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Amiga Action #51 – December 1993

This months cover model looks uncannily like a T-100 Terminator. A chrome domed killer advertising the upcoming T2 arcade game conversion. The ones to really get excited for are Cannon Fodder and Elite 2. Although that is all for another time. Don’t worry, this issue has it’s fair share of interesting releases.

Kicking off with the news. When I read that Mario was coming to the Amiga I got all excited. Even though I quickly saw it is an educational game called Mario is Missing that is generally of little enjoyment for anyone able to tie their shoe laces. It would be kind of cool if there was this one Mario obscurity on the Amiga. But no. It never happened. Despite appearing in multiple magazines, with one (Amiga Joker) going so far as to say it would come on five disks and require one meg of ram. They only gave it 52% score though. Which all points to the possibility that a dev version exists or perhaps the journos simply tried out a copy on DOS. Who knows. It’s intriguing enough that Nintendo actually let Mario appear on other systems (DOS and Mac) via external developers.

Looking at the ELSPA Penguin Charts the Amiga was feeling particularly football crazy. The number one game being Championship Manager ’93. Third place is Premier Manager. In fifth, Sensible Soccer, eighth is Goal!, and there is even Soccer Kid in seventh. Out of curiosity I found there are 148 football games listed on Lemon Amiga. Understandable for a mainly European system, but that’s still an awful lot of games. Compared to today the amount of alternatives available back then is refreshing.

What are the odds? Impressive moody graphics are jumping off the page and it’s another Psygnosis release. Perihelion is a cyberpunk RPG only available on Amiga. The review praises the story and atmosphere but is less happy about the interface and some controls. Once again that sounds like a lot of Psygnosis games. Although there seems to be disagreement between the magazines about this; with some praising the interface. I’ve not tried it and there is only one way for you to really find out.

One of Amiga Action’s criticisms is ‘the lack of things to kill‘. The game is more focused on exploration and a series of big battles. However, having fewer tedious rat hunt quests sounds like a plus to me. That could make the game more adventurey than many of it’s peers, which again piques my interest. The general mood of reviews is that Perihelion is good but could have been great. Even so there is a small but vocal fanbase. Seems like an obscure RPG worth investigating.

I did a short piece on Alien 3 a while back and I think the 78% mark here is a fair reflection of what most people will think. Although I’m personally a bit more fond of it and am still hoping to complete it one day. The main thing I would disagree with in the review is that ‘Alien 3 is one of the worst films ever.‘ No no no no no. I really like that movie. Warts and all. Wait until they get a load of Alien 4.

When it comes to Alfred Chicken I think the review has nailed it. In a time of endless animal mascots playing at being the next Sonic I actually like Alfred Chicken. He looks good and the game plays smoothly with responsive controls. It’s a collect ’em up most similar to James Pond 2. Overall an appealing but average platformer. The most nagging problem being the slow pace.

Alfred started on the Game Boy, which is uncommon itself, as there aren’t that many Game Boy ports to Amiga. Even weirder is the advertising stunt Mindscape came up. In the summer of 1993 they formed The Alfred Chicken Party and ran a candidate for parliament at the Christchurch by-election in Dorset, England. Yup. Someone working for Mindscape ran for parliament dressed in an Alfred Chicken suit. They came second to last with just 18 votes. Still, not coming last is an achievement here. For more details check out the great vid from Kim Justice. Or if you prefer text then all the info is also on Gaming Alexandria. It’s worth checking these out if only to hear the Alfred Chicken premium rate phone line message. Possibly peak cringe for gaming marketing. Utterly shameless.

Now for another leading bird in Qwak. I feel that this has been sorely over looked by many. Possibly because it was an Amiga exclusive game until a Gameboy Advance port in 2006, followed by other platforms. Maybe also due to being yet another cutesy platformer. Although it was a bargain at half the price of most of it’s competitors.

You play as a duck, simply trying to make it to the next level against baddies. No story, just a very well made arcade style game. Collect keys to get bonuses and open the exits. Level layouts can be tricky as you must choose the optimum route in order to get more eggs (your weapon) and flowers (for more lives). It starts easy and progressively becomes more and more frenetic. It also has a two player mode. If you enjoy games like Bubble Bobble, Rodland, and Wani Wani World, then Qwak is most definitely worth a look.

There’s not a great deal to say about Donk, but I had to give it a mention as it’s the third game in a row to feature a bird in the lead. This time a samurai duck named Donk. We may as well call this the fowl heroes issue of Amiga Action. I remember playing a demo of Donk back when it was still called Dong. Thankfully that was rectified. If you’re looking for a long comfy platformer to kill time it’s not a bad option. With nice graphics and controls it’s very playable. You get a spin attack and some special powers like a shield and the ability to float. Levels are designed to be labyrinth like. You collect diamonds to open exits and select new levels from an over world. Apparently there are 7 worlds, each with 15 levels, making a whopping 105 levels. No wonder there isn’t a longplay online. It’s a good job there is an option to save your progress to disk. Overall it sits somewhere between Alfred Chicken and a Sonic wannabe. Plus it’s only on Amiga.

One thing that stood out is Donk’s publisher, Supervision, was a subsidiary of Waddingtons. The board game company famous for Monopoly. Supervision appears to be an unsuccessful foray into computer games but there is little info readily available online. It seems that after another publisher went belly up Donk was bought by Supervision. They then went on to do a multiplatform version of Monopoly and started an unreleased racing game, The Big End, also by the Donk devs. And that was that. This happened right around the time that Waddingtons was sold to Hasbro, so that might explain Supervision’s brief lifespan.

This happens to be a good month for public domain games in the spotlight. For a simple, fast and furious arcade game, Elevation II hits the spot; running up the floors while dodging elevators. Marvellous. Mister and Missis is a curious looking puzzle platformer where you control two characters trying to find their way out of large levels. Most uniquely it gives bonus points for collecting snooker balls in the correct colour order. You even use them as part of boss battles. Despite rudimentary graphics it’s a well designed game.

Starbase 13 may not look like anything special but it’s an accomplished and enjoyable shareware point and click adventure created in AMOS, and the start of an interesting line of games for Amiga. It was created by Edmund Clay who went on to make another adventure game, The Lost Prince. It was after that Clay decided to streamline his dev process by creating a game engine alongside his third game. That resulted in the GRAC program. Short for Graphic Adventure Creator. At the time there wasn’t anything comparable available for Amiga. The only other adventure game makers were in the mould of RPGs, such as the Adventure Construction Set. With the help of F1 Licenceware GRAC was released in 1995.

Arriving very late in the popular lifespan of Amiga and due to the effort involved in game development, only a handful of GRAC games were completed. You can see them here on the Lemon Amiga database. Many of these games came from Edmund Clay or his brother John Clay and friends Ant Dzeryn and Mark Wilkins. Who’s input helped shape feature updates of GRAC to version 2. If you want to hear more about it there’s a nice interview available here.

GRAC has remained a promising adventure game creator for Amiga with a couple of recent releases. The Amigawave devs that brought us Retro Wars: Episode IV 1/4 have teamed up with a group called Goblins to work on a new game and project that will update GRAC to version 3, with additional features and bug fixes. You can see some footage of game testing in GRAC 3 on youtube, and there are occasional updates on the EAB forums. It has been moving very slowly but is definitely a project to keep an eye on.

And the Alien 3 bashing continues! In the ‘All Out War‘ competition. But let’s focus on the genuinely cool prize. Two free tickets to the Alien War experience at the London Trocodero Centre. This experience is like a very elaborate walking/running horror house with actors helping and scaring you. The set up is you are in a military scientific base where aliens have escaped. Marines will shepherd you through the base, including a ride in the vehicle from Aliens, while fighting off said aliens. By all accounts it was done very well. You can check out an official advert over on youtube and below is another vid that will get you started on the news coverage at the time. Full info on the AVP wiki. This is me signing off.

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