Oh I can't cope with this! A never ending story. What's the point in that? It's almost as bad as one of them books you get from the library which some git has torn the last page out of! Nick Roberts is the man with the Sellotape...!
Everyone knows of the first Never Ending Story with its terrible theme tune by Limahl from Kalagoowolchmorcalit "It had a big dog thing in it, didn't it?", said Lucy when she heard we were getting this game in. Yes dear, keep taking the tablets - you'll feel much better [Patronizing git - Ed].
As you might have gathered by now, the game is based around the blockbusting movie of the same name. The story goes a little bit like this...
Bastian Bux (that's you) starts to read the magical book again and the voice of the Childlike Empress calls to him for help. While engrossed in reading, he is spirited into Fantasia where he meets the inhabitants of the Silver City. While poking his nose around the city, he suddenly gets pounced on by loads of giants so he legs it and bumps into the Lava Man and Windbride who explain the perils of the land of Fantasia.
Bastian is out to discover the reason for the emptiness billowing out from Castle Horok, which is slowly destroying Fantasia. And with six levels of action and many a monster to stop the adventurer in his quest, this is a game with lots of lastability.
The Ship Of Secret Plots is the first setting, with giants that step on your head if you're not careful. This is shown in a horizontal scrolling platform style with lots of detailed backgrounds and challenging gameplay.
A pilot's licence is needed next as Bastian jumps on to the back of his faithful friend Falkor and has the flight of his life! From the 3D viewpoint, control Falkor and crush the evil dragons following you against the walls of the canyons of Fantasia.
When Bastian finally reaches the castle, he rescues Atreyu and bops off a few more weird and wonderful enemies that keep cropping up! Armed with a spray can, he fights off more giants... what does he think a spray can is going to do for him?
A ride through the Orchid Forest and a splash in the river finishes off this extravaganza of a game. The great thing about The Never Ending Story is the number of different game styles. You start off with a horizontal scroll and lots of platforms and stairs, then a 3D flying section, vertical scrollers, aerial views and parallax scrolling are all included on later levels. The big problem all the Crash team found, however, was that you can't get off the first level!
The idea of having a multi-level game is to start off with something a bit easy to get you into the swing of things and then get gradually harder towards the end. Because level one is a real toughy, people are going to give it a hard time when it comes to marking - degrading the whole game. It's a real pity because there are some brilliant backgrounds and the animation on the sprites is excellent.
The game is let down in the sound department more than anything. I couldn't find any jolly tune like the Commodore 64 version had and the only effect was a farty sound when you moved through a door! We had to put some of Corky's James Brown music on the stereo to get us in the mood before playing!
The frustration of playing level one had Corky on the brink of ripping his wig off! The monsters plodding about are so slow and there's no way around them so you have to wait until they come to the end of a platform and push the buggers off.
All that waiting is enough to try the patience of a saint! When you find a door to go through, the game looks exactly the same on the other side so it is really easy to get lost - especially when you haven't got a clue where you're supposed to be going anyway!
The Never Ending Story II is a great game... if you're using a cheat to get you through the levels when you get fed up! A classic example of how having the wrong difficulty levels can destroy a game.
Never having seen either of the 'Never Ending Story' movies, I've absolutely no idea what it's about. But at least it doesn't have the ex-Kajagoogoo single warbling "The Never Ending Stoooory" (that's one blessing, I suppose).
The game itself is okay, but it really isn't my proverbial kettle of fish. Fans of "wander around aimlessly for hours doing sod all" type games are well catered for; personally, I'd rather watch paint dry.
To be fair though, The Never Ending Story II has good graphics: the character sprites and backgrounds are nicely drawn, although the hero's movements are exaggerated as he runs along (he looks like something out of The Woodentops). Also, the creatures on the first level, side on, look like lobsters, which might be an asset in a TV cookery programme (but not here matey, Bob). In short, this is an above average game if you like the genre.
Lots of nice graphics and variety in the game styles, but much too difficult to actually play!