The Way Of The Exploding Fist is a hard act to follow. Does the legend continue in Fist II or have the wizards from Oz come a cropper?
The arrival of Fist II sent C&VG into turmoil. Queues formed at the Commodore as everybody demanded first go - just as when the original Fist punched its way into our hearts.
But then there was silence when we started playing. The crowd grew uneasy and the boos began. This wasn't what we were expecting. The Way Of The Exploding Fist grabbed you by the throat and made you play. There was no way you could walk away without having just one more go. Fist II just isn't that accessible. Many people gave up quite quickly. But, having said that, they all returned to give it another go and usually ended up involved in a prolonged playing stint.
The Way Of The Exploding Fist was more or less a straightforward punch up game. Points for pleasure. This time you have a mission. The fighter must search out and destroy and evil warlord who lurks in a volcano fortress. but before this, he must find a number of mystical scrolls, known as Trigrams, and return them to their temple. These scrolls - there are eight of them - will give the fighter extra powers with which to face the deadly showdown.
The play ranges against a variety of backdrops - swamps, mountains, underground caves, forests and temples.
There are various enemies to take on and punch and kick into oblivion - peasant soldiers, warrior guards, ninjas, shoguns, assassins and mud warriors - plus snakes, dogs and bats.
In all, there are more than 100 screens to explore and with a few minutes you'll realise a map will be an essential playing tool.
Within minutes of starting to play, I became profoundly disappointed. There seemed to be nothing to the game... just a couple of fights and a lot of apparently aimless walking about. Several times I walked away from the game. But each time I returned, the game unfolded a little more, a few more screens were discovered. How did I miss that ladder the first time around? Why didn't I kick that wall down before? Hmmmm. It's that sort of game. Unless you stick at it, you'll miss a lot of opportunities.
I was, and still am, disappointed in the fighting abilities of the little character. He just doesn't appear to be as controllable or agile as in the first game. I lost a lot of lives in battles which should have been walkovers. It's not that I hadn't the skill to win, but the fighter just didn't respond.
Some of the backgrounds were not that impressive either. The sound and music, however, are great. I thought they were fantastic on The Way Of The Exploding Fist and contributed a lot to the fun of the game. It's the same with Fist II. There's one great section which I can't really describe. It's sort of slow, moody and haunting. Brilliant.
Logically there was no way Melbourne House could put out a clone of Fist I. They've been so many imitators that the format has been done to death. Fist II is different: a slower, more thoughtful game with a lot more to it than meets the eye.
I can't pretend to have met the evil warlord in deadly combat yet. I haven't the faintest idea when I'll get to him. But each time I play a little more of the game is revealed. I keep coming back for more.