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Paul Presley reviews a game that involves releasing gas. Insert your own joke here...

H Super methane brothers ow we did cartwheels when Arkanoid appeared. How we whooped and huzzahed when Frontier triggered our memories of a misspent youth sat in front of Elite. But see also how we treated Super Space Invaders with an adequate degree of distaste. You can only push nostalgia so far before it turns around and punches you squarely on the nose. A lesson there for us all!

But with that rather terse warning still ringing in our minds we once again embark on the express train of memories and return to our 8-bit salad days with Super Methane Brothers. The secret and this is an important bit is to treat your aging classic to a complete overhaul at the Nineties game workshop. This is what Apache have done with the Bubble Bobble genre and so managed to create a game that appears fresh and new.

HIDDEN DELIGHTS
The idea, as with all of yesterday's arcade brethren, is a simple on. Clear each screen of its enemy infestations and progress to the next. Complete a hundred and you win the game. Complete a mere ninety-nine or less and you are deemed to be found wanting. But wait! Such simplicity is perhaps too much to comprehend. Before you turn your attention towards something with a little more bite you should be told that there is more than meets the eye awaiting your joystick-carried commands.

Bonuses by the hundreds sir, of many a variety. From raging fruits (of the apple and orange kind) to little motor cars. From giant playing cards to over-cooked sausages. All are worth points and so much more and it is here that we see the true beauty of SMB - the thought that has gone into providing the player with much more than the initial challenge.

To contain all this you would naturally expect a plot. Such plots are usually as thin as a week-old pair of socks and here we do not have an exception. The siblings are an unearthly pair, although they share much in common with the Californian youth a love of trekking the country in an one-top sports car without wheels. On one such trip their car hits a snag, or a rock if you will, hurling the pair from their seats and towards a mysterious tower. In true Scooby Doo fashion they investigate and find themselves trapped, their only hope of escape coming from a mysterious stranger who arms them and reveals their objectives.

Super methane brothers This is told in the opening animation, a graphical sequence that sets the style for the game to come. Cartoon themes are the key to SMB's appeal. Cartoons in the Japanese mould (large eyes on small creatures). Cute and colourful is not so much a watchword as a whole Bible at the designers offices. The sound too is interesting you'll either love it or hate it.

Apache appear to have gone to several towns and had what amounts to a field week when it comes to the game design though. Pick up enough banana bonuses and you gain access to certain cheat rooms. Collect four different playing cards and you arrive at the hidden playing card rooms. Accumulate enough bonuses in these rooms and you open passages to yet further stages. The list is endless and does more than enough to provide you with more to do than just shoot things.

Mind you, there are even several ways to do this. You have your gas guns of course, but you can also hit your opponents with water, throw marbles at them, hurl a few tomatoes, and even turn the pesky varmits into nine-pins and lob a bowling ball at them. All of this depends on finding the bonuses available and putting them to use.

IT TAKES TWO BABY!
Now here's a funny thing. I was playing SMB by myself and after several hours I began thinking that the lasting appeal might not be as great as I first thought. Then someone else picked up the second joystick, pressed start, sucked up a bad guy (the method required to dispose them) and threw it at me, stunning me for several seconds two-player gameplay had been discovered!

The two-player element to SMB is great fun. Because you can hit each other with bad guys, tomatoes, ten ton weights etc. and so the game takes on a very competitive feel as opposed to a teamwork kind of thing. As we all know it is much more fun to beat your friend at something than to work with him. I know full well that sucking up monsters and jumping on platforms isn't going to appeal to everyone but the brothers gaseous certainly provided fun for a couple of hours. As long as you don't plan on making a night of it, you might just find it fun too. SM Brothers is a pleasing starter before a fully blown meal.

CU Amiga, March 1994, p.74

APACHE 25.99
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APACHE SOFT, 120 ANDERTON PARK ROAD, MOLESLEY, BIRMINGHAM B13 TELEPHONE: 021 442 2050
 
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APACHE
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2
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0.5 Mb

 
GRAPHICS
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85%
80%
80%
81%
Fun, just as it should be.
OVERALL: 80%