Sword logo

Classic platform action comes back to the Amiga. Andy Smith doesn't find it very hard to contain his excitement.

To be sung in to the tune of The Beautiful South’s ’Rotterdam’: "This could be Robocod or Soccer Kid, Lost Vikings or Zool, ‘cos Sword here is anything, anything at all..."
Alright so the scanning’s crap but you get the point. Sword’s a platform game like a thousand other platform games.

Armed with a machine gun, our hero has to negotiate seven levels of typical platform action, jumping from pillar to post and falling to his death if he puts a pixel wrong. The machine gun’s there to deal with the various baddies our hero encounters along the way – anything from dragons to ants – but over zealous use of (in Sergeant Major’s voice now) the machine gun, destroying baddies for the purpose of, (back to normal) causes it to overheat and jam.

Let go of the fire button for a few seconds and, when the temperature gauge on the left of the screen has dropped, you can resume firing again.

There’s fruit to collect along the way for extra points, along with various stuffed toys and slices of cake and so on, and keys which allow access to other parts of the level.

The game is very fond of suddenly presenting you with a trap you had no idea was there until you walked into it.

Make it to the end of the level and it’s time to fight one of the bosses. Victory here means you get a rather lovely password so you don’t have to attempt the level again.

You’ll be extremely pleased about this because, time after time, you’ll be killed by the slightest touch from some baddie or hidden trap.

The game is very fond of suddenly presenting you with a trap you had no idea was there until you walked into it, so you have to go right back to the start of the level. Harumph.

Sword is all about remembering where these traps are and how to jump from one platform to another. This doesn’t make the game bad, but there’s nothing in Sword that hasn’t been done before and indeed, many games have done it a lot better before.

I really don’t want to be too down on Sword though. People who actually love this level of frustration should bet a great deal of enjoyment from it. Personally, I think gameplay’s moved a great deal and simply rehashing old ideas, without even adding new features and twists, does very little to inspire me.

There you are then. A very average platform game with a high level of frustration. If that doesn’t bother you too much then you might even find it addictive. I didn’t and so I wouldn’t recommend it to you. And now, time for a song...

Sword logo

Price: £14.99 Developers: Serio-Comic Publisher: Titan Distributed: Epic 0179 3490988

What do you get if you cross Bub and Bob from Rainbow Islands with George Formby? The main character from Sword...

When I heard the title of this game, it conjured up many images in my mind. Would it be an intricate role-playing fantasy adventure, or a ad hack and slay bloodbath? No, Sword is in fact a platform game. Swords barely get a look in.

Two-dimensional platform games have been somewhat out of fashion over the last few years. After all, why have Manic Miner when you can have Tomb Raider II?
However, if in these retro times where flares are back in fashion (for the tenth time in as many years) you still crave for the old days, then read on.

The story goes that you, our hero, have been sent on a quest by the King. Your goal is to find some mythical sword, hence the title. Armed only with your wits, and what can best be described as a machine gun, you must battle your way through various levels of fiendish traps and vicious monsters to achieve your goal.

Quite why the sword is so important to the King when he’s got a machine gun in his arsenal I can’t say. But the result is that you can dispense death in rapid bursts, so who am I to argue?

Bouncing around smoothly

The first thing to say about this game is that it looks nice. The graphics are neat and the baddies are varied and amusing. The backgrounds are well drawn and different on each level. The end of level baddies also look impressive. In fact it’s hard to think of any game of its ilk which is better presented.

Your character bounces around smoothly, and the collision detection is good, so you rarely find yourself arguing with your monitor about the validity of your character’s death.

As you progress, the levels offer some different challenges, as well as the usual array of dangerous leaps and troublesome nasties. I particularly like the underground levels, in which your path is lit by a little glowing sphere which rotates around our hear, illuminating only a small section of the screen – a nice touch.

On several levels you are challenged to stay ahead of the edge of the screen, which chases you relentlessly causing death on contact. In a similar vein you may also find yourself fighting your way out of a rapidly flooding cave system.

What about the gameplay?

Sadly, good presentation is not enough to make a good game. There are other features like playability to be considered. One of the hardest things to get right on any game is the difficulty level – too easy or too hard and you can quickly lose interest.

There is no question that some may find Sword just too difficult to bother with. It requires a lot of patience to get any distance with this game. Lives and indeed whole games can disappear rapidly. Learning from your mistakes is often the only way to get past certain hazards.

The patience needed to get you to the end of level baddies is nothing compared to the amount required to beat them. It is here that the game gets it all wrong. Apart from the baddies themselves, which suddenly make your character look very small and his gun seem very lame, the end of level screens are pretty dull.

With so many hits being required to kill the damn beasts, and so few options as to how to go about it, you may find it difficult to maintain both your concentration and your interest.

No sneaky bits?

Another fundamental problem with this game is that it’s just too linear. There is only one route through each level, and there are no short cuts or other sneaky extra bits to keep you searching. If you reach a part which you can’t negotiate, you may find that giving up is a more tempting option than wasting your life away getting it right.

Fortunately you have plenty of lives, and any baddies you managed to kill with your previous life do not return to haunt you.

After you lose your final life, you can continue your game from the start of that level, and there are level codes to prevent you from having to fight your way through the early levels every time you load the game.

Having rooms or locations which can be visited in the order you chose, as in Super Mario World, would allow you to continue playing the game despite being stuck at a particular point. As for the music, an option to turn it off would be a bonus.

Overall, this is a well designed, challenging game. The animation is smooth, and there is enough variation between the levels to keep you wondering what the next one will be like, provided that you can be bothered to keep going.

Despite its many good features, Sword really doesn’t have anything new to add to the platform game genre. However, if you have plenty of time on your hands and are craving a fix of platform action, this should have enough to keep you entertained.