Life. Weird, isn't it? Bob Morlok's life is weirder than most people's. Bob, having recently bumped into long-dead naturalist Charles Darwin (now living incognito, under the assumed name of Mortimer Slithe). It transpired that Mr Darwin had discovered that video game characters really did exist and were plotting to take over the world. Strangely enough, Bob believed this insane yarn (he always was a bit odd) and decided to program a simulated galaxy into his computer and infiltrate the invading sprite brigade.
So there was Bob - as his alter ego, Blood - sucked Tron-style into the computer-simulated Hydra galaxy in his bioship, the Ark. During his search for hostile creatures, an accident with a faulty teleporter in hyperspace produced thirty Blood clones and distributed them amongst the 32,768 planets in the galaxy. As if the impending identity crisis wasn't bad enough, the clones had all taken some of Blood's vital life fluid, and if Blood doesn't get it back soon he'll be... well... er... dead. Sorry, folks.
You join the fun after Blood has found all but five of his clones, and now he has to fly between planets hunting down clues to their locations. The Ark can't actually make planetfall, but Blood can pilot a remote-controlled space-fish (?) called an Oorx (?) down to the surface and use it to relay communications with any life form it might find.
The conversation is conducted via the UPCOM, a menu of word symbols which can be strung together to form sentences or questions. Some aliens are happy to engage you in conversation, others speak only in enigmatic numbers and others will only provide helpful information if you threaten them or complete a task set by them. Just like real life, eh? Well, not the real life that we've come across...
Though I didn't really get on like a house on fire with Captain Blood straight away (for some reason, I kept finding a bunch of totally uninteresting, deserted planets), it definitely started to grow on me.
Once you get the hang of it and actually start communicating with some of the weird-looking aliens (not always easy, they say some dead peculiar things), you really start to get the feel of intergalatic atmosphere. I don't mind UPCOM - in fact, I think it's the imprecise translation which makes the game.
With so much guesswork and puzzle-solving involved you really start to feel like a proper explorer - boldly going where no space explorer (or even Vulcan) has ever gone before.
Captain Blood might take a bit of getting used to but be careful - once you've got that far, you might never want to stop...
Weird but good just about sums this game up. Just like the other versions, the Amiga Captain Blood is a visual treat with the same Gigeresque cockpit display, colourful planets and hyperspace sequences and an exhilarating 3D Oorx flight.
As you would expect though, the sampled music and alien speech effects beat the other versions hands down. The game's major stumbling block is still the UPCOM translation which continues to provide some pretty incomprehensible bits of alienspeak. Still, persevere and that's something you'll get used to.
Perseverance is something you'll require a lot of, because when you first start playing it seems the game consists solely of flying down to a planet, getting some coordinates, hyperspacing to the next planet, flying down... but there is quite a lot more to it than that.
Certainly enough to keep you occupied through a few cold and windy winter nights.
I thought this was absolutely fan 'n triff on the C64 so it won't come as a surprise to learn that I think the Amiga version is fab 'n triff as well.
Woo! I'd be lying if I said the sampled sound and the polished Amiga graphics didn't impress me, but basically, when it comes down to it, at grass roots level and all that, it's the brilliant gameplay which is just as captivating on both versions, that counts.
It's such a clever idea - I mean, if you did visit loads of different planets you wouldn't just be able to talk to the people about black pudding in a Lancashire dialect and expect them to understand.
And the fact that you can't always understand *them* gives the whole thing that extra sense of intergalactic realism.
Anyway, if you've ever wanted to be a big fat space captain, like me, or even a thin one, like Kati, get Captain Blood - it's brill.
Excellent icon system and save game feature. UPCOM is rather confusing though. The locations change each time the game is loaded up...
Gorgeous cockpit, planet and hyperspace displays. Excellent 3D effect on the planetfall sequence.
Sampled and remixed version of Jean Michel Jarres Ethnicolor, accompanied by some atmospheric spacey effects.
Requires several hours of thoughtful playing before it grows on you.
Plenty of exploring to do, but action may become routine.
Unusual space exploration jaunt - for thinkers rather than blasters.