Tusker (Kixx) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


By Kixx
Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #87

What do you get if you cross Indiana Jones with The Last Ninja? No, not a high-kickin' hero with an identity crisis, but System 3's Tusker is probably somewhere near the mark. Steve "Ivory Tower" Shields investigates...


What is it with these budget companies? US Gold are arguably the biggest publisher of quality 8-bit software in the UK, and yet they seem to be prepared to tarnish their pristine image by shoving out hopelessly incomplete - and occasionally inaccurate - instructions with their budget games. Okay, so £3.99 isn't likely to get you a full-colour, 60-page instruction booklet packed with info, but it should at least furnish the buyer with the game's scenario!

I suppose we could forgive the bit where it says "The above illustrations", and then goes on to omit them, but to completely ignore the game's story-line is a blunder of woeful magnitude. Oh well, at least you can read about what you're supposed to be doing in this review... Well, Tusker's old man's gone and got himself lost whilst searching for the fabled Elephants' Graveyard. As his son, it's your mission (duty?) to find the silly old fart before he: (a) gets into serious mischief, or (b) keeps all the valuable ivory for himself (well, something like that anyway).

Tusker-Do Do Do

I must confess to being an absolute sucker for arcade adventures. A bit of baddy bashing, a smidgeon of puzzle solving and a degree of mapping are game elements that, to me at least, fuse together in a most pleasing fashion. And, as a straightforward exercise in arcade adventuring, Tusker works very well indeed.

The isometric 3D display used to such dazzling effect in the Last Ninja series has, sadly, been dropped in favour of a left/right flickscreen system, the main sprite being able to walk 'toward' and 'away' from you in addition to the standard left and right directions. Old Tusker's easier to control than System 3's martial arts hero. though...

Starting in the desert, the first thing to do is collect the necessary equipment enabling you to locate - and drink - water. A prickly problem! As well as losing energy to assailants, your water-level needs constant topping-up if you're to survive.

Once all the objects carelessly left scattered about the dunes have been collected, find a way through to the jungle, and then onto an Amazonian village and beyond. Psychotic sheikhs, wicked whirlwinds, nutty natives and murderous monkeys all compete to be first to finish you off: work out which weapons to use on each as you go - or avoid them completely where possible...

Puzzling Pachyderms

Puzzles are solved by dropping the correct object in the right location (on a trial-and-error basis), although working out exactly what the objects you've collected actually are is often a puzzle in itself! (Some of the graphics are of the 'open to interpretation' type).

Overall, Tusker is well up to the high standard you'd expect from System 3. Packed with neat little touches, and positively oozing atmosphere, it draws you in completely while offering a reasonably tough challenge for even seasoned arcade adventurers. There are a few niggling bugs which could (and should!) have been ironed out, but despite these the game still manages to impress. Pity about the instructions though...