Back in the days of old, before Eastenders and computer games, barbarians had their own form of entertainment. Their favourite pastime was competing in a rather violent version of the decathlon, and American Action's Blood 'N Guts attempts to simulate these grisly games.
Either one or two players can play, each taking the role of one of four barbarians. Both options are played head to head, with a computer opponent taking the absent human's place in the one-player version.
The first event is the "Tug Of War". Two armoured barbarians stand on different sides of a river bank, connected to one another by a piece of rope. The object is simple - waggle the joystick as fast as possible to give your man the strength to pull his opponent into the water.
"Tower Jump" is an event in which barbarians hurl themselves from the top of a tall tower, hopefully landing on their heads to gain maximum points. The barbarian who manages to hurl himself the furthest distance, and land on his head, is declared the winner.
After that head-masher comes "Rock Roller", a frantic race to push a large rock to the top of a hill... then down the other side to squash the opposition. Waggling from left to right builds up energy, and when enough is amassed the rock pusher starts shunting.
"Beer Drinking" is next. Swift left and right movements of the joystick make the barbarian swig, although care must be taken not to go too fast - otherwise he throws up and loses the game. The fastest drinker over three rounds is declared the winner.
"Human Hit" is a target practice game with a difference. A peasant has been locked in stocks with his head, hands and feet exposed. The barbarian must hit all five 'targets' with large rocks - aimed with a cursor, and launched by pressing the Fire button... ouch!
"Pole Fighting" takes place on a greasy log, where the combatants attempt to club each other off. The winner is the first to send his opponent tumbling twice.
What next but "Cat Throwing"? A simple event in which you have to throw a moggy as far as possible. Pressing the Fire button sends the barbarian spins, the further the cat is thrown, but speed reduces accuracy.
Don't be misled by the innocent title of "Mountain Walk". A rope has been stretched between two mountain peaks, with the opponents at either end. The object of the event is to get to the middle of the rope and knock the other player of by jumping up and down. The player who falls twice loses the event.
"Axe Throwing" is simple, the barbarians meet and try to bury the hatchet - into each other. The joystick is used to aim and the fire button lobs the weapon.
The final event is the "Arm Wreck", an arm-wrestling competition which requires you to waggle the joystick as fast as possible to beat your opponent. The first to beat his opponent twice wins the event. The winner of the most events is the victor - and the loser gets his 'just rewards' in a final head-chopping screen.
This contains many touches and humorous situations, but unfortunately nearly all the events are a variation on the age-old Decathlon joystick-wobbling theme.
Another minus point is the multi-load system - some of the events take very little time to complete, and therefore more time is spent loading than playing!
Both the graphics and sound are pretty good, but it's a shame that they're let down by the limited gameplay. Nevertheless, Blood 'N Guts is a vast improvement on the last three American Action releases - let's hope the trend continues.
I found Blood 'N Guts quite absorbing at first, mainly because I haven't played this sort of game for a long time. It's also quite sick, which adds to the initial fun.
However, after an hour or so of frenetic and strenuous waggling I soon grew tired - and bored of the whole thing. We've seen it all before, and if we're going to see it all again it ought to be at a budget price.
Who's a sick little programmer? Blood 'N Guts is appealing for an hour or so, but not much longer. Most of the events are tasteless variations of sections already contained in other Decathlon-type games (except of course the beer-drinking contest).
The graphics are neat and the characters well animated, though a little extra detail wouldn't go amiss. If you're a fan of 'joystick wagglers', and can stand the multi-load, then Blood 'N Guts will make a change from the usual Track And Field-type of simulation.
A one or two player option, and a painful multi-load system.
Colourful and occasionally imaginative with a pleasant overall effect.
Some short but bearable tunes, and a few simple spot effects.
Simplistic joystick waggling action offers immediate playability.
Dated and rather limited gameplay which lacks variety.
Value For Money 49%
Expensive for ten run-of-the-mill events.
A mediocre variant of a tried and tested theme.