Switchblade

Switchblade - Atari ST

Switchblade (1989)
By: Core Design / Gremlin  Genre: Run ‘n’ Gun  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Atari ST  First Day Score: 9,240
Also Available For: Amiga, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

Switchblade

Whether you love or hate Rick Dangerous, there´s no question that it was a memorable game. Anyone wanting more of the same would have to wait for its sequel which would arrive a year later, but released the same year as Rick’s first adventure was this game. It’s similar in looks and gameplay so it comes as so surprise to find that the same team was responsible for both games, but the setting has changed. This latter effort takes place ten thousand years in the future rather than the recent past, and it appears to be an anime-influenced future ‘cyber world’ called Thraxx where the Undercity is now ruled by the evil Havoc who has shattered the Fireblade and filled the city with his minions.

Switchblade - Atari ST

It’s down to you to flush the Undercity of this filth and simultaneously find the sixteen pieces of the Fireblade, the source of the Bladeknight’s power, and rebuild it to ensure lasting peace. You do this as Hiro, the last of the Bladeknights. He has as much stealth and cunning as you can muster as well as a programmable cyber-arm. Only when the Fireblade has been reassembled will you be able to take on Havoc and help Hiro gain revenge for the death of his people. You’ll start this flick-screen adventure above ground but after only a few screens you’ll enter the underground depths of Undercity, a vast, sprawling labyrinth of rooms, tunnels, and passageways. A labyrinth it is too as only sections you’re in or have previously been in will appear – all other sections are hidden until you enter them.

Switchblade - Atari ST

This of course means there’s lots of secrets and sneakily-concealed areas which often require some exploration or experimentation to find. Hidden or not though, all areas of Undercity are patrolled by the hideous servants of Havoc, contact with whom will deplete Hiro’s energy meter. To begin with he can only use his fists or feet against them but there are six power-up weapons available as he makes his way through the game which are mostly sword or projectile-type weapons. They will all have differing ranges and some projectile weapons also have limited ammo. The effect of some of them (including Hiro’s default attacks) is also slightly different depending on your use of the charge bar. More ammo can be collected of course, and other things to look out for include speed-ups, a temporary shield, flasks and orbs which award you with bonus points, and increases to your power-meter.

Switchblade - Atari ST

It’s also worth looking out for Fireblade fragments, of course, and successful recovery of all sixteen pieces bestows a sizable bonus upon Hiro as well as the option of using the Fireblade as a seventh weapon power-up. It will be a while before that becomes possible though as Switchblade is a pretty big game. It consists of five levels but, although ending with a boss fight, each level continues on from the last so there’s no real break between them. This extends to the look of them. The graphical style is similar to the distinctive look of Rick Dangerous before it – everything is neat and nicely drawn with small, squat little sprites, and I can’t imagine it really pushes the 16-bit CPU of the ST very hard – but unlike Core’s previous game, there’s almost no variety between the levels, and unfortunately that’s as far as both graphics and gameplay are concerned too.

Switchblade - Atari ST

The grey bricks, crates, girders and ladders that you’ll first see upon entering Undercity are still prevalent an hour later as you approach the climax of the game. This was very disappointing to find as even the much shorter Rick Dangerous has some variety between its levels, graphically. One improvement made here is the audio – the sound effects are pretty anonymous but there is at least in-game music courtesy of Ben Daglish, and it’s great! Playing the game will also feel familiar if you’ve played Rick’s game. There’s less trial-and-error frustration involved here, at least with regards to completely hidden traps and the like, but exploring the levels is done in pretty much the same way – jumping around multi-tiered sections and nipping up and down ladders. Hiro also moves in a similar way to Rick but since he has an energy meter rather than one-hit deaths, it’s a little easier too.

Switchblade - Atari ST

Overall though, I’m not sure if Switchblade represents a forward or backwards step. Rick Dangerous got a mixed response due to its immensely unfair but addictive gameplay while Switchblade was apparently unanimously praised, but in my opinion the latter doesn’t possess either of the former’s most notable qualities – it’s fairer but less addictive since the whole game is pretty much the same as the first five minutes. I know it suits the story to have the whole city looking pretty much the same, but it doesn’t do much for the player’s desire to see it all. This, combined with a very annoying ‘hit mechanic’, which sees Hiro shunted backwards every time he takes damage, means I have less compulsion to continue playing this than I do Rick Dangerous. It’s far from a terrible game, and uncovering all the hidden areas provides some motivation to play it, but it could’ve been so much better with a bit of variety.

RKS Score: 6/10

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider - Playstation - Box

I can’t imagine there’s a human being out there reading this that hasn’t played this game, or at least knows everything about it. Before all the sequels (good and bad), all the comics (good and bad), and all the movies (good and bad), there was the original game that set everything up.

Soon after I purchased my PSOne, my cousin stopped by my apartment. I didn’t realize he was a big video game guy until I talked to him that day. He didn’t live too far from me and we talked about getting together. My brother was already over and I told him we were playing the Playstation. He told me he had one as well, and was going to bring over some games. I don’t remember any of the others he brought, because I don’t think we ever got past Tomb Raider.
“It’s an Indiana Jones chick who jumps around and shoots stuff.”

Tomb Raider is a 3rd-person action-adventure game which really plays like a classic platformer in 3D. Your hero, Lara Croft, is a rich girl who grew up in archeology, but her parents died when she was younger, leaving her with money and boredom. You’ll learn a lot more of her backstory in future games.

Tomb Raider - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot

In this particular game, she’s hired to search the world for objects which have ties to the Lost City of Atlantis. She will battle animals, creatures, and humans, as well as the occasional mythical figure. Always armed with two guns and unlimited ammo, this will be her signature.

Tomb Raider is more about puzzle-solving than shooting, although there is enough of that. Throughout the levels, which will take her around the world, she will collect items and treasures, pull levers, push blocks, climb walls, jump to ledges, all while avoiding breaking her neck or falling into a death-pit. All in a normal day for an adventurer. Not only can she walk, but run, flip, and swim in water.

A true magical adventure, this game had me hooked. Looking back at it now, the graphics are pretty blocky, but the game play was/is something special.

Tomb Raider - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot

I can’t finish this review without mentioning one of my favorite moments in video game history……the first time Lara’s walking around and the gigantic T-Rex comes seemingly out of nowhere, and I had nothing but the dual-pistols. Literally a crap-your-pants moment.

Obviously, this marked a special moment in gaming. I can’t stress enough how this was literally a game-changer. Combining great graphics and level design, wonderful music, engaging gameplay…..it almost seemed like you were in a movie, and a must-own for any gamer.

Only two negatives about the game, and they’re not minor; First, you can’t save where/whenever you’d like (they would change that in the sequels), but you have to find the save points. Secondly, the camera angles can be brutal, and sometimes get stuck. Can be very difficult to make a crazy jump when the camera is not cooperating. This will be a problem throughout the series.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL1cwhNDWkw[/youtube]

The great Tommy Shaw once said, “Don’t go messing with a girl with guns.” The man was right-on, she’s totally badass.

Jaguar XJ-220

Jaguar XJ-220 title
Jaguar XJ-220 title

Jaguar XJ-220 review (amiga) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“A forgotten racing game in the style of the Lotus games but with its own style.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview & My History With This Game & Stability/Reliability:

Around the time this game came out, the Lotus racing games were very popular on the Amiga. Jaguar XJ-220 is a similar game except that it is more realistic by adding a damage engine and fuel/refueling.

The game consists of you being part of the Jaguar XJ-220 team involved in races against teams that race Bugattis EB110s, Porsche 959s, Lamborghini Countaches, and Chevrolet Corvettes. You race in 12 different countries with each country having 3 tracks each in a contest to see which car model is the superior one.

Jaguar XJ220 box Amiga
Jaguar XJ220 box Amiga

You get a certain amount of championship points as well as money based on how well you place per race. The championship points will help determine whether you are beating the game or not. The money will be used to repair the cars because everything you do damages the car. Sometimes the car will just get damaged with wear and tear. Parts have 3 states, healthy, somewhat damaged (yellow), or badly damaged (red). After each race you will enter the repair screen which itemizes all car systems for you to repair depending on your budget.

Later on in the game, you must be smart and race strategically. It’s important to gauge and time just exactly when you will need to refuel your car. If you refuel too soon you risk having rival racers pass you. However, if you run out of fuel it’s even worse because your car will be forced to go about 10 MPH as you push the car to the pit stop. How much fuel you want to add is also a factor in determining how much time you spend not moving.

Jaguar XJ-220 was created by Core Design in 1992. It was released both on Amiga and the Sega Mega-CD. The game includes a track editor and a 2 player split-screen mode.

Jaguar XJ220 Amiga screenshot
Jaguar XJ220 Amiga screenshot

The car itself, the Jaguar XJ-220 is sort of like a failed supercar. The car came out at a time when the supercar market crashed. It was also one of the last cars put out by Jaguar before the company got bought out. The original design intended for the car to have a V12 but it ended up with a dual turbocharged V6 instead. The car was supposed to be able to hit 220 MPH but it realistically could hit about 213 MPH only with the original configuration. Modified XJ-220s have hit higher speeds than 220 MPH though…

As far as I go, I’ve played and beaten this game through about 20 times. I have however played this game over 100-200 times. The problem this game has is that you can save your progress but it’s RISKY. There have been many times when the game just gets stuck saving to a floppy disk and it’s basically just game over. That’s why I give Reliability/Stability a low score of 4 out of 10. The game itself doesn’t necessarily crash (although it used to make my Amiga overheat sometimes) but the save system is CRAP. I recommend setting a good 8-10 hours to sit down with a friend and beat the entire game in one sitting! That’s what we used to do.

This was the first game that left me fond memories of gaming on my Amiga, despite the saving bug.

Fun Factor & Replayability:

What I liked about this game is that it’s not just a racing game but a strategy game as well, at least to me. It made you think about the logistics of a race car. To me that’s rather clever and that added a lot of replayability to this game. The game is not appealing to some people but then again not all racing games are either. Some people will like both the racing and the planning the game requires. The racing itself is pretty quick for an old game, as well. Fun Factor for me gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Since there are different strategies you can use to try to beat the game, I give Replayability a score of 8 out of 10.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility & Controls:

You can’t make the game harder except by going to specific countries that have the most challenging tracks on purpose or by changing the control sensitivity.

Controls are simple and effective. You can set it so that either the fire button accelerates or simply by pushing forward. Braking is attained by pushing the joystick backwards. The controls are very responsive and you can change that, which affects the difficulty of the game. Sure, it’s not as realistic as today’s racing games but for the logic of racing games at that time, it’s decent. I give Controls a score of 7 out of 10.

The game itself is somewhat challenging with it getting much harder later on because of having to deal more with the logistics of damage and fuel. Difficulty gets a score of 8 out of 10, if you actually play the game through to the end.

Since you can customize the controller sensitivity and have to plan which countries to tackle in what order, Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 8 out of 10. You need to be smart about it.

Value:

This game is impossible to get other than in emulated form. Lemon Amiga has links to sites that could potentially have the game for download. Since that’s free, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Sound:

You won’t hear sound unless you opt out to turn off the music. The sounds are good but it’s one or the other. I would recommend putting on the music unless you want to play other music using another computer or radio, etc. Sound gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Music:

This game has one of my favorite soundtracks for a video game. Click here to go to mirsoft.info and to download and get more specific information on the soundtrack. If you need a program to play the MOD files check out our article here on Deliplayer.

The soundtrack includes relaxing electronic music as well as a heavy metal song and funky covers of 80s tv music. Overall, the soundtrack is very unique and relaxing! It was composed by Martin Iveson and deserves a score of 10 out of 10.

The music is so badass that people have in recent years started remixing it.

Here is the link to download my favorite remix from Amiga Remix by Luther. To listen to all the remixes of the music from Jaguar XJ-220 on Amiga Remix, click here!

Check out my favorite remix by Luther here:

Graphics & Performance:

The graphics for the menus and interface are awesome. Screens where the actual car is drawn look a lot like the real car and I think it’s beautiful. The in-game cars look pretty good as well and that’s worth a high score. Graphics get a score of 9 out of 10.

The game has always run really well and I’ve never seen parts where the game lagged. The game has a sped up easter egg bug where if you play one of the radio stations rather than the CD audio during the music selection screen, the game will play super sped up. Although it acts weird, that’s not much of a problem. Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you are a fan of cars and the rivalry that supercar manufacturers had in the early 90s then you will enjoy this game. If you want a racing game that makes you you as well, then this is also a game for you. At the very least, check out the soundtrack or its remixes!