1988
Arcade: Platform
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Search Loader

78
Kati Hamza, Paul Sumner, Nick Roberts
Chris Bourne

The planet Sylonia is under constant attack from the Scorpions, a band of space convicts who specialise in small plundering raids. Hark and Kren, two 18-year olds, return from a jet-bike expedition to find their village burning, their home destroyed and their family dead. Shocked and confused they make a pact of blood brotherhood and resolve to seek out the murderers.

Controlled individually by two players, or alternately by a solo player, Hark and Kren make their way through the Scorpions' muttiloaded flick-screen complex of underground tunnels and mines. Subterranean platforms overhang hazardous rivers of sludge, anti-gravity surfaces cause the heroes to float, and mining wagons roll dangerously from side to side. Aliens, which need to be shot several times, home in on the heroes and drain their energy. Each brother has a jet-pack for extra mobility, while additional equipment (guns, fuel, weapons units) and looted jewels are scattered around the environment.

A display shows current energy, thrust and weapon capacity in the form of status bars. As energy and power get used up, the brothers are able share their resources on contact with each other.

Different sections of the mine area can only be accessed via the surface. Pressing fire at the mine entrance switches into jet-bike mode. Taking control to their technologically advanced aerial craft, each brother negotiates a 3-D environment of pillars and walls displayed using a first-person perspective. By weaving in and out of the narrow gaps and sooting obstructing blocks, the blood brothers attempt to reach the next underground entrance. A collision forces them back to the beginning, and if the bike runs out of fuel to in mid-flight, it explodes and the riders life comes to an immediate and premature end. The remaining brother carries on the mission in the hope that alone he may counter the Scorpions' threat.

CRITICISM

'Blood Brothers is a tale of two levels. One - the jet-bike stage = is very playable and challenging, while the other is repetitive and aggravating. Both, however, feature credible graphics: the first stage is very reminiscent of Micromega's 3-D Deathchase and contains some super animation of monstrous walls and towering pylons as they speed towards you and (hopefully) zoom straight past! Once into the underground stage it's very easy to get quickly bored with the similar appearance of every screen - even though there's three modules - and in my mind this bring the game down to an average level. The recoil action of the man is very clever feature, but proves to be a real pain, being annoying rather than challenging. If you like the underground stage then the game will be a very appealing purchase; however, the average player will only find an average game.' PAUL ... 75%

'Hmmm. I don't quite know what to make of this. It seems like Gremlin had two games kicking about and just joined them together. The jet-bike section is about the best, with 3-D pillars and a bike that just refuses to slow down! All dodging and weaving in and out of tight corners is incredibly addictive. The accompanying platform section lets the package down a bit games like this have been around for ages and they lose all their playability after only a few goes. There are three separately loaded modules in the game, and each one is basically the same, merely having a different layout and a few new aliens here and there. The platform section is neatly coloured although the 3-D section is monochrome. 48K sound effects are just the usual gun sounds, but on the 128K there is a fantastic tune at the beginning. Blood Brothers has the best of both worlds - platform and 3-D - which makes it a very addictive arcade game' NICK ... 88%

'Gremlin have taken the ageing platform formula and spiced it up with an extremely innovative idea. The 3-D Jet-bike sequence is exciting enough to stand as a game on its own. Hair-raising gaps, seemingly impassable walls, looming obstacles and incredibly sharp turns make for continuous tension and suspense - not least because the whole procedure looks deceptively easy. What the Sylonian underground lacks in terms of originality, it makes up for with unusual effects. Weapons have a powerful recoil, so blasting willy-nilly through the platform complex needs to be tempered with a little strategic thought. Shoot your laser from an awkward place, and you may find yourself plunging to a sudden swampy death on the unexpected rebound. It's a pity that there's no one-character option, but this is an inconvenience rather than a major fault. Even taking into account this minor quibble you have a polished and very compulsive game. Buy it.' KATI ... 89%

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: fast monochrome jet-bike graphics with detailed and very colourful underground stage
Sound: good 128K and 48K title track. Fairly standard in-game effects
Options: one or two players, sound on/off, restart. Three individually loaded modules (environments) of play
General Rating: With two stages and three modules Gremlin Graphics have not only provided value for money but also two very attractive and playable games.

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Screenshot Text

A tale of two stages.

Hark plays Blockbusters.