If you go down to the woods today...

Risky Woods logo

ELECTRONIC ARTS * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Oh no, not more platforms. I'm sick of platforms. In fact I will be more than content if I never see another platform game as long as I live. I wonder how many platform games there are in the world of Amigadom? Hundreds, no probably more like thousands.

Anyway, luckily for you punter and unluckily for me the writer, here is Risky Woods by Electronic Arts. Right, hold everything! Risky Woods? What kind of a name is that for a platform romparama?

I suppose it's because somewhere in the game there will be a risky wood. What's so bloody risky about a wood anyway? I can see it all now.

Some kid runs to his mother and cries: "Oh mother, a branch in the woods has scraped my arm and now it's bleeding!"

"Never mind dear I'll get some antiseptic, but you shouldn't be playing in those woods - it's far too risky!"

Yeah right, very risky indeed, unless Draxos and his evil legions show up and fill the wood with evil rotting corpses.

In some uncanny way I have just introduced you to the big bad and very ugly Draxos - the very reason why the woods are risky!

It's about now that a deadly handsome and highly intelligent hero with muscles turns up. Oh look, here comes someone now. Readers meet Rohan, the young warrior.

Barely out of nappies, our hero has arrived to deliver death and justice to the evil hordes that inhabit the woods, thus making them far less risky.

Draxos, being the evil guy that he is, has turned all the monks that roamed the woods into statues. Now these monks guarded the Wisdom of the Lost Land. If Draxos were ever to get this wisdom, all would be lost. So as well as delivering death and justice, Rohan has to set all the monks free. A bit of tough task, eh?

To be honest, this is your bog standard platform game. Nothing new has been incorporated to separate it from the rest. So don't expect any surprises.
The control system is easier than something that is quite easy indeed. Left for left, fire for firing weapons, so on and so forth.

If you care to take a gander at the screenshots that grace this very page, you will notice the graphics. Cor, phhwworr, eh what a beauty. The graphics are amazing, talk about console feel or what!

In fact you could be easily mistaken and think that you are actually playing on a console. If all graphics were like these then I'd be a very happy man. Soundwise, there is a delightful little atmospheric kinda tune, but you won't be dancing in the clubs to it. The game has few sound effects, except for a few grunts.

It's very playable, but it is not for the inexperienced platformer because it is very hard indeed. In fact the experienced platformer might have troubles might have troubles with this one.

So, apart from the hardness of it all, what else is there that troubles you while playing it? Well, it's hard to say, but there's something about Risky Woods that I didn't like. I think it's because it's so similar to every other platform game. All you do is move left or right, killing beasties and rescuing monks - there doesn't seem to be a lot of gameplay in there.

It's not different enough to earn itself one of those fabled Gamer Gold awards, but nonetheless if you're a platform fan and looking for a challenge the Risky Woods is for you.

Risky Woods logo


Most kids have a fear of dark woods, but when evil demons are lurking there turning monks in stone, it's a mite more dangerous than normal. Risky Woods places you as a heroic adventurer who must enter the woods and free the petrified monks. Along the way you can collect cash for extra weapons and bonus items for chests.

The presentation is as slick as they come, making it look very attractive. But the gameplay is incredibly unfair at times, killing you where you have no control, taking time away and punishing you for things that aren't your fault. Too much luck is involved to make Risky Woods a playable arcade bash.

Risky Woods logo

Seit 1984 gibt es das spanische Softwarehaus Dinamic schon, immerhin 56 Spiele wurden seither produziert - darunter leider kaum ein Hit. Und auch beim 57sten Anlauf hat es nicht geklappt...

...denn das neue Jump & Run bietet nur solides Mittelmaß; daß Dinamic nun unter den Fittichen des Branchenriesen Electronic Arts softelt, hat wenig geholfen. So zieht man mit dem jungen Krieger Rohan eher gelangweilt durch die riskanten Wälder, erwehrt sich (unter Zeitdruck) mit Wurfmessern seiner drei Bildschirmleben, killt Hundertschaften von feindlichen Kreaturen und befreit Mönche, die der fiese Draxos versteinert hat.

Das alles haben wir bereits x-mal anderswo gesehen, genau wie die herumliegenden Schatzkisten, von denen einige nette (mehr Zeit, Energie, Unverwundbarkeit, Continues, Punkte), andere weniger nette Extras (Zwangpause, Energieabzug, gekippter Screen etc.) enthalten.

Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, hinterlassen die atomisierten Gegner Münzen, mit denen man sich in den Shops stärkere Waffen bzw. frische Energie besorgen kann, und Schlüssel zum Aufsammeln fehlen ebensowenig wie der obligate Obermotz am Levelende.

Grafisch wird anfangs nur Hausmannskost geboten, die sich aber nach und nach zu einem Delikatess-Menü mit Parallax-Scrolling und Tag/Nacht-Wechsel steigert. Die großen Sprites sind schön anzuschauen, sie bereiten dem Scrolling allerdings mehr Schwierigkeiten als dem Helden - trotz reichlich Action und der manchmal pingeligen Kollisionsabfrage sind die vier Level mit je zwei Unterabschnitten relativ bald durchgespielt.

Da nützt auch die erträgliche Soundbegleitung (Musik & FX) wenig, simple Jump & Run-Games mit hübscher Präsentation aber ohne spielerischen Tiefgang gibt es bereits mehr als Bäume im Wald! (pb)

Risky Woods logo

With Risky Woods, even Electronic Arts are muscling in on the console-style beat-'em-up, with this lush looking epic - from Spain of all places!

I can just imagine how this one came together. Somewhere in Europe in the not too distant past, a Spanish development team (for Zeus Software who originally developed this for Madrid-based Dinamic, are Spanish) decided to sit down over a meal to discuss this brand new game they were putting together. But - oh no! - they decided to try this new restaurant in town, a sushi bar, and somehow the Japanese influence got lodged in their minds, and grew and grew.

They must have been back to that old sushi bar quite a few times during development too, for the over-hard-yet-graphically-impressive style of game that Spanish developers used to specialise in (remember Dinamic's older stuff, like Army Moves, Navy Moves and After The War?) has been all but dropped in favour of one of those wannabe Mega Drive games that seem to be all the rage at the moment. There's lots of very similar competition around at the moment, so what chance does Risky Woods stand?

Well, for a start it's got just about all the standard features of the genre. It's got pretty, big-eyed graphics, crowd pleasing parallax scrolling, lots of collectables, and big end-of-level baddies, all wrapped up behind a suitably odd (and rather silly) name. Because it's such a typical console-style game, there are half a dozen other recent releases we could legitimately compare it too, but I've picked Psygnosis' recent Leander - the current AMIGA POWER benchmark for 'this sort of thing'.

On initial impressions there's not really much to chose between the two games. Both of them have a very slick feel, with smooth scrolling and big sprites - at first it all comes down to which graphics style you prefer. In the interests of creating a bit of tension, I'm not going to tell you if things change after you've played both games for a while - not just yet anyway. Instead let's take a closer look at the ins and outs of the game they're all calling Risky Woods.

The story of Risky Woods (I keep wanting to write 'Wisky Woods') takes place in a Japan-esque 'Lost Land' in a time when an order of monks guarded the place. Or, at least, they used to guard it - until a wicked demon character called Draxos came along and turned them all to stone!

Evil has taken over pretty much, then, with vicious creatures everywhere, and rotting animated skeletons roaming the woods, making them rather (ahem) 'risky'. The kingdom is not safe until you, in the guise of a young warrior called Rohan, arrive on the scene.

Right, so, as you may have guessed by now, it's up to you to enter the Risky Woods, free the monks from Draxos' stoney spells and send the evil tyrant back to hell (or wherever it was he came from). It's the classic Japanese fairytale, if you like, where the young samurai-type comes along, helps out the wise men, and banishes evil.

The game is built up of 12 stages - with a more or less continuous flow of evil demons in all shapes and sizes out to stop you, and a big end-of-zone guardian cropping up every few levels. You're given three lives to help you out - but keep an eye on the time limit for each level, and the set number of monks you must free on each one. Throughout the game, enemy demons drop coins when you kill them - these you can use to buy weapons, strength and extra lives at the shop, which you'll find at the end of the stage.

Great to look at... good short-term fun

Other important items to look out for are the halves of 'eye keys' that occasionally crop up, guarded by jealous guardian demons. Kill the guardians, then put the two pieces together to form the completed eye key - you can now use these at 'eye toll gates' which control entry through each stage.

You'd better make sure you collect all the eye halves you find as you come to them too - they're the only way off a level, and (unlike in Leander) there's no going back more than a couple of screens to collect stuff you missed. Another thing to be on the look out for treasure chests. Open them up wherever they appear - they throw out all sorts of goodies, but be careful not to pick up certain items which can hinder as well as help you!

As the game advances, the terrain and obstacles in your way get more difficult to deal with. Take, for example, the narrow stepping posts you must jump across at the end of the first stage. A giant blade rears up between them to make life even more difficult for you, while demons fly in from either side. And individual obstacles can get tougher than that too...!

The only other major game elements to deal with are the guardian monsters, which live in caves between each zone. Their strength gets greater the further into the game you get, so make sure you increase the power of your weaponry at the shop. (You're unlikely to get very far if you don't.) You'll find the shop very easy to use, simply by selecting the appropriate icons.

And that, in a nutshell, is the game. So how does it shape up against all the other console-inspired platformers, particularly (if you remember that far back) Leander? Well, on its own terms you can't deny it's lots of fun - so much so that you're likely to bash through it in a few days, not so much because it's particularly small, but simply you'll be going at it so much.

That said, though, there are a few specific and important niggles. The controls, while okay, are still a fair way from spot on - our hero is rather more plodding than I would like (though not as bad as the bloke in Gods, for goodness) while his jumping ability sometimes feels pathetically weedy. I wish you were given a bit more freedom of movement too - they very best platform games are less linear than this, and particularly when success depends so much upon collecting the eye keys you'd think being able to search behind you would be essential.

Still, it's not a bad buy at all. I found the first seven levels absorbing and entertaining, the hectic sound effects, frenzied animation, and pretty graphics making for an atmospheric experience. That said, the later stages - when you realise that really nothing changes from level to level, save for the graphics - begin to get a bit dull (a problem also suffered by Leander, if we're being fair).

Great to look at, then, and good short term fun, and while it's probably on a par with Leander et all, it's certainly no better than them. Our favourite of the type remains First Samurai (where you get a lot more freedom of movement) but you could do a lot worse than this.

Risky Woods

The toughest of the game to deal with are the guardian monsters. Luckily, they all get introduced by the game, so you know exactly what you're facing...

First, spend all those coins you've picked up from the carcasses of dead demons on groovy new weapons. Now check out your next guardian monster. This is Zarbus - he's not that strong, as you can see from his strength bar, so a boomerang will probably do the job nicely.
Once you've selected the appropriate weapon, it's worth considering whether you're going to need any extra energy. You can buy that there too, a must for later stages in the game where the monsters are a lot stronger.
Everything is clearly marked out on the screen for you. The sandglass represents the time you've got to complete each stage. Rohan's animated face shows how well you're doing.

Risky Woods

Key to the goodies and not-so-goodies in the treasure chests...

Risky Woods Apples - Can be worth 10,000 points (or put you to sleep, losing valuable game time). Very risky.

Risky Woods Arrow - Worth 10,000 points (or back tracks you to an earlier point in the level). Again, risky.

Risky Woods Star - Worth 5,000 points each. Not bad at all.

Risky Woods Cross - Worth 10,000 points. Luvverly jubberly.

Risky Woods Sandglass - This is well worth picking up for a whole extra minute of game time.

Risky Woods Heart - Gives you an extra three notches of energy. Helpful.

Risky Woods Thunderbolt - This makes you temporarily immune to damage. Dead useful.

Risky Woods Skull - Loses you six notches of energy or stands you and the game upside down. Avoid!

Risky Woods logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Steve Keen takes a trip through EA's newest platform romp and encounters more than a few surprises in their Risky Woods.

Every now and then a game smashes on to our screens from out of nowhere, blazing a red hot trail through the piles of over-hyped software before it. Risky Woods is going to prove to be just that sort of phenomena. The majority of code was finished more than ten months ago, but for reasons best known to the Spanish programming team, Dinamic, it's taken all this time for the game to come up to light.

Risky Woods is an arcade beat 'em/shoot 'em up of incredible console quality. Looking more at home on a Super Nintendo, the game's amazing array of colours and detailed backdrops put most other Amiga offerings to shame.

The game's hero is a young adventure seeking warrior by the name of Rohan. His habitat, The Lost Land, is a peaceful isle that generates a great power which has been entrusted to holy monks for safe keeping. Fortunately this scenario doesn't last long and the evil demon, Draxos, turns all the brothers into statues and scatters them throughout the world in order to exploit the guardian's power. The world contains four zones, each with two stages of combat. In every stage you must free all of the monks before time runs out.

Before you commence your journey you are presented with a screen that maps out in miniature the path ahead. The whole complex that you are about to slice, smash, burn and slash your way through is displayed in minute detail, but the later stages are kept tantalizingly out of view beyond the edge of the screen. A tiny animated version of your warrior makes purposeful strides forwards on the map every time you complete a level.

From the outset you'll notice the standard of colours used. No pasty pale substitutes here. The backdrops and sprites are delivered in darkest blues and deepest reds as is the compound quality for every colour used throughout the spectrum.

Rohan's first route is through the dense foliage of the forest. In each of the lands you are given four minutes to come out the other side, although you can gain extra time by locating a tiny hour glass which appears occasionally. The first level won't give players of any standing any real problems as it's very easy to fight through. What presents the real challenge is picking up the many extras that are needed to make it through future stages. Rohan is armed with an unlimited supply of knives which he sends hurtling towards in his adversaries with incredible speed.

Anything less than lightning fast reflexes and your adventure will be short lived, as the forest's skeletal warriors look like contenders for the American 4x4 team. Most of the monsters are content with simply running straight towards you and depleting energy from your meagre supply by suicidal touch. However, others such as the fireball spewing plants and multi-clawed bats have more advanced forms of attack.

The compact score panel is packed with information and at first glance is slightly bewildering. There are only three things you need to look out for: time remaining, lives remaining, and keys. Other information is important, but not for the initial stages. You have three lives, each divided into eleven segments, and when this health level falls out of the yellow and into the red it's a safe bet that death's just around the corner.

Life can be regained in any number of ways. Most monsters you kill will drop ornate spinning coins which can be collected and used to buy extra weapons and energy at the end of a level. Alternatively, you'll come across huge wooden chests that hide a multitude of power-ups and special features in a mixed bag of the good and bad.

Undoubtedly the most important items to locate are the two components to the level keys. These have two functions and can either be used as a weapon, clearing everything on the screen or to provide safe passage past the huge all-seeing stone monoliths that block your path. They are invariably found in hard to reach places and on cliff edges and the like.

Before you are allowed to exit a level you must crack the stone casing holding the monks. Draxos, in his infinite cunning, has put several decoy statues in the world that hide his own servants. Although the look the same as normal priests, when they smash out of their restraints they throw up a dark red fire that scorches the ground and burns your bones.

If you're to get anywhere you'll need money. The weedy knives allocated to you at the beginning are not nearly enough to see you though every stage. There are four other weapons that you can turn your hand to, all available at the Olde Shoppe that appears amidst a dazzling sign at the end of the round. On offer are ball and chains, fire, axes and boomerangs. Each has its own special properties and can aid you in different ways during combat. For instance, the axe can be thrown straight up into the air and bounce around the screen until they hit their target or disperse. No matter what the weapons is, you can also buy up to three power-ups devices for them and, if you decide to change them, the difference in price will be refunded to you.

Risky Woods is packed full of delightful gameplay touches. From the multitude of humanoid and demonic monsters, all animated and coloured to perfection, to the special effects like the screen darkening when you go inside caves. The sheer beauty of its characters and the detail begs the question 'why can't all games be as good looking as this'. Every platform and pixel is a resplendent cacophony of colour and although we've seen the type before, never has it been presented with such class and attention to detail. It's a simple little game, but one that is utterly addictive.

FOCAL POINT There are three ultra big guardians to defeat before you face off with Draxos. The first requires a subtle and tactical approach whilst the other two have a weak spot which you must exploit by hitting it repeatedly. Make sure you choose the right weapons for these beasts as it can make a lot of difference. One approach is to turn back on them and use the boomerangs.

Risky Woods: End-of-level guardian

CHESTS OUT Throughout the game you'll discover loads of big wooden chests. A few blasts and they'll spring open to reveal an assortment of goodies. Various jewels, crucifixes, red lips and stars that'll pump up your points, arrows that will either do the same or back track you to an earlier stage in the level, apples and bananas that can put you to sleep thus forcing you to lose time, winged hearts that notch up three energy points and potions for six points. There are also bags of cash and even a mini Rohan who jumps out in front of you and runs off. If you catch him three times you'll get the opportunity to continue from where you left off when you die.

Risky Woods: Chest with goodies

Risky Woods logo Zero Mutt's Nuts

RISKY WOODS: out late July from Electronic Arts on Amiga & ST, priced £25.99 and on the PC, at £29.99.

RISKY WOODS? Risky Woods. I'll tell you what's risky. Giving the new arcade adventure from Electronic Arts to DAVID McCANDLESS to review - that's risky.

Amiga"If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise." Not half, if your woods have been designed by the cunning Hispanic minds of Dinamic. You should be less sure of a surprise, and more sure of a six tonne rock falling on your head or a huge spiky whatchamacallit poking you up the nether regions. And don't think you'll be attending any nonce-based bears' picnic with tea and cakes and orange squash either.

Try and imagine sitting in on Satan's picnic, with walking skeletons, leathery harpies and a few thousand devils thrown into the bargain. When you hear the title, you may think, noncily enough: "Oh, there'll be a few overgrown roots for me to snag my foot on... and probably a few earwigs... and maybe an irate gamekeeper or something. Ho. ho." After a few games of Risky Woods, you'll be a-sweating and a-cursing God along with the rest of us...

Dinamic games have a reputation for being a bit 'tough'. If you remember games like Narco Police, After The War and Satan, you'll remember them with the taste of adrenaline on your joystick and a few nice words that you'll never heard your parents say on your tongue. Risky Woods is no exception - it is hard. But it's also 'furious'.

"What's the difference?" I hear you ask. Well, hard games are usually hard because they're designed that way. Everything's planned so a normal gamester can't really get very far. 'Furious' games are hard, but only because you haven't got used to them yet. Furious games are arranged so that your normal non-ninja can learn the tricks and the skills within a few plays.

Risky Woods' character, Rohan, has a few tricks and skills up his sleeves. He bounds, shoots and stoops along the scrolling scenery, which is made of the usual four main elements. There's the flat bits, the sloping bits, the moving lift bits and the large gap bits. All these parts are combined over about thirty screens per level. There are four levels: Mountain Pass, Hanging Gardens, Catacombs and Hidden World. So there isn't a wood at all - what a con!

It's got everything you could possibly want from an arcade adventure. Lovely huge scrolling levels packed with colour and scenery bits. Ugly, disgusting, hateable nasties, including face-huggers and leaping helldogs. Lovely juicy chests, swollen with power-ups, literally falling from the sky. Gold coins to amass and buy extra weaponry with. A tight time limit where you really have to beat the clock. Smooth animation, good playability and incredible addictiveness. And all sorts of nice touches like gravity, special continue options and fab music.

Okay, so it looks and plays a bit like First Samurai. And yeah, it has elements of Sonic. But that's okay - with such a pedigree, you can't go wrong.Z

Risky Woods: Shop
What you can get, what it all does...
  1. AXES: A bit annoying in closed spaces, but unrivalled for battling airborne basts.
  2. BOOMERANG: Bit crap actually. Don't buy it. Shoots backwards as well. Bloody Aussies.
  3. ENERGY: Guess what? This is your essential 'topping up' facility.
  4. CHAIN: Slight upgrade from the knife. Straight lines and meaty damage.
  5. FIRE: This is more like it. Fireballs. Fast. Power. Straight as a die.


Each level has a few monks trapped in stone. These are to be rescued, not shot. They are protected by some 'Eye Guardians'. These are to be shot, not rescued. They can only be shot and destroyed if you have collected two parts of the 'Eye Key'. These are found somewhere on the level. If you forget to rescue all the priests, neglect to collect the key or run out of time, you're sent back to the beginning again.

You can't have a review of an arcade adventure without a little bit describing the power-ups.
Risky Woods APPLE: Watch out! Makes you kip for 30 seconds.
Risky Woods ARROW: Avoid! Shunts you back about three screens.
Risky Woods STAR: Hooray! This babe gives 5,000 lovely points.
Risky Woods CROSS: Hallelujah! A bumper crop of 10,000 points.
Risky Woods JEWEL: Bloody hell! Steady on, it's 50,000 points.
Risky Woods HEART: Hurrah! A whole three extra units of energy.
Risky Woods SKULL: Oo-er! Gives six energy units or saps energy.
Risky Woods SANDGLASS: Praise de Lord! One minute extra time.
Risky Woods THUNDERBOLT: Gloria in excelsis deo! Invulnerability.
Risky Woods FIREBALL: Jigger me sideways! It's only a Homing fireball.

Risky Woods
This is zone two - The Hanging Gardens. It looks most plush, but see the walking skeletons? Yeah? And the fire-spitting demon head? Yeah? Not so plush now, is it? The demon is protecting a part of the Eye Key. It takes about six shots. But watch out for the homing fireballs while you're blatting it.

Risky Woods
Well, rub my chin, if it isn't a 'puzzle'. Just look what happens if I step out onto the wooden ledge. An asteroid blimmin' well falls on me. If I activate the trap and then leap back, I survive (but the ledge breaks). And beyond it lies an insurmountable leap. So what I do now?

Risky Woods
After cunning use of short jumps I've cleared that puzzle. Now there's a bit of a lull in gameplay. Why don't I stand here for 30 seconds or so, annihilating every nasty that comes onscreen and reaping the coins they leave. They'll be useful in the shop at the end of the level, I bet.

Risky Woods
Bit tortuous, this. Token large gaps... small platforms... and hovering pterodactyls. The whole situation is made trickier by the huge knife things poking up from time to time in between the gaps. Lots of leaping and firing.

Risky Woods
Decisions, decisions. Two priests to free. One could be an 'evil spirit', which means lots of fire and brimstone and pain if I free it. One could be a 'goodie', which means lots of angels and hearts and Christmas trees. Downies, I think. More effort, but I think it's a good idea to tick God's bum.

Risky Woods
Help, God! I didn't mean to free that evil spirit. Now I've got this tricky fat bastard to deal with. I should have bought one of the axes in the shop. I bloody well knew it. Goddammit. Aagh! No! What I meant to say was 'sorry, your most Holiness'. Slurp, slurp. Didn't mean it, honest.