The hundred years war

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NOBODY said it was going to be easy, but on the other hand nobody said it was going to be quite as hard as this. You have been cut off deep behind enemy lines with little or no equipment. The battle now is for survival. Interestingly, no mention is made of who you are fighting. Could be any frontier, any hemisphere: Nicaragua, Honduras, rerun invasions, death squad Salvador - one world and it is a battleground. Where is there a more just cause for fighting, where is there a better motto than "Fight or Die"?

Armed initially with only a single-shot repeater and an unlimited supply of ammo you will come face to face with enemy marines, tanks, frogmen, motorbikes, helicopters and planes.

The levels all look fairly similar, from a strategic point of view at least. There are usually one or two pieces of scenery hanging around in the foreground for the player - or players if you plugged in a second joystick and went for the two-player option - to cower and cringe behind. Beyond this are one or two structure like buildings and walls for the enemy to hide behind.

Moving the joystick left and right, up and down moves the aiming sight in the respective direction. Unfortunately, it also moves your man - you cannot aim far right while being on the left-hand of the screen. This makes things more interesting. It is not enough just to be able to aim excellently, but you must also keep a careful eye on your own current position. Stray into enemy fire and it is Goodnight Vienna, Berlin, Moscow and Saigon.

The enemy will pop up, fairly predictably, have a few shots at you, take advantage of any natural cover and run off again. Dodge grenades, bullets and shells. If you move fast enough you can roll along the ground and miss everything.

Pull the joystick down quickly to throw a grenade. In my experience this is nearly always done by accident. Grenades are useful for dispatching the frequently appearing tanks and the odd crowd of persistent attackers. They are fairly effective against buildings too - remember, it is important to destroy these quite rapidly so you can see what is going on.

Hitting some targets will release bonuses in the form of advanced weaponry or extra grenades, but you will have to be quick.

Once you have killed a certain number of baddies you will progress to the next scene. There are four scenes to each level and each level ends with the customary superhuman bad thing that requires a high degree of manual dexterity and more than a modicum of blast power to get rid of.

Animation-wise there is nothing to get too excited over. The tanks are quite good but the rest would not look too much out of place on an 8-bit machine. The colours chosen seem to be a little strange but I would not want them doing my interior decorating.

The two-player option is interesting. It is one of the few games of this type where two people playing together will end up cooperating rather than competing.

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OCEAN £24.99 * Joystick

Ocean are fast becoming the industry specialists at Operation Wolf and Operation Thunderbolt type games, as evidenced by the arrival of another one. This time, though, it is a Tad coin-op conversion, not a Taito one.

The scenario is simple enough. You are behind enemy lines and have to fight through five levels, each with four stages, to get back to your own lines. It is a simultaneous two-player game and the general idea is to move your character around the bottom of the screen shooting at all the enemy soldiers that come running on from the sides of the screen.

Armament consists of a sub-machinegun, the direction of fire indicated by a large sight on the screen. With the fire button pressed you fire the gun and move the sight around. Release the fire button and control reverts to moving around the hard-bitten warrior, who can move from side to side and even roll along the ground - which is handy because all the enemy soldiers are armed and taking a hit from them removes one of the four lives.

There are also things to hide behind at the start of each level but they can be destroyed if they get shot enough times. Buildings can also be removed in this fashion, making it easier to hit the enemies that would normally hide behind them.

As well as soldiers there are also bigger things to shoot at including tanks, helicopters and trucks - all of which can be destroyed with machine gun fire, but you may find it easier to kill them by lobbing one of the limited supply of grenades at them. Extra grenades and extra weapons, including better machine guns, can be collected on each stage by picking up the symbols that come flying from the back of the screen and land at your feet. Unfortunately, once a life is lost you also lose any extra weapons collected.

There is a fixed number of enemies to kill before progressing to the next stage and once the fourth stage is completed there is an end of level guardian to defeat before moving onto the next, increasingly difficult, level.


The main sprites are not very well drawn but the rest of them including the hardware are all right. It is all well animated and the most crucial part, the gun sight, moves smoothly and swiftly. Sound is limited to a rat-a-tat machine gun rattle which is fine but a few explosions would have been nice.


The hardest things to overcome are the end-of-level guardians which will pose a few problems, even for two players, so it will take a while to complete. With some 2D stages to survive it has got a fair amount of lasting interst for a game of its type.


Although it lacks the class and polish of the Operation games, it is still fun to play, especially in two player mode, and is addictive. It has also been well converted from the coin-op (which also lacked the class and polish of the Operation games) so fans of that will not be disappointed.

Töten total!

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Metzel-Spiele sind ja von Haus aus nichts für zartbesaitete Gemüter - aber selten war diese Aussage so zutreffend wie hier: In Oceans neuem Actiongame wird gemeuchelt und gemordet, bis selbst dem Joystick schlecht wird!

Der Held dieses kriegerischen Ballerspiels ist mal wieder ein stahlhartes Einzelkämpfer, gegen den Rambo wie ein jämmerlicher Waschlappen aussieht. Für ihn brechen gerade harte Zeiten an: Er hat den Befehl erhalten, sich durch 20 lebensgefährliche Gebiete zu kämpfen - ganz allein! Und so nimmt er sein MG, steckt noch schnell ein paar Handgranaten ein und stürzt sich todesmutig ins zweifelhafte Vergnügen!

Auf jedem einzelnen der 20 Territorien erwartet ihn einen Übermacht von Feinden, dazu machen herumrollende und -feuernde Panzer die Luft noch bleihaltiger, als sie eh' schon ist. Von oben bedrohen ihn Flugzeuge, und nach jedem vierten (überlebten!) Schlachtfeld versperrt ihm zusätzlich eine riesige Kampfmaschine den Weg, mal ein waffenstarrender Hubschrauber, mal ein gigantisches U-Boot.

Insgesamt fünf solcher Technobestien versüßen unserem wackern Streiter den Tag - mit anderen Worten: die Lage ist so gut wie aussichtslos! Genau wie beim (gleichnamigen) Automaten steuert der Spieler den Helden im Bildvordergrund, visiert die Feinde mit dem Fadenkreuz an und feuert MG-Salven auf alles, was sich bewegt. Häuser oder gegnerische Fahrzeuge zerstört man mit Handgranaten. Das ist auf dem Amiga ein relativ schwieriges Unterfangen. Der Abwurf erfolgt nämlich nicht per Tastatur, sondern ebenfalls mit dem Joystick. In der Hitze des Gefechts kommt es deshalb sehr häufig vor, daß beim MG-Ballern die tödlichen Eier gleich mitabgefeuert werden - und wenn man sie dann dringend brauchen würde, sind keine mehr da! Gegenüber der Arcade-Version haben sich die Programmierer aber auch eine Verbesserung einfallen lassen. Der Held kann jetzt eine sportliche Hechtrolle zur Seite machen, um sich aus der Gefahrenzone zu bringen.

Cabal ist so brutal, wie kaum ein anderes Kriegsspiel: Der Weg durch die 20 Level ist mit Leichen nur so gepflastert. Aber so pervers es auch klingen mag, diese actiongeladene Metzelei macht Spaß! Dafür sorgen neben der guten Spielbarkeit die exzellenten Grafiken und die atmosphärisch stimmigen Soundeffekte. Wem es nichts ausmacht, daß auf dem Screen die feindlichen Soldatensprites gleich reihenweise in die ewigen Jagdgründe geschickt werden müssen, der sollte Cabal unbedingt antesten. Oceans Killer-Game fegt moralische Bedenken mit einer satten Salve Spiel-Spaß vom Tisch... (Carsten Borgmeier)

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The Easter bunny has come early this year. And this time round he ain't bringing choccy eggs. This is Psycho Rabbit: he's mean, he's meaty and he's carrying a grenade launcher...

Cabal, noun 'a secret plot, esp. a political one'. Kerblimey! So that's what it's all about! A political strategy game. And to think I took it for just another aim--your-gun-at-their-grenade arcade conversion.

Seeing as it's all about political intrigue, we asked Manuel Escudamento of Chile, a 'top political analyst', what he thought of the original coin-op.
"Estupendisimo! Shootin' the opposition party was excellent trainin' for our electzione campaign. Especial' in two player mode. A thinkful strategy game." Erm... thank you Manuel. I think we'd better check it out for ourselves.

After playing it for two pico-seconds, the bubble burst. Why didn't anyone tell us it was a blast 'em up along the lines of Oppo Wolf? Basically, your task is to shoot everything. Grunts, tanks, helicopters, buildings, gravestones (yep), red cross stretcher bearers, the lot. It's all very simple, even for a Chilean political analyst.

As you begin a stage, you snatch a sneak preview of the four main screens and the 'end-of-level nasty'. Then you plunge in at the deep end. Your character can only move left and right along the bottom of the screen, using the available cover for protection - until it's blown away of course. Moving the joy while holding the fire button moves the sights and fires at the same time, while yanking the wibble stick down sharply launches grenades.

The idea is not only to shoot everything that moves but also most of the scenery. This renders the opposition 'sitting ducks' and often drops goodies to your baseline. Yummy, a super-duper machine gun. Oooh look! Grenades! Just what the international arms dealer ordered.

In two player mode, the fun is doubled as it's a case of scrambling for the power-ups. Unfortunately co-operation is the name of the game, since you can't shoot your partner. Shame. ("Mierda!" Manuel.)

Amiga reviewTim: Underpants. Check. Combat fatigues. Check. Extremely large submachine gun to wave threateningly at people who don't understand plain English spoken in a raised voice. Check. Large bottle of nail varnish remover. Check. Brain. Check. On second thoughts, I might as well leave that in the jar.

You really can't get much simpler than Cabal. Shoot everything, don't get shot yourself. But there are two aspects of the game that make it a challenge. First of all, you have to work out what to shoot up to get power-ups and when is the best moment to do it. And secondly, the controls are, erm... bleedin' difficult to master, particularly when it comes to chucking grenades. There you are, mowing down grunts contentedly with your 9mm Uzi when all of a sudden one pops up in front of you. Quick, sights down to blast him. Oh dear, there go my last two grenades. The problem is, you can't move your sights down and fire at the same time, because that's the mechanism for launching grenades. You get the hang of it eventually but on higher levels it can prove fatal.

To help you on your way is the enemy. Eh? Yep, you've got it. They're depressingly stupid. But it's not easy simply because there are so many of them. One slip of the joystick and all that aftershave you bought for the after-massacre party is history.

The graphics and sound aren't particularly inspiring but it hardly matters. You're not exactly wandering about looking at the daisies and listening to the sound of gentle, soothing distant gunfire. If you've homicidal tendencies and bought Op Wolf, T'Bolt et all then Cabal could well tickle your trigger finger.

SOLDIERS Dumb. So dumb you wouldn't believe it. Oh, there's a machine gun. I think I'll stand up and get shot.
MARINES They wabble about like a stoned fast bawler and chuck stick grenades.
TANKS Dead annoying. Posy snipers may fancy shooting incoming shells.
TRUCKS Loads of points and don't shoot back!
HELICOPTERS Armed with machine guns that make yours look like a pea shooter.
PLANES Drop three bombs which grow into sweet little silver birch trees (No they don't. Ed.)
Shoot them, collect the codles of grenade power ups, face court martial and die by firing squad.

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Ocean, Amiga £24.99

It's off to Panama Lads, or at least some non-nuclear armed Third World country where the military can flex its muscle without incinerating everyone.

Once again funds are tight so just two macho commandos have been despatched, with an infinite supply of bullets and a limited number of grenades.

Unlike Op Thunderbolt the 20 screens have static backgrounds. Enemy soldiers hide behind the planes, houses, bushes, and warehouses. A damage indicator at the top of the screen shows how your personal 'apocalypse now' is going - you can only progress to the next screen by blowing up enough buildings and soldiers. After every four screens a super-baddie such as a heavily armed helicopter, comes out to play.

Both commandos are on-screen, and can be walked left or right with a gunsight floating before them. Holding down fire freezes your man, allowing you to move the gunsight freely. Some of the baddies throw out icons for extra grenades, points, and mega-weapons.

Phil King After Op Thunderbolt this is a bit of a backward step for Ocean. That's not to say it's a bad game: the frenetic shoot-out action is enjoyable, especially with a friend. But it soon gets repetitive and, with the appalling main sprites and bland backgrounds, it's not a patch on the 64 version.
Stuart Wynne While the programmers have managed a good conversion of the arcade game, when the original coin-op is so dated this is't saying too much. After Op Thunderbolt a static screen, mediocre graphics, and banal end-of-level baddies are disappointing. Gameplay is by no means bad, merely okay, but for £25 you expect a lot more.