First it was a novel. Then Frenchman Gaston Leroux's tale The Phantom Of The Opera became a classic silent film with Lon Chaney as the disfigured villain skulking in the shadows of Paris's great opera house. More films and an Andrew Lloyd Webber West End musical followed - and now Software Publishing Associates is launching its label Crysys with the arcade adventure Erik: Phantom Of The Opera. (The company's best-known for its recently-launched budget label Pirate).
Erik, once a pretty boy, has been horribly disfigured by a terrible fire. Using this as an excuse he seeks revenge on those he believes are responsible and becomes the eponymous Erik, Phantom Of The Opera.
He abducts Christine, the leading lady of the opera, and hides her in a labyrinth of tunnels and stairways beneath the opera house. But raunchy Raoul, the singer's paramour, is hot on the trail and sets out to track her down.
Erik has set loose some rather nasty things to get Raoul. Skulls bounce down on him, spirits float towards him, and opera masks scamper down stairs. By well-timed leaping, ducking and running, Raoul can avoid them. But it's far better to blast the bothersome things to bits, earning points and preserving energy for the next night's show.
Skulls and spirits might be frightening enough, but Raoul also has to contend with locked doors and find six keys before he can even get within singin distance of his loved one.
'Controlling Raoul is very awkward; you can't jump and shoot at the same time, which makes the nasties virtually indestructible, and their flight pattern makes it even more difficult to open fire on them. So Erik: Phantom Of The Opera is a very aggravating game. It just seems impossible to get through it.'
'The primitive graphics of Erik: Phantom of The Opera are quite off-putting, and the sound is sporadic and annoying. Playing the game isn't easy, though with practice controlling Raoul becomes second nature, and there's not much to draw the player into the action. It soon becomes boring.'
'There's no Michael Crawford or Sarah Brightman from the stage musical to cheer this up a bit, Just a few bad sprites on a monotonous background. Raoul is represented as a sort of stick man with long legs and a finger that seems to shoot bullets! And the inlay claims the game to be a 'multi-colour, multi-directional scrolling arcade game', but the colour is in massive monochrome blocks and I certainly wouldn't waste my money on this in an arcade.'