Dave: Clever these Chinese - coming up with an original idea for a platform game that doesn't involve mines and has more to it than just leaping about from ladder to level. Actually, it's not Chinese at all, but it is about Bruce Lee, so that's close enough. You play Bruce, out to destroy the Evil Wizard and gain immortality and infinite wealth.
You have to face up to all the hazards of going into another man's castle, like landmines and electric bolts, before coming face to face with little Ninjas (who he? Ed) and a distinctly off colour Green Yamo, laying into you with fists and feet flying. You can return the compliment, as well as ducking down to avoid trouble. In each room you'll find a number of lanterns: collect enough of them and a passageway will open allowing you to creep up on the Evil Wiz. But you've got to Kung Fu your way through 20 rooms before meeting him head on.
The problem is, it's just too easy - I'm no black belt but I beat the game on only my fifth attempt. There is an option to play against an opponent which will keep competitive cowards happy but in the end you'll probably long for a bit of real physical contact. 3/5 HIT
Ross: This can't compete with the typical Chinese take-away - it left me with an empty feeling but not wanting more. 2/5 HIT
Roger: Grasshopper say, knee in groin better than poke in pocket by this oriental offering. More chop-suey than Kung Fu. 2/5 MISS
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO BEAT-'EM-UPS
A SELECTION OF HISTORIC BEAT-'EM-UPS
Beat-'em-ups, eh? They've been oodles of them gracing the Speccy over the years, haven't there? So many in fact that it's easy-peasy to get your Exploding Fists mixed up with your International Karates, and end up with absolutely no idea where you are. But not any more, 'cos here's Jonathan Davies with the Your Sinclair Definitive Guide To Beat-'Em-Ups!! Hurrah! (Or should that be "Hai-arrgh!"?)
Before we start, let's get one thing straight - beat-'em-ups are not boring, and if you think they are then you've got it all wrong. On the contrary, they're jolly interesting. And, rather than all being exactly the same, they're highly individual affairs, each with their own subtleties and nuances. To assume otherwise exhibits a total ignorance of the creativity and skill that go into making what has become one of the stalwarts of the computer games industry.
So what constitutes a 'beat-'em-up'? Obviously, the beating up of one or more characters is an essential part of the gameplay. Whether this is done with one's hands or a weapon depends on the game. Purists tend to frown upon the use of shurikens, big sticks and other instruments, but it's a sad fact that in these days you're unlikely to rescue your princess without some sort of mechanical assistance. The setting is also important. The summit of Mount Yukahomo is ideal or perhaps the imperial palace of the Dragon master, but an oriental atmosphere is a definite must.
In its traditional form the beat-'em-up takes place on a single screen, with your opponents tackling you one at a time. Variations, however, include the scrolling beat-'em-up (with the bonus of tackling two or more adversaries at once) and the full scale flip-screen, multi-level version with add-on weapons, puzzles to solve and an embossment of up to three initials.
Whichever incarnation it appears in, a beat-'em-up is not to be taken lightly. A sharp eye, lightning reflexes and an elephantine memory (for learning all those moves) are needed, along with the finest joystick available.
THE FIRST EVER BEAT-'EM-UP
"That's easy," you exclaim. "Way Of The Exploding Fist!" But you'd be wrong. The first ever beat-'em-up, the father of them all, the seed from which all future offerings stemmed forth, and of which al the others are but pale imitations, was none other than Kung Fu, from a long-forgotten label called Bug-Byte.
A very primitive construction, it had all the ingredients of the real thing (including tinkly music). Reviewed in ish 11 of Your Spectrum, it scored 3/5 (times where hard). The rest, as they say, is, erm... oh, well you know.
Bruce Lee comes from roughly the same era as Fist, but shows its age rather more severely. Apart from just beating people up, Bruce has to dash about collecting lamps and avoiding being killed by various hazards. The game takes place in a multi-screen fortress, the object being to destroy a wizard on the last screen.
Unfortunately the available moves are restricted to punching and kicking, so it's hardly a proper beat-'em-up at all. The graphics are rubbish, with miniscule characters and clumsy scenery. There's virtually no feeling of pain at all, which is surely essential in a beat-'em-up. And worst of all it's far too easy.
Despite these complaints, Bruce Lee is a bit on the historical side (what with being the first collect-and beat-'em-up combined), so one shouldn't be too hard on it.
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