But where's Lorne Green?

Bonanza Bros logo

US GOLD * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

There's been a lot of thieving going on in computer games recently, hasn't there? What with Hudson Hawk quipping and robbing his way through Ocean's platformy romp and three bizarre animals nicking jewels in Electronic Zoo's Daylight Robbery. Now US Gold have joined in with the light-fingered duo, The Bonanza Bruvs. What has the world come to, eh? All thse sick twisted, commie pinko software houses encouraging our children to steal and commune with Satan, and listen to loud rock music and not wear ties and smart shoes.

They're luring the youth of today to bathe in the fire and brimstone of Hades. Corrupting the innocent wide-eyed teenagers with their promises of digital violence and pixelated titillation. Still, it's a larf, innit? And Bonzanza Bruvs is one helluva larf.

But before we get too deeply embroiled in the ups and downs of the gameplay, let's take time out to have a mug of steaming Bovril and check out the plot for this festival of thievery.

The two brothers, Robo and Mobo, have just given up their life of crime. Very sensible of the. But of course, things don't stay that way for long. They are contacted by a spooky Mr Big-type bloke who asks them to do some jobs for him. OK, so it's exactly the same plot as Hudson Hawk, but this Mr Big actually wants our heroes to rob his own buildings.

No, he's not trying to fiddle the insurance, but he wants the world's best burglars to test his security systems for him. Cunning, eh? Thus, the orange twosome are ordered to retrieve a set number of obejcts from all of Mr Big's buildings. They must use all of their skill to avoid or stun the guards, dogs and security systems.

Once all the objects in a building are nabbed by either or both of the brothers, the exit opens and you can leg it to the roof to nab a lift from your Bonanza Blimp on to the next level.

So, that's the basic idea of the game, but how well does it work? Very well actually. The graphics are small, because the screen is split in two for the two players, but there are plenty of nice little details to watch out for. They've even managed to keep the ray traced feel to the sprites from the arcade.

The sound isn't quite as good as it could have been, with a fairly crap tune and fe FX, but what really counts is gameplay and Bonanza Brothers has got it where it matters. The relatively simple idea means that it's easy to get into and soon you'll be sneaking around like an expert tea leaf.

With two players, the action really hots up as you race against your mate to collect more objects. An added element of strategy comes in when you get knocked over by a guard. As you sit on your bum, all the objects you pilfered are scattered about you and an unscrupulous partner can nip in and steal them for his or her own ends.

So before you start, it's always best to check that your so-called 'mate' is really on your side, or you could be left to get out of the building alone and empty-handed while they twiddle their thumbs on top of a massive pile of bonus points. So, do it to them before they do it to you!

All in all, Bonanza Bruvs is a pretty groovy game. The run-around-and-collect-things formula is fairly old hat these days but the two-player option keeps it fast and furious. If you're looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary, give the Bruvs a go.



Bonanza Bros logo

It's night time. You're wearing a catsuit and a balaclava helmet. You're in the house of a total stranger and you're about to do something decidedly morally unsound, not to mention highly illegal. Yes, you've joined the Bonanza Brothers for an evening of breaking-and-entering.

Except this time the law is fully aware of Badville's most notorious criminals' activities. The mayor has decided to clean up his town, and has hired Robo and Mobo to accumulate evidence from the offices of the 10 most corrupt businesses in town.

Double trouble
Bonanza Brothers is essentially a two-player game, and to be honest there's no real way that a one-player romp will realise half the potential that the game has to offer.

Each level is in a different building, and the object is to explore your surroundings, collect all of the pieces of evidence lying around (don't worry, you don't have to be Inspector Morse because all the collectable objects flash, successively blowing the gaff for the corrupt business that is being investigated) and then make your way to the exit.

But things aren't completely straight-forward (surprise, surprise). The buildings are swarming with guards, and one whiff of a Bonanza Brother is enough to trigger swift retribution involving the business end of the guards' firearms. You can fire your stun-gun back, but all too many of the guards wear bullet-proof clothing, making head-on charge of -the-light-brigade style manoeuvres highly impractical, not to say foolhardy.

Stealth and tactics: that's the key to success. This is also where the two-player option comes into its own. A map is displayed, illustrating Robo, Mobo, doors, stairs and all the remaining pieces of evidence and their locations.

So take time to plan a two-pronged pincer-style attack, or divide the playing area into two and share the burden of exploration - either method offers more chance of success than simply bodging ahead on your own.

The buildings are divided into rooms by doors and stairs. Robo and Mobo can creep around in semi-3D (they walk to the 'back' of the screen to hide against walls or climb up and down screens) and open doors. Sandwiching a guard against a wall with the strategic and sudden opening of a door is displayed in Tom 'n' Jerry fashion, and provides an addition to the Bros weaponry. Creeping up only means of getting away unhurt, so plan the routes of you and your buddy in advance.

You'll like it, but not a lot
There's a time limit and empty drink cans and garden rakes are lying around (tread on either and you fall on your back, a sitting duck for any guards that happen to be around) and there are some strange characters (puppies and bizarre bearded bomb-chuckers) in an attempt to make your task even tougher. But that, my budding cat burglar, is your lot.

Ten buildings of increased complexity and tougher baddies aren't enough to keep you interested. The animation is blocky, with only a few imaginative touches and there's not enough two-player interaction to add depth to the game. If only there had been a bit more entertaining animation and a few more levels, then the Bonanza Brothers could have been a cracker, but as it is - there's not enough here.


IT TAKES TWO!
Some games have two player options while some need two players to work properly. Kick Off 2 is the classic example, because no matter how much fun it is to beat the Amiga, it's never as good as stuffing a fellow waggler. True two-player games are rare but they make computer-gaming - which is a solo activity - a social experience. Cooperative two players (e.g. E-Motion work better than competitive ones as misunderstandings can create chaos.

Umsetzung gelungen - Spiel tot?

Bonanza Bros logo

Segas Automaten-Vorbild dürften die wenigsten von Euch kennen, war es doch in kaum einer Spielhalle zu finden. Kein Wunder, das Teil ist schlicht und ergreifend langweilig. Und jetzt ratet mal, was die Konvertierer von U.S. Gold daraus gemacht haben...

Na, eine originalgetreue Umsetzung, was sonst? Daher dürfen auch wir uns jetzt mit der erschütternden Geschichte der Ganovenbruder Mobo & Robo beschäftigen, die gerade beschlossen haben von nun an sauber zu bleiben.

In dieser entscheidenen Situation bekommen die beiden einen etwas merkwürdigen Auftrag: Sie sollen den Sicherheitsdienst ihres Auftraggebers auf die Probe stellen, indem sie bei ihm einbrechen und bestimmte Gegenstände mitgehen laßen.

Gesagt, geklaut: Auf dem dreigeteilten Screen mopst der eine Spieler auf dem unteren Streifen, der andere (falls vorhanden) auf dem oberen, dazwischen gibt's einen Übersichtsplan des jeweiligen Gebäudes, sprich levels.

Aussehen tut's ähnlich wie "Hudson Hawk", vom Spielerischen her ist es ungefähr "Home Alone" mit omgekehrten Voraussetzungen.

Leider weist es auch die kombinierten Schwachpunkte dieser Games auf: Langweiliger Spielablauf und eine problematische (Stick-) Steuerung, wobei vor allem das Überspringen von Hindernißen zur Qual werden kann!

Die knuddelige Comicgrafik ist sicher nett, der Dudelsound läßt sich abschalten, und die Maße an Features & Optionen ist beeindruckend (Zeitlimit, Bonuslevel, die Zahl der Leben ist einstellbar, tausenderlei Screenanzeigen), aber unterhaltsam sind die Brüder deswegen noch lange nicht. Merke: Was schon im Original kein Feuerwerk war, kann als Remake halt hochstens ein Knallfrosch werden. (od)



Bonanza Bros logo

Sega coin-op conversions are known for snazzy gimmicks, not depth of gameplay. Could this be the one to prove they can do it (if they try)?

What have arcade and console kings Sega ever done for us, eh? So they got the ball rolling with hydraulic excuses for arcade entertainment (Space Harrier, OutRun et al), and - indeed - are continuing to bring the arcade machine closer to being a fairground attraction than ever, but so what? When it comes to producing full-blooded playability, Sega have done nothing for me. (Well, apart from Sonic The Hedgehog).

Almost without exception, everything Sega have ever released has fallen short of the mark, playability wise. Their wares always seem to have healthy bones but never enough real 'meat' on them - and Bonanza Bros proves no exception.

That said though, Bonanza Bros is probably the most impressive Sega creation to date. And here's the reason why - the Bros have style, something sadly missing from most computer software today. Robo (the short fat one) and Mobo (the tall thin one) are two small-time crooks with big hearts, who've decided to go straight.

Which is hy a mysterious stranger, sick and tired of having his property burgled every five minutes, has 'employed' the boys to test his security force. If the Bros can retrieve the items placed by 'Mr X' in various heavily guarded locations, he will reward them. And that is all.

The game consists of 10 such situations, each with its own theme (see THE 10 WONDER OF THE BONANZA BROS WORLD). The security force the boys find themselves testing consists of living guards (see MEET THE SECURITY FORCE) as opposed to complex electronic systems. Then there are a few 'natural' hazards to contend with, too, such as rakes and soft drink cans which have been carelessly left lying around.


A visual approach which is distinctive and attractive

Bonanza Bros' scenery and cast have a slick and realistic look to them - almost like those computer-generated cartoons whicha re becoming increasingly elaborate by the minute. Here is a visual approach which is distinctive and attractive, yes, but also somehow serves to create the illusion of more depth of play than actually exists. With any luck it will inspire other authors to experiment, and we'll see a host of releases that look wildly different from anything that's come before. (We can but hope).

Unfortunately, this Amiga conversion doesn't look quite as clean and wholesome on screen as the game does in the arcades (the visuals are smaller and less detailed than in the original arcade machine), but everything else seems to have survived the process of translation intact, and the result stands proud. A bravely different game then, and one you can't help feeling something for - though as entertainment in its own right, Bonanza Bros is not without fault.

The biggest flaw is a lack of depth. The action comprises of little more than trotting around, finding hiding places to avoid getting shot up, and shooting the security force or slamming doors in their faces while scope the scene for loot. It's a formula for a fun time to be sure, but not for long- there are only 10 not-entirely-sizeable stages to complete, and there's previous little scope for experimental play.


The obvious potential of the subject matter hasn't been taken to the extremes it should either

And that's not the only problem. The obvious potential of the subject matter hasn't been taken to the extremes it should either - the situation should have thrown up much more interesting puzzles, traps and whatnot than are found here. Equally, the ever present promise of hours of slapstick fun never fully materialises - Mobo and Robo slip over on Coke cans and tread on rakes that hit their faces, but that's as far as it goes. Other characters aren't affected by these obstacles at all!

A more varied security force would have been appreciated too, but it's more of a pity that the existing cast doesn't interact with each other enough. It'd have been fun to be able to trick two Security Guards into shooting each other or blowing each other up, but no. It'd have been nice to see lone and hard done by Security Guards calling on their copper mates to come and give the boys a good kicking, like in the bonus stage (see THE BONUS STAGE), but nah.

And it'd have been great to see more use of the doors (what if you shut one in the face of a burglar-hungry dog, leaving it in such a mental stage that it mauled the first character it came across - preferably the other Bonanza brother for some top-notch two-player twists?) but you know what I'm going to say, don't you? That's not in here either. The two player possibilities of the game haven't been explored at all (in fact, having both brothers involved tends to slow down the action in this conversion, though not to an unplayable extent).

I don't know. It's as though the designers ran out of ideas or time and so the theme hasn't been developed enough. Maybe it's a dry run for something bigger and better - who knows? Come on Sega. More, please. More Mobo. More Robo. And, most importantly, more content.


MEET THE SECURITY FORCE (THEY'RE OUT TO STOP YOU)

Bonanza Bros: Security Guard
Security Guards come in two different forms. The first type patrols a set path and either shoots at Mobo and Robo or attempts to beat them with a truncheon...

Bonanza Bros: Security Guard
...The other sleeps until he's woken by the boys' presence (right). A single shot is enough to send a Security Guard tumbling on his back with his legs kicking in the air.

Bonanza Bros: Armed Guard
Armed Guards patrol simple routes, carrying a shield and a gun which they aren't afraid to use. A single shot to the body puts them in a spin though.

Bonanza Bros: Bruiser
Bruisers are these big fat beggars who throw bombs at you and take three good hits to knock down.

Bonanza Bros: Dog
Dogs are dumb. Some simply lie still and take whatever they boys throw at them, while others are a tad more dangerous.

Bonanza Bros: Chef
Chefs are complete divs. They run about in a dither, bumping into things and throwing plates in the air as they fall.

WONDERS OF THE BONANZA BROS WORLD

Bonanza Bros: Level 1 LEVEL  1  The Bonanza Bros' first stop is the Bank where they meet two members of the security force. Every location has at least two floors, linked by stairways, containing rooms packed with obstacles and separated by doors which open and close at the touch of a button. The doors make a convenient ad-hoc (and slapstick) weapon - open one in the face of an adversary and he's knocked, temporarily dazed, to the floor. But beware - some members of the security force are likely to return the 'favour'.
Luckily, Mobo and Robo carry stun guns capable of putting members of the security force on their backs for a few vital seconds.

Bonanza Bros: Level 2 LEVEL  2  Stage Two is Mr Big's Mansion, which is guarded by the 'standard' security force along with the big, bomb-throwing Bruisers who make their debut. Mobo and Robo should also keep 'em peeled for soft drink cans and rakes lying around on the floor. A simple pulley system provides a means of travelling between the two areas of the building. It certainly beats taking a head-bashing dive to the ground floor far below...

Bonanza Bros: Level 3 LEVEL  3  Atop the Goldrush Casino, which is where we are now, there are springs which shoot Mobo and Robo high into the air - and over otherwise impassable obstacles. (If only the game made more of this...)

Bonanza Bros: Level 4 LEVEL  4  The Royal Mint offers an alternative means of temporarily disabling the security force. Crushers - operated with a simple lever mechanism - squash flat anything they hit. Real cartoon stuf...

Bonanza Bros: Level 5 LEVEL  5  A brief, non-interactive mine cart ride precedes the pretty-much-the-same-on-previous-levels-(but-erm-underground) action in the Gold Mine.

Bonanza Bros: Level 6 LEVEL  6  Collect the sparklers from the Jewelry Store and, erm, that's it. (Not much to this level really...)

Bonanza Bros: Level 7 LEVEL  7  The only surprise in the Laoratory is the fact that there aren't any surprises. What a waste - when you're finding it hard to write about a level you know the game's in trouble.

Bonanza Bros: Level 8 LEVEL  8  Mr Big's Yaught. A 'Yaught' is in fact a yacht in case you hadn't guessed. Mr Big is nowhere to be seen. Did he fall overboard or was he pushed in some spooky premonition of (Snip! - Ed)

Bonanza Bros: Level 9 LEVEL  9  Almost there now. Various objects of artistic value have to be taken from inside the Modern Art Museum...

Bonanza Bros: Level 10 LEVEL 10 ...while the final stage is set inside a large pyramid (whoever he is, this mysterious stranger certainly has rather eccentric tastes...)