Sinclair User

The Untouchables

Publisher: Ocean
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Sinclair User #92

The Untouchables

The movie licence is a funny creature. Capturing the excitement of a multi-million dollar film extravaganza for computer presentation is hardly an unambitious task. There have been winners and there have been stinkers. Ocean's Untouchables is a fine example of how to do the job properly.

Chicago. 1930's. Chicago is cracking under the mobster rule of Al Capone. Capone's men are running roughshod over the police and mayor's office. Indeed, he has agents in top positions in government and no-one is beyond his reach. Everyone can be "touched".

So serious is the problem that Treasury Agent Eliot Ness has been sent from Washington into Chicago to clean up the town.

The Untouchables

Since Capone employs an army of henchmen to carry out his dirty work and the police department is thoroughly riddled with bent rozzers, the chances of getting a conviction for murder, robbery or extortion are slim. Instead, the route to Capone's conviction is through exposing his tax frauds.

The game follows the plot of the film closely, and there are six stages of cinematic action which have been reproduced, masterfully, by the Ocean programmers.

The Warehouse

After receiving a tip regarding an illegal liquor store, you have to make a raid and capture as many of Capone's men as possible. The screen is shown side on and - as is the whole game - in cyan and black. And you have to run and jump across a stack of packing cases, following the direction indicating arrows and apprehending the crooks.

The Untouchables

The animation is simply superb as Eliot leaps around in pursuit of the baddies. Once you've captured enough villains, you find yourself on...

The Bridge

Ka-boom! Shotgun justice! You've managed to ambush a bunch of gangsters on the US/Canadian border. You need to blast them into submission. You take up a position lying at the mass of trucks and barrels. By rolling left and right, you can get a view of the different areas on the bridge. All the time the lower half of the screen contains a magnified representation of what you would see if you looked down the barrel of your shotgun. This obviously helps to aim and gives a close-up of objects in the distance.

Unfortunately, I found the shotgun sighting a bit tricky to make out. The size of the picture inside the gunbarrel wasn't especially clear, since the pixels inside are pretty big. When you're trying to survey the scene, aim and shoot at the necessary speed, there isn't really enough time to puzzle out what you're looking at.

The Untouchables

The rest of this stage, though, is excellent. Smooth scrolling and fast action and the baddies buy it in fantastic Op Wolf style splendour. Each time you blow away a goon, you'll grab a crate of booze; all vital evidence in the campaign.

The Alleys

If you thought you'd had a treat with the bridge section, this stage will simply blow you away. Ness stands to the right of the screen, shotgun in hand, shielded by wall. Ahead, into the screen stretches a grimy, dimly lit alley. Shuttered windows, trashcans, litter. Occasionally cars pass at the end. He's been lead here on the trail of Capone's accountant, who now holds the key to a successful conviction.

You've got to make your way along the alleys, toward a train station. Unfortunately, Capone's men have been tipped off and are hiding in every alley. If you fail to take one out, he'll blast you.

The Untouchables

The graphics here continue to impress. Ness loads another shell into his shotgun, turns into the alley, and then fires, then turns back into his safe niche again.

Once you've worked your way down the alleys, you'll finally arrive at the station, probably the climax of the film.

The Train Station

You're waiting to ambush the accountant when a woman with a pram enters the station. Helpfully, she lets the baby tumble down the huge stairway in it's pram, and it threatens to ruin your ambush plans.

The Untouchables

As the bad guys run in from all sides, you're presented with a top-down view of the stairs. You've got to nudge the pram away from the side of the stairs, and away from Capone's men. At the same time, you've got to ice as many crooks as possible.

I may be completely wrong, but this strikes me as - gawk! - a new game concept. It hangs together really well too. You have to split your time between shooting criminals, keeping the baby on course and not getting shot yourself.

The Hostage

You've blown away all but one of Capone's men. The last man, realizing his perilous position takes the accountant hostage, Stone - the film's crack shot - must make a miracle shot, killing the bad guy before he panics and blows the accountant's brains all over the station.

The Untouchables

This stage is very much like a shooting gallery, with the moving targets at the end and an excellently drawn image of Stone's gunhand in the foreground.

The Rooftop

The final stage. Frank Nitty, the psychopath henchman who has dogged Ness's men throughout is cornered up on the roof of the court where Capone is facing trial. As in the film, you must ensure Nitty doesn't leave the roof in one piece.

A little like the alley scene earlier in the game, you have to use the cover of the rooftop as best you can, ducking behind air ducts etc.

The Untouchables is a cracking conversion. Easily one of the most successful and accurate movie licences to date. If this is a standard Ocean can maintain, who knows what next year will bring.

Overall Summary

Fantastic and thoroughly excellent.

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