't complete each level within the allotted time you lose a life, so keep moving!) Many of the nasties also carry around money which they will kindly leave behind for you to collect once you've smashed their heads in. So, should you find a shopkeeper (they're easy to recognise - they just stand around looking stupid), you can upgrade your weapons and armour, buy some spare keys for the treasure chests and maybe even invest in a bottle of elixir to improve your dwindling energy level. Wizards also put in an appearance, giving information, money and weaponry in return for being freed from the dragon's wicked spell. Just touch them - that should do the trick.
Each level is quite large, so arrows have been provided to point you in the direction of the treasures and the exit respectively. However, this doesn't mean you can get away without mapping the game, since there are some pretty nasty traps awaiting the unprepared adventurer. So hang onto you pen and paper!
Graphically, besides the lack of colour, (yup, it's monochrome time, folks) the game compares very favourably with the arcade machine itself. It sports some beautifully smooth sprite movement and well-detailed and smooth-scrolling backgrounds. Soundwise, the game is full of the usual spot effects on both the 48K and 128K versions, though the 128K version is also endowed with music.
To begin with, the gameplay didn't really prompt me to enthuse upon its virtues. It does take quite a bit of practice to get used to the persistent attacks of the dragon's chums, but I'd be a liar if I said that it didn't grow on me pretty quickly. Very soon I was having a ball, slicing and dicing quite proficiently.
To sum up, Black Tiger is a competent conversion - not quite up to the standard of US Gold's best Capcom conversions, but quite palatable nonetheless.
A good conversion of a slightly weak coin-op. Fans of the original will lap it up.
This line of zeros represents your bank balance. Yikes!
Oh dear, your vitality meter is right down to nada, zilcho, zero. (What a great mag! Ed) Say "Bye-bye", Blackie!These arrows are here to point you in the right direction... usually.Your armour is useless right now, you should have stocked up earlier. That'll teach ya!Vitality potions are pretty handy things when you're at death's door.This is Blackie himself. He seems to be having a spot of bother from a bat and a killer onion right now.This icon tells you how powerful your weapons are. You'd better not stumble on that dragon.This vase could improve that dwindling bank account. Whallop it a couple of times to reveal its contents.
Trapped between a troll and a Yoda look-a-like. What a choice!