It's everyone's favourite hero! It's...

Dylan Dog: The Murderers logo

SIMULMONDO * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Good ol' Dylan Dog! What a guy! What would we do without Dylan Dog, eh? Ol' Doggy. Dylly Babes. Er, hang about... Dylan Dog? Just who the smeg is he? He's not a dog, that much is obvious, and he doesn;t even look like a Dylan. A Brian perhaps, or maybe a Stuart, but not a Dylan.

And yet this game treats him as if he's a computer celebrity to rival Sonic The Hedgehog. Stranger and stranger...

After some Nancy Drew-type investigations, it transpires that Dylan Dog is Italy's number one comic book character, which just goes to prove that when it comes to thinking up really butch names for comic book heroes, the Italians haven't quite got the knack. Dan Dare, that's a butch name. Dylan Dog? Sounds a bit Disney, doesn't it?

Anyway, casting aside the rather mysterious nature of our hero, let's just see what this spooky Italian offering is all about. Apparently Dylan went to a bit of a knees-up in some mansion or other last night, but unlike everyone else he didn't have a tipple of three of finest Bavarian booze. Just as well really, because for reasons best known to the brewery, the happy juice has turned everyone into homicidal maniacs.

There's a moral for you there kids - if you don't drink you miss all the fun. So, poor old Dylan is stuck in an old mansion with a crape name and loads of ax-wielding nutters.

Dylan's razor sharp instinct tells him to get out of there pronto, and it's up to you to do it. Oh, and you could find out just why the beer has sent everyone bonkers, that'd be quite nice too.

Arcade adventure? Yes it is, actually. The usual mix of running around, scrapping and picking up objects. Any good? Weeell, it's bearable I suppose.

The good points - the graphics are great, with nice realistic animation and loads of tomato ketchup splattered all over the place. You also get plenty of tunes that change as you go on, but very few meaty FX to go with the gore.

Whenever you reach an important point in the game, you get an animated scene to illustrate it, which is quite nice. And, erm, that's about the good points actually.

The bad points - it gets very boring. You never seem to make any progress, you pick up objects that don't seem to serve any purpose and wander through rooms that appear interesting but aren't. You only get six bullets for the whole game, which means you have to indulge in far too much hand-to-hand combat. And, blow me down, hand-to-hand combat is crap. You punch, then they punch. Worlds are born, stars go supernova, the universe revolves, and eventually they fall over dead.

It's also nigh-on impossible to die. I spent five minutes being attacked by a maniac with a power drill, and barely lost any energy. Challenging it is not. Plus, the control system is annoying. You have to push up to go through a door, but that also makes you jump. Be prepared to spend a lot of time jumping in front of doors before going through them.

It's always a shame to see a potentially good game spoiled by some thoughtless and generally lazy programming, and that's exactly what's happened here. The presentation is almost perfect, and the graphics are always nice and gruesome, but the actual game itself seems to have buggered off.

Perhaps it was in there when they sent it out, but it got lost in the post. I don't know. But when I played it, it was definitely a fun-free zone. Looks like Dylan's destined to remain in obscurity for a bit longer.

Dylan Dog: The Murderers logo


Poor old Dylan Dog (a man with a miserable childhood, no doubt) is, apparently, the star of the 'No. 1 Italian comic book'. Our hero has had the misfortune to attend a party at which everyone goes barking mad and tries to maim everyone else. Mr Dog's task is to suss it all out and be the hero.

Fat chance. Dylan strolls around this flick-screen 'whodunit' as if hunting for his car keys, rather than the forces of evil. Every time you enter a new screen, the game pauses, displaying a little picture to keep you entertained. The high point of this adventure comes when Dylan bumps into other party-goers. Unfortunately, the ensuing hand-to-hand combat is totally naff.

If the comic book was as slow and tedious as this it would soon be heading for treble figures in the comic charts.

Dylan Dog: The Murderers logo

"Credit should be given where credit is deserved," as they notoriously always seem to say, so let's bestow Dylan Dog with at least a little initial credit. In fact, to fail to mention some of the graphically atmosphere setting extras to be found within the game would be a veritable crime - the stereo systems with speakers that actually vibrate to the game in-game music and the spurts of blood that convincingly ooze out of stabbed individuals to name but two.

This sort of attention to detail usually implies that the programmers have got everything else just right and are wisely filling any spare memory. This sort of attention to detail doesn't usually imply that the programmers have duffed up the rest of the game beforehand.

The smattering of above-mentioned touches pale into deep recesses of insignificance considering the absurd animation, the appallingly slow joystick responses and the completely flat look of a supposedly 3D house. Dylan Dog, as you may have been wondering by now, is a bloke (and not a dog) and possibly the star of some Italian comic strip if I'm interpreting the title screen correctly.

In the game, Dylan has been trapped in the house of evil - it is your job to escape with your life. The instructions give no idea how to do this.

But on my first go, by walking between rooms, killing everyone in sight (by tedious repeated fire-pressing), collecting a few objects and picking up a few new weapons (via an awful selection screen that keeps needing to be called up), I suddenly entered a room to be rewarded with a tacky animated sequence that I could make neither head nor tail of, apparently notifying me that I was a quarter of the way through the game.

The fact that I was unable to get any further on subsequent games actually came as little disappointment: I could see that nothing was going to change and I had no desire ever to play the thing again.

And by way of a conclusion? I'm afraid I'm completely unable to think of one. I think an epitaph would be far more fitting instead.