To hel(l) and back

Fire and Brimstone logo

In the back of the packaging of Fire and Brimstone, you are promised a wondrous story of a journey into the very depths of evil. Journey to the depths of hell that is, not the southern stretch of the Northern Line.

What is mildly amusing about this tale of Thor's adventures in Niflheim to search out and kill Hel, resident evil person, is that the programmers have confused Hel (the demoness) and Hell (licking flames and misery) on one introductory screen.

The plot about Thor hunting down Hel is still a load of cobbler though. It reads like the Microprose people thought it up after lunch in the local pub (always a possibility).

Besides that, Fire and Brimstone offers nine levels of sideways moving arcade action. The screen does not scroll, but is redrawn as you reach each new one. A lack of programming ability undoubtably, but the excellent graphics makes up for it. So you control Thor, in a very Ghosts and Goblins style game - minus the scrolling of course.

You can carry up to two weapons and two potions at once, any surplus being left behind. The weapons vary in effectiveness and design, and needless to say, the better ones are on the screen after you really needed them. The potions are more important than your weapons.

These have effects ranging from the mundange smart bomb effect to making you leap the highest buildings (well, small bushes anyway), and most importantly, creating magic platforms (are you sure this is nothing to do with LRT?) so you can get over impassable pits.

While it scores nil points for originality in design, programming or plot, Fire and Brimstone can at least claim to be both difficult and extremely fiendish. On the opening screen you face a snoozing demon. Above its head a fluffy little bird watches. Fire at the demon and he kills you. Just walk up to him and he strolls off leaving you unmolested.

After jumping past death-delivering fire, you need to turn around, jump up in the air, and hit the fluffy bird a number of times. Finally it dies and leaves behind a potion for creating a magic platform. If you do not collect this potion and use it in the right place you won't get past screen four.
Using just this sort of malicious design Fire and Brimstone conspires to give you a really hard time. It took me ages to get past screen four. Now I can do it with no trouble at all. That tells you what to expect, if nothing else.

Thankfully you can restart the game at the level you last completed rather than having to go back to the beginning, but mapping, notes and hints in magazines are all going to be essential to finishing the game.

So there you have it. A traditional romp across lovely scenery, decent animation - what there is, considering very little actually moves - and a reasonable piece of music on the title page.
If you want something out of the ordinary, something that pushes back the limites of computer gaming, then look elsewhere, because this is not it. Still, it does not pretend to be either. Old fashioned gaming thrilss are Fire and Brimstone's promise.

Fire and Brimstone logo

MICROPROSE £24.99 * Joystick

Electronic Arts gave a hint of what it might be like to act as a deity with their God-simulator Populous, but what of the hellfire and mayhem that the Norse gods enjoyed? Microprose have stepped in to allow you to enter the raucous and violent world of Thor, God of thunder, law and order - a strange combination, but in legend anything can happen.

The land of the Norse gods consists of nine realms - from the worlds of Asgard, home of the gods, through Midgard (our Earth) to the dark realms of Muspell, home of the Dark Elves. Deeper down than this abominable world is Niflheim, home of the evil goddess Hel, controller of all the world's most evil monsters.

For generations Hel has been a nuisance, causing mayhem and disorder in the lower realms, but recently her powers have been spreading further and further afield. The people of Midgard are being made to suffer at the hands of her demons as she grasps for more and more power. The gods have decided - it must stop.

You take the control of Thor in his quest as nominated adventurer in the battle to defeat Hel. Your quest begins in Alfheim, where witches and ogres under the power of Hel will attack you. To gain access to Vanaheim, and thence the other levels, you must find the sections of key that Hel has hidden in an attempt to protect herself. Once the key is complete, you can battle through the realm until you reach the exit, which is on the right-hand side.

Hel likes nothing more than a battle, so to taunt Thor she has placed magic potion bottles throughout the realms which are uncovered by killing various creatures on your path. Spells such as lightning and bridge-building will come in useful when the odds look stacked against you. If you fight well enough, you will reach the realm of Niflheim, where Hel herself is waiting.


The graphics are very colourful, and have been designed with tongue firmly in cheek. Thor, instead of being a huge strapping warrior, is a dinky little fellow with a bright red beard! The other creatures have a similarly cute appearance, and combined with the detailed and atmospheric scenery give the game a very polished appearance. The sound is of a slightly lower standard, however - consisting of a racy, but inappropriate tune and a few thin and weak spot effects. Where are the grunts of battle and the cataclysmic sound of magic spells being cast? Not here, I am afraid.


Each screen of Fire and Brimstone is a puzzle in itself, requiring thought and dexterity to complete. Reaching the end of the level is one thing, but successfully finding all the sections of the key and escaping is another matter. Fail and it is back to the beginning again. Spread this over nine worlds and you have weeks of compulsive and addictive playing ahead.


Capcom's Ghosts 'n' Goblins made it credible to portray mystical worlds in a 'cute' manner without being laughed out of the software market. Fire and Brimstone follows this structure well, managing to recreate the feel of Capcom's classic but without ripping off the game so that it can be dismissed out of hand as a simple arcade clone. Thor's quests are portrayed in an amusing and enjoyable way that should appeal greatly to those with a love for the mystical and a sense of humour.

Den Göttern sei's geklagt...

Fire and Brimstone logo

Vor allem optisch erinnert das neue Game von Firebird stark an "Ghosts 'n' Goblins", in puncto Spielbarkeit hingegen erinnert es an ganz etwas anderes - an meine schlimmsten Alpträume nämlich!

Die Todes-Göttin Hel erweitert ihre Machtsphäre immer mehr; deswegen zieht der gute Thor hinaus in die (vier) weite(n) Welt(en), um sie zu vernichten. Sein Weg ist natürlich gespickt mit Gegnern, Fallen und Rätseln, Fledermäuse und Gespenster gehören da noch zu den harmloseren Kreaturen, nach einiger Zeit tauchen auch feuerspeiende Drachen auf, oder böse Statuen wollen Thors Lebensenergie knabbern.

Aber dafür hat unser Held auch reichlich Waffen zur Verfügung; Feuerbälle und Keulen gibt's von Anfang an, magische Eiskugeln oder einen Hammer muß er unterwegs erst aufsammeln.

Zudem liegen haufenweise Schlüssel, hilfreiche Zauber-tränke oder Schätze, die einem Extraleben einbringen, in der Landschaft herum.

Die Grafik ist schön, farbenfroh, gut animiert und voller witziger Details: Da fliegen Hexen über den nächtlichen Himmel, und Fische springen gar fröhlich durch's Wasser - eine Freude fürs Auge!

Einzige Einschränkung: Scrolling ist nicht, am Ende eines Bildes wird komplett umgeschaltet. Auch der David Whittaker-Sound ist durchaus erträglich.

Tja, alles könnte so schön sein, wenn da nicht diese fürchterlich miese Steuerung wäre; zusammen mit dem extrem hohen Schwierigkeitsgrad treibt sie den Frustlevel weit über die Schmerzgrenze.

Fazit: Fire and Brimstone ist zwar wunderschön anzuschauen, aber leider so gut wie unspielbar! (mm)

Fire and Brimstone logo CU Amiga Screen Star


In an interesting move Microprose have turned briefly away from simulation and strategy and produced a slightly familiar looking game which nonetheless is novel in execution.

Fire & Brimstone centres on Norse god Thor's attempt to save Valhalla from the evil goddess Hel. Naturally, you pay the multi-faceted, hammer wielding drunkard God himself.

With Thor looking a tad like the knight from Ghouls & Ghosts, and with a background similar to Ghosts & Goblins, the first level pretty much mix 'n' matches different games, although it is definitely an instant challenge. Instead of shooting the bad guys and jumping the gaps as in the two G&G games, Fire & Brimstone has its fair share of tough problems to crack.

To complete a level you need to collect four parts of a key, often placed in difficult locations. Helping you to access these keys are a number of potions: red blows all the nasties away with a huge lightning bolt, a white one gives you night sight, a blue builds psychedelic bridges and a gold one gives Thor a wild jumping ability.

Most of the initial puzzles seem straightforward, such as using the bridge potion to clear gaps, but there are a lot of hidden traps and triggers, which mean you tend to waste a couple of lives probing through screens. This is the game's main drawback; it is not very nice completing half a level to find a screen which is going to sap all your spare lives just getting from one side of it to the other.

The responsiveness of the controls took me by surprise at first. Thor obeys every flick of the joystick remarkably well, so well that it takes some getting used to.

To help get through some of the trickier levels the manual contains a set of cryptic clues, which, when solved, help you to find hidden objects and gives pointers as to where to use other items.

The only real letdown is the game's sound effects, which are few, far between and generally not very good. Though these are slightly compensated for by quite a natty intro tune.

Not being a fan of arcade/puzzle crossovers I was surprised by Fire & Brimstone's playability. It is extremely addictive and great fun to play.

Fire and Brimstone logo

Firebird, £24.99

The Norse Kingdom is under threat from Hel, the goddess of Nifiheim, and has a mighty legion of demons to set traps and hurl weapons. The gods swiftly decide this is a job for Thor, the old hammer-swinger himself...

The kingdom is split into four lands, each a single load, which are completed by collecting all the pieces of a key and going through the door at the level's end.

Scrolling is flick screen, allowing each screen to have its own distinct puzzles and villains: Thor can carry two weapons, starting off with fireballs and a hammer, which can be swapped for different ones later on. He can also carry two potions, which can restore energy and create magical platforms to jump on - avoiding traps.

Phil King This reminds me too much of Film Planning to be enjoyable! But seriously, despite some attractive characterful graphics the gameplay is very 8-bit - strange then that there won't be a C64 conversion. Despite the inclusion of various weapons and potions, there isn't much to think about: the action is pretty straightforward, the main difficulty coming in the form of cruel traps. I'm afraid Fire and Brimstone isn't half as exiting as the title suggests.
Scorelord There's nothing like a bit of fire and brimstone to remind me of home, but even I was a little daunted by the hellish difficulty of this aardvark. Each level is packed with nasty traps, many sprung so fast it's virtually impossible to react. This makes for much frustration at first. Although working out the solutions provides plenty of satisfaction eventually, the game is never completely addictive. The graphics are nice to look at but hardly awesome, and the FX are mediocre. Four levels aren't that much either: we've already completed level one. At £15 this would be good fun, but for £25 it's disappointing.