For the collector of bad game plots, Stryker is the equivalent of that Penny Black with the Queen's head printed upside down. True connoisseurs would kill for this game's blurb - all "vile monstrosities of blackness" and "warlocks armed with the secrets of bravery and the magic of order." Pricelessly awful stuff, and well worth a sneaky peek if you find yourself by the computer shelves in WH Smith's,
Anyway. Dispensing with the embellishments, Stryker is the story of a wiz and his stick, a magic pointer that he uses to thwack the bad guys out of his way. Called on to vanquish yet another ultimate embodiment of evil, ol' Beardy has to make his way through loads of flip-screen levels, zapping minions and guardians until he reaches the Nasty One himself. In the meantime, Stryker can collect weapons and energy icons, being careful to avoid the tricky power-downs that are liberally scattered around. You've got plenty to do - the levels contain ladders to swarm up, caverns to explore, traps to avoid and chasms to fall into. The action is picked out in small but colourful graphics, and the screen is always pleasingly busy. Probably the most impressive feature of the game is the 128K sound - as well as a wibbly music track, there are loads of clanky and fizzy FX.
The sharper among you will have realised that I'm trying to put off talking about the gameplay. Sadly, short of waffling on about the loading screen there seems little alternative, and as you've probably guessed, the gameplay is not that hot... In fact, it's about as cold and stodgy as a half-baked Yorkshire pudding that's been left in a quarry for three weeks, before being basted in uncooked fat and locked in the fridge. The blame can be laid squarely on the control system. To jump and obstacle, you sort of jerk into the air, and have to wibble Robe Man around in mid-air. If you hit a baddy you get knocked backwards - and the iffy collision detection means you will get knocked backwards rather a lot. Aarghh! What's the pint of writing a huge, playable game and then bunging in a feature that cripples the pacing beyond repair? The kindest thing to say is, if you're a patient fan of Switchblade-ish games, you may like Stryker. Then again, I am and I didn't.
Wow, this game was just pipped to the post for the longest title of the month award by the re-release 'Escape From the Planet Of The Robot Monsters.' However, it is the longest named original title in quite a while. But can we really judge a game by the length of it's name? Matthew Walker probes the mystery.
The lands of the good and righteous are being taken over by the extremely evil Trogan The Diabolical and his horde of nearly as evil minions but no-one can or will do anything about it. It's high time a warlock with some conscience and a better than average sense of direction came along to sort the situation out and, as usual, the lands are not let down. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere the right boyo for the job turns up mumbling magic spells and walking with a swaying sorcerer's gown.
It's Stryker, a warlock with special knowledge of the secrets of bravery and the magic of order. He must fight his way deeper and deeper into the crypt to finally defeat Trogan. Along the way Stryker does battle with a variety of the evil one's sidekicks including hopping mad disembodied sculls and vicious sword swinging skeletons.
Stryker lives in a horizontally scrolling landscape fraught with hazards and obstacles. Carefully avoid them or his life, indicated by a power bar on the bottom left hand side of the screen, will start to ebb away. Do this by jumping and running, both of which the main sprite does well.if a little slowly. He can also hit opponents and pick up spells, score icons and extra power ups, though full scale combat should be avoided in the interest of the long term health of the warlock.
The graphics are colourful but distinguishing objects such as icons and traps can sometimes get you into a bit of a muddle. Response to commands isn't too slow but does, sometimes, give the impression of being rather pneumatic at times it takes a bit of getting used to, during which you're likely to get frustrated. But once you've figured out the sprite's idiosyncratic ways the game will be much more enjoyable.
There are plenty of enemies to battle with and plenty of places to explore in Stryker in The Crypt Of Trogan. Starting out you can go either left or right (left for a limited distance only, but far enough to pick up some scores and icons) and the watchword for the game does seem to be 'look everywhere and try to pick up everything unless it's obviously an enemy or it's screwed to the ground.' Another handy tip is to avoid skeletons from the grave, they're lethal.
Stryker was, doubtless, intended to be a pretty game with a big and almost convincing main sprite and well defined enemy skeletons and skulls, but the graphics do tend to let it down a little, not quite up to Codie usual standard. However this is still a valid sword and sorcery title and if you get bored during the summer software drought then get a copy of this game.
Label: Code Masters
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Matthew Walker
ALAN: Those lads at Codies must have been brought up in the wild west or on top some magnificent mountain range 'cos the watchword in all of their games seems to be EXPLORE. It would be a very good idea to make a map of this game while you're playing as there are a lot of just-off-the-screen traps and many multi directional areas which should all be explored to find the maximum number of power and score icons. Not an essential game, and a little infuriating at times but still one still worthy of a look if you want an inexpensive, new, sorcery adventure.
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