Deep in the tranquil countryside of ancient Japan, Lord Aura (who by a strange twist of fate has the same name as the teenage cult cartoon movie hero from the same part of the world) and his young Samurai were collecting taxes from the local peasants when they began to believe something was up. Yes, something was definitely up.
Now all you revolutionaries out there may be of the opinion that anybody who collects taxes from the villagers in a crypto-
The Demon King had come down from the mountain, in a game show kind of way. This was not a nice man and he went on to prove this by by burning the village with his mage powers, killing all the peasants, raping all the pigs and eating all the women, or something. You see? If this guy had been a real socialist revolutionary he wouldn't have wiped out the village.
Having wasted the village completely with one click of his horren
The young Samurai could do little against the evil mage of the Demon King - his master had not given him instruction in such things. Perhaps if he had things might be different. Fortunately, the Demon King spared the Samurai's life, realising he could be of use spreading the word about what happened on this black, black day. What a mistake.
The young Samurai knew he had to avenge the death of his master who had been like a father to him. Hearing of the victory of the Demon King, Wizarrd Mage (the good guy) returned from sea and fought a battle for the good people of the area.
Atop the mountain they fought, lightning fire and expletives setting the night alight. The Demon King, being a bad guy and therefore a coward, feared defeat and disappeared into the future.
The people were now safe but the young Samurai knew that his sould could not rest until he had beaten the living crap of the Demon King, but he had to persuade Wizard Mage to help him. Only he could teach him the magic of time travel, and only he could teach him how to catch flies with chopsticks.
After many years of traiing, the young Samurai was ready for the trek to the Japan of the 24th century, to capture the Demon King, and bring him back to this land and time - where he can be sacrificed.
Ten levels of stylish beat-em-'up action ensue, with our hero making the most of the magical energy he can pick up on the way to maximise his potential as a Samurai. The hero has two power indicators shown with other info, at the bottom of the screen. On the left is an arm, which when fully visible shows that physical strength is at maximum. Strength is lost when a hit is taken, and regenerated when food is picked up.
On the right is a sword which when fully shown means that spiritual strength is fully topped up, allowing certain actions to be performed. When spiritual strength is low it means that the player loses the use of his sword until such time as the energy picked up by killing enemies replenishes the meter enough to warrant its return,
Other weapons can be picked up such as daggers, bombs, and grenades all of which have a very limited lifespan. The current one will be displayed just to the right of the physical strength bar.
The control method works extremely well. The usual fire and move is there but it is a side effect of the proper system. This works by the player holding the Fire button and moving the joystick to instigate different moves Either system is just as effective, but the latter is the best. IT gives great scope for fluking together a series of moves in mid-air, knocking out a load of enemies coming from all directions, shaving, picking your nose and landing - in one piece.
All of this came about from a few waggles of the joystick and was completely unintentional, but it looks so smooth and flash that it would be dead easy to convince your mates otherwise.
On top of all this beating, hacking and slashing, certain objects must be collected to make sure the level is completed. These are called specials and are essentially a thanks to Wizard Mage for being such a decent bloke. They are often well hidden and a certain number must be found.
Another item essential to the completion of the levels is the bell. IT can only be picked up if your spiritual energy is up to the required level. It may seem strange but as it is used to summon Wizard Mage, you need a bit of magic to do it. But why, I hear you call, do you need to summon him at all?
Well at certain points in the level an insurmountable obstacle will be encountered. The trick is to ring the bell and Wizard Mage will appear to work his magic so that the obstacle is overcome. If you don't suss that this is what you have to do the first time you come across the problem, every next time you get there Wizard Mage's face will appear in a ghostly apparition kind of manner to hint at what's going on.
As you progress through the 10 levels the enemies become more aggressive and imaginative, until by the end of the game it becomes a real hassle to beat everything up and still fulfill the objectives - just how it should be.
The first thing that hits you about the game though, even before you get to the rather attractive gameplay, are the exceptionally gorgeous graphics. Ace backgrounds - they seem to have found about fifty more scan lines from somewhere - an excellent intro taken straight from Jalapeno porcelain, and detail in the levels and characters that matches anything else on the market. The sound is pretty fab as well. After the upbeat intro disk you come to the game and as soon as you make a move or hit something it becomes clear how super-
And if you get to the treasure or fod a resounding sample from the Hallelujah Chorus results, giving a real sense of achievement. This does get marred by a rather naff tune that fades in if you don't do anything for a few seconds. Clearly a big incentive to keep moving. Speech plays a part as well. If the hero loses his sword because of a lack of mystical energy he will cry 'Oh no! My Sword!' in a very Bruce Lee manner that befits the atmosphere. All of these aspects combine to make it highly addictive. An early demo was played to death by the advertising staff here, and it's well worth £26 of anyone's money. Especially if it's somebody else's.
Its style is by far more frantic and action based than that of its main Christmas opponent from Psygnosis, whose emphasis is more on exploration and accuracy with movement than violence. That considered, it is probably the best scrolling beat-'em-up to appear on the Amiga - so far.