Sword of Sodan logo

THIS, the latest game to be marketed by the people who wrote and Revenge of Doh, was programmed in Germany by Sorem Grunbech with graphics by Torben Larsen. The package comes with manual and four discs, indicating just how much programming has gone into it.

Hero or heroine, you must learn the five offensive moves that are possible with your sword. To begin with the gameplay is similar to Rastan Saga - you move through a series of parallax scrolling landscapes destroying beasts and devils as they come into view.
If you complete a level a scroll detailing the next mission appears while the next level loads.

To help you avoid hazards like rolling barrels and trapdoors you can collect extra weapons and potions. The list includes magic zapper, power shield, extra life and increased hit strength. The first two enhancements are essential if you are to achieve real success in the game and venture far into the castle.

The animation is impressive. Each image is at least four inches high and two inches wide. With all the processing power used for animating the characters, I expected the scrolling to be slow and jerky, but to my delight the parallax scrolling is super smooth. A programming marvel, no less.

The sampled speech is atmospheric, it interacts with the game and is more than just an aesthetic delight. When you enter the game a voice shouts, "Halt stranger" alerting the player to the presence of enemy guards. Sampled cries and shrieks of death are all very much a part of making the game more playable.

The graphics are on a par with Cinemaware on a good day. Throw in the odd special effect - the stunning thunder sequence in the graveyard is just one - and you have covered every area of graphical excellence that a game like Sword of Sodan could have.

Sword of Sodan logo

GAINSTAR (0252 877431)

It's been causing a sensation in the States and now it's over here on import.
Massive sprites, smooth animation and lots of screams and grunts abound in this game from the master of Amiga demo programs, Sodan. Armed with the courage of Harrison Ford and only a humble sword you must get to the castle without being floored.


In a distant age when dreams could become reality and miracles were an everyday occurrence, almost as common as plane crashes, there existed a King who lived for many years bringing hope and happiness to the land. But the people were awakened to a time of darkness when the King was slain by the evil Zoras. A warrior came to the territory and vowed, by the strength of steel and edge of sword, to shatter Zoras' reign of terror and hence return light to the Northern Kingdoms.

You assume the roles of either a male or female warrior and go into the Kingdom armed with the mighty Sword of Sodan, attacking Zoras' allies. Eleven different levels take you through a range of landscapes, beginning at the village where the aim is to get through two gates in one piece. The bridge scene is one of the better methods of seeking death. It boasts a set of moving spikes destined to draw blood from your leg, or even worse places. But it's the graveyard level which is the most impressive. With howling werewolves and lots of zombies wandering round eating the grass you'll think you're at a Liverpool football match.

Along the way you can retrieve potions which provide extra life or increased sword strength. And the extremely handy Magic Zapper isn't a hallucinogenic fungus but a useful device designed to kill the enemy closest to you, or act as a power shield protecting you from attack for 30 seconds.


It's the graphics which are the game's greatest asset. Backdrops are excellent but it's the size of the sprites hurtled around the screen which definitely sets this game aside from the rest. The on-screen characters are often as large as 5" which is a major improvement on the tiny ant-like characters with weird bodily malformations and bright red lips so often seen in the majority of street-fighting games. Wielding a giant sword and slicing offending characters into lots of pieces in true Ripper style is accompanied by brilliant splatters of blood, but it's being impaled on wooden spikes which looks best. This method of self-abuse crops up so often you'll think you're in Madam Cyn's private boudoir.

All manner of opportune grunts and groans make up the sound effects. The occasional burst of sampled speech impolitely informs you that you need to swipe at your enemies a bit more if you're going to defeat them but if you can survive this constructive criticism from your Amiga then you'll soon get involved in all the action.


Americans have raved about Sodan for some time and the graphics really are good. As a demo of the Amiga's clever sprite manipulation, it's indisputably superb but as a game it lacks the qualities to make it great. The levels last just a few seconds and whilst wielding a sword might make good screenshots it soon becomes tedious. Basically Sodan is a fighting game with large sprites and sampled speech; if you like plunging your sword into soft flesh and you can tolerate lengthy disk accesses then go fot it.

Sword of Sodan logo

Price: £24.95

If you are sick of awesomely strong heroes being the size of a small fruit fly with rippling biceps pixel high, Sword of Sodan is going to come as a pleasant surprise. Not only does your hero, or indeed, heroine (you have a choice) standard good half screen high; they are depicted in all the detail you would normally associate with a superior arcade game like Altered Beast.

For a hack 'em and slay 'em adventure of this nature the graphics really are spot on. During the level in which you negotiate a graveyard full of nefarious zombies, the whole scene is picked out in silhouette by blinding flashes of lightning. A very pleasing effect indeed, a lot of attention has obviously been lavished by Discovery on getting the feel of this game exactly right - all the way down to tweeting of little birdies outside the city walls in the first scene. I shall not bore you with the scenario which is the usual for this sort of business; nail the necromancer who did over your old man, in short.

Sword of Sodan will take you through eleven different levels before you can accomplish this, each of which is utterly distinct from the next and all superbly drawn. The monsters and people you will be pitted against are all highly imaginatively worked out and you will be able to dispatch them with a variety of different moves that such an enormous player sprites allows you to make.

Occasionally, the combat has the habit of wandering off the screen altogether, leaving you to listen to the groans and screams as your hero, or heroine, engages in unseen strife with your combatant. The tendency towards splatter graphics, for example when, in a later level, a spike comes through the floor, through your hero and out of the other side, makes this not the best game for young and impressionable Norbert to play last thing before bedtime. I would not call it gratuitous, but it is a little feisty.

Sword of Sodan really comes into its own when it comes to sound. Speech at the beginning, wolves baying, the howling of the wind. Sound is very much underrated as an important consideration in games. It is more than just an atmosphere creator. Good sound is integral to all good games, except maybe text adventures. If this was not enough, Sword of Sodan also has a delightfully haunting tune playing over the end screen, sounding something like a warped copy of Clannad's 'Harry's Game'.

What might put more serious game players of this is the fact that, despite the intricate combat, it is all a little bit easy. With hidden pits, descending columns, lava streams and spikes to deal with, it is not turkey shoot, but after a couple of weeks better game players might find the obstacles to their progress just a wee touch straightforward. That said, it is miles in front of some other games which have concentrated on getting graphics of a quality like this. Mercifully, the game is on three disks so you do not have to suffer an inordinate amount of disk swapping.

If you are looking for a big game, they do not come any more impressive than this. There are plenty of nice little touches and a seriously impressive sequence when you straddle your Orville-like battlebird. Filling just about the whole screen, this monstrosity has thighs like Fatima Withbread and a boat race match. If you want to buy a game which uses the abilities of an unexpanded Amiga to the full and still gives a more than reasonable playing quality, buy Sword of Sodan.