Time for a platform romparama, it's...

Jim Power in Mutant Planet logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

LORICIEL * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

If you are looking for a challenging platform game with astounding graphics and downright sexy sound, then Jim Power could be just what you're after.

You are Jim Power, the chief of the Special Warfare Unit for the Security of President Halley (S.W.U.S.P.H). The story goes that President Halley's beautiful daughter Samantha has been kidnapped (wow that's original). The mad, bad and very scary indeed Vulkhor is responsible for this terrible deed, but then again Vulkhor is the infamous devil from the Mutant Planet and kidnapping is the sort of thing that devils are meant to do.

The Mutant Planet is not the sort of place that Judith Chaimers II recommend you go to, it's full of, err, mutants and a few more mutants. No-one has ever dared venture to the Mutant Planet - that is until now.

Now why on earth would Vulkhor want to kidnap the President's daughter? Well maybe it's because the President is the only person in the whole world who knows where the ultimate arm is. That's arm as in gun type thing, not as in the thing that hangs from your shoulders.

So Vulkhor does the decent thing and decides to blackmail the President, or else his daughter gets it.

As you might have guessed, Jim Power is a platform game - a five level platform game to be precise. Jim roams through dense forest, strange cities and gloomy caves just to save the President's daughter. What a daring, brave chap Jim is.

Now this won't be an easy task by any means. Using his blasters, Jim has to, err blast through the many beasties that inhabit the mutant planet.

Fearful creatures such as zombies, vultures, dragons, spiders, carnivorous plants and other strange creatures are all after your blood. Not only does Jim have to contend with beasties, but he has to survive all the traps such as acid drops, stakes, flames and stalactites.

Well I think Jim could do with a little help, so just to help him there are numerous modules. Inside these modules are things such as shields to shield you, clocks that give you a bit of extra time and the 1UP bonus which, surprisingly enough, gives you another life.

The most important thing to collect in Jim Power are keys. These handy little items open doors and secret passages, but if you forget a key while you are on your way you are in big trouble because you have to go back for the little blighter.

Now I said Jim Power was a platform games, but I lied. There are in fact three levels of platform prancing and two levels of fast shoot-'em-up action. I love Jim Power - that's the game, not the bloke. I bet you were getting a bit hot under the collar there for a minute.

The graphics are amazing. There are 200 colours on-screen at once (ooooh!), three playfields in 50Hz (gusssp!) and an ergonomy with unrivalled flexibility (eh?). Well it means nowt to me, but it sure does look good. Soundwise - well the bloke who created the music for Turrican is back, so if you loved the music from Turrican you're sure to love the music in Jim Power.

It's as playable as Kim Basinger's bits (calm down, Biff - Ed) and more addictive than something that's quite addictive indeed.

But it's very hard indeed and is definitely not for the beginner - a couple of years of platform pantalooning experience is definitely needed. Good graphics, sexy sound and playable playability. What more do you want... blood? Jim Power is way cool.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet logo

LORICIEL * £25.99

Beneath the dreadful title and awful packaging lies a slick platform shoot-em-up. The visuals are technically excellent, boasting wonderful parallax-scrolling. Sadly, this 3D effect is wasted on some very 2D-looking scenery.

The jump 'n' shoot action is nicely paced and unrelenting, with lots of stuff to kill, collect and negotiate. Jimbo himself is very controllable and the only bugbear is that he doesn't fire when he's running. With five big levels this game deserves a look-in from all but the most fervent strategists.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet logo

Was macht ein Muskelmann, dessen Mädchen von einem Schurken in den hintersten Winkel der Galaxis verschleppt wurde? Bitterlich weinen? Eine neue Gespielin suchen? Natürlich nicht, stattdessen packt er die Wumme ein und entert die Platformen!

Noch mal zum Mitschreiben: Der Ezfiesling Vulkor hat sich die Tochter des Präsidenten gekrallt und auf einen weit, weit entfernten Planeten entführt. Und weil das für einen Erzfiesling nicht fies genug ist, will er jetzt auch noch das Geheimnis der ultimativen Waffe lüften, um demnächst Herrscher über die ganze Erde zu werden. Tja, wenn einem soviel Fieses wird beschert, das ist schon einen Superhelden wert. Bühne frei für Jim Power!

Der beschwerliche Weg in Richtung Happy-End muß unter Zeitdruck gegangen werden und führt durch fünf horizontal, gelegentlich auch vertikal scrollende Level - Onkel "Turrican" läßt grüßen. Die Wanderschaft beginnt im düsteren Wald, wo unser Held auf verschlossene Tore stößt, für die er hoffentlich zuvor die passenden Schlüssel gefunden hat. Zu den Handicaps zählen weiterhin schwebende Plattformen, auch Aliens, Drachen und große Zwischengegner trifft man in reicher Zahl.

Im zweiten Level schnappt sich Jim ein Jetpack, denn auch die Gegner heben ab: Mutierte Vögel und riesige Raumschiffe sind das Kanonenfutter in der Alien-Stadt. Der Gang durch finstere Höhlengewölbe verspricht dann ebensowenig Erholung wie der Flug durch luftige Kratergefilde oder der abschließende Weg zum feindlichen Hauptquartier mit Meerblick.

Ihr habt es sicher schon gemerkt, Ideenreichtum oder eine originelle Story sind nicht unbedingt die Stärken des neuen Loriciel-Games. Die liegen eher in der Präsentation: Selten hat man so beeindruckende Endgegner gesichtet - allein das Riesenmaul des ersten Levels, das folgende Flammenmeer oder ein satte zwei Bildschirme großes Robotfahrzeug sind hier schon die Reise wert!

Da trifft es sich ganz gut, daß der starke Jim nicht nur auf seine Knarre und die begrenzt vorrätigen Smartbombs angewesen ist, sondern sich auch an Extradepots voller Bonusfrüchte, Schutzschilde, Zusatzleben oder besserer Waffen (deren Durchschlagskraft später noch ausgebaut werden kann) vergreifen darf.

Alle Sprites bewegen sich vollkommen ruckfrei und sauber animiert durch Szenarios, die prächtiger kaum sein könnten: Butterweich und parallax scrollt die herrliche Grafik in bis zu zwölf Ebenen, ohne daß der Hintergrund dabei an Farbe oder Detailreichtum einbüßen würde! Mindestens genauso schön sind die zwölf verschiedenen Musikstücke von Chris Huelsbeck, dazu gibt's kernige FX und sogar Sprachausgabe.

Wäre die Spielidee also gar nicht abgedroschen, hätten wir Jim Power einen Hit wohl nicht verweigern können, so hat's halt nicht ganz gelangt. Aber ein grundsolide spielbarer Plattformausflug in gigantischer Mega-Optik ist ja auch nicht zu verachten, oder? (rl)

Jim Power in Mutant Planet logo

With a name like that he just has to be a star, doesn't he?

Jim Power, eh? Sounds like some kind of new super hero, doesn't it, or maybe a super-efficient games reviewer. You know, the type who could possibly host the tips pages (move over Jonathan), or maybe the letters... (Now wait a minute - Ed.). Then again, it would be just my luck if he turned out only to be a lousy old game hero instead.

And that's exactly what he turns out to be - though less of the lousy, surprisingly enough. While it's true that Loriciel haven't always fared too well in these pages of late (who could forget the so-so Baby Jo, the average Builderland, the frankly hopeless Steve McQueen and the rest), Jim Power looks to be a bit of a turning point.

While by no means a classic, it is one of those games that proves more or less impossible to dislike, and one that bodes well for the future - especially when the future would seem to contain products as exciting as Entity (see the special preview of new Things To Come section this month).

But back to Jim Power. The gist of the game is to go from left to right (the screen scrolling right to left, you know the drill) through a series of platform sections, shoot-'em-up sections, and end-of-level guardian sections (each successive one with an increased amount of shooting in it), killing everything in sight.

Looking rather like Turrican, but playing more like Rolling Thunder, it puts the player in charge of a cool little dude with a baseball cap and meaty looking gun, who (for the shoot-'em-up sections) can don a rocket pack and take to the skies. He's also got a limited number of smart bombs - which is just as well, because there're 250 screens of game to battle through.

The first thing you notice about Jim Power is how everything moves so wonderfully smoothly, in a multi-layer parallax kind of way. Each level comes complete with thoughtfully designed level layouts and traps, giant end-of-level guardians to send a shiver up the old spine, and a generally professional feel. It's not, however, a perfect game, and here are some reasons why:

1) The control method takes far too long to learn. It's almost impossible to move and shoot at the same time, and for the first 10 minutes I found myself losing life after life because of it. (Mid-jump control is also pretty minimal, but for some reason, it doesn't irritate too much). A few hundred lives into the game you may find the control becomes a close, intimate friend, but it'll take some getting used to...

2) It's dull (at best) sonically. True, things aren't entirely unpleasant (the spot FX and samples work better than the music), but we're pretty much in McDonald's territory (i.e. they're no great shakes) here.

3) Okay, the visuals. Apart from the pretty crappy first level, the major drag with Jim Power is the iffy colour palette used to such average effect. It's a shame, when you've got all those nicely drawn graphics and smooth parallax scrolling, that the foreground colours look like the monitor's just been kicked in the RGBs. The problem is worsened by the fact that the sprites are also composed of the same blend of black, green, white and red. (It's a colour scheme Jim, but not as we know it...)

Still, good game design more than makes up for these lapses of presentation. This is one game that definitely has that 'just one more go' factor, largely due to the fact that every life lost is entirely down to playing incompetence - there's no 'unfair death syndrome' on view here.

Jim Power, then, is one of those toasted marshmallow sort of experiences. It's kind of sweet, rather tasty and mildly addictive, and while it won't change the state of your tastebuds forever, you'll have a pleasant warm feeling inside for a good while afterwards.


Jim Power in Mutant Planet One of the neat things about Jim Power is the way it combines scrolling platform levels with shoot-'em-up levels and end-of-levels guardians. Here we see Jim using his power in level one. In addition to various knights, there're also these dogs to be faced, and several thousand spikes. Shooting at that helmet-like object hanging in the air will yield some extra energy and points.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet logo

Macho meets macho as Tony Dillon squares up to Loriciel's latest here...

Jim Power is a shoot 'em up along the lines of Switchblade II and even the old fave, Kung Fu Master. The action consists of walking across a horizontally-scrolling backdrop, and disposing of the enemy as they appear.

Point, Time and Life bonuses can be found along the way, and Jim's considerable armaments can be enhanced, too. These bonuses are held in small pods which float in the air. When shot, they drop both bonus points and a useful add-on, which include extra lives, smart bombs or a shield - however, the latter is relatively useless and lasts mere seconds before evaporating.

There are five levels to be explored, each of which is nearly fifty screens long, and involve leaping across moving platforms and ramps and overcoming other similar obstacles. Simple as this sounds, though, the sheer number of enemy sprites thrown at you make it a frustrating and thankless task.

On playing, it soon becomes apparent that Jim Power plays almost as well as it looks. The joystick response to Jim is instant, and the controls great, with a real sense of devastation available from the game's many weapons.

However, then it all begins to fall apart slightly. The twelve layers of parallax, whilst smooth and convincing, is the first fault. The layer you play on (the one that holds all the sprites and platforms) is actually the second from the screen and, as a consequence, key traps can be obscured by the foreground detail.

The lack of frills in Jim Power lets the game down quite heavily. There's no high-score table and the gameplay is very run-of-the-mill. In addition, Jim's lack of jumping prowess also means that the game requires pixel-perfect positioning if you are to survive - something that is not always possible within the game's hostile environment.

Jim Power looks like it could have been something really special. However, it's a very average arcade romp. I'd save my money for something a little more worthwhile - Gremlin's Switchblade II or Core Design's Wolfchild, for example.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet logo

JIM POWER: out now from Loriciel on Amiga & ST, priced £25.99.

What's happened to DAVID McCANDLESS recently? Well, he's been off on yet another mission to save a kidnapped chick from the clutches of a horde of mutants. But that's enough about his private life, here's his review of Loriciel's new shoot 'em up, JIM POWER.

AmigaThe mutants have kidnapped the president's daughter, Samantha, and Jim Power is the only one who can rescue her. Problem is, said mutants live, ah... 538 million light years from Earth and, of course, they're nasty, ugly and bad.

Jim's a bit good at this 'maiden rescue' lark, and he's accepted the mission without really knowing what he's in for.

What he's in for are five or so huge, scrolly levels - two to be traversed on foot (the town and the forest), and the other three with his jet-pack (the sea, the caves and the hole). Each one is dripping with sicko mutants, their mutant architecture and those cunning mutant traps.

Take level one, for instance. Looks okay - nice houses and trees. But whoops - the floor is boobytrapped with spikes, so Jim has to run and prance from platform to rooftop, lift to lift, hillock to bullock. Mutant soldiers run backwards and forwards, followed by mutant dogs and eventually mutant birds, so the gun comes in handy.

Acid drops drip from overhangs, people throw barrels out of windows and daggers pop out of the floor, so a few 'ninja reflexes' go down a treat. Hack through all this familiar territory and Jim has to tackle the end of level dobber. This beastie does a disgusting party trick with its telescopic neck, so saving up of smart bombs is advisable.

Not very original, is it? In fact, Jim Power cribs all the best bits from Ghouls 'N' Ghosts, Turrican and R-Type, right down to things like vultures waiting on trees and the way the Turrican character walks.

About the only new bit is Jim Power's sixty-eight thousand million layers of parallax scrolling. They look nice for about ten minutes before you realise that they're there to distract you from realising four things: the actual playing area only has four colours, the sound has a certain 'beepy' quality to it, the graphics aren't really that good and it's pretty difficult.

In the end, it looks and plays like those battered coin-ops you find in damp corners of old pubs, and not enough like the high-tech ninja arcade 'blend' it should be.Z

These floating doofers contain many useful power-ups, so killing yourself trying to avoid them is bad...

Jim Power in Mutant Planet CLOCKS:
Boost the mere 2 minutes you're given to complete a level.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet KEYS:
Hidden in nooks and crannies, they pave the way to secret passages.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet 1UP:
Oh, come on - whaddaya think this does?

Jim Power in Mutant Planet GRAPES:
Give you energy but watch out for pips.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet APPLE:
It's the harvest festival isn't it? An apple a day keeps the baddies away.

Jim Power in Mutant Planet SB:
A few extra smaaaaart bombs.