ST Format Review
For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STFM, running TOS 1.04. There doesn’t seem to be a warez release for this but thankfully Atarimania had my back. We start with a nicely drawn loading/logo screen, as we patiently wait for the disk to chug.
Sampled sounds to go with the panther screen – police sirens followed by some sampled music. It all seems pretty slick so far. Fire to start.. wait an age to load…
So it’s me and my panther. I have a real panther at home and the intro where the panther is lowered from a helicopter reminds me of how pissed off he gets when I pick him up. A look of pure rage, that says “I’m going to shit in your shoes”. Animation is good, frame rate impressive, it’s a stark contrast to Black Tiger. Quite frankly the cat is animated beautifully, it’s an absolute work of art that would only later be matched in Another World. You know the scene I mean. The only time it’s not so good is when he’s in mid-air. Sound is decent, seems to be sampled, and though it gets repetitive quickly it’s still better than average for this stage of the ST’s development.
So how have they achieved this visual perfection? Well, for starters, there’s no scrolling. This is strictly flip-screen, which means it’s a lot less work to move the graphics around. Second, all the enemies seem to be clones. Third, I reckon there’s likely some performance benefit to everything being on a single plane, no 2.5D like Double Dragon or Streets Of Rage (which is a shame – it would have helped the gameplay). It means that vast chunks of the screen see no movement whatsoever, making it a lot easier to work with.
All the locations …
.. seem to look ..
.. the same.
Honestly, it’s a technical treat, no doubt, but I’d say there’s not much there. The panther looks great but really it’s just a difficulty adjuster, it doesn’t meaningfully affect gameplay, and really for me a beat em up on a single flat plane doesn’t tend to bring much interest anyway – you lose the tactical elements and crowd control options that come with a 2.5D approach.