Down and out in Mexico and Tijauna. That is the fate of war hero Bret Conrad. Penniless, he is forced to hang around his Uncle's pad soaking up the sun. But when the old buffer kicks the bucket, Brad does as any devoted nephew would: he ransacks the place, nicks the ancient Aztec treasure map and throws a party.
The morning after he jets down to the South American jungle aiming to steal the Aztec gold. That is where you take over. Armed with the 400-year-old map, a machete and an automatic pistol, Brad is yours to guide through an adventure that makes the Last Crusade look like a trip to Tesco's. In his way stand angry Aztecs, garish ghosties, terrifying traps and more alliterative antagonists than it is safe to say.
Essentially an arcade adventure, Gold of the Aztecs boasts bigness and clever coding. However, what they do not tell you in the blurb is that it is unfeasibly tough.
After cutting Brad loose from his snagged 'chute the danger is obvious, namely little head hunters and huge elephants. Hot on the heels of these come spitting vipers, man-eating plants, nut-throwing monkeys and collapsing bridges. Not a good start.
Needless to say, life gets ever more hazardous for the all-American grave robber as he progresses through the levels and nears the temple complex. There are remote crossbows set to shoot thieves, man-eating locusts, falling boulders and enough poisoned spikes to make a grown man weep.
Each screen of this flick-scroll adventure has its own distinct peril. The gold of the Aztecs has lain undisturbed for nearly half a millennium and only a fool or a courageous hero would dare to disturb them now. So which do you want to be?
There is one major problem with Brad's quest for Level Five and the gold of those pesky Aztecs: Brad himself. His movements are strange, a feature that gives the game a bit of personality, but they are also extremely hard to control with any degree of accuracy. Which makes negotiating the virtually pixel perfect traps a pain in Port Two.
You know just where it is safe for the lad to stand, you know exactly how to get the boy there. Can it be done? Can it heck! Only with luck and not with judgement, especially when he is trying to grab ropes, ladders and other lifesaving accoutrements.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Let us face it, Brad has an incredible silly walk. Not content with just putting one foot in front of another he has to go and put his whole body into the act. The animation has inspired moments of silliness which owe more to Mr Benn or Crystal Tips than Disney or Bluth. Amusing and annoying simultaneously, the graphics do not cause many giggles as Brad falls to his death for the 13th time in the same place.
His movement exhibits a few massively annoying factors that have no other purpose than to peeve. He also has a tendency to move unexpected ways, as joystick commands have to be perfect: not close enough, not virtually precise, but perfect.
If you like the hard stuff and dying billions of times then get stuck in. If you have low frustration tolerance then steer well clear or your monitor will have a fist-sized hole in it. Once into the game, though, the effort you have already put in commits you to continued play. You have to get some return on your investment of man hours spent playing the damn thing.
Gold is a great game - there is masses of traps to avoid, loads of puzzles to solve - yet its appeal is distinctly limited. Only those who like their games with a mean sterak a foot wide should contemplate taking it on. The graphics are distinctive and deceptively approachable, but do not be sucked in. The Gold of the Aztecs is as safe as houses that have been encased in concrete and hidden rather cunningly in the deepest vault of Fort Knox.