According to my back issue collection, Rich Pelley reviewed this one as a full pricer a mere 10 issues ago, and according to the name tag my Mum's sewed onto the back of my shirt, that seems to be me.
Apparently, I reckoned it was quite good, with excellent graphics and fast-moving gameplay, but perhaps a tad too tricky for its own good. And that's exactly what I think now, because it really hasn't aged at all in the last 10 months as we haven't had too many games like this in recently. In fact it could have easily been released as a full-pricer now (if it hadn't been already) without hardly a complaint (apart of course from that complaint of it being too hard). (Get on with it. Ed)
The plot involves some goodies, the Defenders of the Earth (Flash Gordon plus 3 chums), and a baddy, Ming the Merciless, who has abducted and threatened to kill the Defenders' children to deter them from interfering with his plans to take over the world. You take on the role of Flash, who has to single-handedly make his way through the flip-screen dungeons where the children are being held.
The baddies come at you from both sides and require some jumping, ducking and running away to avoid or hit, although this is rather difficult as they move faster than you. You can only spend about 6 seconds on each screen before the intruder alarm goes off and your energy frantically starts draining - so games have to be played fast and are usually pretty short too. Other hazards include pits and rivers which have to be jumped over, and large monsters which take lots of hits and lives to destroy. All in all, it's not particularly easy.
And the fact that it's 'not particularly easy' is the biggest problem because although it's initially a very addictive game, you'll probably get bored very quickly and give up out of sheer frustration. A better add-on weapon system would have enhanced things enormously - super-laser, machine guns, grenades and stuff lying about would be far more use than the pathetic gun re-charger which is all that's on offer, and would allow you to progress much further into the game and enjoy it a lot more. You can call the help of one of the other 3 Defenders when necessary (to open a door something), although to honest this doesn't really add much to the game. This could have been an ideal opportunity for a few sub-games of something to break up the frantic speed of things a bit.
So, it's technically very impressive but a bit hard with not enough to do because, despite the different scenery, the gameplay doesn't change at all. Much the same sort of thing as I said about it last time in fact, so it can have the same mark as well.
Whilst swinging your pants on a Saturday morning you'll no doubt have caught a glimpse of Defenders Of The Earth on telly, I certainly have - probably 'cos watching pointless cartoons is about the only thing to do which doesn't involve getting out of bed. Anyway, ever seen it? Good, innit? But before you've had time to reduce yourself to the menial age of six, re-name yourself Trev and shriek "A-ducking and a-diving, a-wheeling and a-dealing - we're flippin' crazy", Defenders Of The Earth appears on the Speccy. Blimey!
In case you haven't caught on yet, Defenders Of The Earth the game, that is, is a conversion of the over-popular cartoon of the same name. Our heroes take the form of Flash-pants Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, Lothar The Phantom and pet Zuffy, who all, er... defend the Earth from the nasty, mean, evil and generally not-very-nice-at-all Ming the Merciless who's intent on causing maximum mischief, the scamp. This time, though, Ming's gone completely hatstand and decided to take over the entire world, kidnapping the Defenders kids into the bargain and threatening to kill them if anyone interferes. Cripes!
An extremely cunning plan is devised, dash in, grab the kids, deal with Ming, and dash out again. This is where you come iin, taking on the role of Flash who's been volunteered by the others to do the dirty work whilst they stay home in bed.
Luckily, though, should you get into any real trouble such as a locked door or an impassable chasm, then at the touch of a button one of your chums will be teleported along to help, do their bit, and then beetle off back home again. Funny how everyone else disappears when there's work to be done, eh, folks?
All this might seem terribly inspiring but actually has little to do with the game whatsoever. Basically, we're looking at your standard up-screen and shoot-and-shoot-things alike, where you simply just run about and shoot things all day.
Well, what do I reckon, then? On the plus side, it's quite fast and action-packed - you're not really on one screen for more than a few seconds before hurling yourself onto the next. Graphics are good too - lots of colour and smooth animation. A nice touch is the way you walk behind some of the scenery rather than in front of it - very effective. Should you be so sure, you could even sing along to the theme tune (a decent enough little ditty) which is played at the beginning, but personally I think that I'll skip that bit (I don't know the words). And I'm afraid that's your lot so far as good things go.
Actual games are rather on the short side because the thing is so ruddy hard - and the fact that the game doesn't help either. And another thing, there are no extra lives or weapons to collect. What this means is that you're stuck with the measly pop gun which you're given at the start, with no opportunities to upgrade at all. Sazzen krazzen frazzen. And as for the bit about summoning your friends - simply sellotape the "Call Help" key down and help'll be at hand every time you need it.
Overall I liked what was there, but there simply wasn't enough. All the levels (multiload by the way) are remarkably similar to each other and the whole thing gets slightly too boring all too quickly. Not too bad, but unfortunately still a bit of a turkey. Merry Christmas!
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