Animal magic

Black Tiger logo

MAYBE it is not autumn but the Amiga Computing office is certainly filling up with old chestnuts. This type of game first hit the arcades about three years ago and died out as suddenly as it appeared.

The plot, like all the best ones, is fairly simple. You are a mad nutter with a morning star (that is the weapon, not the newspaper) and you must ply a path of blood and death through various catacombs, only pausing to rescue the odd good guy and buy more weapons.

A cross between a beat em up and a platform game, the graphics are certainly of arcade quality though the joystick response tends to be a little sloppy.
The game is playable enough. Nice graphics, nice sound, a bit old-headgear now, but a prime example of the genre in all its graphical splendour.

Black Tiger logo

US GOLD £19.99 * Joystick

Surfing in on the waves of success from US Gold's Strider and Ghouls and Ghosts comes Black Tiger, the latest conversion from the Capcom stable.
The Black Tiger of the title is the character you control: a legendary warrior of heroic status, known more for his powers of destruction than diplomacy. But there is no point being a hero without a quest to fulfil, and Black Tiger is a corker: three fearsome dragons have risen from the depths of hell, bringing torment upon the world. BT must despatch these creatures and restore civilisation to a more even keel...

The mission takes the form of a platform shoot em up, as you guide BT through six levels of subterranean fantasy settings, spread over many screens scrolling both vertically and horizontally.

Mr Tiger walks along ledges, and can be made to jump across gaps in the scenery and straight up to climb vertical columns of rock. Arrows show the route that needs to be taken to locate the exit, although interesting items and places can be found by moving off the signposted trail.

Each underworld scene plays host to hordes of diabolical creatures, all of whom are out for Black's blood. Successful attacks deprive BT of chunks from his precious energy meter, until eventually all his current life comes to an end. However, Black can defend himself throwing knives and a particularly vicious blade-on-a-chain device which is launched at the enemy, yo-yo fashion.

On the enemy's demise, a 'Zenny' cash token is left which can be pocketed. Whenever Black comes across one of the numerous stone men, they spring to life offering some sort of assistance, and occasionally providing the opportunity to buy extra equipment with Zenny coins: arms and armour, extra energy and time, plus keys are all up to grabs. The keys can then be used to open the locked chest which litter the caverns for whatever reward - beneficial or harmful - which wait inside.

On reaching the end of each stage, the inevitable end-of-level guardian (or indeed guardians) must be defeated in order to pass through to the next. Black Tiger has a limited time within which to escape from each level, and the mission continues until Black Tiger has defeated the dragons, or his remaining lives have all been senselessly wasted in pursuit of his quest.


Black Tiger might not appeal to the more quality-conscious Amiga owner. The playing area is quite small, and the intrusive jerky background scroll makes play less than fluid.

But there is some nice animation as the enemy creatures as they explode breathe fire, although things can get a little confusing in the heat of battle. Spot effects and soundtrack do their respective tasks, but are nothing to shout about.


Three continue options help to sustain the offensive, and the sheer size of the task is enough to keep most players bashing away for some time. The 'explore and discover' nature of the gameplay is quite captivating, and certainly helps to maintain its appeal.


Control of the main character is fiddly at first, with a one-strength jump which cannot be controlled in mid-air. However, Black Tiger bears enough of a resemblance to its coin-op parent to content most devotees, and although this unashamed ST port-over is a far cry from the class of US Gold's previous Capcom conversions, it still manages to entertain to a reasonable degree.

Black Tiger logo

Seit er auf dem Markt ist, wird der Amiga mit Automaten-Umsetzungen ja förmlich bombardiert. Nur was dabei herauskommt, ist meistens dann doch nicht so ganz das Wahre! Kleines Beispiel gefällig? Hier, bitte...

Die Vorgeschichte ist die übliche Actiongame-Story: Böse Mächte brachten Unheil über das Land, und unser Held, der schwarze Tiger, darf's wieder richten und für Ruhe und Ordnung sorgen.

Zum diesem Zweck muß er sich durch acht, in verschiedene Ebenen unterteilte Level kämpfen; er kann Monster abschlachten und nebenbei Schätze aufsammeln, die sich in viele schicke Extras verwandeln. Bei versteinerten alten Männern holt man sich Ratschläge oder kauft ihnen Waffen, Rüstungen, Schlüssel und Zaubertränke ab (liegen aber auch so 'rum); die benötigte Kohle hinterlassen netterweise die gemeuchelten Gegner.

Es gibt recht bescheidene Endmonster (Blockköpfe/Drachen), Bonus-Dungeons; Pfeile zeigen den korrekten Weg durch die Level, und ein Zeitlimit sorgt dafür, daß man beim Spielen nicht einschläft.

Black Tiger besticht nicht gerade durch neue Ideen, schon eher durch interessante Feinde wie die "Weiber des Todes" (drehen die Steuerung um) und Bonus-Wesen à la Capcom-Kühe oder Elfen.

Die Level sind ziemlich komplex, der Held (beziehungsweise sein Herr und Gebieter am Joystick) kommt ganz schön ins Schwitzen beim Laufen, Hüpfen und Klettern. Die exzellent gezeichnete Grafik ist vom Automaten fast nicht zu unterscheiden; der Sound ist dafür weniger gelungen (öde Titelmusik, mickrige Effekte), er nervt aber zum Glück wenigstens nicht.

Im großen und ganzen also ein nettes Spielchen, möchte man meinen, nur, dem ist leider nicht so! Fangen wir mal beim Scrolling an: Das ist so schlimm, daß es mich beinahe vom Stuhl geruckelt hätte - sollten sich gar mehrere Feinde gleichzeitig am Screen tummeln, wird man fast seekrank!

Dann die Steuerung: ungenau und schwammig bis dorthinaus, selbst wenn man sich daran gewöhnt hat, ist sie noch fürchterlich. Diese beiden Punkte hätten das Game denn auch beinahe zum Flop-Kandidaten gemacht, lediglich das ordentliche Spielprinzip und die ausgezeichnete Grafik retten es vor der totalen Katastrophe.

Weiter werden die Highscores nicht gesaved, man hat zwar etliche Continues, darf dabei aber immer wieder von vorne anfangen. Daß das Spiel eine Pausefunktion (P-Taste) hat, erwähnt die ansonsten relativ gute Anleitung mit keinem Wort.

Ja, wie soll ich sagen: Gut umgesetzt hätte Black Tiger sicher einen Helden-spaß gemacht, aber so ist es höchstens für ganz unerschrockene Fans des Automaten geeignet. Mir gefallen "Strider" und "Ghouls 'n' Ghosts" jedenfalls um Klassen besser! (mm)

Black Tiger logo

US Gold
Price: £19.99

Yet again only one person has the courage to save civilisation, and this time it is Black Tiger. The job: to battle Satan's little devils and three evil dragons, while rescuing little white bearded mandarin type chappies who appear to have been turned to stone.

Our diminutive hero starts his adventure at the entrance of a great cavern. Naturally he is heavily armed and there is no turning back. The first enemy nasty approaches. A few quick jabs on the fire button unleashes a large mace and a volley of daggers... no more Mr Bad Guy. I followed that up with a graceful leap from platform to platform and failed the jump three times. Eventually I made it past without knowing whether to blame the joystick or the game. After the next leap I realised it was the jumps that were going to take getting used to.

When a bad guy is creamed he leaves a coin behind him, which can be spent later on in the shops. The shops are cleverly disguised as the aforementioned stone geezers. Running into one will either result in some cash being dropped or you paying a visit to the shop. Inside your cash can be spent on extra armour, keys, Coke (the drink), and increased weapon power. Buying keys and coke is not too important as they tend to crop up frequently through the levels.

The character graphics move with some ease, and they look even better when they are not moving. Once you start running about the scrolling starts to go to pot. Smooth is a word I would not use about Black Tiger.

The action arrives in over-the-top spasms. For a while nothing happens, then hordes of critters arrive out of nowhere and help create a confused mess in one part of the screen. Now and then some rather emaciated birds hover overhead adding yet another irritant factor.

One of Black Tiger major failings is the lack of action and smoothness in the gameplay. This is always one of the problems in arcade conversions. Whilst this was overcome in games like Strider and Forgotten Worlds, Black Tiger falters quite badly with a complete mismatch of speed and action.

This is not one of the outstanding conversions of all time, especially when you compare it to some of the competition which appeared pre-Christmas, particularly Ghouls 'n' Ghosts to which it is closest in character. Pretty average in all respects.

Black Tiger logo

US Gold/Capcom, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £19.99

What could be worse than 100mph winds, hall, and snow spoiling spring? How about three hideously evil dragons, breathing fire, and pestilence all over your previously peaceful province?

Well it's happened, and in the wake of all the destruction has come a deluge of dastardly demons determined to destroy all. That's where you come in: the famous Black Tiger who - to judge from your sprite - are neither black nor feline. What is obvious is that you like fighting and cash, so clearing the land of evil is right up your street.

The game is divided into six levels, horizontally and vertically scrolling with plenty of treasure rooms to be found. In fact the cash, known as zenny (as in Forgotten Worlds), is carelessly left all over the place. You can also open treasure chests with keys, and free Old Men frozen into statues by touching them - a good deed which has its own reward, i.e. extra time, money and vitality. More wily Old Men will try and sell you improved weapons, armour, keys and potions. You already come equipped with a mace to bounce off baddies' bonces and numerous knives to throw.

Stocking up on equipment is a good idea as each level has a particularly vicious baddie at its end: these include a Blue Samurai Dragon(!), a Block Head (but no Ian Dury), and Spear-Throwing Demons.

Phil King After US Gold's previous CP conversions, the excellent Strider and Ghouls 'N' Ghosts, this is a disappointment. But I don't think it's wholly the fault of the programmers: technically this is an okay conversion. It's mainly because the Black Tiger coin-op wasn't all that special in the first place; just a repetitive kill 'n' collect game.
Out of the two conversions the C64 game is marginally the better with some decent sprites and a nice tune playing throughout. The Amiga version is not at all impressive, featuring jerky scrolling and unspectacular end-of-level baddies. And though Black Tiger does have some short-term playability it's certainly not one of the better Capcom coin-op conversions.
Scorelord Black Tiger was the first Capcom coin-op to use their new CP graphics system, demonstrating great potential in shading, detail and movement. The Amiga game captures the approximate look of the machine, but it's a ST port-across and the tiny sprites and bland backgrounds never really surprised me. A pity since the game design is so unimaginative, with you simply hopping around platform-packed caverns. Buying armour and weapons adds a small tactical element to the game, but finding your way through the caverns within the time limit soon gets very repetitive and dull.
The C64 game plays slightly faster, though the inevitable multiload neutralizes this plus. Graphics are okay but not amazing. And though there's nothing wrong with Black Tiger, neither is there anything special enough for me to spend any of my 'Zenny' on it.