The guys who get through the US Marines Corps's combat school eat six Shredded Wheat for breakfast. And if you can join them and beat the time limit for completing seven gruelling tests in Ocean's Combat School coin-op conversion, you'll be a tough guy too - and there's a top-secret antiterrorist mission waiting to be done.
Your training begins with an assault course: walls of different heights and an arm walk. A meter shows the muscular power you're generating, and if you can keep it up it's on to the next section, the first firing range.
Targets appear from the ground and remain in sight for just a few seconds - but at least 38 must be hit, blasted by moving a multidirectional cursor.
The next event is the 'iron man' race. Only a good running speed can see you successfully through rough country strewn with boulders, water hazards and bridges; then you swim across a fast-flowing river full of logs.
Now you're exhausted - but the second firing range appears, and the challenge is to hit 95 robot tanks as they appear before you. From there it's on to show your bicep supremacy in an arm-wrestling contest.
This man-to-man trial of muscles is different from all others at the school because even if you fail, you're allowed to carry on training. Normally the instructor's more ruthless - fail any other test and you're out.
And now your tingling arm must be brought under control, for accuracy is once more required on the third shooting range. As on the first, targets pop up for just a few seconds - but it's more complicated this time, because you have to avoid hitting red targets. Get one by accident, and a whole screen of targets (and potential points) is lost to you.
The final and hardest stage of Combat School puts you into unarmed combat with an instructor. You can throw punches and kicks, leap in to attack and leap away again, and if you hit your opponent often enough and quickly enough you are the victor. But of course the opposite also applies - and if you fail this ultimate challenge you cannot graduate.
For all that, there's some pity left in those Marine instructors. If you can't complete an event or amass enough points within its individual time limit, after the indignity of a few chin-ups you can return to the course.
And if you do extra well in an event, bonus points do wonders for your prospects of promotion when it's all over.
But it's never all over for a US Marine - if you manage to graduate from the school, all your newly-acquired skills are needed on a mission to rescue a hostage from an American embassy.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: excellent, detailed, no clash
Sound: stirring tunes
Options: two-player option; definable keys; demo of Gryzor - another Konami coin-op conversion imminent from Ocean - on 128K tape. But one minus point: multiload is necessary on the 48K Spectrum.
'Combat School - the coin-op, the game, the sweat, the blisters! This is a faithful conversion of the arcade original as it's almost impossible to complete (perhaps a few POKEs could deal with that!). Some of the stages are so grueling it would be easier to do the tests in real life than in the computer version! The graphics couldn't be better and the vivid colour (completely clashless), characters and backgrounds are all excellent. On the 128K version, there's excellent sound and the added luxury of not having to reload after a few levels. Combat School is brilliant on the 48K and the best 128K game around.'
NICK ... 91%
'This is one of the wickedest packages around and guaranteed to destroy your joystick. There's plenty of variety, from swimming rivers to shooting tanks, and every level's playable and very addictive - you'll be surprised how much effort it can take to move a sprite! Combat School is one of the best games I've ever played.'
DAVE ... 93%
'There are very few games on the Spectrum that actually make you sweat while playing - Imagine's Hyper Sports is one, and Combat School (from the same software conglomerate) the latest. If you've played the arcade game and thought it could never be done on the Spectrum, think again. This is the machine's most successful arcade conversion yet. The graphics are superb, and the 128K sound is more than just impressive; it's some of the best around, with tunes playing even while you're struggling in the events! Two-player mode makes the game very competitive, almost adding a new dimension, and indeed Combat School is the ideal Christmas present for weaklings and strong men alike.'
PAUL ... 94%
If you're a long-haired layabout, don't run along with all this fitness rubbish and find that 10 am is too early to greet the day, then this is the wrong place for you. Here is where they dry the wetness from boys' ears and turn them into REAL men - yes, this is Combat School! Hut! two, three, four, Hut! two, three, four...
But enough of this. Haven't those dependable chaps at Ocean done well? They've managed yet again to squish all that action into a C60 (or thereabouts) - even if 48Kers do have to suffer three separate loading stages. Has everyone forgotten the ill-fated microdrive? (Let's hope so, Ed) And their hard work on visual reproduction has paid off.
Ordinarily, I have an intense dislike for games that require joystick-waggling, and joysticks are such a poor alternative to the original trackball. But when I realised how much easier it was to do the "swivel" (a joystick motion, not a new dance practised by Marines), I was well away! Here I was, someone who'd even forged his mum's signature to get out of PE, running like Seb Coe and jumping like a gazelle. Even on stage two , I found myself accurately blasting scores of pop-up targets - quite amazing for someone who couldn't hit the side of a barn with a cannon.
Thence cometh the iron-man race with its bridges to cross, rocks to leap over and mines to avoid. The last section even involves crossing a river. The boat bit here has been dropped for memory reasons - your man appears to be able to walk on water - a neat trick! To beat this screen, push the joystick forward and waggle it quickly from side to side.
After a well earned intermezzo as the next block loads, it's straight into the second target range. Tanks appear from all sides, so you should get to know their pattern - essential if you're even to stand a chance of getting through. Assuming you do, there's a spot of arm wrestling which is quite arm-wrenching - literally, as you have to last a full minute of joystick bashing.
Just to show you how bad a marine I'd make, I've only once beaten the next stage, the third target range. You need to shoot almost all the circled targets, but as they're mixed among some that'll freeze your sights temporarily, that's not an easy task. All that follows is a fist-like duel with your instructor (with as many joystick positions to learn). Assuming you're skilful enough, you'll be able to put all your hard-earned training into use with an actual rescue mission.
Combat School has much to keep you occupied, loads of different screens and always that incentive to try again (no matter how much you feel afterwards that you really were there!). Should you do exceptionally well on one screen, time bonuses give you more chances on the next. And if you only just fail, a penalty of several pull-ups may just pull you through.
Ah well, can't stop. I've got work to do. Permission to fall in, sir?
Top Gun haircuts, too-tight T-shirts and serious deodorant bills. They're all here in Combat School, Ocean's umpteenth coin-op convert. It's Daley Thompson with an Uzi.
Combat School hasn't been in the arcades too long, but it's rep is one to be reckoned with. Managing to couple wrist/sapping sports-sim endurance challenges with a high-class military outing doesn't come top of the list of Easy Games to Design, but Konami (the original cabinet makers) and Ocean have done it.
The idea behind the game is that you (and a friend if you like) have been packed off to the academy to get trained up for war. In order to make it through to the elite ranks of the puce-berets - or something - you've got to complete seven events: an assault course, three firing ranges, the iron man race, arm wrestling and hand-to-hand combat.
First up it's the assault course. Nice graphics. The screen flips up two tracks, both viewed side on, one on top of the other. If you're on your own you've got 42 seconds to get from one end to the other. The screens scroll from right to left, and everything that moves moves very nicely indeed thankyou. It has to be said that I could get up an extraordinary power rating without actually moving anywhere, and occasionally found myself rooted to the spot after jumping a wall. Looks like a bug to me.
Having negotiated the three different sizes of wall in varying combinations, you come to the monkey-swing. Jump up and propel yourself using your hands. Then it's just a short burst to the line.
If you narrowly fail to complete the assault course, and indeed any of the other events, you'll be sent to the chin-up bars, where you have to complete a gruelling ten dips in order to prove you're tough enough to continue. If you goof here, or miss the initial event by a large enough margin, you'll be catching the next Greyhound bus back to Albuquerque.
The three firing ranges are similar in the respects that you find yourself at the bottom of the screen, spraying away at targets.
There is also the iron man race, which has you running like crazy over a top-bottom landscape littered with boulders, puddles and rivers. You've got to waggle left and right to maintain speed, but also negotiate the obstacles.
THe graphics throughout Combat School are of a consistently high standard. The characters are large and well defined, and they move around quickly. The firing range is especially exciting.
Arm wrestling is probably the least exciting event, though it still provides a reasonable challenge Waggling - again - for all you're worth, you have to bring down your opponent's arm. The screen is viewed from above and is OK to look at. but it's not exactly nail-biting stuff.
By far the best event is the combat with the instructor. Here you're given more control over your character and can punch, kick and jump to your heart's content.
In the unlikely even of you completing all the stages, you are deemed to be worthy of a place on a secret mission to rescue someone from the American Embassy in Bananarepublic - or somewhere. Innovative stuff, this plot. Of course I could tell you about it if I had got to it. But I didn't, so I can't.
Combat School, apart from what is looking fairly seriously like a bug at the start, is great. There is enough variety in the events to save it from being a terminally dull left-right waggle-yourself-to-death affair, and graphically it's the tops.
Author: Andrew Deakin, Mike Lamb, Ivan Horn
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Amstrad, £8.95cs, £12.95dk
C64/128, £8.95cs, £12.95dk
The latest in the long line of 'waggling' athletics games. This one's got a military flavour to it though, and seven separate stages. There's no chance to cooperate with your friend, though, as each player plays separately - for example, on the first stage both players have to waggle their way across an assault course, and the screen is split horizontally with each player's character occupying one half. Other stages, however, do allow the players to compete - the rifle range for example. Combat School is certainly guaranteed to make your wrists ache, and provides a lot of fun for both one or two players.
MACHINES: Amstrad/Spectrum/CBM 64
PRICE: £7.95 (Spectrum), £8.95/£14.95 (Amstrad/CBM 64), £12.95 (CBM disk), £14.95 (Amstrad disk)
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum
Get fell in you 'orrible little games player. What do you think you're 'ere for? To enjoy yourself? To 'ave fun? Well, toddy, let me put you straight. YOU'RE HERE TO LEARN TO BE A SOLDIER. A KILLING MACHINE. GOT THAT?
Well, now we've got that straight its on to some tough training in the Combat School, Ocean's conversion of the excellent Konami coin-op before undertaking a dangerous mission to rescue a hostage at the American embassy.
There are eight training courses to conquer. Points and time bonuses are up for grabs.
ASSAULT COURSE: By waggling the joystick, you must build-up and maintain your running speed while jumping over the numerous fences. Towards the end of this event you will be confronted with a horizontal ladder; jump onto this ladder and waggle as fast as possible to complete this course. You are up against the clock.
FIRING RANGE ONE: Various targets appear at random throughout this event and you must move your cursor and shoot as many as possible within the allotted time. You have a minimum number of targets to hit.
IRON MAN RACE: You must build-up and maintain your maximum running speed whilst avoiding the various obstacles such as rocks and mines, as you try and negotiate the terrain.
FIRING RANGE TWO: In contrast to the fixed gun emplacements you had in the first firing range, this event presents you with a chance to practice your skills with a hand-held machine gun. Robot tanks descend at random from the top of the screen and you must knock-out as many as possible in the allotted time.
ARM WRESTLING: You must try and build-up and maintain maximum power to defeat your opponent. In the one player game you will be pined against the computer, while in the two player game you'll be competing one on one.
FIRING RANGE THREE: This is similar in control to the first firing range, but you must avoid shooting any of the red target , if you do inadvertently hit one of these, your cursor will freeze until the next batch of targets appear.
COMBAT WITH INSTRUCTOR: Here you are one on one against your instructor and must use all your martial arts and combat skills to defeat him.
CHIN-UPS: if you fail to qualify in the first six events by a very narrow margin, you will be given a second chance to continue. This will take the form of a number of chin-ups that need to be performed in a specific time.
It's then time for the mission...
Combat School combines all the ingredients that make the coin-op so successful. The training events are highly playable but I wasn't too impressed with the final mission.
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