In a series of catacombs, deep below ground, Astaroth, the Angel of Death, rules over a fetid underworld domain. Surrounded by the vile minions she has summoned up to protect her, she is free to satisfy her evil will. No-one has dared to face this she-devil. Until now. A single, lone man, Ozymandias, has decided to enter Astaroth's forbidding lair to defeat the demoness.
The catacombs are represented by a series of interconnecting flick-screens, which are entered via left nad right, top and bottom. Ozymandias walks and can jump, but has no immediate defences save for ducking from flying bats and harpies which inhabit the carved tunnels. Only forward planning and quick reactions can save him from the variety of beasts which inhabit this world: contact with Astaroth's underlings serves only to rid Ozymandias of his mind powers, shown by a shrivelling brain icon. As each brain disappears completely, so a life is lost. Five lives later, Astaroth has won.
As Ozzy makes his way through the labyrinth, he can collect up to nine mind powers which are stored in bell jars in different locations within the catacombs. The powers confer upon Ozymandias' different abilities such as levitation (to float up to higher floors); pyrokinetics (creates fireballs); night vision (enable him to see in those rooms which are in darkness); and so on. Specific mind powers are needed to defeat Astaroth's three Guardians - the Sphinx. The three headed Hydra and Marilith Demon - and only once all nine have been collected can Ozzy attempt to face the Angel of Death in combat.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Pete Lyon's morose graphics are undoubtedly very good, even though they have been unashamedly ripped off from HR Giger's Necronomicon designs. Ignoring artistic plagiarism, however, it must be said that the phallic and vaginal symbolism is far from tastefully done - especially since it plays no part in the gamem and has obviously been included in an effort to increase sales through sensationalism. The accompanying soundtrack is pleasant enough, but is too up-beat to serve as an atmospheric accompaniment to the task at hand.
The Amiga is not being pushed very hard, technically: since Astaroth lacks any scrolling, the sprites are very small and the animation minimal. However, while the CPU sits there twiddling its electronic digits, the game still manages to provide poor collision detection and poor, slug-like movement for the main character. Not impressive.
This lack of speed makes avoiding the many obstacles initially tricky and ultimately infuriating; while the simple search 'n' collect gameplay is only marginally spiced up by the addition of progressive mind powers. Astaroth is a jaded old game concept tarted up with graphics of a sensationalist nature to add some much-needed interest. Bit of a sheep in wolf's clothing, really.