Dragons, the police, robots and inner-tubes. What's the connection? They're all here. Whatever form your lust for action takes, you should find it catered for with this compilation of Domark/Tengen arcade games. Five full-price releases have been brought together to satisfy your crazed desires for speed, violence, maiming and floating around in an old tyre.
The TNT collection can be seen as five totally separate arcade games without even a common theme, costing a fiver each. The games are on two disks, with Dragon Spirit occupying one of those disks. All are good games, certainly worth three clams each on tape. Dragon Spirit and Hard Drivin' are the best, and very playable they are too (if you persevere).
If you like arcade games then buy this compilation. But if you like arcade games, you will probably have one or more of these anyway. What you must then ask yourself is whether the ones you don't have are worth all that money.
The games are getting old now, and possibly better and more recent versions are available. But if you want good arcade action at a lower than average price, this is the one.
A name once on everyone's lips. This track-racing game has in-car 3D views, and pits (hem hem) you against other vehicles on a fiendishly twisty circuit. You must travel around as fast as possible, negotiating bridges, jumps and even a loop. The car can have either automatic or manual gears, and the circuit has a junction, forcing you to decide upon either the speed or stunt sections of the track.
If you manage to go fast enough, you get to race against the Phantom Photon. This is the slightly ludicrous name of your computer-controlled opponent. It's a one-on-one race, and you'll need every ounce of driving skill, plus a large degree of luck.
Graphics are largely mono, but nevertheless look good because they are satisfyingly fast. However, the car is wickedly difficult to control, and can get quite frustrating. A great function is the Instant Replay. Every time you crash, the accident is replayed from a view outside the car. You can see exactly how the accident happened, and how your car managed to end up hundreds of yards away and on its roof. Your driving often looks straight out of a a Steve McQueen movie anyway. The sonics are OK. if not ear-boggling. The car buzzes in a most un-sportscar-like way, but it adds a good feeling of speed and urgency to the racing. Overall, therefore, the game is very nicely done and certainly playable.
Fantasy arcade action abounds with Dragon Spirit. This shoot-'em-up manages to steer clear of spaceships or cars. Instead, you pilot a large dragon flying sedately over a vertically-scrolling landscape. Your mission? To rescue (yes, rescue) a Princess captured by a rather selfish devil. Brontosauri, pterodactyls and many strange and mythical creatures try to stop you from reaching the end of the eighth level. You can move in all four directions, and can shoot fire-bolts as well as bombs. These are small toxic lumps that drop from the under-side of the dragon. Sounds a bit dodgy, really.
The dragon has to contend with a great variety of foes. Some swoop in from the top of the screen whilst others advance slowly, firing all the time. Phoenixes appear at the end of the level. These are obviously pretty resistant to fire, so blast away for as long as you can.
This game is a serious joystick-waggling, trigger-flapping bonanza of destruction. There are certainly waves and waves of nasties to splat. The game is fast and smooth; the dragon flaps along in a most endearing fashion so you feel obliged to keep the poor chap alive for as long as you can, trying for the next level.
There are many other little touches, such as enchantment capsules, which enhance your firepower. But the best way to survive is to hone your reactions until you can twist, turn, avoid and shoot back like a good 'un. Pure, old-fashioned arcade action.
Graphics are strong. Everything is smooth, colourful and fast. The on-screen playing area is a tad small, but you get used to it and the sprites are a decent size. Sound isn't too special; the tune is a strange choice for a fantasy game, but never mind. Spot effects are perfectly acceptable.
Apprehending known crims out joyriding is a serious business. In APB, this is exactly what you must do. You drive a squad car, seen from an overhead view. The idea is to rid the streets of the dregs of society. This is done by hitting them with your police siren (represented by a target in front of your car). They should stop and allow themselves to be led meekly to the slammer. Hardened villains need to be rammed to a halt before surrendering. This is where the fun starts, and the real skill is needed. Once you get the felons back to the chokey you can beat confessions out of them in time-honoured Dixon of Dock Green style [Eh? - Ed].
The roads are also littered with doughnuts, bags of money and ordinary, law-abiding citizens. Eat the grub. Grab the dosh. Avoid the plebs. Graphics are small but neat and cartoon-like. Gameplay is fun, but ultimately quite limited. The sound is OK, but nothing to write to your Auntie Mabel in Runcorn about.
Forget all that dragons, maidens and monsters nonsense. It's wreck-a-robot time! Major Rock Hardy and Captain Ace Gunn are just the men skilful enough to carry out this task (despite their rather contrived names).
They must kill the Head-honcho Xybot, having first found him lurking in the maze-like corridors of the underground city. Your character is always in view on your half of the vertically split screen. As you move around, the walls jerk past. The position of the xybots are shown on a scanner, so you can ambush them as they advance through the passageways.
Two people can play simultaneously; each watching their own display. This way you can split up and do more damage. What is also a lot of fun is if the two players start to fight amongst themselves. A duel in the corridors, with xybots as an additional hazard, can be more exhilarating than hunting Mr Big-cheese Xybot himself.
Money (to buy better weapons) and extra energy can be found at random points around the maze, which has transporter zones at various points around it. Unfortunately, the maze isn't big or complex enough to make the game really tactically challenging, but the element of surprise does figure - which is important in a game of this type.
Graphics aren't stunning. They do work OK, though - the men waddle a bit, but are drawn nicely and are large. Sound is pretty rudimentary, but there is a nice little "theme tune" which fits the atmosphere well.
You and your mate Jet (computer or human) drift along, avoiding branches, logs, blowpipe-firing natives and so on. You cannot directly kill your companion, but can force him into hazards, while you collect the loot which is also bobbing around.
The game slowly scrolls upwards as the river flows, with each player having considerable control over where he/she wants to paddle. It takes skill, because you can drift around aimlessly at first, until you learn the ropes.
You also collect tin cans to throw at branches and logs. This clears your path, leaving you free to bounce off your opponent or steer through marker poles to gain extra points. A great jazz-like sound-track adds a lot to the light-heartedness of the game. Graphics are Speccy-mono and therefore small, but the game as a whole works nicely, is not too hard, and is certainly fun.
There are five good games on this compilation, but at £25 it's a bit expensive.
Five playable games at a payable price.