T here is nothing like a romp through a densely foliated jungle, blowing away all and sundry with a high powered machine gun to relieve the day’s tensions, but unfortunately there are not enough games on the Amiga to simulate this kind of activity – or were not until the arrival of Leatherneck from Microdeal. It is all very much in the mould of games such as Commando and Ikari Warriors, being more like the latter than the former as it allows two players to take part simultaneously, and should you fit the separately available joystick adapter dongle, it is possible to embark on a four player voyage of destruction.
At the outset of the game, the four musclebound muscleheads appear at the bottom of the screen, and in true Rambo style are clad only in headbands and trousers. Any warriors that are not under the players’ control are left behind to die while you plod onwards through the jungle. The enemy soldiers come at you thick and fast, and open fire on you without hesitation, with both bullets and grenades. Bullets can miss you by a pixel and not harm you, but a grenade explosion will wipe out anything, including you, in a much larger range.
When you first open fire on the goons, you notice the first deviation from the standard Ikari format, and that is that while you can see the enemy’s bullets flying about, you cannot see your own. This means that you do not have to wait for your bullets to travel from your gun to a goon in order to waste him. No matter how far away a goon is, as long as he is in line, he will cop it at exactly the same time as you shoot, which makes things a helluva lot easier in that respect. Another difference is that you cannot turn around in order to shoot any enemies that are behind or to the side of you. Pushing sideways or back on the stick will only result in your soldier sidestepping or walking backwards.
As well as the mandatory enemy men to dispatch, there is also a number of deadly landscape features such as cannons that fire diagonally down the screen and the ultra-nasty circular cannons that rotate through 360 degrees, blurting out bullets with gay abandon. The gun emplacements can only be wiped out by a grenade, of which you have loads. It is not a matter of hitting the space bar to lob one though. Only one weapon can be used at any time, and the one currently in use is depicted in your status section on the right hand side. To change from the three weapons available you need to waggle the joystick à la Wizball. The three weapons consist of a heavy machine gun, that fires at high speed but suffers from a low range and my fave, the grenades that can be chucked over sandbags to blow away any gooks who think they are safe. All of the weapons are in limited supply, and the amount of ammo and grenades you have left is shown by a bullet that slowly dwindles away as you shoot. To keep your weapons topped up you can collect the crates conveniently marked ‘ammo’.
Leatherneck is a pretty good attempt at an Ikari game. Graphically it is a treat, with particularly splendid jungle backdrops and the leatherneck warriors are well defined. My only gripe is that the enemy soldiers are too skinny and small. Sound has been implemented well with a realistic ‘budda budda’ machine gun effect and a really gruesome ‘Aaaarrggghhh’ when the enemy soldiers pop their clogs. The level of difficulty has been graded perfectly to give it just the right level of addictiveness. I enjoyed playing it immensely, even more so with second player (unless it is Tony ‘Stallone’ Dillon who keeps shooting me in the back!).
CU Amiga, July 1988, p.49