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Agony logo

Wie stellt sich der Profiknallfrosch ein gelungene Ballerei vor? Na, spielbar sollte sie sein, solide programmiert und tunlichst noch hübsch anzusehen – etwas so wie „Apidya“ halt. Die Messlatte ist also gelegt, mal sehen, ob das neue Psygnosis-Game drüberhüpfen kann.

Agony Wir dachten schon, die Liverpooler hätten sich aus diesem Genre längst zurückgezogen, ihr letzter Horizontalscroller (ich glaube, das war „Blood Money“, oder?) liegt ja nun bereits eine kleine Ewigkeit zurück. Aber nix da, jetzt schicken sie einen Zauberlehrling in Gestalt einer Eule durch sechs feind-verseuchte Level, die sich gewaschen haben!

Um die Prüfung seines Meisters erfolgreich zu bestehen, muß sich der magie-begabte Azubi-Kauz mit einem Heer von Gegnern herumschlagen, von denen die meisten wahrhaft schwere Brocken sind: Die bissigen Piranhas und stechwütigen Riesenmücken aus der Sumpflandschaft des ersten Levels dienen nur zum Einballern, der Endgegner zeigt schon eher, wo es langgeht – ein überdimensionierter Schwertfisch! Ab dem zweiten Abschnitt ist dann Großformat die Regel, fliegende Killerameisen und mordlüsterne Libellen garantieren für gepflegte Hektik am Stick. Auch im dritten Level hat man kaum jemals die Zeit, das idyllische Wäldchen gebührend zu bestaunen; ein kurzer Moment der Unachtsamkeit genügt, und wieder ist eines der anfänglich drei Leben über dem Jordan. Nur gut, daß die zuvor aufgesammelten Extrawaffen weitgehend erhalten bleiben: In Amphoren versteckt sich ein breiterer Schuß, ab und zu liegt auch mal ein „Beiboot“ im Form eines Schwertes herum. Am mächtigsten sind jedoch die Spells, die (zeitlich begrenzt) Unverwundbarkeit, rotierende Feuerbälle oder Plasma-Schilde bescheren, was dann auch mächtig imposant aussieht.

agony Eigentlich sieht überhaupt alles mächtig imposant aus. Die bunte und detailreiche Grafik ist die reinste Augenweide, das Drei-Wege-Parallaxscrolling soft, als hätte man Weichspüler in den Monitor gekippt. Zudem wurden Freund und Feind astrein animiert: lediglich das eine oder andere Insekt hätte noch einen Tupfer Farbe vertragen können – grüne Mücken vor grünen Waldhintergrund sind schnellen Abwehrreaktionen halt nicht unbedingt förderlich, weil man den Gegner erst zu spät erkennt. All das spielt sich vor einer orchestralen Soundkulisse ab, die den Eulen-Dompteur zuerst mit sanften Klavierklängen einlullt, um ihn dann im eigentlichem Spiel mit fetziger Klassik und knackigen Effekten wieder aufzuwecken.

Die Steuerung steuert auch prima – und dennoch bleibt Agony im direkten Vergleich mit „Apidya“ nur zweiter Sieger. Um dem Kaiko-Game die Baller-Krone abzuluchsen, hätte man die Feindformationen etwas phantasievoller und die Level etwas länger gestalten müssen, zudem fehlt hier ein Zwei-Spieler-Modus. Aber über den Titel des Vizekönigs könnte man durchaus diskutieren... (rl)

Amiga Joker, February 1992, p.?

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Agony ist Baller-Action in seiner schönsten Form!"

Amiga Joker
Agony
Grafik: 91%
Sound: 84%
Handhabung: 73%
Spielidee: 61%
Dauerspaß: 79%
Preis/Leistung: 77%

Red. Urteil: 81%
Für Fortgeschrittene
Preis: ca. 89,- DM
Hersteller: Psygnosis
Genre: Action

Spezialität: Das typische Psygnosis-Intro ist hier ebenso lang wie langweilig. Highscores werden nicht gesaved, schöne (deutsche) Anleitung.



Agony logo

Psygnosis do a shoot-‘em-up like only they know how – get ready for the world’s first ‘mellow’ blasting game!

Publisher: Psygnosis
Author: Yves Grolet
Price: £25.99
Release: Out now

O Agony h bloody hell, another horizontally-scrolling shoot-‘em-up. Looks like we picked the wrong month to do Definition Of Sound on horizontally-scrolling shoot-‘em-ups, right kids? So, just for the sake of the argument, let us see where this month’s three biggies would fit into our definitive listing. Apidya slots in, I reckon, just below R-Type II (although Mark Rates Apidya as the best) and just above UN Squadron as the Amiga’s second-best example of the genre, while Project X would come somewhere between ST Dragon and Dragon breed. Agony, though, is trickier to place.

CONTRADICTIONS – OR NOT?
It is astonishingly lovely to look at, but very simplistic to play. It has got brilliant intro music, but the worst in-game music I have heard in years (well, it is not technically bad, but musically it is, um, an individual taste). It seems quite tough, but you find yourself on the fourth of the six levels inside half-a-dozen-games, and completion is not much further away, although at least you only get a few lives and no continues (what is the point of having continues in a computer game anyway? Why not give you fifteen lives or whatever at the start? These things keep me awake at nights, y’know) to make it too easy. It is relaxing and pleasant to play, but by definition that means there is very little you could call excitement or tension to be found in it. Personally, I much prefer playing this to Project X, but recommending people to go out and spend their £26 on this when they would probably complete it the same day is a trickier proposition. Project X might be bugged, unfair and ridiculously frustrating, but you will get your money’s worth out of it for sure (if being frustrated is where you get your kicks). So you see the dilemma (Great cars, them Dilemmas – Ed). When it comes to the review, should the heart rule the head, or do I go against my personal feelings, or should I just cop out entirely and give ‘em both the same mark? (Why don’t you tell us a bit about the game and we’ll make up our own minds? – Several reader’s voices).

Agony I know, why don’t I tell you a bit about the game and let you make up your own minds? Yeah. Agony consists of six reasonably longs scrolling levels, each featuring very (very) pretty graphic backdrops and multi-level parallax scrolling (the raging seas of the first level, with three layers of water rolling and chopping while rain pours down, is a particularly impressive sight - Project X, chew your heart out). Even the furthest-away areas are animated, with waterfalls cascading down mountains and rope bridges swinging in the wind, while the foreground is littered with little jokes like the gravestone with ‘The Bitmap Brothers’ name written on it.

SHADES OF THE BEAST TOO
Curiously enough though, the thing that springs to mind most when you are playing Agony is a shoot-‘em-up version of Shadow of the Beast II. The graphics are in a very similar style, some of the little motifs from that game (like the rope bridge) are present here, and even some of the attack waves (the fish leaping out of the water at you, for example) are the same. But – hey! – this is not crap, so that is enough of that comparison. Let us talk about the sound instead.

NO, IT REALLY, REALLY IS AGONY
The sound, frankly, is where it all goes horribly wrong for Agony. It opens promisingly enough with an exquisite piece of piano music which bears lengthy listening, but start the game and your ears assailed with what sounds like a hyperactive five-year-old wearing boxing gloves discovering the ‘orchestra stab’ effect on his big brother’s Casio keyboard. Later levels introduce the same effect but with bass drums and electronic bagpipes. Eek. Psygnosis advertised the game as having ‘an exorbitant soundtrack’, and they were right – if they paid any money for all this stuff, they were done. There are a few sound effects in the game too, but as you will have the sound on your monitor switched off by this time, you will never hear them, so I won’t bother mentioning any more about them.

Agony AND NOW… EVERYTHING ELSE
Let us round off, why don’t we, with a few words about the gameplay. As previously mentioned, it never exactly glows with the adrenalin-rush of certain other efforts, but it is deceptively hard after the first couple of levels – only having three lives, plus a free one at 80000 points, means that every mistake you make is a costly one. At least, though, you retain most of your power-ups when you die, so you have still got a chance (not that power-ups are a really central feature of this game).

As you progress through the levels, your enemies get more and more fiendish, blending in with the colours of the landscape, so that you rally have to be concentrating if you do not want one to sneak through your defences when you are not looking and deliver a sucker punch, which I find infinitely preferably to the ‘make it so fast-moving and unpredictable that it kills you before you know what the hell is happening’ routine beloved of Project X.

OH NO! MORE COMPARISONS!
None of which, it has to be said, leaves me any closer to deciding how this one shapes up to this month’s other two blasters. Well, it is not as good as Apidya, but then that was obvious from the start. But then, I thought the same about Project X - I really was not expecting this to come anywhere near it. Certainly, that is much more of an arcade game, and intro aside it stomps all over Agony sonically. Graphics-wise, Project X is big and bold and has more variation than Agony, but for the parallax and between-level scenes and general sheer prettiness of it, Agony comes out comfortably on top. And as for gameplay, Project X has more to it, but it is not the one I have been playing the most. In fact, it is still lying in the corner where I threw it in a furious tantrum after yet another bout of independent power-up selection screwed up my chances of reaching the third level again (see the review for more detail). Agony won’t ever leave you sweating and breathless, but it will make you feel good, and only you can decide which of those things is most important to you personally. Me? Well I am not quite sure. I hate to admit it, I really do, but think I can feel a bit of a cop-out coming on…
STUART CAMPBELL

Amiga Power, Issue 13, May 1992, p.p.72-73

OWLING AT THE MOON!
Alright, alright, already. So there is no moon in the game, but we had to get that pun into this review somewhere…
E ach of Agony’s levels is introduced by one of these gratuitous scene-stealing cameo pics. Not that they are very important or anything, but aren’t they jolly pretty to look at anyway? (We think so).
Agony

The first level is all wet and stormy, and hence a bit oppressive and gloomy.

Agony

The third level is really dark and slimy, which does not explain this snapshot.

Agony

You can almost smell the fresh mountain air in this level two intro.

Agony

Level four is so vast, you can even see the curvature of the earth. Woo.



"Agony -
It will make you feel good"



Upper UPPERS Absolutely gorgeous graphics, absolutely lovely intro music, calming, addictive, rewarding gameplay, and you can trust it only to do what you tell it to control-wise.
Downer DOWNERS Only six levels, and you will probably finish them all in two days at the outside (that said, we have not done it yet). Utterly, utterly hideous in-game music which you cannot switch off.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Not the most demanding shoot-‘em-up ever, but relaxing and enjoyable enough to play that you will stick with it even after you have finished it. As long as you can turn the volume down.
78

P E R C E N T