Capital Punishment logo AGA

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

Around five or six months ago I remember someone telling me about this brand new fighting game called 'Capital Punishment'. After around two weeks it was on our coverdisk, but I had yet to see what the game was all about and why it was attracting so much attention. Being naturally sceptical about 'good' fighting games on the Amiga, I just carried on playing Sensi Soccer as usual.

When I finally got around to looking at the first demo version of the game and read the document included on the disk, I was pretty much laughing. There was a list of future ideas which clickBOOM, the Canadian development team, wanted to incorporate into the game. It almost sounded like a joke, because the Amiga had never produced anything like what these people had in mind.

Anyway, I loaded up the demo and after a few bouts of fighting action between two identical characters I was really surprised. The graphics were its strong point and they really stood out, but the most important aspect was that it actually played really well. Okay, so there were a few bugs and glitches knocking around, but they were forgiven, it was on the first demo after all.

My main reservation was that I had seen many companies start off with a decent demo of a game then inevitably get bored, or run out of money, and bring out an absolutely poor version with no extra additions. I immediately got into contact with the game's producer, Alex Petrovic, basically to ask him how he managed it and why he hasn't produced anything on the Amiga before. Within a few months the whole clickBOOM story was printed in the May issue of Amiga Computing.


After the show, interest was shown by various publishers, including Ocean, Team 17 and Time Warner. I was surprised when they decided to opt for the PC

The next step was to see Alex personally in London at the World of Amiga Show, where he showed me a version of the game that was almost finished. I was shocked by the amount of interest it generated. There were hundreds of kids approaching him asking when and where they could buy it.

After the show, interest was shown by various publishers, including Ocean, Team 17 ad Time Warner amongst others, but I was genuinely surprised when they decided the PC market would be a far better option. And unfortunately that will be, without doubt, their loss.

It was finally decided that clickBOOM would publish the game itself and that was the last I heard about it until it was announced that the game was finished and ould be out on September 13.

I think the first point I should mention is that the game requires a hard drive with about 15MB free to install it. It will not run off floppy disks, to save yourself a lot of time by only buying the game if you have a hard drive.

Also, Capital Punishment will run on an unexpanded A1200, but FastRAM is recommended, it just means you won't be able to run it from Workbench. Right, so that's the technical bit out of the way.

When the title screen appears amidst a booming dance track, you get to see the amount of options which are at your disposal. Firstly, there are the usual Player versus Amiga or Player versus Player modes which come with all fighting games, although as you toggle between the game modes there are leagues and tournaments as well as a huge Epic story battle mode.

The Epic mode ties in with a plot which has been written specifically for the game. There is an evil emperor by the name of Qwesul who wants to take over the skies from the Gods. Just before Qwesul was to take over the Earth, the Gods reincarnated you, the great warrior to put an end to his evil tricks.

The only problem is that Qwesul is protected by his guards, who are also great warriors and have been reincarnated to stop you. Your job is to dispose of these characters before reaching Qwesul himself. It's a job that only the most skilful, agile and powerful of warriors can even attempt. And you have been chosen.


The game itself is packed full of playability and presents enough challenge for expter gamesplayers. The graphics and presentation are outstanding

The tournament mode is split up into rounds, with the winner progressing to the next round until there is only one player left. Eight human players can take part, each one controlling their chosen character in each bout.

The League mode is pretty much the same, although you gain points for each win. At the end, your points are totalled up and the one with the most points wins. Simple.

To add some variety to the game there is what's called a 'Posse' mode, which is basically a tag-team mode. For example, two human players can select two characters each and toggle between the two when their energy rating begins to run low.

There are many different stages to fight in, each with their own graphics, special features and music. The first is the Sewer, where the sound of running water accompanies the action. A number of rather dangerous spikes situated in one corner make this one of the most exciting arenas, as both players tend to stay as far to the right as possible.

The spikes only tend to make an appearance when your energy is low, and it always looks good if you can finish your opponent off with an uppercut which sends him into the air only to be impaled on the way down.

The Factory level has bolts of electricity frazzling anything that gets near it, and a hook which continually moves from side to side and can be landed on if the timing is correct. It's always there too; as soon the levels starts one swift uppercut via the hook can win the match.

The other levels are graphically outstanding, with either fog, mist,or thunder and lightning effects. The work that has gone into the graphics is certainly committed, and this is partly what makes Capital Punishment a great game. It has been developed bya team who are greatly devoted to the Amiga.


Fans of Body Blows cannot fail to be impressed with Capital Punishment's overall quality

The game itself is packed full of playability and, presents enough challenge for expert gamesplayers. The first Alien-like beast although when you work out a strategy to win, you will be able to trounce the enemy into oblivion every time you begin.

There are a variety of options too. You can configure the game to something similar to either Body Blows or Mortal Kombat if you so wish. Fans of both these games cannot fail to be impressed with Capital Punishment's overall quality.

You can alter the game so that the two opponents can pass each other, the characters face each other when one of them is fatigued, and create a screen limit so the characters cannot wander from out of view. You can also change basic things such as time limits and how many bouts you want to fight.

The energy system is quite complicated, as there are three different types. You can either use energy like in any other beat-em-up, such as Mortal Kombat, whereby when you get hit your own energy reduces, or you can have a tug of war where you have to fight to win back energy you lose, or finally there's a mix of the two.

Capital Punishment is one of the finest games on the Amiga. The graphics and presentation are outstanding and the playability is second to none. Bearing in mind the current state of the Amiga games market, a product like this is unbelievable. At a time where the majority of games are well below average, it seems ironic that one of the best games of all time should be released. Roll on Capital Punishment 2!


The characters

Each character has his own history and personality, but you can probably work that out just by looking at them. All four of them were killed under suspicious and unexplained circumstances, but they have been brought back to life to dispose of Qwesul and put an end to his evil plans.

Corben Wedge - killed 1996
Capital Punishment This big, muscle-bound character uses a strange combination of martial-arts, street-fighting, kickboxing and Thai boxing. He is the winner of numerous illegal tournaments of death where only one fighter can survive.

Demona - killed 2003
Capital Punishment Demona, the rather popular female character, is the only warror to use a weapon. Nobody knows her real name, but she received her rather apt nickname purely because of her volatile temper. She likes to dispose of her opponents using a very large whip.

Wakantanka - killed 1356
Capital Punishment The biggest warrior in the game hails from an ancient Indian tribe and is easily the strongest fighter. He was the first warrior chosen by the Gods, solely because of his extreme power.

Sarmon - killed 1822
Capital Punishment Armon looks like and used to be a sailor. By travelling all over the world he learned many new combat techniques. He was granted immortality soon after Wakantanka was killed.

Final word

When you buy Capital Punishment, you will never ever need to purchase another fighting game. It contains everything and more and wipes the floor with the likes of Body Blows, Shadow Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Buy it now.



Capital Punishment logo AGA

It normally takes Andy Smith a couple of lagers before he gets punchy. But not today...

You don't really want to be bothered with the plot and stuff do you? Surely not. Look, all right, it doesn't really make a blind bit of difference - it's a beat-em-up, that's all you need to know but if it gives you a better appreciation of the game then I'll go into it briefly.

Erm, a whole bunch of fighters were chosen by the gods or something to erm, do something. Then along comes this bad god and sort of kills them all and makes them immortal at the same time (look, I didn't come up with this), and keeps them to guard him. Or something.

Anyway, like I aid it doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that there are several fighters for you to choose from, and that you can sort of fight your way through a sort of storyline bit in one of the one-player modes - called Epic mode.

Look, enough plot, trust me, anyway you're better off finding out about the background when you get the game.

Let's deal with the meat of the review and that's what the game looks, sounds and plays like. Looks first. Bear with me if I wander off on one graphic feature later, but well, you'll understand. ClickBOOM have done wonders with Capital Punishment in the graphics dept.

Look for yourself at the screen shots and you'll agree the sprites are excellent, the backgrounds are excellent and generally everything looks terrific. But what you can't see is the smoothness of the animation of the little graphic tricks that have been included.

All the characters move extremely fluidly, probably because there are loads of frames of animation - and they can turn round and everything. Ho ho. Couldn't resist that, Rise of the Robots. Ho ho. And even though there's loads of animation, it doesn't take half an hour for your character to move through a pre-set punching routine. All the moves are executed quickly, smoothly and believably.

The graphic trickery is a joy as well. Swinging and swaying shadows, dark rooms which only become lit when the lightning outside flashes and eerie cut-scenes all go together to make this one of the most atmospheric beat-em-ups you could wish to see.

But now here's the wandering off bit. And actually it's the biggest problem I have with the game. Yeah, you guessed it, it's the semi-naked fighter Demona. For some reason, ClickBOOM have decided it would be great to have some girl fighter who fights with her breasts out. It's actually very dubious as to whether she's wearing any underwear at all actually. She's in this kind of red cloak thing with holes cut out of it for her boobs to stick out of. CHEAP SENSATIONALISM CLICKBOOM.

Look, we know the majority of people buying your game are going to be late-teen boys, but really. This is crass in the extreme. It really is.

I'll stop there because mentioning Demona makes a nice link to talking about the fighters in general. There are half a dozen to choose from and, as you might expect, they all have peculiar abilities, but with a payoff.

Demona's got this big whip you see so she can hit people from a long way off, but she's not too powerful, whereas Wakantanka is an extremely hard hitter but he's a bit slow. You know how these things work.

Sound now. And you'll be pleased to know that there's nothing here to annoy me. It's all great - from the intro music to the sound effects. They're all good, so let's get on to how the game plays.

Loads of different moves and stuff, you know all about that, but what'll need pointing out is the two bars beneath your strength meter (at the top of the screen). These are your fatigue levels. Basically, you can't just run around like a headless chicken because you become fatigued and the more fatigued you are the more susceptible to attack you are.

You'll also find that taking a few unanswered hits causes you to be fatigued and as you stand there with your head bowed, gasping for breath, your opponent can sidle up to you and hit you with their best shot. Unless of course you're faking the fatigue and wallop them as they cockily move in for what they think's going to be the kill.

It's this kind of thing - being able to fake fatigue and such that sets Capital Punishment apart from the ordinary and elevates it to a Format Gold. Knock an opponent onto the deck and you can still charge into them while they're on the floor, and continue kicking and punching them. Great stuff.

The only other really major point that Capital Punishment can call its own is the introduction of traps. Basically, when either fighter's strength is almost gone some traps appear from the scenery - usually spikes coming out of the wall or one of the gargoyles statues dropping their trident a few degrees from upright, resulting in a tasty meat hook.

The idea's obviously to knock your poor, almost dead anyway, opponent up onto the spikes or whatever (a good uppercut when you're in close often does the business) and finish them off in style. These are great fun to play around with but they are something of a double-edged sword in that you can have all your energy while your opponent has very little yet they can wallop you onto the traps and win the bout, so beware of them - whether you're winning or losing.

And that's about the size of Capital Punishment. In two player mode (or three or four if you fancy), because there are league and tournament modes to play around with too) it's excellent fun. Take the time limit off and you and a chum can slog it out for as long as your hands can stand it without cramping up.

One player mode is far too difficult in my humble opinion - the computer opponents only need to get a couple of hits on you and the bout's over - but then it's better to be too hard than too easy and the best way to get some practice is to put the game in two player mode and experiment with each fighter until you understand how to execute a few decent combinations of moves - you'll be well away.

ClickBOOM have certainly tried hard with this game and it shows. Not only are the graphics excellent but there's depth to the gameplay. Experience, skill and tactics all play a part which is just how things should be in games like this. I wouldn't go as far to say it's one of the best Amiga games ever created but it's certainly the most polished and playable in the genre.

ClickBOOM have proved they can apply themselves and create games worthy of high praise (even if they have got cringe-worthy ideas of what needs to be included to appeal toa mainly adolescent male audience, but hey! This is just my opinion - they obviously held a different opinion during the game creation process, so that's fine really). So let's hope they continue and build on the excellent foundations they've put in place.

Capital Punishment is not necessarily a game that's going to appeal to everyone, but if you like your beat-em-ups then you're certainly going to be hard pressed to find one that plays anywhere near as good as this.



Capital Punishment logo AGA Amiga Joker Hit

Die Faustkämpfer unter den Amigos haben derzeit wirklich keinen Grund zur Klage: Erst weckte Lightshock Software mit ein paar kurzen (CD-) Haken den "Fightin' Spirit", jetzt schickt sie der Newcomer clickBOOM mit einem gewaltigen Schwinger endgültig ins Reich der Träume!

Vor zwölf Monaten kannte die Spieleabteiling der kanadischen "Pxl computers" (die Untergruppe einer Agentur für Grafikdesign) noch kaum jemand, doch mit der "World of Amiga" änderte sich das Ende letzten Jahres in der Tat schlagartig: Auf der in Toronto beheimateten Messe stellte clickBOOM erstmals Auszüge einer in aller Heimlichkeit zusammengeschraubten Digi-Prügelei vor, die den Fachjournalisten das Wasser im Mund zusammenlaufen ließen.

Seit einiger Zeit ergeht es nun auch hierzulande all jeden ähnlich, die im Internet auf Ankündigungen aller Art sowie Demos zu Capital Punishment stießen. Jetzt sind die kapitalen Bestrafer endlich in der Joker-Arena eingelaufen, und die Ringrichter fragen sich natürlich: Kann der herausforderer den derzeitigen Champion "Fightin Spirit" auf die Matte legen?

Runde 1: MäRCHENSTUNDE
Die in klarer Sprachausgabe zu orchestralen Klängen erzählte Vorgeschichte ist schon mal ein waschechter Tiefschlag für Freunde halbwegs anspruchsvoller Hintergrundstories: Seit Urzeiten versucht der überaus verabscheuungswürdige Qwesul die Götter vom Thron zu stoßen und selbst die Macht im Himmel zu übernehmen.

Daran hinderten ihn bislang vier tapfere Krieger, die quer durch die Zeit verteilt das Böse bekämpften. Nachdem sie jedoch kürzlich (plus/minus ein paar hundert Jahre...) allesamt dem Schurken erlagen, griffen nun die himmlischen Heerscharen höchstpersönlich ins Geschehen ein und erweckten das Versager-Kleeblatt wieder zum Leben.

Was keine sehr originelle und wohl auch keine so tolle Idee war, denn drei aus dem Quartett sind bereits wieder aus dem Rennen - der vierte und letzte ersucht hier den Spieler um Unterstützung bei seinem gerechten Kampf.

Runde 2: DIE IDEE
Im Spielverlauf wird alsbald deutlich, daß es die Autoren der wenig einfallsreichen Geschichte bitter ernst gemeint haben. Wer sich nämlich zu Beginn über die Tatsache wundert, daß kein einziges der handelsüblichen Continues den Kreuzzug gegen die Mächte der Finsternis erleichtert, sollte sich daran erinnern, daß ja bereits drei Lichtgestalten in die Festung des Widerlings entsandt und dort von dessen Schergen überwältigt wurden.

Wache auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen des Schlosses, um ihren neuen Herrn zu beschützen. Erst wenn der spielergesteuerte Held seine Kollegen durch einen Sieg wieder zur Vernunft gebracht hat, sind sie bereit, sich ihm anzuschließen.

Diese Streiter auf Wiedergutmachungsmission sind deshalb besonders nützlich, weil sich hier die Lebensenergie eben nicht nach jeder absolvierten Schlägerei einfach wieder auffüllt. Vielmehr erlangt man für alle einem Gegner zugefügten Treffer nur ein winziges Stückchen seiner Stärke wieder, was die Kämpfe natürlich zunehmend erschwert. Und damit trägt die dröge Story eben doch zu einem sehr ungewöhnlichen Gameplay bei.

Runde 3: DIE OPTIONEN
Die Fights selbst werden nach alter Genreväter Sitte in horizontal scrollenden Szenarien ausgetragen, wobei sich im Optionsmenü bestimmen läßt, ob die Kontrahenten an den sichtbaren Bildschirmbereich gebunden sind oder nach rechts und links ins "Off" flüchtig könnten. Hier dürfen auch die von Level zu Level unterschiedlichen Fallen deaktiviert werden, welche unvorsichtlichen Schloßbesuchern oftmals ein schnelles "Game Over" bescheren.

Außerdem erklingen zu den abwechslungsreichen Kampfgeräuschen wie -schreien wahlweise düstere Begleitmelodien oder eine der jeweiligen Stage angepaßte und sehr realistische Soundkulisse.

Mit bis zu drei menschlichen Mitstreitern lassen sich auf diese Weise Turniere oder ganze Ligen abhalten, wobei der Energiehaushalt variabel gehandhabt wird. Neben der oben erwähnten Methode stehen die klassischen, voneinander vollkommen unabhängigen Energiebalken ebenso zur Auswahl wie das mittlerweile recht bekannte Death-Match, bei dem die Gegner über eine gemeinsame Lebensleiste verfügen.

Die Rundenzeit läßt sich von einer Minute auf drei erhöhen oder komplett abschalten, vor allem aber fallen die bis zu neun (!) Gewinnsätze ins Auge.

Runde 4: FREUND & FEIND
Für ausgleichende Gerechtigkeit im Kampf der Geschlechter sorgt neben dem Kickboxer Corben Wedge, dem flinken Tausendsassa Sarmon und dem buchstäblich unaufhaltsamen Navaho-Indianer Wakantanka auch die grazile, doch nicht minder gefährliche Demona. Deren Blößen werden in der Endversion übrigens durch kleine schwarze Balken verdeckt - auf das Drängen sexistischer Fans hin ist jedoch ein Cheat angekündigt, mit dessen Hilfe sie sich wieder entfernen lassen.

Gerüchteweise sind so auch die rund zehn Computergegner spielbar, genau wie besonders starke Versionen der vier Original-Heroen. Da der fortlaufende Handlungsstrang einer ganz bestimmten Route durch Qwesuls düster Burg folgt, bleibt die Reihenfolge der Computerschergen stets die gleiche: Auf Auseinandersetzungen mit diversen Mutationen in den Abwässerkanälen und nebligen Sümpfen folgen Kämpfe in stimmungsvoll ausgeleuchteten Hallen bis hin zum Gemach des Oberübelwichts.

Einmal bewältigte Abschnitte werden dabei vom Programm automatisch abgespeichert und stehen für künftige Zwei-Spieler-Matches zur Wahl, was dem Helden in spe Gelegenheit gibt, sich mit den lauernden Gefahren vertraut zu machen. Das gleiche gilt auch für einmal besiegte Wächter, die fortan als Sparringpartner zur Verfügung stehen.

Runde 5: DIE PRÄSENTATION
Das mag alles schon für einen knappen Sieg nach Punkten ausreichen, doch seine wahre Stärke offenbart der Herausforderer erst im Ring selbst: Das Scrolling mit 50 Hz kommt auch im dicksten Kampfgetümmel nie ins Stocken und reagiert bereits auf Schwerpunkt-verlagerungen wie simple Schläge und Tritte der Widersacher.

Da die Animationen zudem selbst auf ungetunten 1200ern mit 25 Frames pro Sekunde über den Bildschirm gleiten, reagieren die Kämpfer blitzschnell auf alle Joystickmanöver - alternativ lassen sich auch das CD32-Pad und sogar die Tastatur ohne Probleme nutzen.

Dank der bislang niemals auch nur annäherend erreichten 100 Animationsphasen pro Fighter können die unterschiedlichsten Uppercuts, Roundhouse-Kicks und Headbutts an den Mann bzw. das Monster gebracht werden, zusätzlich verfügt jeder Kombattant über einen Wuf sowie mehrere Mini-Combos.

Dank der zwingend vorgeschriebenen HD-Installation unterbrechen auch praktisch keine Nachladezeiten die düstere Atmosphäre, welche durch voll animierte Schatten oder geschickt platzierte Effekte noch unterstützt wird.

So blitzt der Screen bei jedem Treffer kaum merklich-rot auf, wobei sich der Grad der Färbung nach der Härte des Schlages richtet. Und bei schweren Stürzen oder auch Würfen wackelt buchstäblich die Wand!

Runde 6: DAS GAMEPLAY
Die fehlende Feuerbälle und sonstigen genreüblichen Special-Moves tun dem Spielspaß also keinen Abbruch, vielmehr mutet Capital Punishment ein wenig wie die kräftig modernisierte Variante des großen Klassikers "IK+" an. Dafür spricht auch, daß die Kämpfer einander nicht unbedingt im Stil von "Street Fighter" über den Screen schießen, sondern auch durcheinander durchlaufen könnten.

Daß Treffer dabei nicht zum Lotteriespiel werden, garantiert die komplexe Kollisionsabfrage, deren Genauigkeit sind ebenfalls variieren läßt: Außer dem üblichen Rechteckfeld, das um die Sprites bzw. Bobs gezogen wird und nicht selten auch unpräzise Schläge als Hit wertet, gibt es die Möglichkeit, mit vier Zonen (Kopf, Rumpf, Arme, Beine) zu spielen.

Das macht unterschiedliche Reaktionen für Kopf, Bein- und Körpertreffer erst möglich, zudem wird ständig angezeigt, wie viele Schläge (auch durch die Deckung) die einzelnen Partien noch verkraften, ehe das Opfer benommen und somit zur leichten Beute wird.

GONG & WERTUNG
Capital Punishment siegt also durch technischen K.o. In der sechsten Runde: Was dieses Erstlingswerk aus dem Amiga herausholt, ist fast schon unglaublich! Dennoch eine deutlich höhere Wertung als bei "Fightin' Spirit" zu vergeben, da die beiden Spiele einfach zu verschieden sind.

Weil sich dieses Meisterstück aber kein Fan von Beat 'em Ups im allgemeinen entgehen lassen darf, haben es Joker-Neuabonnenten und Online-Kämpen besonders gut: Auf erstere wartet ein ebenso exklusives wie spielbares Demo als Gratisprämie, auf zweitere unter der WW-Adresse http://www.io.org/~clkboom/amiga. Infos über die Bestellmöglichkeit - inklusive Versand und einem T-Shirt für geradezu lächerliche 65 Mark! (mz)



Capital Punishment logo AGA CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £25.00 Publisher: Click Boom/Various clkboom@io.org

In the blue corner, all the way from Canada, it's a fast beat 'em up. In the red corner it's the Society For The Prevention Of Violent And Naughty Games...

If this was 1992 Capital Punishment might have made it into the tabloids as an example of how the youth of today are being corrupted by games. After all, it contains the two key elements guaranteed to whip up media hysteria: sex and violence. But it's big, brave 1996 and the Amiga is such small fodder that no-one will notice.

This is bad news for Click Boom. Why? Because, while all the tabloid hysteria about so-called 'nasty' or 'controversial' games might not have done a single bit of good for the kids of Britain, it certainly helped the companies producing these games sell more.

Does anyone remember when Virgin publicised Doom on PC by sending Fleet Street buckets full of pig intestines? Uproar. The end of human life as we know it, kids becoming zombies, copycat killings, murder most foul... and of course circulation increases for outrageous newspapers plus, top class publicity and phenomenal sales success for Virgin.

But poor Click Boom, even with more blood than any other Amiga beat 'em up ever and a gravity defying, semi naked, fetishistic ninja lady, Capital Punishment will probably not get mentioned outside of the Amiga press. Ho hum.

Censorship
The story goes that Petro Tyschtschenko of Amiga Technologies told Click Boom that they would have to do a version without nudity but wit loads of blood for Britain and a version with much more nudity and no blood for Germany if they wanted the game to sell.

Instead they've neutered it (like my neighbour's randy dog) for the protection of society. The sex and violence has a censorship option in all countries. If you have children who really shouldn't be seeing the sort of things you take for granted in the Sun and the News Of The Wrld every day of the week, you can password the game so that Demona (the aforementioned ninja) wears a bra, and blood doesn't drip from spiked characters in the slightly nauseous manner it does in the unrestricted version.

But the fighting action remains the same regardless. And since this is the most important part of a beat 'em up, you'll be glad to know that they've got rid of some of the woodenness I criticised it for in the past and have even implemented some neat special moves to spice up the action.

Getting to the top
Capital Punishment is furnished with a typically outlandish storyline, although the construction of the plot isn't there just for decoration. It does, untypically, have some relevance to the way the game is played.

Basically there are four warriors - all of whom are dead. And there is a nasty old demon-sorcerer called Qwesul who has made the world a dark, evil place for all and sundry. The Gods ar not happy with this (whoa! Religion! Tabloid journalists take note: this game is advocating paganism too. Shock horror!), so they've brought one of the four warriors back from the dead to try to kill off Qwesul and restore peace and order to the world.

In the Epic, the main storyline Vs computer game, you choose from the four warriors: Corben Wedge, a bandaged, boxer shorts sporting puglist; Sarmon, a kick boxing expect; Demona, the busty whip equipped combat vixen and Wakantanka, a bemuscled Native American navvy.

Coming back from the dead as your fave character you first engage one of Qwesul's alien stooges (where aliens fit into the story isn't really explained). If you beat it, you will get to play one of the other 'dead' warriors who have been enslaved as Qwesul's protectors. If you beat her (Demona is the first) you get to re-fight her in what is know as the 'teacher' level. This enables you to bring her spirit under your control - if you can overcome Demona a second time of course.

Once you have the little so and so under your control you can use her to further your quest. By beating Demona you may choose her instead of your first character to continue. If one of your two characters gets bumped off you still have the other. As the game progresses you can collect all four characters, though chances are you'll lose them all plenty of times before you complete the game.

This idea, which is essential to the plot of the game, replaces the 'lives' common in most other beat 'em ups.

Moves afoot
The contestants each have a particular style of fighting and movement and some will be easier to overcome to grips with right from the start. The two easiest to master are Wakantanka and Demona. Wakantanka is like a tank: big, unwieldy but very strong. His hits take much more power from an opponent than any other character and he is damaged less.

The disadvantage is that he's a weighty chappie and as such is much slower than any others: so if you are fighting sprightly Jonnie Sarmon you can lose quickly.

Demona is rather weak, but much faster and so more difficult to hit. Her advantage for beginners is that she has a long range weapon - her whip. This can be used to punish offenders or even drag them closer for a piece of sharp-pointed shoe-in-crotch action. Painful.

The other two are more along the lines of your average Ken and Ryu - talented all rounders with Corben Wedge being the stronger of the two, while Sarmon is marginally faster. You can control the characters by keyboard, single button joystick or multi button joypad. The type of moves vary between each, with Wakantanka concentrating on punches and headbutts while Demona makes use of her whip.

Both Demona and Sarmon flip backwards I the style of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman which highlights the game's superb animations. When I saw the first demo for our preview early this year I didn't like Corben Wedge's ancestor - he was too wooden. This has been rectified and these characters now look straight from an arcade machine. The most wooden one left is Wakantanka, but he's intended to be slow, and this probably justified why.

In terms of graphics the superb lighting effects and backgrounds of the original demo have been retained and enhanced. Some of these are stunning, the best the Amiga has ever seen, but unfortunately Click Boom have chosen to be a little too different on some levels which are notably too dark or are deliberately foggy. They claim that these effects enhance the game and make it different from any other - a valid point of view - but I just found them a bit of a let down after the other levels.

Options
The type of game you play is governed by the multiple options available. The original idea of Capital Punishment was to have no limits - the fighters could pass without having to jump over each other, the hit areas around each fighter were very narrow which meant that you had to be very accurate (over accurate as far as I'm concerned) to hit the opposition and your players could disappear off screen willy nilly.

I didn't like these features, and nor did some others, so Click Boom obliged by providing options to enable you to have a more 'conventional' game by reversing all of the above actions in a custom menu.

Conventional maybe, but in my mind playable. It's this that has raised Capital Punishment beyond my previous expectations. By tailoring the options (and the difficulty level - training is 'easy' and normal is 'difficult') you can even make Capital Punishment suit your style of play and it becomes very enjoyable.

Competitions can have up to four players and while playing the game with a couple of hints from Alex Petrovic, the game's producer, I discovered hidden special moves which the computer, especially on normal difficulty, finds no bother using, but which human players will have to practice. These moves are not mentioned in the manual, so it's an added challenge to find and use them. There are also a few hidden cheats which will spice the game up no end.

Sounds good
If you have last month's CD0RIN you'll appreciate the sound effects in Capital Punishment. The game is playable from hard drive only and for a good reason: although it comes on 7 disks it's actually over 15Mb in size. A reasonable chunk of this is spent on sound, and it shows. Click Boom are reluctant to release the name of their musician, presumably because if they did he would be snapped up at a high salary by anyone even remotely interested in adding top music and sfx to their games. It's that good.

I tried the game out with the Aura Interactor reviewed on page 43. This amplifies the bass frequencies of the sound effects and gives you a feeling of being hit. The SFX setup on CP means that the left hand player's sound effects go through the left channel and vice versa, so using a channel switching function on the Aura you could filter out the other player's SFX and only get 'hurt' when your player is hit. This really is a nice feature and it was one of the better games I tried with the Aura Interactor.

I played Mortal Kombat II again while reviewing CP and it's amazing the difference between the two. Graphics-size the sheer Amiga-ness of Capital Punishment comes out on top. It's an original game with stunning lighting effects and amazing animation speed that also plays well.

But there was still something about the older looking (and obviously converted) MKII which drew me into the atmosphere more. Somehow it's more like a coin-op. CP is like a computer game. Nonetheless Click Boom have created a damn fine beat 'em up which breaks away from the established mould and shows that a stunning looking and playable Amiga beat 'em up needn't be a port from other platform.

It's also worth noting (as you'll see from the score box) that it has the best sound effects and music in the history of beat 'em ups. Now, how do we attract the tabloids' attention?


Characters

Capital Punishment
Wakantanka - stronger than Arnie but only an apprentice at trimming goatee beards.

Capital Punishment
Bandaged, bulging and brazen. Corben Wedge is fast, powerful and has big calves.

Capital Punishment
Sarmon is a whizz at kick boxing and a master at trimming goatee beards.

Capital Punishment
Fear and G-String. Demona will no doubt appeal to the pervy games player.