For 10,000 years the world has been at peace, thanks mainly to the mystical Fireblade. But now disaster has struck. The blade has been shattered into sixteen pieces by the evil Havok and scattered across the land. The destruction of the sword has allowed Havok to send his minions on a rampaging spree. It's up to you, as Hiro, the last of the Blade Knights, to find the sixteen splinters and, after sticking them together with super glue, kill Havok.
But as we all know, life isn't simple (or indeed fair). You start the game with nothing for protection but your knuckles and size ten kicker boots. However, as you explore the maze-like underground caverns weapons present themselves for collection. These include Scorchballs, Darts, Spinblades and Needle Bolts. With or without a weapon, keeping the fire button pressed down increases the powermeter at the bottom right of the status panel; the higher the level of power, the harder the hit (or stronger the shot).
As you progress through the caverns, scenery gradually unfolds. So, you may pop down a ladder into a new section only to find a small room. But is that a cracked wall? Can it be a pushed over? Yes it can! As you walk through your newly created entrance, the whole screen lights up with many more obstacles for you to overcome. Keep your eyes peeled for points bonuses, power-ups, speed-ups, invulnerability shields etc.
Havok's minions are out in three and you must be on your guard. Watch your energy because one too many hits and the last of the Blade Knights will snuff it (sob!).
Graphically, Switchblade is very good: well defined, last-moving sprites battle it out in the vast underground caverns. Cartographers are well catered for - if you don't draw a map you're very soon up the veritable creek without a paddle. My only niggle is that gameplay becomes a tad repetitive, shoot an enemy guard, grab a bonus, shoot another guard, grab another bonus etc. In short, Switchblade is a good arcade/adventure game that loses out slightly on the playability stakes.
Switchblade is a strange little game. Well, actually it's not little - there's a huge area to explore, but it is strange. The graphics put me off to begin with: the small main sprite gets lost in the background as all the graphics are in monochrome, reminiscent of Rick Dangerous but without the colour. After adjusting my eyes I started to enjoy the game. The way the little bloke is controlled also takes a bit of getting used to. You have to jump and kick well ahead of lime so forward planning is essential, but just two or three plays will have you addicted; you can spend hours finding all the hidden bonuses and secret walls. I'm totally addicted to Switchblade. it's a fun game with plenty to keep you busy, though going over the same territory all the time can get a bit tiresome.
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