Switchblade 2 logo

GREMLIN GRAPHICS * £25.53 Joystick

The Cyberworld of Thraxx is under threat. Thousands of years ago, the evil havoc tried to destroy the Bladeknights by destroying their sacred weapon - the Switchblade. One man managed to break free of the tyranny and battle through to defeat Havoc. His nam was Hiro.

The Lord of Chaos
It appears Havoc escaped after the last battle, waiting to return to the Cyberworld and dominate its people. The volcano has become active again and earthquake shake the surrounding area. The people of Thraxx have discovered a note from Havoc, proclaiming himself ruler of Cyberworld and threatening to cause mayhem unless they yield to his will. But there is an alternative.

Hiro's descendants have ignored the derision and scor heaped them and continued to bring up their sons in the traditions of the Bladeknights. The last in the line, also named Hiro after his esteemed ancestor, is willing to take up the fight.

You take control of Hio in his quest to defeat Havoc for a second time. To begin with, Hiro is armed with a sword and a multi function Cyber Arm. In order to use the arm, Hiro must pick up weapon packs along the way. These turn the arm into a high-powered weapon, capable of firing various types of missile.

More powerful weapons can be bought in shops, but in order to collect money, Hiro must kill enemy robots and pick up the orbs that they leave behind.

The mission takes place over six levels, each covering a different scene on the way to the volcano. You must guide Hiro through each level and destroy the guardian to collect a Fire Blade token, which will allow him to continue to the next stage.

One more into the base, dear friends
Switchblade II's strength is its graphics. The small sprites and flick scroll of the original have been replaced by large, colourful characters and smooth, full-screen, multi-directional scrolling. The first level is pretty much carried over from the original with new rooms only being discovered by walking through a doorway, climbing a ladder or smashing through a wall. Th higher levels are in the style or arcade beat-em-ups Strider, with Hiro having to leap around platforms bashing enemies with his sword.

The control feels comfortable enough too, with Hiro moving in good response to the joystick commands. The problem is that Switchblade II isn't anything new. The original had a novel method of exploration and cutesy graphics, the sequel ends up being just another arcade beat-e-em-up.

There are niggles which crop up occasionally for example it is impossible to get past the end of level guardians without losing at least one life. This means that the rest of the game is simply an exercise in finding bonus lives and collecting weapons and energy pods. Where is the finding skill? Where is the exciting skin-of-the-teeth battling with the guardians, in which the best fighter wins through? Not here it seems.

Completing a level is more a matter of luck and how many lives you've managed to amass. This reduces a good-looking game, with the potential of being comparable to some of the top coin-ops, into a pretty dull and repetitive hack-and-slash variant.