From the Tecmo coin-op Shadow Warriors bursts forth in an all kicking, all punching martial arts extravaganza!
The Shadow Warriors are an elite troop of fighters skilled in the ancient martial art of Ninjitsu. But the greatest Shadow Warrior's powers have been possessed by a demon, and is causing havoc in the six roughest, toughest neighbourhoods of New York City. As the next strongest fighter it's up to you to thwart the demon's evil actions and eliminate his stormtroopers.
As soon as you begin, thugs wearing Friday The 13th fright masks are all to keen to knock seven bells out of you. But you don't wear those espadrillas for show - a range of combat moves are at your disposal including The Phoenix Baddflip, Tightrope Technique and The Flying Neck Throw.
Objects litter the playing area and by flinging your assailants at them they explode and reveal handy objects. These include extra lives, a sword, extra energy and icons to freeze time.
Yes, your old mate time is against you as you rush to complete a section of each level, and hurry is the name of the game: time is short indeed.
At the end of level ones a fat Sumo wrestler has too be defeated before continuing on your quest for truth, justice and the chance to kick a few heads in.
There seem to be few colourful Speccy games around these days, but you didn't have to go this far to compensate, guys. The glare from the screen has to be seen to be believed, sun specs ahoy! The main character is well drawn and animated, but everything is so garishly coloured. After Sly Spy-Secret Agent and Midnight Resistance, Shadow Warriors is, to me, a bit of a let down. Unlike Nick I'm tired of these Ninja style games and it would take something pretty special to fire my interest...
Yeah, Ninja games, doncha just love 'em?! Shadow Warriors is no exception with level after level of scrolling ninja fun. One thing that does make this spree stand out from the crowd is the excellent use of colour. It's been cleverly programmed so there's no clash, even though the screen is packed full of all the colours on the Speccy! The game itself holds no surprises. There's nothing we haven't seen before. All you have to do is kill the baddies on the level and progress through to meet the Mr Big whom you must splat to go on. Elements of the game are frustrating, especially in combat: you have to get your punch in first or the baddy will start hitting you and there is no way to stop him, except dying of course. The game does improve a little when you start collecting weapons to batter your enemies with. As a conversion of the arcade machine, Shadow Warriors is really outstanding and will give all Ninja fans a real challenge.
Cor blimey, Spec-chums, Shadow Warriors looks such a scorcher that this could quite possibly be the first review I've ever written that doesn't once resort to the word 'crap'!! (Oops! Well, perhaps not.) And you can rest assured that I definitely won't be using the words 'boring', 'un-addictive', or indeed 'not very colourful' anywhere either. (Well, not outside of this intro bit anyway.) You see, it's actually a bit of a corker!
So what's it all about then? Well, it's a beat-'em-up, but rather a different offering from most of the ones we've seen lately. It's a scrolly for a start (so all you people hoping for straight hand-to-hand combat can go away right now), and (secondly) it's got blinkin' massive sprites - just take a look at the screenshots for proof. Happy yet? Well, if you're not just check out the 'thirdly' - the scenery's not just there to look pretty, ho no. You can actually 'do things' with it too! And fourthly, it's, um, erm... I can't think of a 'fourthly' actually, so let's leap straight into the review.
Right, here we are in the game and just look at my muscles! (Big, eh?) But (uh-oh) they're not as big as the ones on these guys heading straight towards me! A quick waggle with the joystick should sort them out I think, but what's this? I don't seem to be attacking them, just doing some sort of funky dance instead. What's going on, readers? (Actually, what's happening is that I'm doing this sort of fancy kick which involves hurling all your limbs around aimlessly - come to think of it, it is rather like my dancing actually - so all I have to do now is move a little closer to them and - yes! - I'll knock them to the floor.)
You see, unlike most beat-'em-ups, you don't have to keep wibbling your joystick to repeat a move, you can just sort of hold it in one position and your character will keep going until you let go. Other moves include jumping in the air (to get out of trouble, or up onto an overhead platform), rather groovy back-flip-cum-kick-the-git-in-the-head thingies, and all sorts.
Onto the next bit now, and I'm wading along a road packed with baddies, this time including some nasty big ones armed with whopping great tree-trunks! Slapping the joystick into first (ie pushing it upwards) I leap high in the air and find myself swinging back and forth from a lamp-post thing above them, clobbering them a few good ones on the head. (Told you you could interact with the scenery - you can swing from it, you can jump up onto it, you can kick suitable-looking bis to reveal handy bonuses and so on. It really is the biz!)
On the baddy front, there's lots of variety too. Fat ones, thin ones, sort of average-looking 'normal' ones, hog-mounted bikers (who chug onto screen) and (of course) your unfeasibly gigantic end-of-level ones, some of whom are actually larger than the screen - they're all here. It's all very colourful too, which makes it even more remarkable. Watch out for some incredibly neat background effects as well, particularly the massive cars that rumble diagonally across the screen on Level Two.
It all sounds pretty good so far, dunnit? And believe me, it is. Although it doesn't demand as much skill as something like Renegade (speed and luck are what's called for really) It's still very involving to play. I did find it a bit too easy to completely trapped between two blokes who were more than happy to punch me to death, but perhaps that's just me being crap. (Oh no, there's that word again!)
So there we have it. Shadow Warriors - a very technically impressive beat-'em-up (with perhaps the emphasis slightly more on being technically impressive than on the actual beating-people-up bit) that's not 'boring', not 'un-addictive' and not 'not very colourful'. And it's not 'crap' either. (Of course, it's multiload - on the humble 48K, that is - but what do you expect with all those fancy graphics?)
This game has long been acclaimed as one of the Speccy's prettiest beat-'em-ups, and something of a technical achievement to boot. It's stuffed with lots of huge multi-coloured sprites which leap around all over the place without all that ugly colour-clash nonsense. It's not a bad conversion of the original Tecmo coin-op either, but it all starts to go a bit wrong when you remember that said coin-op was a complete load of old tosh...
The big problem with Shadow Warriors is much the same as the one with Golden Axe (reviewed two issues ago) - there's almost no skill involved in playing it whatsoever. In fact, in one respect it's even worse. While in Golden Axe the mainstay of your strategy was walking up to the bad guys and hammering the fire button repeatedly, in Shadow Warriors it's not even that complex - a couple of tweaks on the joystick get your character moving, then you can keep up a constant barrage of athletic kicks and punches simply by holding the fire button down. Any enemies who walk into the onslaught get creamed, and you're basically only in trouble if two of them attack you at once from opposite sides. If that happens and one of them actually scores a hit on you, your character gets completely paralysed and can't move again until he's taken another couple of hits and lost a unit of energy, at which point you simply launch into the old limbs-a-flailing routine again until you've eliminated all opposition by a simple matter of attrition (they've got you outnumbered, but you've got multiple lives and about a thousand continues - ha!).
Still, there is a bit more to the game than with Golden Axe. The scenery is interactive, which means you can leap up and down on roofs and walkways to avoid baddies, swing from lamp posts to kick 'em in the chops, or send them crashing into telephone booths to reveal power-ups and bonus items. There are a few nice touches later on too. such as the huge cars which drive 'into' the screen, turning crossing the road into a highly dangerous pastime, or the big nasties who thwack you around with telegraph poles. Other than that it's all incredibly repetitive, pretty confusing and definitely uninspired stuff.
If there were as many ninja warriors in real life as there are in computer games, you wouldn't be able to walk ten yards down the street without someone jumping out going "EEEEEggghhhhAAAH!", whirling spikey things around their heads then leaping over a bus. Fortunately these mythical warriors are largely confined to computer games and badly-dubbed movies, and Shadow Warriors doesn't add much to the dozens of punchy-kicky titles already on the market.
Plot? You want plot? Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you. Five secret Ninjitsu fighting techniques have been passed down to the Shadow Warriors from medieval times. But now an Oriental demon has possessed the mightiest of the warriors, and you must fight your way through squads of ghoulish assassins and finally defeat the evil demon.
As you can imagine, what this means in effect is a lot of chop-chop action as you battle across the scrolling backgrounds through six levels of urban sprawl, to the accompaniment of rather super music.
The graphics are, erm, colourful... almost barfingly so. I often think that a monochrome game with no masking problems is preferable to this over-use of colour, especially when as in this case it hard to keep track of your warrior. Although he's basically blue while the baddies are red and yellow, when anyone gets hit they flash red, and with all the flashing going on (oo-er) it's hard to keep track.
You can move in and out of the screen, left and right, somersault backwards and forwards by moving the joystick diagonally up, and attack the enemy using joystick left right and fire (for some reason there's no Kempston joystick option, just Sinclair and keyboard). You don't actually have a choice of fighting moves - the game seems to choose punches or kicks as appropriate. Trouble is, most of your opponents take a lot of killing, you can knock them down two or three times before they give up the ghost.
The best tactic is to progress slowly through the levels, taking on baddies in ones and twos rather than rushing into large groups. Get your back against an object, press the fire button and watch them walk into your blows. If you get surrounded, you're done for; unless you get the first punch in the baddies tend to go PUNCH-KICKPUNCHKICK PUNCHKICK, and you stand there paralysed until you lose a life. Lots of games have this annoying semi-bug, and I'm FED UP WITH IT!
If you smash up a few objects you'll find tokens which will give you extra lives, extra points, and energy, indicated by a number of swords and a counter at the top of the screen.
Assuming that you can manage to negotiate the walkways without falling into a crevasse, you get to the end of level one, where you meet the end of level guardian, a rather silly-looking fat butter-yellow chap. Kick him to a pulp and you're on to level two. which is rather neat, as cars zooming diagonally up the screen squash you to a pulp before the chap swinging a huge log can do it for you.
You have to complete each level before the timer runs out; it's reset to 99 at the start of each level, and mercifully there's a CONTINUE option so you can resume playing from the furthest point you reached when you lose your last life.
There isn't really a speck of originality about Shadow Warriors, which is yet another coin-op conversion, this time based on a Tecmo game. Nonetheless, if you can forgive some of its peculiarities it will be a stiff challenge which any kung-fu killer will be happy to take on.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Spectrum £9.95, Amiga £24.95
Everything was fine at the Shadow School of Martial Arts. Students were happily taught the thousand-year-old secrets of the original Shadow Warrior, blissfully unaware of the fact that mysterious evil forces were plotting to overthrow the new leader of the school and enslave his pupils for eternity. When the inevitable happened, it was too late to prepare for the vicious onslaught which followed.
Which paves the way nicely for a six-level, horizontally scrolling beat 'em up as the player, the only surviving Shadow Warrior, battles to defeat the enemy in this conversion of the Tecmo coin-op. Young Shad can dispose of the baddies using a variety of martial arts moves, including round-house kicks and common-or-garden punches in the groin - he can even hang onto parts of the scenery and give his oppressors a swift boot in the mush. Alternatively, he can smash open one of the crates found lying on the pavement in the hope that a magic ninja sword will be inside. Whatever the weapon, he needs to be swift and skillful if he is to stop the bad guys in their tracks, and there's loads of them, ranging from club-wielding, twenty stone bikers to Geoff Capes lookalikes who are only happy when they're walloping the poor ninja with a fifteen-foot long telegraph pole. And as well as them, there's six big end of level guardians, including the evil Master himself!!!
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
LEE VAN CLEEF LIVES ON!
The ninja (or 'invisible assassins' as it translates) were, due to their dark clothing and natural stealth, the most feared clan in ancient Japan. Shadow Warriors, however, is set in modern day America, more specifically New York, where the only remaining Shadow Warrior (or Warriors, for there are two on the Amiga version) - a sub group in the ninja network - practises his five secret ninjitsu powers to uphold the law.
Unfortunately, an oriental demon has somehow (don't as me to be specific, the inlay scenario's only seven lines long!) gained the power of a great warrior. Being the sort of dangerous people that oriental demons are , the guy has not used his powers to help the starving in Ethiopia or help England win the World Cup, but has naughtily summoned a squad of ghoulish assassins to help him in his quest to take over the city, and then the country!
Of course, you can't just sit there, people are depending on you - not least your mother who would die of shock if she saw an oriental demon in her front garden. The time has come: either you defeat the evil demon or chaos will break loose.
The game is run over six areas of America. Starting in the grimy streets of New York, the Warrior/s soon encounter the demon's dirty work. Still, there's those five secret ninja powers that I mentioned earlier, so you can quickly dispose of the hockey mask-wearing tough guys, huge fatties with bokken sticks, chaps with planks of wood and even a Sumo wrestler at the end of the level - although Amiga owners be careful where you punch, as in two-player mode you can also damage your fellow player.
There are plenty of moves that a highly-trained Shadow Warrior can execute. For instance, try your luck with a Phoenix Backflip, Flying Neck Throw or Tightrope Technique. Although they don't look as good as they sound, they are all pretty effective.
After killing a bad guy, he'll explode and leave you with a handy weapon (a sword), extra lives, energy or points bonuses. All the action's against the clock so you can't spend ages accruing tons of armoury.
Once you get out of New York there are plenty of other more exotic places to go. How about a trip to Las Vegas, or a trek through the Grand Canyon? A change is as good as a rest - but a rest would be much safer in this game.
Beat-'em-up games have been around for eons. All arcade players should be used to the format by now, and it takes a pretty tough game to raise the interest of any computer owner. Shadow Warriors is just the sort of game to keep you quiet. It's tough - very tough. Anyone who doesn't get frustrated in the first half hour of play is kidding themselves. But don't be put off, the game certainly has content - six graphics-packed level of it. Only the tough will survive. Have you got what it takes?
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