Fangs for the mammeries...

Brides of Dracula logo

GONZO GAMES * £24.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

It can't be easy being a vampir. Bad breath, pasty complexion, and you keep biting your tongue. And just think of how hard it must be to get a date. Have you ever tried chatting up a girl when your eyes keep glowing bright red? It's impossible. You can't even get on Blind Date. Imagine it...

Gormless bimbette (reading questions off cue card): Number two, if you invited me round for lunch, what would we eat and why?
Vampire: Er, well I'd probably bit you on the neck and suck all the blood out of your body, actually. (Audience laugh until their tonsils bleed. Cilla grins sickeningly. LWT commission yet another series, mass suicides ensue).

It just won't work willit? So what can a lonely vamp do on a weekend, eh? Well, ol' Dracula seems to have got the right idea.

Rather than popping down to the youth club disco and trying to wanle a salt and vinegar flavoured snog behind the church hall, he's decided to make all the girls in the village fancy him.

And how does he do this? Does he send off for one of those "Make Yourself Dead Sexy, Honest" sprays from dodgy magazines? Of course nog! He stalks through the night, chomps the babes on the neck and turns them into the Brides of Dracula (dan dan diddy daaaaaan).

Naturally, the villagers are a bit narked by this spate of babe thievery, and along comes Van Helsing. Van, or Transit to his friends, is the world's best vampire killer. He's probably the world's only bloody vampire killer, but nevertheless, he's very good at it. Unfortunately, he's managed to scatter his vampire killing kit all across the village (pretty careless I thought) and so he must find all his bits and pieces before he can nail Drac.

So the race is on - Dracula trying to capture all the luscious young ladies in the village, and "Transit" Van Helsing trying to remember where he's left all his tools of the trade. Arcade adventure time, I guess.

It's a two-player affair, where you each control one of the protagonists. Now in principle this is a great idea, especially if you get to play Dracula, 'cos you get to chase buxom maidens and stuff. Even so, it's basically a run around and collect things game. And it's not a very good one either.

This game first appeared on the, cough, ST way back in 1991. And rather unfortunately for us, there's a quote from a certain sister magazine of ours, Atari ST User, on the box. A whopping 92 per cent it claims. Oh dear.
Maybe it was radically different on the ST, but if it was anything at all like this then the reviewer was either blind, or very, very drunk.

So, Brides of Dracula, prepare yourself for a stagging off of Olympic magnitude. First up, the graphics are tiny and their movement is stilted, so trying to jump over a moving enemy is pretty damn impossible. This doesn't help the gameplay any, and that's a pity 'cos it needs all the help it can get.

The basic idea is a tried and tested one, but it's spoiled by the thoughtless way that each object, be it woman or weapon, must be taken back to your starting point before you can collect another. So back and forth and back and forth you go, until one of you runs out of energy. Wowee.

Unimaginative sound and fairly lame graphics are just the final nails in this game's coffin. Cute idea, but it's neither scary or funny. They might have got away with it if the game had consisted of more than just going through the same screens over and over again, but as it is I don't think that this game's likely to rise from the dead too often. Ho ho ho, I'm a right joker me...

Brides of Dracula logo

Vampires have a tough old time of it - just think of their social life. Take Dracula, for instance. Drac is getting rather lonely in his old age and so decides to go out and get himself a wife. Or two. Or 13. Luckily there's a village just down the road from his castle with literally hundreds of scantily-clad girlies swanning around in a rather vague way, so Drac sets out to bag himself some of this rampant tottie.

To rid themselves of the menace of Drac, the villagers call in Van Helsing, a vampire hunter who has probably had more stakes than you've had, er, steaks.

This is a game for one or two players, one human against the Amiga or two playing simultaneously. Each player takes the role of Drac or Van Helsing, who have specific goals. Drac's is to find, bite and lead back to his castle 13 glorious gals. Van Helsing, meanwhile, is desperately searching for 13 vital pieces of equipment he needs to kill Drac: stuff like silver bullets, a prayer-book and of course a piece of toast.

The village is cursed
The screen is split into two different horizontally-scrolling sections, one for each player. The playing area is made up of five sections, including the village and Drac's castle, around which are scattered Helsing's stuff and Drac's babes.

Van Helsing (who jumps and strides around like a man who's just received a huge grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks) has to take each object back to his house one at a time, and Drac can only have one girl in tow at once, so there's a lot of toing and froing.

Other characters in the game affect Drac and Helsing in different ways. The other vampire hunters are the priest, for example, all have a go at Drac, while Drac's butler Riff Raff (sound at all familiar?), the ghouls in the graveyard and the devil dogs all harm Van Helsing.

Fortunately, though, retaliation is possible for both players. There are certain things like rats and dripping acid, that hurt regardless, and these need to be avoided with some nifty jumping.

Not much at stake
Brides of Dracula is a simple little game with an old-fashioned feel to it - it may remind you of the old 8-bit games Skool Daze and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Whichever player you choose it's not much of a problem to complete the task: the playing area's small, and if you really get stuck, you can sit back and watch the Amiga take on both roles.

The split screen's a nice idea, particularly when you realise with a shock you're just about to encounter your enemy - and sure enough, there he is on the same screen.

There's one very frustrating point about the game. When you want to go up/down stairs, you need to position yourself exactly at the right spot at the head of the stairs and press Fire and Up simultaneously to get you onto the right screen 'plane'. If you;re even a few pixels out, the game won't recognise it, forcing you to change position and try again. It's not a catastrophic bug, just intensely annoying and time-wasting.

You won't find anything here to amaze you, either in the graphics (air, with some good coloured skies), the sound (spot effects and not very good ones) or the gameplay (too easy), but Brides of Dracula could keep you interested for a day or two. But then, so can watching paint dry, at a push.

Brides of Dracula logo

Zeppelin * £7.99
Reviewed AF34 73%

Dracula is on the pull. Not for just one young lady. Oh no. He's after 13 of them and as luck would have it, there are more scantily-clad chicks wandering around the local village than there are in Benidorm in August.

However, not surprisingly the villagers are not too keen on the boy Dracula bagging all their tottie so they've hired vampire hunter Van Helsing to try and thwart him.

Van Helsing has to try and find 13 objects that freak Dracula out (including keys and a slice of toast) before he can finish him off while Drac attempts to collect the babes. The screen is split so two players can take on the various roles and there are five sections to move around.

There's not a great deal to shout up and down about here and the toing and froing between the different sections becomes a pain after a while. Average graphics and sound effects - the idea is better than the reality.

Wenig Prach um Mitternacht

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Ein Actionadventure rund um den blutdurstigen Langzahn und seinen Erz-Kontrahenten Dr. Van Helsing - das hört sich doch schaurigschön an, oder? Schaurig ist es denn auch, aber schön?

Man übernimmt einen der beiden Helden und überläßt den anderen einem joystick-bewaffneten Freund oder der "Freundin". Als Dracula muß man 13 Jungfrauen durch kraftvolles Zubeißen zum Vampirismus bekehren; Dr. Van Helsing hat die Aufgabe, 13 Gegenstände (Kreuz, Hammer, Holzpfahl, Knoblauch, etc.) zu finden, mit denen er den Grafen ärgern kann.

Damit unsere Sammler und Jäger den Überblick nicht verlieren, hat man ihnen neben einem großen Energiebalken je 13 Anzeigen für das Beutegut spendiert. Das digitale Transsylvanien besteht aus fünf Einzelgebieten, zwischen denen die Jungs mit Hilfe von Teleportern, Geheimgängen und Dungeons hin- und herwechseln können, gelegentlich liegen nützliche Extras herum.

Gekämpft wird natürlich auch ein bißchen, dabei muß Vampi seine drei Bildschirmexistenzen boxenderweise gegen (relativ harmlose) Bauern und Pfarrer verteidigen, der Doktor verteilt fußtritte an Werwölfe und untote Butler.

Leider bekommt man hier die Gänsehaut von der Präsentation: Wegen des Splitscreens plus NTSC-Streifen ist die ruckelige Grafik im Look von "Nighthunter" winzig ausgefallen, die Animationen der Helden erinnern an Hochgeschwindigkeitszombies. Zudem ist der Sound so unerträglich wie die (Kampf-) Steuerung unfair.

Schade, aus der vampirösen Hatz hätte was werden können - zur Strafe sollte man die Programmierer ein Jahr lang mit Knoblauch mästen! (mm)

Brides of Dracula logo

What do you see yourself as? A sex-driven bloodthirsty vampire with an appetite for innocent village maidens? Or perhaps a eccentric old duffer with a very odd Monty Python-style walk and a determination to hunt down evil vampires? (It is good to have a hobby)). It is a bit of a pointless question actually, as whichever role lights your candle, you can play it in Brides Of Dracula.

As you can no doubt tell from the pics, it is a split screen affair, though perhaps less obvious is the fact that you can play it in simultaneous two player mode, with one of you as Van Helsing on the trail of the other's Prince of Darkness. In one player mode I chose the role of Drac and set out to find myself thirteen innocent maidens with the aim of knocking them over, ravaging their necks and then taking them back to the 13 neatly arranged coffins I had waiting for them back at my castle.

Up against me was that computerised killjoy, Van Helsing, himself on a mission to collect 13 items (to make the game fair, y'see), again spread throughout the village, to have a chance of killing me.

Let us start with the bad points. Well, for a start, the graphics are amateurish and very 1980s, although there are a few arty touches to the teleport system. Much worse, though, is that fact that it is all so very plodding. Getting Drac to move is like spending a day watching paint dry, and dull old Van Helsing is not much better either, except you do get to laugh at his stupid walk.

As for vamping those maidens, it is all very well, except that you have to go and get them one at a time, take them individually back to the castle, and then go down to town to get another one - how very, very repetitive.

Do not get the impression I have got a total downer on the game, though. It is actually quite a hoot - the way in which you vamp unsuspecting maidens is suitably tasteless, for instance. At one point I 'did' a blond haired maiden in a long green dress, who promptly turned into a scantily clad young vampess with spikey black hair, who told me my wish was her command. Now that is what I call metamorphosis!

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I remember seeing Gonzo Games demonstrating this title a couple of years ago. Why it has taken so long to surface is anyone's guess, but I am glad it finally did.

The plot is a simple one - Count Dracula is alive and well and is looking for a wife. The nearby town of Bistritz has 13 suitable candidates, but before any can become a bride, Dracula must first bite them and then lead them back to the castle, where they will wait in their coffin for him.

Unfortunately, Van Helsing is also alive and well, and has a few scores to settle, so is also searching the town with an eye for revenge. He will stop at nothing to get his hands on Dracula, and that is where the fun begins.

In this one or two player game, you and a friend can play either of the characters in their relevant quests. It is all played out on a split screen, horizontally scrolling landscape with both parties occupying the same world.

To begin with, they start as far apart as possible - Dracula searching for wives and Van Helsing looking for the tools he needs to destroy the dark Count. However, as the game progresses the tension mounts and before too long you will find yourself crossing each other's path constantly.

It is all good fun, and very easy to get into, despite the slightly confusing screen layout. The simple controls mean that before you know it you can get right into the game. An excellent attempt at an odd idea.