LATEX LEADERS FIGHT IT OUT
If you're a regular watcher of Spitting Image you shouldn't be surprised by the game, which has got some great presentation but - like the show's jokes - is a little rough around the edges and lacking in originality. The basic idea is that in seven year's time WWIII will happen and all the leaders are battling it out to be top dog. The six contenders are Ronnie Reagan (I'm right because Nancy says so), the Pope (I'm right because God tells me so), the Ayatollah Khomeini (and me), PW Botha (we're right because we're white), Mrs Thatcher (we're right because we're right-wing) and, of course, Gorbachev (I know we're wrong, I know).
Portraits of these world leaders are arranged around a picture of the world (complete with burning fuse). You start the game by picking which leaders are going to fight it out next and the second leader you pick is the one you control. The scene then switches to a background appropriate to one leader and combat begins. Now we all know world leaders never engage in physical violence - they have armies and Oli North for that - but here they do, each with his or her own special move. Mrs T, for example, blows cigar smoke in her opponent's face, while Reagan head butts. You can also call in a friend who will run on to lob missiles at an opponent, Mrs Thatcher uses Denis while the Pope has his cardinals. On 128K machines it's all one load, on 48K machines leaders must be loaded individually.
Once a leader has been beaten five times he's out of contention for 'leader of a thermonuclear pile of dust'. If your leader survives you can then pick another two leaders to tango together. When all of them have been beaten the lights go out and you take on a mystery guest.
The identity of this mystery guest isn't all that hard to discover, I've finished the game quite a few times and wasn't too impressed by its difficulty. What did impress me was the quality of the graphics which amusingly recreate the puppet caricatures used in the TV show. Sound isn't too bad either. The humorous effect soon wears off, however, when you've got to struggle with a sluggish control response. In two-player mode it's obviously more fun, but hardly enough to justify purchase if you've got any other kind of two-player beat-'em-up game.
MARK ... 68%
THE ESSENTIALS Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair Graphics: beautiful title screen and some easily recognisable ingame characters Sound: great title tune but only simple bashing, ingame effects Options: definable keys. Choose which leader you play
'The six world leaders are excellently drawn, with presentation to match. Sadly, the gameplay is far too easy to master. Once the best tactics are discovered, completion becomes a mere formality by repeated use of one move. Even ignoring this problem, I'm disappointed that more imagination wasn't used for such an intriguing licence. Spitting Image is just a mediocre beat-'em-up which looks far better than it plays.'
'Spitting image is one of those games that will obviously sell because of its name, which is fortunate for Domark, since there's little other reason to buy it. As you can see from the tips gameplay is repetitive and flawed. The best part of the game is undoubtedly the graphics - like so many other licensed games.'