Do you ever get the feeling that there's nothing that isn't getting licensed as a computer game? If Domark can make a game out of a satirical comedy puppet series, what can we expect next? John Ketley's Weather Game? Emmerdale Farm Arcade Adventure?
At least Spitting Image manages to be fairly funny and fairly gamey at the same time, rather than sacrificing one to emphasise the other. In effect this is a martial arts-style combat game, in which the combatants are world leaders; Margaret Thatcher, Ronnie Reagan, the Pope, President Gorbachev, the Ayatollah and lovely old Pik Botha. In order to avert a world war, you must choose one a your hero, and control him or her as he (or she) takes on all the others. There's also a two-player option in which the format is the same but you don't get to save the world at the end.
The cartoon-style characters are nicely drawn and animated. Particularly clever are the little details which you hardly notice during the battles; the way Mrs Thatcher's wig slips loose, Ronnie's neck telescopes out and so on.
Once you've chosen your characters, the scene switches to the defending premier's home country; outside Number 10, on a South African rugby field and so on. The portraits of each character appear on each side of the screen, and there's the familiar energy bar to left and right. Now it's you job to punch, kick, butt, knee and jab your opponent into oblivion, just like in the U.N., in a best of five series.
Fighting moves are controlled by joystick or keyboard, and include hits to head, body and feet, and a special move which changes for each character - Botha, for instance, hits out with what looks like a yo-yo(!?!). You'll find, though, that you're constantly under attack from your opponent's little sidekick, who appears from the right hand side of the screen and bombards you with missiles. Apart from jumping out of the way, you can also hit back by pressing the space bar to summon your own sidekick into the fray, as many times as you like.
The sound effects are fine, and the music, a version of Phil Pope's theme tune of the series, is an excellent David Whittaker bash which, in the 128K version, will have you tapping your feet as you bash heads.
OK, the world doesn't actually need another martial arts game - not even a FUNNY martial arts game, because what with Ninja Hamster and Usagi Yojimbo, there are already a few of those about.
Still, Spitting image is excellently programmed by Walking Circles, provides a few laughs along with the mayhem, and manages to offend everyone, so it can't be bad.
Label: Domark Author: Walking Circles Price: £9.95/£14.95 Memory: 48K/128K Joystick: various Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Comedy martial arts game with the accent on satire.