Karnov


by Mr. Micro Ltd: John May, John White
Electric Dreams Software
1988
Crash Issue 52, May 1988   (1988-04-28)   page(s) 88

Karnov's burly form has been a familiar figure in the arcades for some time, and now the Russian flrebreather is making his dazzling debut on the Spectrum conversion of the Data East coin-op. His hazardous quest is simply to destroy the dastardly dragon Ryu and recover the lost treasures of Babylon.

Following the selection of a one or two player option, there is a theatrical flash of lightning and the bulky figure of Karnov appears. His adventure takes place over nine multiloaded levels across a horizontally scrolling eastern environment of sandstone pillars, exotic buildings, swirling rivers and bubbling volcanoes.

The unfriendly inhabitants of this strange and hostile land range from the bizarre (flying fish, jumping jacks, ostrich riding skeletons) to the more familiar (dinosaurs, fireflies and sabre-swinging arabs). Contact with any of these means the loss of one of five lives.

Karnov's basic weapon can be improved by collecting extra firepower. Other bonus icons include ladders, boomerangs, 'superboots', for extra jumping ability, flippers, power pills and wings. Once collected these are displayed on a panel at the base of the screen and activated at will via the keyboard. Status displays indicate time remaining, current score and number of lives left.

Each level can be negotiated using a number of different routes which involve swimming and flying (using the appropriate bonus objects) as well as the more orthodox method of walking and jumping. A particularly large enemy has to be defeated at the end of each section before Karnov can move his bulky body on to the next.

Having negotiated eight gruelling levels, the colossal cossack faces the final challenge of combat with the wizard. Stripped of all his bonus items and restricted to single fire power Karnov meets his greatest challenger yet.

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Sinclair
Graphics: well designed backgrounds and characters. Packed with colour and limited clash - but VERY slow
Sound: extremely basic spot effects and tune (only heard on loading)
Options: one or two players (the second player didn't work on our finished version, however, so check it out first!)


'Karnov, hefty hero of the arcade, appears in a dazzlingly colourful conversion. The sprites are carefully animated (Karnov's climbing actions are particularly impressive) and as much shading as possible has been crammed into the detailed backdrops. Numerous exotic aliens and carefully drawn landscapes create a suitably weird and wonderful atmosphere. With several different ways of completing each level and plenty of bonus objects to collect the game has enough substance to keep the most reluctant Russians playing for some time. Defeating the toughest aliens requires brains as well as brawn; success involves using the right bonus icon at the right time. It's just a pity that smoothness of control has been sacrificed to the complex use of colour. Karnov's jumping movements are slightly jerky and scrolling slows down while he is up in the air. The gameplay, although still enjoyable, doesn't quite match up to the high expectations invited by the graphics. Still - despite these limitations Karnov is an enjoyable and addictive game.'
KATI

'If you're looking for a great shoot 'em up that's challenging and has good graphics then look no further: Karnov has it all. The characters are excellently drawn as are all the backgrounds; there's even a colourful, detailed map of Wonderland on display while each level loads in. Electric Dreams have done a great job in making the game colourful while avoiding the majority of attribute problems. My only moan is that the game slows down terribly when more and more nasties arrive on-screen and this slight ffault does tend to make the game unplayable if you don't kill them all quickly. Each level holds many surprises and the baddies get increasingly more menacing as you progress. I loaded up one of the last levels of the game and didn't survive for more than a couple of seconds! The sound effects are very basic but there are a few nice ones on the lightning and some of the other obstructions. Karnov should appeal to all those gamesters out there who just like to blast everything in sight!'
NICK

'So this is the legendary Karnov - he of the hot tonsils. Well I can't say he's lit any candles in my life. Karnov may well have outstanding graphics and colour, but it's what you do with them that counts - and Electric Dreams (in the form of Mr Micro) have done very little. The scrolling backgrounds are terribly jerky and the more hectic the actions, the slower the game becomes. This ruins the whole feel of a potentially fast action arcade game. Karnov fails to make the impact of such arcade conversions as Bubble Bobble dies to its lack of playability - the game is absolutely no fun to play at all. The screenshots may look fantastic and out of this world, but don't be seduced by looks; this is merely a poor game heavily disguised.'
PAUL

Presentation: 77%
Graphics: 84%
Playability: 66%
Addictive Qualities: 73%
Overall: 76%

Summary: General Rating: It looks lovely, but the slow and unresponsive gameplay kills much of the potential Karnov had.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 30, June 1988   page(s) 50

Karnov. Well, what can I say? Load it up, try and ignore the tatty options screen and weedy character set, and before you know it your screen will explode into glorious technicolour.

"Fwoarr!" you'll go as your character is zapped onto the screen. "Ooh!" as you notice that he's yellow with red trousers. "Phew!" as he runs around without a hint of colour-clash. And "Fnark!" as you notice that he hasn't got a weapon!

Well, that's where you're wrong, actually. Like all rotund Russians, Karnov is a fire-breather by nature, so to defend himself he can launch great balls of fire at the opposition. They'll chuck plenty back. though, so be prepared to dodge a wide variety of sticks, stones and even boulders.

Along the way you'll come up against all kinds of wacky sprites, ranging from skeletons sitting on ostriches, to mud monsters. Each requires a different tactic to get past them, although it generally involves bashing the space bar as hard and fast as poss.

You'll be glad to hear that all the effort put into making the graphics look nice, hasn't meant economising on the gameplay. Oh no. Once you've had a few goes at it you'll find that playing Karnov is one of the most absorbing occupations since flicking back the springy protective covers on 3.5 inch disks, and that's saying something!

In total you've got nine levels to battle through. They all load in separately of course, but we're all learning to cope with that now. Each level is packed with new monsters to beat up, new terrain to wander round, and new icons to collect.

Icons? Well, there had to be something you could pick up, didn't there? At the bottom of the screen is a series of little boxes, a bit like the ones that Creme Egg gift packs come in. As the game progresses, you'll come across little piccies that will fill up the boxes and give you extra powers. By far the most useful is the ladder. Get it up in the right position (oh dear, off they go again!) and you may find a few extra icons lurking about at the top of the screen.

The tremendous variety is probably what makes this game so addictive. It may take you hours to work out how to get past a certain point, but once you've found the technique you'll have no problem next time. You've also got the choice of alternative routes in some places, so if you find things a little heavy going, you can nip down a ladder and explore a few underground caverns.

At the end of each level, while the next one loads in, you're shown a picture of a map, with the pieces you've collected so far, stuck in place. The general idea is that when you've found all nine pieces, you'll be able to defeat the evil dragon Ryu and discover the lost treasure of Babylon.

The real snag is that you've only got five lives to get through all nine levels, and to get an extra one you've got to collect fifty (!) "K" icons. With Karnov biting the dust at regular intervals it's going to take a dedicated player to make it to the end. I'm sure many will try though, as the urge to find out what comes next is almost enough to drag you away from Cheers on a Friday evening.

Even taking into account the dodgy presentation here and there, and the feeble sound effects, Karnov is one of the slickest games around at the moment. It costs a bit more than yer average arcade game, but it's worth every rouble, I'd say.


Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Summary: Superb conversion of the coin-op which proves that colour on the Speccy isn't a thing of the past.

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 74, May 1988   page(s) 88,89

"Allo Baldy'" Just for your own personal reference, this is absolutely not the way in which to address the superhero Karnov. Not if you value your limbs and your ears, that's for sure.

Bald he may be, but there's no stopping the fat little Rusky in the snazzy red jim-jams. (No, no, get off my ears)!! Breathing fire all over the myriad of monsters which come his way, he's truly a force to be reckoned with. And he's a coin-op conversion.

Perhaps you've not heard of the coin-op itself. But just for reference the Speccy version is very close and very good.

It's not just that the Spectrum gameplay follows the original so closely that it's treading on its toes. But the graphics are absolutely marvellous. Colour is used lavishly throughout, and not once did we see an icky splurge. How? Well, Electric Dreams' programmers have employed the same technique used by Mike Singleton in Dark Sceptre, using a 'mask' to separate each sprite from the background. So, as even you daft lot can tell, merely by looking at the screenshots on this page, everything looks extremely pretty.

Enough of the prettiness, what about the gameplay? Karnov has to fight his way through eight levels, each progressively harder, collecting pieces of a map in order to find a job lot of treasure that someone very careless has just left lying around the place. On the way there are various demons to defeat, and gingernut throwing lunatics to zap. Yup. There's a guy who chucks biscuits. Coer. Whatever will they think of next?

To begin at the beginning, Karnov lands on a rock via a bolt of lightning, accompanied by appropriate sound effects. Running swiftly to the right, Karnov first encounters some sort of stalagmite jobbies, holding up a ladder, a bomb and a hunchback little yob who lobs the aforementioned biccys at you. Fire repeatedly at the bloke with the bourbons, and they'll both disappear. In fact, fire at everything that comes your way, flappy birds, skeletons on ostriches, little green men with pointy swords, fish, stone heads, trees, lions, Arabs and anything else that moves.

So there's a lot to destroy. And each of these items comes hurtling towards you like the proverbial out of hell, and if your trigger finger isn't up to the mark, then you're going to get roasted before you've even begun.

Later in the game you can add to the ladder (which can be extended and used to find choice items otherwise out of reach) and the bombs, all sorts of other goodies. Especially useful are the flying shoes, which not only allow Baldy (mind me legs)!! to fly, but also make his jim-jam botts flash red and blue and look ever so nice. Mmm. There are also fire power bolts which give Karnov extra fire power and some extra special 'K' icons which give the boy an extra oomph.

He's big, he's bad. he's bald and he's fiendishly difficult. He's smart to look at and he's fun to play. He'll give you hours of entertainment and make you cry with frustration (well it made me cry anyway). Karnov is definitely one of the best conversions that I've ever seen. The only fault that I could find was the speed, which at first seems a touch slow. But as the mad ostriches start coming at you thick and fast, you realise this was only to lull you into a false sense of security.

We've waited quite a long time for Karnov. and I can safely say that it was well worth the wait A real corker.

Label: Electric Dreams
Author: Mr Micro
Price: £9.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tamara Howard


Overall: 10/10

Summary: If fat Russians are your bag, then Karnov should fit very comfortably over your shoulder. A very close conversion.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 9, June 1988   page(s) 53

Koin-op kapers from Electric Dreams.

When you can literally breathe fire, you don't have an awful lot to fear. You can go off on and have fun safe in the knowledge that you're a match for anything that may come your way. Karnov's modest aim in life - or at least in this coin-op conversion - is to save the world, to do which he must defeat the evil wizard Ryu and regain the stolen treasure of Babylon.

To achieve this, Karnov must take part in what is basically a platform game with knobs on; rather than simply progressing sideways you can use objects to move in other directions. So, if you have the ladder, you can go up, and so on. This added dimension makes the game more interesting than it might otherwise have been.

Naturally, you are under constant assault from the hordes of baddies the wiz Ryu has left behind. These take some pretty wacky shapes; ostriches, goblins, statues. Breathing fire (diamond shaped bullets) at them will finish them off, but not always as easily as you might like.

While Karnov is graphically accomplished, and has a few new twists on the platform theme, it's pretty old hat stuff. Also, after the first level, gameplay can become very frustrating; some might say unplayably so.

Reviewer: Pete Connor

RELEASE BOX
Spec, £9.99cs, Out Now
C64/128, £9.99cs, £4x.99dk, Imminent
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Atari STm £19.95dk, Sept

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 70/100
1 hour: 70/100
1 day: 65/100
1 week: 50/100
1 month: 35/100
1 year: 5/100


Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 7/10
IQ Factor: 4/10
Fun Factor: 6/10
Ace Rating: 612/1000

Summary: Fun gives way to frustration, which turns into boredom.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 80, June 1988   page(s) 57

MACHINES: Spectrum 48-128
SUPPLIER: Electric Dreams
PRICE: £9.99
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum

It's weird, it wacky, it's wonderful. That's Karnov for you! After what seems a VERY long wait, a decent coin-up conversion has appeared for the Spectrum. You'll be hooked as soon as you load it up - and you won't want to turn your machine off until you've completed the final level.

If you've played the original Data East arcade game you'll know what the concept owes a lot to Rastan Saga with a bit of Ghosts and Goblins thrown in for good measure. Both those are coin-op classics, and although Karnov can't claim the same reputation it's still an extremely playable game - and Mr Micro should get a gold star for the conversions they've done for Electric Dreams.

The Spectrum version may have jerky scrolling and not so hot sounds, but the playability and big colourful graphics help capture the spirit of the original.

The plot is typically Japanese, although the action is supposed to be taking place in medieval Russia. An evil dragon, Ryu has raided the small village where the legendary Lost Treasure of Babylon has been hidden for centuries. To punish the villagers this nasty flying reptile has unleashed an army of mutated minions and deadly demons into the countryside around the village.

Returning to the village after years travelling as a circus strongman, our hero Karnov find himself called onto to go on a quest to recover the treasure and bring peace and harmony back to the world. The most energetic thing Karnov wanted to do on his retirement from the circus was sit down at the local inn and swap tales of his exploits with his mates - but life often throws things at you you're not expecting, like rocks, spells, bombs, bats, you know the sort of thing.

You start the game on the outskirts of a ruined town. You have to run, jump and climb your way through to the end of the town - avoiding flying monsters, rock-throwing Rock Men, scimitar-wielding Arabs and other assorted nasties.

Along the way you can collect useful items, like ladders, extra firepower, magical seven-league jumping boots, bombs and so on. The screen scrolls left to right, and although you can turn around and go back a short way you are always forced to move forward. So watch out for objects which sometimes fall from the skies - it can be horribly frustrating to see an object you could really do with just out of reach.

Items you collect appear in an inventory at the bottom of the screen - and you keep them, even if you do lose one of your five lives.

Some items must be used only at specific times during your fight to recover the treasure. Others, like bombs can be used anytime. But be careful how you use the inventory. You flick through the objects as Karnov moves back and forward on the screen - so make sure the object you want to activate is the one highlighted BEFORE you hit the appropriate key. Many's the time I've hit the activate key with the bomb icon highlighted when I really wanted to use a ladder. And if you don't move fast enough you WILL blow yourself up!

Talking of ladders, you'll need these to reach useful objects higher up the screen or to escape from difficult situations. The boots come in useful for making big jumps over obstacles, and other items will help you fly or swim underwater.

As you've probably guessed, there's a lot to this game. Discovering what does what and to whom is half the fun. The other half is actually beating a level guardian and making it to the next one! The end of each level is guarded by a boss monster which takes a bit of time and strategy to defeat.

Karnov is a game for map makers and tipsters as well as arcade addicts - it's one of those games which will spawn a thousand maps and a hundred hints.

The navies who come at you are many and varied - I liked the skeletons on ostriches and the collapsing, fireball breathing, towers myself. But there's lots more to see as you venture deeper into Ryu's fortress...

The only criticisms are that it's a multi-load game, but how do you get all this action into a Spectrum without doing that? And the scrolling could do with being a bit smoother.

Those things accepted, Karnov, should be a hit game if there's any justice in the world. You'll discover exciting action, colourful graphics and addictive gameplay. Join up with the rushin' Russian and you won't be disappointed.

Now check out our Karnov map with hints and tips in Playmasters.


Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 5/10
Value: 8/10
Playability: 9/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 7, June 1988   page(s) 46

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99

RUSSIAN AROUND

Data East's coin-op may not have made it into the top ten arcade machines last year, but it offered penny-pumping players an addictive combination of platform-and-ladders with violent monster bashing to add a touch of violence. Electric Dreams consider it the 'pinnacle of Spectrum conversions' (TGM006 Previews). Mr Micro bring it to your computer screens, with able assistance from Electric Dreams' development centre, Software Studios.

To cut a long inlay short: Karnov, a Russian blessed with the power of breathing fire, has been volunteered to recover the Treasure of Babylon after its theft by the wizard Ryu from its resting place in the kingdom of Creamina. Karnov races and leaps his way through nine horizontally, and at times vertically, scrolling levels; each is loaded separately after the main program code.

His journey begins in Creamina and continues through fantasy lands which follow the arcade games layout exceedingly well, packed with suitably placed platforms, rocks and steps. The conversion also features an accurate interpretation of Wyu's monster minions who appear throughout the game, coming in many shapes and forms ranging from flighty bats to skeletons riding ostriches bareback, Each variety of opposing creature requires a unique battle tactic or weapon to kill it. Wyu has additionally brought the scenery to life, so statues and carved figure have to be carefully watched for any signs of animation.

Karnov is for one or two players, playing alternately. In two-player mode, if Karnov meets his end before completing a level, he restarts from the beginning of the level, one player, however, picks up from roughly the same point as the life was lost,

WEAPONS

Karnov gets harder further in, so the 11 types of weapon, and equipment, come in handy. Five items appear as collectible icons (stored at the bottom of the screen until required.) Ladders help get out-of-reach icons, boots double jumping power, bombs blow up opposition ( and scenery), boomerangs and flames give extra attack power. There are also four other icons, but these can only be used at the appropriate time - wings to fly, a helmet to swim faster, a mask of perception reveals hidden icons and the trolley rolls downhill killing everything in its path. The two final icons are automatically used when collected - apples increase Karnov's flame throwing power and 50K symbols gains him an extra life.

Karnov is certainly one of the most challenging of recent Ghosts and Goblins variants, its graphics are bold, bright and colourful - thanks to the masking system (similar to Dark Sceptre but without black areas round the characters.) The animation is articulate, but speed is lost when too much happens on screen at once. However, there are two annoying features: return to the start of a level after dying and the multiload. These two factors make it just fall short of 'the perfect arcade conversion' Electric Dreams were hoping for.


Overall: 88%

Summary: Sheer game size demands a multiload that proves annoying as you go back and forth between levels. 48K sound is limited to spot FX, on 128K there are a few jingles. Should prove popular, with stacks of lasting appeal in nine tortuous levels and addictive action.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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