Your Sinclair1st May 1989
Published in Your Sinclair #41
This one looked promising. The company I had never heard of, but the packaging was pretty impressive, and the screenshots (Atari ST, natch) gave the impression of a really spanky new shoot-'em-up.
Ah, but what a disappointment. Aartronic only turns out lo be the latest new label from Cascade, and the game to be distressingly mediocre.
The idea's quite neat - a rip-off, essentially, of the film Innerspace, which was itself a rip-off of a really silly sixties movies called Fantastic Journey, starring the young Raquel Welch (yum). You, you poor sap, have been miniaturized, along with your ship and injected into the bloodstream of some barmpot professor who has been experimenting on himself with pure DNA. In fact the plot's quite ingenious, particularly in the maze-like way it all boils down to a simple shoot-'em-up.
Unfortunately the same care has not been lavished on the game itself. Like every shooter since Nemesis, this one involves a sideways scrolling screen, lots of things coming at you, and the ability to get extra weapons if you polish off an entire wave of nasties. But even though others in this genre have been lightning fast, with amazing backgrounds and brilliantly zappy nasties, DNA Warrior somehow manages to be incredibly slow, dull to look at and initially very confusing.
You start by moving at a very leisurely pace along what appears to be an artery (it's red - there's no other clue). Nasties come at you in familiar formations, but just as you're getting the hang of it, they stop. In fact everything stops when you reach what appears to be the end of the artery, and you sit there and wait, sometimes for up to five minutes, for your craft to turn around and go back. (Clearly some sort of bug is at work here). On the way back boulders come flying at you, which seems a little strange, but then perhaps the Prof is a vegetarian and eats loads of rye bread, with all the healthy sand and soil that the stuff seems to contain. Anyway, this part is the most fun, even though you're never to clear why you're doing it.
After half an hour or so of this, you notice that there's a crater down below, and you wander down to it. To your initial surprise and pleasure (soon followed by excruciating boredom) you see that there's another artery down there, with more nasties, and at the end, a key, which needs to be picked up. The boredom hits you when you realise that this artery's almost exactly like the first, and the only way out is the way back.
There are other backgrounds - most looking so like alien cities that you suspect that this originally started out as a completely different game. But after wrestling with it for an hour and a half I was bored.
In fact DNA Warrior does have the seeds of a decent game hidden somewhere in its unchallenging and drab exterior, but you have to search mighty hard to find them. The Speccy market is still going strong, years after everyone went to the funeral, but games like this do little for its life expectancy. Don't encourage them.
Shoot-'em-up with neat storyline sabotaged by relentlessly dreary and unoriginal gameplay. Simply not a full-price product.