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Arcade: Platform
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
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David McCandless
Chris Bourne

Those chaps at Gremlin seem to have a fascination with blood. First came Blood Valley, now there's Blood Brothers. What next? Blood Cousins twice removed? Anyway on with the review.

Blood Brothers begins when twins, Hark (what light from yonder window breaks), and Kren return home to the planet Slyonia to find their family has been murdered and their home destroyed, by a band of space baddies called the Scorpions. Vengeance is vowed and armed with some sophisticated weaponry, the pair set out to single-handedly hunt down and destroy the Scorpions and recover the stolen lolly. All in a day's work, really.

You control (I'm not sure whether that's the right word), Hark or Kren as they jet-pac it around a multi-screen complex of platformy, geometric caverns, blasting aliens, collecting jewels, and then blasting some more aliens. But inertia and gravity effects means that one lax moment and hey, splato! you're dead. Also, when you fire, a massive recoil can batter you uncontrollably through several screens like a pinball. Ouch! The aliens are pretty dumb, they generally stick to plain ol' left/right, up/down movement patterns. But some, usually one per screen, have an irrepressible affection for you, and will home in for a bite of your rear. And as they're tenacious little so-and-so's, it takes six shots to oxidise an alien, and this, added to the recoil-syndrome, really makes kiting ET's a chore. You have little chance of surviving, what with well 'ard aliens and decreasing energy, ammo and jet-pac power.

The simultaneous two-player option is okay, but in such a fast-moving downright deadly game, there's little space for skill.

There's also little graphic or strategic incentive to reach the next screen. Each screen looks much the same as the last one, and getting past each doesn't exactly require a feat of mental dexterity.

But the one little trick that really perks up this game (and its score), is the jet-bike section. This is the bit where you straddle (fnar), your ultra high-tec but still quite trendy jet-bike and go off in search of other mine shafts. To get to the shafts you have to steer your bike through miniscule gaps and around tight corners in the impervious walls that bullet towards you, whilst avoiding (or shooting) the strategically placed towers and making sure you don't run out of fuel or ammo. This part is really addictive. I spent a sweaty, foul-languaged hour trying to get to a certain mine shaft. I succeeded eventually (using the well-worn hackers adage:- if at first you don't succeed. use a multiface) and joy upon joys, I could remember the route and re-succeeded on the re-play Remarkable.

The overall game takes place over three loadable modules with differing graphics, differing routes, and differing strategies - apparently. Every level, I found seemed to require exactly the same combination of frenetic blasting, swearing and incredible good luck. And all in all, it was a little boring.

An annoying platform shoot 'em up, saved only by a savagely addictive sub-game.