Bored with conventional shoot 'em ups? Tired of solving adventures too quickly? Do you sit on the edge of your seat eagerly awaiting the next, big breakthrough in the computer game world? Do you turn breathlessly to each review longing for a completely new concept in game design? Well, I'm sorry but the wait continues, and until then here's a game that breaks no new ground whatsoever.
The storyline tells of a ferocious war between the twin planets of Mu and Bacula. During the fighting, Princess Fheeta (gawd bless er, guv, I fink she's luverly) has been kidnapped by the Golden Tribe from Bacula. So what's to be done? Pay the ransom and get her back? Forget her and pretend you've always been a republic? Or kill as many of the Golden Tribe as is "Mu"manly possible, with only a very slim chance of rescuing the Princess into the bargain?
The latter is the only feasible option, of course (!), and you're going to need the very latest super duper death-dealing devices to do it. So what have those geniuses at the weapons factory come up with? A three wheeled battle car! Oh yes, thank you very much, *just* what you always wanted, an armoured Reliant Robin! The enemy uses tanks, gun emplacements and monsters, and you get a vehicle that hasn't even got a reasonable number of wheels!
Beginning in a long metallic corridor on a vertically scrolling screen, your aim is to drive your wonky battle car (and fighter plane in two player mode) along the valley, avoiding the enemy defences or simply blowing them out of the way. Baculian craft try to shoot or ram you, while fortifications are placed en route to try and force you over traps in the road. To fight back, you drive over power icons during the run increasing the amount of shells you launch and improving your chances of hitting those Golden Tribesmen in the Baculas (That'll bring tears to their eyes!).
The vehicles used alternate level by level. Player one's are the three wheeler on levels one three and five, and a rocket firing space plane on two, four and six. Player two uses the fighter plane for all levels. This adds to the level of difficulty, especially on levels one, three and five, because you must avoid shooting your teammate, who would probably not see the funny side.
The end of stage Guardians, which also vary from level to level - dragons, bats, dinosaurs, spiders and the like - add variety and difficulty sadly lacking during the rest of the game. Not that the game is easy to complete. Far from it, the same theme is just repeated endlessly.
Graphically Last Duel is excellent, with superbly smooth sprite movement backed by a great soundtrack. As with most of this month's games, though, highly competent artwork, coding and music do not mean that the actual game is enjoyable and worth playing. It's better than a duff game with naff sound and vision, but great graphic and audio work are let down with poor gameplay.
The game is very different from anything I've seen. I wasn't sure what was meant to be happening or what I was supposed to be doing. Graphics are good, but that's all there is.
Clear as a bell.
Complete level one.
P. Solid gold graphics.
N. But you keep falling off the screen.
P. Sombre soundtrack...
N. ...but great all the same.
Grab Factor 47%
N. Not so much a grab, more a limp handshake.
Staying Power 56%
P. Worth playing for the pictures and music.
Nothing to make it outstanding.