BETTER BY FAR
Joe And Mac Caveman Ninja might seem like a bit of a lengthy handle to most people. There is a reason. In Japan, the coin-op is simply called Joe And Mac, and the US market takes the rest of the title. Elite have bought up the rights, and so to keep global happiness they've stuck it all together. After successfully piecing together the SNES conversion, winning 4/5 on TV's Bad Influence, they've stuck it on the Amiga. What's more, they're even claiming that it's better than the console version! Only having seen the console version in demo form, I can't really comment on that.
The story tells of two cavemen with a fairly idyllic lifestyle. Plenty of food, plenty of hunting, and more than enough cavegirls to entertain them. All is well until a rampaging horde take the village by surprise one day whilst our heroes are out on one of their regular hunts. When they return, they discover that their female companions have been kidnapped. Do they turn celebrate? Do they heck. This is where you come in.
ROAD TO RUN
The enemy have covered a lot of ground - 15 levels in fact, and you have to travel through them to search of your late night company. Starting off in your average prehistoric forest, you work your way through volcanoes, mountains, waterfalls, ice caverns and some violent thunderstorms all the while fighting the best your enemy can throw at you, as well as all the natural hazards posed by the wildlife, such as aerial attacks from hungry pterodactyls or the teeth pickings of a tyrannosaurus rex.
One of the nice things about the way the game is laid out is that you don't need to follow the same route twice. Half a dozen times through the game you'll be asked whether you want to follow the A or B path. This way, even if you get to the end, there's no guarantee that you've seen everything the game has to offer.
In one player mode, it's a good game. As Joe, you have to wander from left to right, occasionally moving up and down, killing everything you can and collecting all the bonuses that appear. Along with all the typical objects such as fruit for extra energy and bonus points, there are stacks of weapons to collect including boomerangs, fire, a wheel (?!) and the mystical self weapon, a strange tool that involves you throwing likenesses of yourself at the enemy to confuse them.
Naturally, at the end of each level, you have to face a massive guardian which usually takes hundreds of hits in the right places before they fall down. My favourite is the Mammoth that gradually falls apart as you hit it, losing its trunk, and then its tusks before crashing to the ground.
THROWING A FRIEND
In two player mode, the game takes on a different twist. Although Joe and Mac are the best of buddies, they don't believe in sharing women, so the person who does the most destruction on a level is the one to win the girl. With that in mind, things take on a more competitive angle, as well as introducing a new move.
A character can stand on another character to gain height while attacking, and while they are stood there, pulling down makes them grab their human stepladder and pick them up. This done, they can then throw their burden at the enemy, to use them as a distraction and a weapon. Once someone has done this to you, the obvious reaction is to do it back, so you spend hours trying to leap on each other's shoulders and forget about everything else.
Joe And Mac Caveman Ninja is a lot of fun to play. Not as complete or polished as Zool, but still a great platform game. Controls are responsive, the graphics are good and the sampled sound is excellent, but I couldn't help feeling that in these times of epic Amiga games, this one is just a little too limited. If you liked the arcade version, though, you'll probably love this.