Surfing in on the waves of success from US Gold's Strider and Ghouls and Ghosts comes Black Tiger, the latest conversion from the Capcom stable.
The Black Tiger of the title is the character you control: a legendary warrior of heroic status, known more for his powers of destruction than diplomacy. But there is no point being a hero without a quest to fulfil, and Black Tiger is a corker: three fearsome dragons have risen from the depths of hell, bringing torment upon the world. BT must despatch these creatures and restore civilisation to a more even keel...
The mission takes the form of a platform shoot em up, as you guide BT through six levels of subterranean fantasy settings, spread over many screens scrolling both vertically and horizontally.
Mr Tiger walks along ledges, and can be made to jump across gaps in the scenery and straight up to climb vertical columns of rock. Arrows show the route that needs to be taken to locate the exit, although interesting items and places can be found by moving off the signposted trail.
Each underworld scene plays host to hordes of diabolical creatures, all of whom are out for Black's blood. Successful attacks deprive BT of chunks from his precious energy meter, until eventually all his current life comes to an end. However, Black can defend himself throwing knives and a particularly vicious blade-on-a-chain device which is launched at the enemy, yo-yo fashion.
On the enemy's demise, a 'Zenny' cash token is left which can be pocketed. Whenever Black comes across one of the numerous stone men, they spring to life offering some sort of assistance, and occasionally providing the opportunity to buy extra equipment with Zenny coins: arms and armour, extra energy and time, plus keys are all up to grabs. The keys can then be used to open the locked chest which litter the caverns for whatever reward - beneficial or harmful - which wait inside.
On reaching the end of each stage, the inevitable end-of-level guardian (or indeed guardians) must be defeated in order to pass through to the next. Black Tiger has a limited time within which to escape from each level, and the mission continues until Black Tiger has defeated the dragons, or his remaining lives have all been senselessly wasted in pursuit of his quest.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Black Tiger might not appeal to the more quality-conscious Amiga owner. The playing area is quite small, and the intrusive jerky background scroll makes play less than fluid.
But there is some nice animation as the enemy creatures as they explode breathe fire, although things can get a little confusing in the heat of battle. Spot effects and soundtrack do their respective tasks, but are nothing to shout about.
Three continue options help to sustain the offensive, and the sheer size of the task is enough to keep most players bashing away for some time. The 'explore and discover' nature of the gameplay is quite captivating, and certainly helps to maintain its appeal.
Control of the main character is fiddly at first, with a one-strength jump which cannot be controlled in mid-air. However, Black Tiger bears enough of a resemblance to its coin-op parent to content most devotees, and although this unashamed ST port-over is a far cry from the class of US Gold's previous Capcom conversions, it still manages to entertain to a reasonable degree.