Review: Vigilante


ST Amiga Format Review

My Review
As you can see in the review above, ST/Amiga Format gave Vigilante 70%. Still graphics were rated 3/5, moving graphics 3.5/5, and lasting interest 3/5. These are scores that indicate the game isn’t completely horrible. I have to ask what kind of crack Mark Higham was smoking. The game is so bad that I had to make a short video to show how bad it is. Don’t worry, I don’t speak on it.

So we’ll start with the sound. It’s a shitty chip tune. Even worse, when you kick someone in the face, there’s no indication of it via sound. Even the shite Double Dragon port managed that. Ok how about graphics? Well a kick is 2 frames, as is a punch. Walking looks like . I’m not quite sure what’s going on when you attempt a flying kick but it looks like he’s spazzing out. You have no vertical movement, it’s all on a single plane. The enemies line up to be punched. Animation consists of so few frames because if they had more frames you’d be waiting a week for the punch to complete, because it runs at 1 frame per fucking second.

Honestly, it’s an absolute unmitigated turd, even by 1989 standards, and ST/Amiga Format gave it a 70% rating. Seventy fucking percent.

Review: Archipelagos


ST Amiga Format Review

My Review

My expectation is that this one will have something in common with Sentinel, which I played and enjoyed earlier. Reading the manual and seeing talk of draining energy from stones does little to dispell that expectation. Specifically I need to destroy an obelisk, which requires that I destroy each of the stones which supply its power. Destroying a stone requires joining it in a continuous land path to the obelisk.

Squares are coloured green for land, yellow for sand, red for infected land, brown for infected sand and blue for sea. So far so simple. The manual then goes on to explain that some trees don’t move and are thus safe, while arboreal trees spin while moving up and down and move towards you, infecting land as it goes. It seems I die if I rest on a sea or sand square, or an infected square, so rest only on green. Got it. Had a first crack at it and.. yeah this makes no fucking sense. The manual is not wholly helpful if I’m honest. Time to watch someone who knows what the fuck they’re doing on YouTube. Ok.. so clicking on the rocks gets rid of them. Got it. So I start again, wander around, click some rocks and they disappear, but some rocks I can’t click. I can click somewhere to go to that location but it seems to heavily overshoot. The music (standard crappy chip tune) speeds up and becomes more dramatic as time runs down. I run out of time due to faffing about trying to click on the unclickable.

Here’s someone else’s video so you can see the rough idea.

Eventually I figure out that not all of the things I’m getting rid of need getting rid of. Here’s a shot of me finishing the first level. Only 9999 to go!

Ok so now I know that the rocks at the bottom right indicate how many I have to destroy to complete the level. That’s good information. Above that the bar indicated energy. That energy allows me to use F1 to create sand squares between islands. A second press will make a land square surrounded by sand.

The same basic process gets me through level 2..

Island 3 is similarly a single island so no land joining required. It takes me a little longer. That chip music is getting steadily creepier (or maybe it’s staying the same and it’s just getting to me more). It’s actually surprisingly good use of sound, and very very unconventional compared to what was being done in those days. I went with headphones for this as the wife is watching Masterchef and that’s ended up being quite a good decision!

Rattling through the levels I’ve not had much in the way of challenge (the main tricky bit is finding where the rocks and the obelisk are) and I’m wondering when that’s going to show up. I’m enjoying the atmosphere though, and the sheer strangeness of the game. It is definitely a game to put in the same weird category as Sentinel. 9 levels down, still not much in the way of challenge – it’s like the developers made an engine and had a great idea but didn’t know how to build a puzzle with the tools they created (and to be fair I’m not sure there’s enough limitations to your actions to make that possible).

On the potential for puzzles – I think they made a bit of a rod for their own backs having 10000 levels. There’s no way to make 10000 good levels. The second problem is that the mechanics don’t offer much scope for challenge outside the difficulty of finding the stones. You need to get rid of stones to get energy to build bridges between islands, so the most difficult it can ever be is finding an order, maybe incorporating the trickiness of building a green spot in the middle of a large gap to allow you to traverse it. That doesn’t really offer enough to create a real challenge.

On a technical level – the movement isn’t especially smooth, but like the Sentinel it doesn’t matter. The graphics are ugly and yet they evoke a strangely alien and hostile environment, and similarly the sound is technically awful but brilliantly designed. I feel like it’s a brilliant wrapping on a game that isn’t quite there.

ST/Amiga Format Issue 11

Issue 11 – Download

The World in April 1989
Probably the biggest event of April 1989 was the Hillsborough disaster, in which 95 people were killed at an FA Cup Semi Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The Sun would go on to make itself unwelcome forever on Merseyside by blaming the fans with support from the South Yorkshire police. The month was plagued with strikes as the London Underground was paralysed and workers building the Channel Tunnel went on strike over pay and working conditions.

In Scotland Margaret Thatcher’s hated Poll Tax was introduced as a new way for councils to tax their residents. This would go on to cause national rioting once it made its way to England and Wales. The tax was considered unfair because it was a flat rate based on the number of residents rather than the previous basis of land value, which meant that 5 poor people in a hovel would pay more than 1 person in a mansion.

In America 300000 demonstrators marched in Washington to legalise abortion. I don’t know enough of the topic to say whether it was peaceful or not. It doesn’t seem that much else was going on in America at the time.

In Poland, Solidarity was legalised, allowing participation in the coming election, precipitating the overthrow of Communism in Europe. In China protests started in Tianemen Square. They would not end well.

In film we see The Dead Pool at number 1, Twins hanging on at 3 to fund Arnold Shwarzennegger’s Humvee habit, Rain Man hanging in at 7 and Naked Gun at 9. Lower in the charts we see Terry Gilliam’s Adventures of Baron Munchausen at 13 and Tom Cruise trying to recreate the success of Top Gun with Cocktail at 14.

The album chart sees Deacon Blue on top, followed by Simply Red. Strong entries include Madonna’s Like A Prayer at 6 and Guns and Roses Appetite For Destruction at 8.

The singles chart saw the Bangles on top with Eternal Flame, Simply Red with If You Don’t Know Me By Now at #2 (clearly the public was keen on sloooooooow stuff), but thankfully Madonna’s Like A Prayer (#3) and Paula Abdul’s Straight Up (#4) showed the public didn’t completely lack taste. Jason Donavan had sadly slipped from #1 to #6, just ahead of the brilliant Transvision Vamp hit Baby I Don’t Care (#7) and Donna Summer’s banger This Time I Know It’s For Real (#8). Holly Johnson at #9 with Americanos was another strong entry. Overall I’d still class this top 10 as waaaaay better than any in 2020. That the rest of the top 40 included Guns and Roses Paradise City and International Rescue by We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It further illustrates the quality out there.

On TV we had the infamous incident on Going Live where someone rang in to abuse Five Star..

.. while John Snow would join Channel 4 News, replacing Peter Sissons, ready to become famous for his Swingometer and Game Of Thrones.

The Magazine
This issue sees a bit of a revamp to the layout (note the fancy new logo) and a new editor, for a very short period. On the disk, ST owners get Arhipelagos while Amiga owners get Blood Money. I used to spend so much time playing cover disk demos, looking back I can’t think why as often you only got a very limited slice of game but I had fun with them all the same.

Exciting news came that Dragon’s Lair was going to come to the ST after all, though frankly the version for the ST would prove to be absolute shite compared to the Amiga version. The theme for the magazine was flight sims, with the cover giving a Top Gun-esque feel, back in the days when computer games were all about macho things like planes, cars and guns. An interesting feature looks at the differences between home sim games and professional simulators, with a couple of suspicious-looking screenshots. I am of course amused to see a boast of a computer that can generate 500 polygons every 50th of a second.

Among the software reviews the highlight is surely Deluxe Paint 3, but this was of course for Amiga owners. On the ST side we had a review of the grey import of Calamus (a DTP package) – the US version had quite a few bugs but on the other hand it was £250 (£625 in 2020 money) vs the price of the UK version at £400 (£1000 in 2020 money).

The previews this month include a game truly of its time, Gilbert, based on the brilliant Gilbert the alien as seen on Get Fresh on Saturday morning TV in Britain.

The game was almost certainly utter shite, though it remains to be seen if it was as bad as Ed The Duck, based on the character from Children’s BBC’s broom cupboard. Foreign visitors to this page must surely be wondering what the fuck is wrong with British people at this point, but both were that typically anarchic late 80s kind of awesomeness which, in truth, I miss.

Other, more serious, previews include Bio Challenge from Delphine Software (makers of Future Wars, Operation Stealth, Another World, etc) which was a side-scrolling shooter inn the Turrican mould claiming to show 140 colours at once on an ST. The ST could of course only show 16 colours from a palette of 512 but even I, making games at 12, could do a bit of palette switching to get around that (you swap the palette half way down the screen for isntance to double the count). These techniques tended to cause incredibly bad slowdown of course, but looking at a video I found online it actually looks pretty smooth, though in truth it’s not flinging a lot of big sprites around the screen.

We also see brief mentions of Bomber (a flight sim by the looks of things), Thunderbirds (based on the puppetty TV series) and a game based on Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Another Freescape game to follow Driller comes in the form of Dark Side and Pacland seeks to cash in on Pacman’s popularity after the excellent Pacmania but it looks like this…

.. dear god what an absolute turd. The games I made in GFA basic at the age of 12 were better than that.

Missing the cut this month were some absolute shockers – as always there’s a strip poker game in there (I can’t imagine what ST/Amiga format had against those games) with a comment on the ugliness of one of the strippers which would surely not be allowed today..

I’m going to go ahead and say the ugly one they’re referring to is Frances.

Games reviewed this month:
Blood Money (Shooter – Psygnosis – £19.95 – 92% Format Gold) – Amiga version. The ST version would be reviewed later in ST Format issue 2 and get 90%
Archipelagos (Weird 3D Strategy Thing – Logotron – £24.95 – 84% Format Gold)
Running Man (Side-scrolling platform beat em up running at 3 frames per second – the Amiga version was marginally better – Grandslam – £19.95 – 73%)
Ballistix (weird ball sport thing – Psygnosis – £19.95 – 64%)
Road Blasters (Chase HQ Clone – US Gold – £14.95 – 58%)
Fright Night (Weird horror game – Microdeal – £19.95 – 88% but not a Format Gold.. what?)
Jug (Shooter – Microdeal – £19.95 – 72%)
Vigilante (side-scrolling beat em up – US Gold – £14.95 – 70%)

Of those, I’d like to review Blood Money but I’ll probably wait til we get to the ST Format review, Archipelagos has the look of the kind of weirdness that came out in those days with games like Sentinel and Towers Of Babel..

.. so I kinda want to figure out what the hell’s going on with it. I’m tempted to give Fright Night a look too, as once again I’m not entirely clear on what it is, and maybe Ballistix and Vigilante are worth a look, the former for being weird and the latter for looking kinda cool. I’d say it’s a much weaker line up than issue 10, but thankfully consists of games that take a little less time to review!

Reviews This Month

Review: Vigilante

Vigilante ST Amiga Format Review My ReviewAs you can see in the review above, ST/Amiga Format gave Vigilante 70%. Still graphics were rated 3/5, moving graphics 3.5/5, and lasting interest 3/5. These are scores that indicate the game isn’t completely horrible. I have to ask what kind of crack Mark Higham was smoking. The game…More

Review: Archipelagos

Archipelagos ST Amiga Format Review My Review My expectation is that this one will have something in common with Sentinel, which I played and enjoyed earlier. Reading the manual and seeing talk of draining energy from stones does little to dispell that expectation. Specifically I need to destroy an obelisk, which requires that I destroy…More