Unless you've been held prisoner by the Clangers for the past five years you'll no doubt be familiar with the top-notch and generally spiffing games that regularly scuttle off the Hewson production line. Each new release from the company is welcomed by a chorus of 'Hurrahs' (with lots and lots of exclamation marks on the end) so a compilation of four previously unreleased Hewson games could quite possibly (and quite literally) bring the house down. Well, that's the theory anyway - but don't count your chickens before they've been McNuggeted!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I reckon Hewson has never had a go at a footie game before, preferring instead to concentrate on extra-terrestrial shoot-'em-ups in which the haircuts are a lot easier to capture in pixels and no one's called Gazza, Dazza, Bazza or Kazza. Like MicroProse Soccer and Kick Off this one gives you an overhead view of the action and offers you all the usual stuff like choosing the name of your team, the number of teams in the league, the length of each half and which team colour you think will best clash with the green playing surface.
Footie game graphics have never been brill, but the players in Supercup look dodgy to the point of being non-human, which suggests that the programmer either a) subscribes to the abstract school of art or b) can't draw for toffee. Not only that but they're pathetically animated and move around in a most ungainly manner, which makes for a very jerky and style of play. Another crap bit was the way the goalies didn't move, but maybe I'm too picky. Basically it's the duffer of the pack.
First up is Kraal- quite a novel, viewed-from-above, arcadey exploration game with alien-type thingies to shoot, weapons to collect and a naff scenario to explain it all. This time you're Epolog, half-man half-alien, whose task it is to rescue the usual Princess from a fate worse than the one I attended at the local parish last Saturday afternoon. This basically entails driving a weedy little tank around five jerky-scrolling, plan-view levels trying to find and do away with small larvae creatures and their mums. There are various other naff-looking monsters, as well as gems to be exchanged for weapons or energy. And that's about it really. In fact, it looks and plays much like the ancient Panzardrome, and I can only wonder why Hewson didn't 'budgetise' it instead. The crying shame is that the front end's really snazzy, with some great alien speech and stuff, but alas none of this has rubbed off on the actual game.
From the out-and-out duffer to my lave of the lour - Klimax. This is a 3D isometric arcade adventure that Hewson could have released as a full pricey without suffering too many dents in its shimmering and rather sexy body-work. It's set in a 16-level industrial complex which looks like every other industrial complex you've seen except it's got NPSUs (Nuclear Power Supply Units) plopped down all over the place. Also left lying about, a mite carelessly in my opinion, are ADDs (Auto Destruction Devices). The object is to get your droid-like hero to push an ADD around the complex and hopefully into the entrance bit of a NPSU which will then explode. Unfortunately, it's QDA (Quite Difficult Actually) because the whole place is seething with enemy droids that destroy the ADDS and sap your energy. You can see them off with a few laser bolts but as these can also zap your ADD you've got to be pretty bloomin' careful. Every alternate level is an Administration Level and the idea here is to stop repair droids accessing the destroyed Nuclear Power thingies and pick up some new weapons. Other things you need are pills to maintain Power, Range and Speed ratings.
The whole thing's depicted in stunning monochrome with large and well-defined sprites and, because it doesn't have a planet-sized playing area that you've got to map or whatever, it comes across as a surprisingly addictive little number and jolly good fun. At the end of the day though its still not up to Hewson's usual stratospheric standards and not much of an improvement on the kind of thing Ultimate was producing two or so years back.
HEAD THE BALL
Lastly, there's Head The Ball which has absolutely nothing to do with football and, because of that, manages to get away with another classic plot written by someone with an Honours Degree in Loathsomely Cute And Twee Computer Game Plots With Special Reference To Balls. Apparently Head is a ball-shaped character whose girlfriend has just been captured by the evil Gobba, head of the Globoid Hells Angels. It's up to you to bounce your way through several horizontally-scrolling levels avoiding contact with Gobba's henchmen, picking up gems and following the arrows to rescue your beloved. Basically, all this is the latest excuse to do another cute bouncy ball game as you guide Head through treacherous screens designed to wipe the smile from his rotund person once and for all. Your supply of weapons is limited - you start with a few smart bombs, a shield and firepower in the form of ten single shots. Because of this handicap most of the gameplay is made up of trying to bounce Head past the baddies and onto a safe-ish landing spot.
Visually it's a bit, erm, so-so and could have done with more colour and larger characters to get across more of a cartoony feel. It's hardly original stuff but good fun to play and the kind of game that, again, would've done well at budget price. Just depends whether you're into this type of game and can cope with the cuteness.
Well, there you have it - four Hewson games previously unplayed by human hand collected into one package. There's one godawful one, a few average efforts and another that's fair-to-middling. Rather than being the collection of unreleased classics I was hoping for, this little lot looks like it was found under the bed amongst a load of discarded old socks and Sunday Sport back issues - very much a budget bunch, I'm afraid.
A four-pack of unreleased games that don't compare well with the rest of Hewson's achievements.
Insects - shoot 'em with ya clog-popper!
All the robots need to be avoided (apart from the handsome-looking one with a TV screen - that's you!).
The yellow bloke is Head, your, um, hero. Rather nauseating, isn't he?