Now first off, I have to admit that I don't play that many Speccy games (having long since graduated to far 'posher' computers). However, Stormlord was one I did play, and it taught me many things (chief among them being that making remarks like "I'm off to rescue some fairies" down the pub was as good a way as any to lose a few teeth). So when I finally got my eager little hands on the Stormlord sequel Deliverance, what didn't I do? Exactly. In fact I sneaked quietly home and played it in private.
The Deliverance scenario is not actually very different from Stormlord - there are fairies to free and monsters to mash (and adjectives to alliterate). There are a couple of major differences to it though - whereas space constrictions in the first game meant every level looked just the same as the last one, there's much more variety here. They've missed the strange trampoline-bouncing-up-in-the-air-and-then-back-down-to-earth bits out though, so it plays much more like a straight arcade game. But there's one even more crucial difference - whereas the first Stormlord was really rather difficult, Deliverance is really rather impossible. (Well almost.)
Now there are some strange people out there labouring under the impression that a good game is a hard game. Nonsense. What's the point of playing if you can't win? No, Deliverance was just too tricky for me - it took a lot of teeth-gritting to work my way beyond the first couple of screens.
Fortunately though it was well worth the effort, 'cos the whole thing's pretty impressive. Not only is it colourful and atmospheric but refreshingly crisp and clear too (with only the slight hint of colour overlap). As you shuffle your way along you come across monsters galore in every shape and colour, though (to be honest) the end-of-level nasties are a wee bit disappointing.
Big bad guys aren't the only things to dodge though - there are also fireballs, acid drops (oooh lovely! Just like they sell in the sweetie shop!) and no end of dodgy bridges and unpassable obstacles, all doing their damndest to come between you and your goal.
Ah yes, and what is your goal? Well, it's ever-so-slightly expanded from Stormlord. Instead of having to rescue a mere handful of fairies. Deliverance demands the rescue of more fairies than you could shake a Julian Clarey at. They aren't just sitting in large goldfish bowls patiently awaiting your arrival either (like they were in the first game). No, they're dropping out of the sky in droves! It's not long before you find yourself balancing on a bubble over a boiling river trying to catch about a million fairies, who're doing passable impressions of lead balloons, except without the airworthiness. (Yes, for some reason or other they all seem to have a suicide pact and are leaping like lemmings!) They're not all you've got to collect though - as well as fairies there are other... er... artifacts lying around begging to be picked up. (Don't ask me why though - perhaps you've got a sideline in antiques? After all, superheroes have got to do something on their days off.)
So, any criticisms (except for the difficulty, that is)? Well no, not really, though control of your antique-collecting sprite is a little bit odd I suppose. Once he's jumped into the air, rather than wait for him to fall back to earth, a leedle bit of joystick waggling can help him stay airborne and even keep moving. It's a bit like one of those cartoons where the character goes over the edge of a cliff and manages to run a little way through the air. Weird but useful.
I'd also say that, despite the ultra-smooth scrolling and giant state-of-the-art graphics, this game doesn't seem to quite have the individual character of some of Cecco's best work - it's a very well-designed and executed platform arcade adventure, but maybe there are a few too many of them about already. Or something. (I don't know.)
To sum up? Well, if you're looking for a demanding and exciting arcade adventure then look no further. Deliverance will keep the most skilful gamesplayer happily occupied and out of the sun for hours. The only problem for me is that playing it sort of addled my brain a bit. After only a few hours struggling with the old joystick I headed down the pub a nervous and frustrated wreck (and having totally forgotten that I wasn't going to mention the word 'fairies' to anyone in there). "Oh, hi, Paul. What've you been up to then?" came a friendly voice. "Oh, I've just been out rescuing a few fairies and... ouch! What was that for?"
An excellent arcade adventure, packed with variety and even harder than its predecessor.