Skull And Crossbones

Publisher: Domark
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #73

Skull & Crossbones

One Eye and Red Dog were knocking back the rum at the Jamaica Inn the other night when a mysterious stranger told of chests full of treasure and sacks of gold coins hoarded by the mysterious Evil Sorcerer. Before you could say "Yo ho ho and a bottle..." the pirate pair grabbed their cutlasses and set sail onto the high seas in search of treasure and adventure.

Their first stop, and first level of eight, is a merchant ship packed with booty. "Ooh arr" they think, but their hopes are soon scuppered when they spot that the hoards of cash are guarded by hordes of the Sorcerer's own pirates.

In one-player mode, you control One Eye; a second player can play Red Dog but has to wait until you have fought through the level. The ship has decks on several levels, accessed by ladders or by jumping. The latter is achieved by treading on special icons, but these only appear when all nearby pirates have been killed.

Skull And Crossbones

Swashbuckling with these involves pressing fire with various joystick directions to perform sword movements: defend upward/downward, attack left/right/up, lunge and backslash. Holding down fire turns your pirate around. If he's hit by the enemy, he loses several health points - these can be replenished by collecting chicken drumsticks. Then, of course, there's the all-important treasure to collect, hidden under skulls and crossbones which must first be slashed.

Loot the whole ship and the next target is a Spanish castle full of gold - and medieval soldiers. Level 3 takes place in the Orange Ship - a pirate vessel with a tough end-of-level pirate captain to defeat. Other levels include a NinjaCamp with somersaulting ninjas, an enchanted cave with sword-wielding skeletons, and a mythical island.

Completing some levels earns you a special treasure ranging from a magic crown to a busty wench. In two-player mode, the players have a sword fight to determine who gets this.


Skull And Crossbones

After last month's rather bland preview shots, it's a surprise to find the finished game positively awash with colour, creating a real cartoon feel, full of humour and fun.

Admittedly some of the sprites are a bit blocky, and there's nothing here which would have looked out of place several years back, but the pirate theme is original and involving. It's really enjoyable hackin' and slashin' through this game, boarding ships and then going onto the islands (which give the game a fair bit of variety).

The multi-directional scrolling is smooth and the odd action moves, like sliding down a rope, are amusing (though one minor irritation is that if you scroll any static baddies off-screen, you can't go back for them to reveal the essential icon).

Skull And Crossbones

While combat isn't that sophisticated, there's enough sword moves to practise. In all honesty, Skull And Crossbones adds little to the beat-'em-up genre other than a novel theme, but it's well executed with lots of colour and humour.

Definitely worth a good look if swashbuckling swordplay, glittering treasure and sultry maidens are your thing.


Ahoy there, me hearties! What a 'bootyful' little game this is. The basic hack-'n-slash gameplay has little new about it but the pirate theme is well implemented and certainly makes a refreshing change from ninjas - I really enjoyed slicing up the ones on Level 4!

Skull And Crossbones

Although most of the enemies are hard to defeat without losing at least some health, the continue-plays make it fairly easy to progress through the first few levels - perhaps a little too easy.

Nevertheless, unlike a lot of similar games you can't just wimp out by running past enemies; you have to stand and fight until all the on-screen baddies are killed. It's a pity the two-player mode isn't simultaneous (as it will be on the Amiga version) but at least you occasionally get to fight it out for a special treasure.

Nice graphical touches include well-drawn pirates, men popping up out of barrels to throw bottles and, of course, the busty maiden! At last, pirates do something good for computer games!


Skull And Crossbones

Presentation 80%
Nice title page, multi-load and not too bad, continue-plays, alternate two-player mode, interlevel stats.

Graphics 82%
Good cartoon feel with varied backgrounds.

Sound 80%
Jolly (Roger) good tunes.

Skull And Crossbones

Hookability 83%
Simplistic action is immediately addictive.

Lastability 78%
Some varied levels, though it could eventually get repetitive.

Overall 81%
One to go overboard about!