Amstrad Action


Power Up

Author: Frank O' Connor
Publisher: Ocean
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #72

Power Up

Power Up is the latest compilation offering from Ocean. The linking theme is arcade action - well, three of the five games are conversions of famous coin-ops, anyway...

Chase HQ

Chase HQ is a conversion of the brilliant Taito racing game. The game adds to the racing genre with a rather novel twist. Instead of bimbling around a race track, overtaking other racers and getting fast lap-times, you get to ram geezers off the road.

It's a Miami Vice type scenario. You are a cop and you're basically after some robbers (Wow, that's new - Ed). At the start of each mission, the robbers are miles away and heading for a life of sloth and debauchery on their ill-gotten gains. Fortunately, the police force has supplied you with a rather groovy Porsche 928. And the thing is fitted with an outrageously powerful nitrous oxide turbocharger.

Using the turbo gives an unfeasibly large burst of speed. You can use this to catch up with the crims, or to ram them off the road when you do catch up. Various obstacles mess with your happy thoughts, though, as you tear through the streets, including cardboard boxes, stray fences and rolling tumbleweed. These all slow you down (but not as much as a collision with an innocent car).

The graphics are superb - the road is particularly convincing. The gameplay is amongst the most entertaining of any game in the racing genre. One of the best driving games on the Amstrad and a brilliant conversion of an ace coin-op.

Rainbow Islands

Another Taito coin-op - in Rainbow Islands you control an enormously cute character leaping from platform to platform. Your task is to save several islands from some diabolical fiend (also cute). You have at your disposal the most awesomely dangerous weapon known to man... a rainbow (hence the name).

The rainbows are used to dispatch enemies. To do this, you fire so that the rainbow traps any cute monster in your path. You can also walk on the rainbows, to reach otherwise inaccessible platforms.

You have to reach a goal at the top of every level. It's a bit of a race against time. If you hang around too long, you will be drowned as water floods the levels from the bottom upwards.

Scattered around each level are a variety of bonuses and power-ups. These include potions endowing the player with double, even triple, rainbows. You can also pick up speedy boots, enhancing both jumps and speed.

There are lots of secret bonuses to discover, too. The game is a joy to play and the excellent graphics and sound add to the presentation no end. A real little corker.

Altered Beast

Just when you thought this was shaping up to be the perfect compilation, along comes Altered Turkey - oh, sorry, Altered Beast. This game was converted from the unlikely Sega arcade hit. The game did well in the arcades, mostly due to the big sprites and colourful graphics. It lacked content and was basically a very straightforward beat-'em-up.

What about the Amstrad conversion? Oh dear. Here it is, in all its hideous glory, messing up an otherwise faultless compilation.

The gameplay is very simple. You conduct a muscle-bound hero, walking along a horizontally scrolling landscape. As you walk, you encounter various beasties. Some fly, some walk, all can be kicked or punched. Occasionally, a bull will charge onto the screen. Hitting the bull reveals a power-up globe. Collect enough of these and you are transformed into a creature of vast power.

The graphics are muddled in the extreme - they're also big, slow and jerky. The sound is barely reasonable and the gameplay is extremely full. It's a shame, because the idea was decent enough, it just suffers from terrible implementation. Not much fun and a visual nightmare.

Turrican

Intergalactic murder and mayhem is the order of the day in the ace Amstrad version of the classic Rainbow Arts shoot-'em-up. The game received the ultimate accolade of Mastergame in AA 57 and so its reappearance on a compilation is excellent news.

The game sees you, Turrican, fighting aliens and monsters all over the galaxy. It involves much jumping and shooting across an eight-way scrolling rocky planetscape. You can pick up extra weapons, beam-up R-Type fashion and search for hidden bonus rooms.

Turrican can jump great heights and get hold of some quite devastating power-ups. Just as well, as the screen is usually full of very dangerous bad guys. The playing area is absolutely enormous and packed with tricky puzzles and fiendish bad-geezers.

It's quite easy to get lost in the maze-like levels and there are plenty of surprises waiting on later levels. The graphics are dreeeamy! They're colourful, well animated and beautifully designed. Sound is good, but the best part is the gameplay. So smooth, so well thought out and very, very big!

Turrican is superb and has to rate as one of the best Amstrad games ever. As part of a compilation, it's a complete barg!

X-Out

X-Out, just like Turrican, set new standards on the Amstrad when it was first released. It's a horizontally-scrolling shooter, but with enough originality and style to make it stand out from the crowd. It includes all the standard blasting action, but with a couple of novel extra features.

At the start of the game, you are given a choice of four ships. These are unarmed initially and you have to equip them with the weapons of your choice. You have to compromise between what you can afford and what your chosen ship can carry. This gives the game an immediate element of strategy, something missing from many games of this type.

There are lots of aliens to destroy and some very nasty mid and end-of-level baddies to deal with. Everything in the game moves smoothly and at great speed. The scrolling is excellent and the animation, especially on guardians, is superb.

The graphics are still impressive, even compared to more recent releases. Very colourful and brilliantly designed. One weird feature of X-Out is the location of all this mayhem. Not deep space as you might expect, but deep water. (It does look like space though...)

The sound is a bit poor, but this is more than made up for by the superlative gameplay. It's the perfect shoot-'em-up and easily one of the best on the Amstrad.

Second Opinion

Four excellent games - so why did Ocean stick in that dire old plodder Altered Beast? Don't let that put you off, though - Power Up is well worth buying for the other four alone!

Verdict

Overall 89%
What a stonker! Every game (with the exception of Altered Beast) the best of its kind. Outstanding value and a barghunter's delight.

Frank O' Connor

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