Killer frisbees in the 21st Century...

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Distributor: Infogrames Price: £25.99

Morlo leapt the final divide as the first disc slammed into the wall. As he landed, instinct was all that stopped the second disc from hitting home. The third he never saw, never had the chance to block. It hit had and burned hot and every breath of air was blown from his aching body. Across the court cruel laughter echoed from his opponent. Then in a split second of silence a single bead of sweat fell from his tortured face and dripped slowly down on to the last remaining tile. He knew this had to be the one, and with a final desperate lunge his only chance hurtled across the divide. The smug expression of his opponent turned instantly to one of shock as she frantically tried to stop the unstoppable. This final desperate scramble was no more than a vain gesture and as the wall smashed into a thousand shards of exploding crystal her shock turned to horror as infinity appeared beneath her feet. A scream rang out as she plummeted into the abyss... this is Disc.

When describing an essenstial simple game it is difficult to convey the emotions, excitement and desperate struggle it contains. Hopefully this little monologue will give you a taste of what lurks within perhaps one of the best action strategy games of the year.

Combat options
After loading and choosing the number of players the next task is to select the character of your choice. Initially all eight available players start at the rank of novice, this of course can change if you successfully challenge your peers in the arena. There does not seem to be any difference between individuals, so it is purely a case of which particular persona you want to take on. As all of the eight are men, this was a rather tricky decision for yours truly.

Once your choice is made it is time to pick a particular challenge. This can vary between training, challenge, tournament or championship. The training option is an essential for the new newcomer as throwing, aiming and blocking need to be second natur if you want to make any progress through the rankings. Once your training is complete it is time to take on the opposition. In the two-player game the choice is limited solely to your opponent, but the single championship mode is probably best for the beginner, as it pits you initially against opponents of similar skill.

As you progress your rank will improve, but unfortunately so does that of your opponents. The tournament option is perhaps the fastest way to glory, but be warned, if the gods are against you, your first match could have you facing a champion or perhaps even a great guide. As with the championship game, your ranking improves as you progress, the only problem is you might not live long enough to enjoy your new-found fame.

The last option is a straight challenge so, for example, if you have just lost a close contest you could set the record straight without the hassle of facing a whole bunch of bad guys before you get to your man.

Challenging is not limited to players of similar skill, so if you feel lucky you could go straight to the top and by beating a high ranking player instantly leapfrog the rest of the field.

The gameplay is the real strength of Disc, being a combination of action and strategy. This combination has already been proved a winner this year by the massively popular Lemmings. This may seem a rather strange comparison, but nevertheless there is definitely a similarity between the two. Disc is certainly fast and furious, but if logical strategy is not applied along with some fast reactions your challenge will definitely be a short one.

The game is simple and not a million miles away from the arcade classic Tron. The aim is simply to survive, and to do it you must either deprive your opponent of all of his or her body points or alternatively send them screaming into the abyss by destroying the tiles on which they stand and which make up their end of the court.

To do the damage you hurl discs across the void. If your opponent is struck a body point is lost. However, if the disc is defended you become the one under attack and as the weapon ricochets back across the court it is your turn to defend. If a disc is thrown which neither strikes the player nor is defended it will inevitably hit your opponent's wall and this is where the strange shapes and symbols come into play.

The number of sides on each symbol tells how many hits are left on its particular panel. When a circle is struck the tile disappears and its counterpart on the floor of the court vanishes. There is a slight pause beforehand, but if you are too slow it is game over...

Some games have as many as four discs in play. As you can imagine, things can become just a little confusing as they bounce around the walls slamming into tiles and players alike. If you can't keep track on which have been thrown, rebounded or defended finding out can be a painful experience. The only way to defend yourself and your precious platform is to deflect your aggressor's incoming arsenal with a defensive disc, the only of use of which is to protect you and your wall. Once defended, a disc is on the attack and if it returns undefended it can be caught and launched at the target of your choice.

Various bonus discs become available intermittently thanks to special tiles which appear at random. If hit they endow a specific ability such as speed, added power and so on to your discs for a limited period.

Two player perfection
Disc is a rare beast, not only is it excellent as a solo challenge but it becomes even more impressive as a two-player contest. The human v human option is one of Disc's real strengths, putting it easily on par with such two-player classics as Kick Off.

The two-player game differs from the rest as it is played over several legs, with victory only being secured by two wins in a row. Each player takes turns at either end of the court as opposed to the single game which always places the human player closest to you. Against a machine it is good, against a screaming, yelling and often swearing human it is even better.

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Szenen aus dem Kultfilm "Tron" wurden ja schon dutzendfach versoftet, besonders die Sache mit den schnellen Bikes. Bei Loriciel hat man sich jetzt die Frisbee-Sequenz vorgeknöpft.

Um hier das Prinzip zu verstehen, braucht man wahrlich keinen Doktortitel: Zwei Figuren spielen miteinander Frisbee, wobei jede in einem aus Platten zusammengesetzten Winkel steht - die eine im Vordergrund, die andere in der Tiefe des Screens. Das Scheibchen dient beiden gleichermaßen als Waffe; wenn man es nicht fangen kann, verletzt es das eigene Sprite oder zerstört die Platten des Winkels. Zudem sind manche dieser Platten mit Symboklen für Extras verziert.

Sehr schön, werdet Ihr sagen, aber ist das nicht ein bißchen mager für ein ganzes Spiel? Auf jeden Fall, auch wenn natürlich ein kleines Rahmenprogramm darumherum gestrickt wurde. So kann man gegen den Computer übern, einen Einzelkampf, ein kleines Turnier oder richtig große Championship-Wettbewerbe veranstalten; es gibt 15 Digi-Gegner mit acht verschiedenen Spielstärken (vom Möchtegern-Disckjockey bis zum nahezu unbezwingbaren Großscheibenmeister), außerdem darf man sich auch mit einem menschlichen Kontrahenten duellieren.

Technisch ist die Veranstaltung leider nicht ganz überzeugend: Die Grafik wirkt ein bißchen farblos, und die Hintergründe ändern sich im Spielverlauf nur minimal. Auch die Steuerung geht recht umständlich vaon der Hand - bei einem uralten (indizierten) Game gab es eine ähnliche Zwischensequenz, die sich wesentlich flotter spielte. Am gelungensten ist noch der Sound, hier gibt es Ethnomusik und angenehme Effekte. Probiert die Tellerwerferei also lieber erstmal aus, ehe Ihr zuschlagt. (mm)

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Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (well actually in an arcade in Blackpool), I played a coin-op game called Discs Of Tron. Based on a sequence from the Disney movie, it featured two guys standing on floating discs suspended in mid-air and throwing deadly frisbees at each other, trying either to destroy their opponent's discs so he would fall to the floor, or kill him outright by hitting him with the frisbee. It was quite fun in a simple sort of a way, but I am surprised to say the least to see it crop up as a full-price Amiga game in 1991. Still, that is what we have here from Loriciel, albeit with a couple of minor tweaks in the form of some dishwater dull power-ups, and a strange system of altering the properties of the frisbees so that they can damage their owner as well as his opponent. And sad to say, it's rubbish. (Hey, this is only a short review, I've got to get to the point quickly - there's not enough time for any pussy-footing around).

The carefully-balanced gameplay of the arcade machine has been ruined, to the extent that for a lot of the time only one of the protagonists is actually able to do anything, while the other wanders around aimlessly without any weaponry, trying to avoid the frisbees flying in his direction roughly once every five seconds. Sounds like a recipe for a major snoozerama? It is. Of course, there are varying skill levels and various options for training modes and such like, but the truth of the matter is that the actual game itself simply is not worth the effort. (And this becomes even more abundantly clear when you add the effort required to make sense of the unforgiveably badly-translated manual).

Graphically Disc is alright I guess, but the replacing of the original discs with rectangular tiles spoils the abstract look of the game, while the animation of what few moving graphics there are leaves a little to be desired. Soundwise nothing very much happens at all, and unfortunately that is also a pretty good summary of the game in general.

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In the distant future, disc throwing has evolved into a deadly gladitorial contest between rival athletes. Set in an enclosed arena, both combatants occupy raised platforms, and are armed with electrified frisbees. The two players are separated by a deep canyon, certain death looming if either player should lose their balance and topple over the edge.

The aim is to defeat an opponent by either blasting away the tiles beneath him, destroying his energy level with repeated blows to his body, forcing him into the abyss or scoring the most points within an overall time limit.

Each horizontal tile is also represented by a corresponding vertical block. Throwing a disc at an opponent's vertical tile, and hitting it several times, will cause both the vertical and horizontal tiles to disintegrate. By careful shooting, it is possible to isolate a player on one square, or blast away the ground beneath his feet.

It is possible to improve your individual rating through seven grades up to Great Guide status by defeating fifteen opponents of varying ability. A training option helps you to grasp the basics of the game without affecting your overall grade. The joystick controls are fairly straightforward and allow you to throw the discus without a fair amount of accuracy and parry incoming shots by raising power shields.

A player can choose to enter a tournament and face random opponents from any grade, play in a championship and fight his way up a league table, or use the challenge option to face off against specific characters. Watch out for the mystery tiles. Hit one of these and you will be rewarded with a faster disc, shields or a number of other enhancements. From time to time, a third participant will also enter the fray and attempt to interfere with the flow of the game - he is also worth points if you can hit him.

Disc is a fast paced futuresport, especially in two-player mode. The sprite animations are competent and scamper across the pitch in a realistic manner, even doing backward sommersaults to reach isolated platforms. Unfortunately, once ahead on points and in possession of all the discs, it is possible to sit back and wait for the clock to count down. Your opponent is powerless to interfere and once the final whistle sounds, you have won the match. If you are prepared to overlook this irritating quibble, Disc is one of the best futuresports on the market.