Jungle Strike logo Amiga Computing Bronze Award

After the Air Cav Blitzing of Desert Strike, Ocean brings jingoism to the jungle with the sequel. Gareth Lofthouse takes it for a whirl.

INTRODUCTION

When Desert Strike, already a big hit on the Mega Drive, finally made it across to the Amiga, it was hailed as a highly successful conversion.
A thinly disguised celebration of the Gulf War, it gave gameplayers a chance to whop Saddam Hussein's ass all on their own. Tasteless though this idea may be, there can be no denying that it was successfully implemented thanks to the game's highly addictive gameplay. Now Ocean has tried to improve on the original with a title that takes the battle to the jungle.

STORYLINE

Son of Mad Nutter from Iraq has joined forces with the world's No. 1 Evil Drug Baron in a fiendish plot to overthrow law, order and the American way. The Special Forces becomes involved when a satellite registers a nuclear explosion in South America, signalling a new threat from our baddies.

Called into the Whitehouse, your first job is to defend the US capital from terrorist attacks, collecting military intelligence along the way. However, you soon leave for foreign shores as the conflict takes you around the world in search of the Evil Baron.

There are nine different campaigns to fight your way through, each introduced with an animated briefing screen. Needless to say, it gets tougher and tougher as you progress. Given America's military might it seems a bit unfair that you have to do it all yourself, but that's the life of a hero for you.


 

FLASHBACK

Gunships work well as arcade vehicles, not least because they look impressive and carry a varied arsenal. Desert Strike showed that people enjoyed flying a realistic looking machine without worrying about Sim complications.

On the whole, Jungle Strike is an improvement on the original because of its more compelling missions and its interesting locations. Jungle is also preferable to a recent award winner, Zeewolf, which I felt was rather overrated. Not only are Jungle's graphics more impressive and faster scrolling, the overhead view makes for greater playability in my view.


 

SOUND

There's nothing much new in this department. The background rumbling of the rotor blades as your Comanche swoops into action is convincing, as is the sound of rockets being launched, followed by the resulting explosions.

One to avoid is the metallic clunk; hear that and you know you're out of ammo. It's sod's law that this will probably be at a time when you're staring down a tank's gaping gun barrel, so don't be ashamed to run away.

The music reminds me of Rambo films, being no better or worse than that. Overall the sound does the trick perfectly well, but a few more audio details would have given it an extra lift.

70%

 

GRAPHICS

Jungle Strike follows its desert-based predecessor in its visual style, with a clear leaning towards arcade action rather than cockpit simulation. Everything is seen from a raised diagonal angle, allowing for a 3D shoot-'em up style of play.

The detail of the landscapes and vehicles appears to be on the same par as the original, which is no bad thing. Vehicles and buildings are well detailed while your chopper takes centre stage as the most appealing sprite.

Where Jungle Strike really has been improved, however, is the fact that the action takes place in numerous different settings. Deserts, by their nature, are not the most varied of landscapes and the original game was too monotonously yellow for my liking.

Though the lush greenery of the jungle is your ultimate target for destruction, you actually start off piloting your Comanche round the streets of Washington DC. Here, instead of targeting the usual power stations and radar sites, embassies must be protected and car-bombing terrorists must be stopped.

Later battles ensure across island-dotted seas and cold barren snowscapes. This mixture of locations keeps the eye interested and provides a good incentive for seeing the next level.

The smoothness of scrolling is another improvement over the original, although it's not as slick as the Mega Drive version. At first I would have preferred it if it had moved faster, but you soon realise that this would only make a hard game harder.

As for the introductory screens, which are important when it comes to hyping the atmosphere, the maker has attempted to recount the story in a cinematic style. Though they are crudely done in comparison to the type of CD-ROM intros available now, these scenes develop the plot for each level, giving added depth to the missions.

86%

 

PLAYABILITY

Jungle Strike, like its predecessor, is two helicopter games rolled into one. First, it borrows from the Sim style of game, pitting a player's tactical wit against the challenges of missions and long-term campaigns.

At the same time it's a 3D scrolling shoot-'em-up, where realism and cockpit views have been disposed of in favour of fast arcade action. Thankfully, the playing screen is entirely uncluttered by the dials, radars and HUD displays you'd find in, for example, Gunship 2000.
It's a combination that works extremely well. On their own, Sims can be too realistic, while arcade blasting can get repetitive. Jungle Strike manages to keep the best elements of both.

When it comes to the actual missions, I found this game far more interesting than Desert Strike thanks to much more variety and a more structured approach.
Protecting Washington from terrorist attacks, for example, makes a novel change from the usual military conflict, and as you progress through the missions you uncover more and more information about the nature of the threat.

Far from the repetitious seek and destroy tasks that spoil some Sims, missions in Jungle are imaginative, in one you must give airborne cover to the president's motorcade, while in another you must destroy suicidal car bombers before they reach their target.

COMPLEX
It has to be said that this game is very tough from the word go, and I would have preferred a gentler introduction in the early phases. Even in Washington, for example, you have to make the most of every last drop of fuel just to stay airborne.

Each campaign takes a fair bit of flying time to complete, and if you screw up either by dying or failing in a mission then you're sent right back to the beginning. Maybe it's just sour grapes on my part for not being a good enough player, but I became sick of death of the message "Return to Base" signalling the end or my career.
The following is another example of how tough it's become: In Desert Strike you used to be able to out-manoeuvre tanks' turrets if you were fast enough, but in Jungle they track your chopper relentlessly. This sort of challenge means that only the arcade hotshots among you are going to complete the game without tearing your hair out.


 

OPINION85%

Amiga owners have waited for a long time for Jungle Strike to be converted, but their patience has been rewarded with a game that will test their arcade and tactical skills to this limit. With its impressive graphics and the superbly designed arcade system, it could well be the best chopper title yet.

The only criticism I have is that the game's learning curve is too steep at the start. Yes, I hear your cries of "Wimp!" but so much frustration from the outset can be off-putting. All the same, it is possible to win your way through in the end, and the satisfaction of completing a campaign is enormous. It's predecessor fused arcade action and strategy in one overwhelmingly addictive game. Jungle Strike has taken that formula and made it better.



Jungle Strike logo

Last time it was a desert, this time we're waging helicopter warfare in a jungle. Steve McGill sprays himself with mosquito repellent and gets stuck in...

If Zeewolf hadn't been released last month, and Jungle Strike wasn't a sequel, it would have found itself with an easier reviewing flight path.
Undoubtedly, Jungle Strike is a fine game which continues in the tradition of Desert Strike (AF46 87%) pretty - though not beautiful - graphics, engaging strategies and top boom boom explosions.

The structure of the game remains constant: nine separate campaign areas with several missions to be completed for each campaign. And each mission can be terminated in a different manner, depending on the peccadilloes of the gamer's playing style.

Cannon fodder
For example, as soon as you're confident with the control systems and worked out the damage capabilities of the three weapons, different approaches can be made toward hostile targets. The simplest maxim is: "don't waste missiles on static targets that don't fire back", use the cannon instead.

Now to major gripe number one. As I said, there are three different weapons systems. To flick between them, you have to hit the space bar.
With Desert Strike, you could use a Sega joypad and the Amiga would read buttons B and C. The B button acted as Fire and the C button switched between weapons systems.

So, say you were approaching a base camp that had a few soldiers dotted around plus a Sheridan, it would be wise and economical to take out the soldiers with the cannon and the Sheridan with two Hydra and one Hellfire missile.
To do this efficiently, a suckered joystick and a smooth surface are needed. Otherwise it can end up feeling as it's a game of Twister you're playing. Tut tut. Jungle Strike is a game worth buying a CD32 controller or two-button joystick for.
But due to the pressure of time and marketing limitations, the option hasn't been included in Jungle Strike. A loss for the gamer and a poor element to the game.

And while we're at it, let's take a look at another fault that breathes longevity into the game for all the wrong reasons - the maps screen.
The map screen contains vital information on the chopper's armour level, fuel consumption and weapon usage indicators, fuel and armour should always be on display on the main view screen.

Otherwise, as is the case here, the map screen has to be constantly flicked to. A mechanism that's very irritating. When the chopper's engaged in battle, the last thing a pilot wants to do is flick to a static screen. It kills the continuity and constantly remind you that you're playing a computer game rather than fighting the wrongs of the world. Tsk tsk.

Jungle Strike is a fine game which continues in the tradition of Desert Strike.

In the picture
Zeewolf unobtrusively displays the armour and fuel level indicators on the right and left of the screen respectively. Checking them out is just a matter of moving your eye to the relevant part of the screen. And when it's necessary to flick to the map screen with Zeewolf, the top left corner of the new screen displays the game in miniature so that it can still be played while the relevant map orientation is obtained. Continuity and suspension of disbelief is maintained throughout.

Don't get me wrong, Jungle Strike is a cracking game. In many ways it's better than Zeewolf. But, with a little more foresight and planning, it could have been a lot more fun.

Running short of fuel is always a problem due to the fuel indicator residing on the map screen. By the time you're informed that you are short of fuel it's often much too late to do anything about it. An infuriating waste of life.

The bottom line though, is that Jungle Strike is an incredibly good game. If the user interface had been friendlier, it would have earner a Format Gold.



Jungle Strike logo Amiga Joker Hit

Wo ein erfolgreiches Game ist, da ist der Nachfolger meist nicht weit - und Electronic Arts' Action-Heli "Desert Strike" konnte ja vor anderthalb Jahren (auch) ami Amiga so richtig abräumen! Das Sequel steht da qualitativ kein bißchen nach...

Wie schon der Wüstenschlag wurde auch der neue Dschungelflieger vom Mega Drive importiert, was einem Lizenzdeal zwischen den Elektrokünstlern und Ocean zu verdanken ist. Diese Kooperation wird dem Amiga demnächst übrigens noch weitere Konsolenkonvertierungen bescheren, etwa die Promi-Prügelei "Shaq Fu" oder die rabiaten 3D-Skater aus "Skitchin". Dieser nur am Rande, denn hier gibt's viel zu tun:

Der Sohn des im "Desert Strike" gefallenen Diktators Kilbaba ist nämlich nicht nur in Papis Fußstapfen getreten, er ist sogar noch größwahnsinniger als dessen Idol Saddam Hussein - wo sich er und Senior bloß einen kleinen Wüstenstaat unter den Nagel reißen wollten, da plant Junior Terror auf globaler Ebene!

Da der Plan auch einen Atomschlag gegen die USA beinhaltet, muß der Schlimmfinger nun an acht Fronten (darunter nicht nur das titelgebende Dickicht) bekämpft werden. Die Einsätze umfassen fliegenden Begleitschutz für den in Washington D.C. beheimateten Präsidenten, die Zerstörung von atomaren U-Bootem auf hoher See, das Plätten von terroristischen Ausbildungszentren in der Wüste, die nächtliche Befreiung von internierten Kriegsgefangenen, das Bombardement idyllisch gelegener Mohnkulturen und das Aufstöbern im Schnee verborgener Raketendepots. Das Finale findet dann in den Bergen statt, wo der Oberschurke in einer aus Drogengeldern finanzierten Villa haust.

Doch ehe man im Apache-Helikopter (gelegentlich ist auch das Umsteigen auf Stealth Fighter, Motorräder oder Hoovercrafts samt individueller Bewaffnung angesagt; etwa, um vom Luftkissenboot aus Wasserminen zu legen) über schicke Iso-Schlachtfelder düst, muß im Optionsmenü ein wenig Einstellarbeit geleistet werden. So sind hier die Zwischenanimationen an- bzw. abstellbar, und die Wahl des Copiloten bestimmt darüber, wie akkurat später gezielt und gefeuert wird.

Das Control-Menü läßt zudem ein Justieren der Hubschrauber-Trägheit zu, denn echte Top Guns werden das "Nachrutschen" bei Bremsmanövern ja nicht missen wollen, während Einsteiger es abstellen und so den hohen Schwierigkeitsgrad entschärfen dürfen.

Im Unterschied zu "Desert Strike" darf nun leider nicht mehr per Tastatur oder Maus gelenkt werden, entgegen der Anleitung wird außerdem ein zweiter Feuerknopf nicht unterstützt - und das Umschalten zwischen MG, den flinken Hydra-Missiles und den (nomen est omen!) Hellfire-Zielsuchraketen per Space-Taste kann im Eifer des Gefechts zum prekären Situationen führen.

Auch an anderer Stelle läßt der Dschungelkrieg etwas Liebe zum Detail vermissen: So sehen die in der Amiga-Version von "Desert Strike" noch wirklich hübschen Explosionen mit ihren transparenten Rauchfahnen jetzt genauso wie am Mega Drive und damit recht ärmlich aus; auch das Schattenwurf der diversen Objekte hat an Qualität verloren.

Und eine HD-Installation hätten wir angesichts der zwar nicht häufigen, aber doch recht nervigen Nachladerei ebenfalls gerne gesehen, zumal das Game auf DOS-formatierten Disketten vorliegt und die Festplatten-Tauglichkeit damit eigentlich gegeben ist.

Aber wer mag sich schon über solchen Minidornen aufregen, wenn das Gameplay so fesselnd blüht wie hier? Jeder Level setzt sich aus Briefing sowie spannenden und abwechslungsreichen Untermissionen zusammen, deren Erledigung durchaus nicht an die vorgeschlagene Reihenfolge gebunden ist. Wirklich wichtig ist das Ausnutzen örtlicher Gegebenheiten (etwa beim Anpirschen), das Mitbringen flotter Reaktion und das Leisten strategischer Vorarbeit, denn wer nur sinnlos durch die Gegend ballert, hat im Nu seine Munition verpulvert und setzt den sehr begrenzt haltbaren Heli-Schutzpanzer einer übermacht von Tanks, Flaks, Raketenwerfern, Schnellbooten und Feindhubschraubern aus.

Ein jederzeit aufrufbarer Infoscreen weiß dabei über den momentanen Stand der Dinge Bescheid und verrät anhand einer übersichtlichen Karte, wo sich Geiseln, Kraftwerke oder sonstige Ziele verbergen - allein die Aufgabe, dringend notwendige Zusatzvorräte für Treibstoff und Munition zu finden und dann per Greifhaken an Bord zu hieven, bleibt ganz allein dem Piloten überlassen.

Konzentration ist also erste Heldenpflicht und fällt angesichts der starken Realo-Atmosphäre mit den zahlreichen Zwischenanimationen und der höchst dramatischen Begleitmusik auch nicht weiter schwer. Zugegeben, die Optik des eigentlichen Spiels ist streckenweise etwas eintönig, aber stets sehr akkurat und ins Detail gehend gestaltet sowie zumeist fein animiert.

Dabei sieht die spezielle AGA-Fassung übrigens nur ein Winzigkeit besser aus als die Standard-Version; das Scrolling klappt hier wie dort einen Tick softer als anno "Desert Strike" und geht auch bei hohem Spriteaufkommen nicht in die Knie. Die Soundkulisse aus FX und Sprachausgabe überzeugt ebenfalls rundum, lediglich die Todesschreie getroffener Soldaten dürften wohl nicht jedermanns Geschmack treffen...

Aber über Geschmack läßt sich ja ohnehin nicht streiten und über die Qualität dieses Spiels letztlich auch nicht: Jungle Strike ist derzeit beste Action-Simulation am Amiga, da beißt auch ein "Zeewolf" keinen Faden ab! (rl)



Jungle Strike logo

Much hyped, much vaunted, much awaited, much desired. But is it much good? Nash knows.

There's this theory I have about American films, and that's that the monsters of US cinema during the 1980s were middle-class teenagers. Let's face it, the reason all those masked killer movies were so popular wasn't because the masked killer kept making jokes, or the special effects were clever, or anything - it was because middle-class American teenagers kept getting horribly murdered.

It was perfectly clear that the audience wasn't hoping the middle-class American teenager who'd split up from the rest of the group would notice there was another person in the room and, for example, run outside: it was rooting for the masked killer to hurry up and bash the middle-class American teenager over the head with his trademark walnut bookcase (or whatever). The psychology behind wanting the middle-class American teenagers are vile.

The 1990s needed new monsters, and who better to project America's feelings of guilty impotence at than Johnny Foreigner dictators and drug barons? Far easier to put them in films (and, as here, games) than confront the problems. (You're bound to have seen Lethal Weapon 2 for example. But not, of course, Natural Born Killers - the film they banned in Britain because it's to blame for ten murders.

That, say, the bonkers people who actually did the killings aren't. And how exactly do you justify banning NBK while Disney's 1977 movie Candleshoe - starring Jodie Foster, the obsession with which actress spurred John Hinckley to shoot Ronald Reagan - is still freely available to children?). But anyway.

HARANGUE
Irritating, isn't it, being harangued? That's what it's like playing Jungle Strike. Throughout the game you're battered with uneasily right-wing US politics, from snide comments during the intro about Congress cutting the spy satellite programme to the game ending abruptly if you blast a "high-profile" hostage in error. Ban it, that's the solution.

Politics aside (except of course they're not) Jungle Strike is an adequate conversion of the Mega Drive game. Sloppily, unlike its precursor Desert Strike, the game hasn't been tidied up graphically in the process. This lends it a tawdry air, not all helped by the DEVICE OF THE DEMON OF DOOM loading routine, which not only tells you it's 'Loading' but also intermittently 'Unpacking'. Gnnghh.

Put aside also your ideas that this may be a 3D game - it's a trick, as you fly at a fixed height. Indeed, the only time the 3D comes into play is when you can't quite place yourself in relation to the map due to the acute perspective. And in a (aaargh) Tower Assault sort of way, plot plays a big part in Jungle Strike.

The narrative thrust of the story is that the previously unmentioned son of the villain from the first game has teamed up with a drug lord to nuke mainland America, and in fits and starts you have to see off the drug lord's minions, form a 'strike team', bash the base coordinates of the previously unmentioned son of the villain from the first game from a captive and then blow it up. But unlike (aaarghh) Tower Assault, Jungle Strike is terribly good fun. Phew. (Or is it? Let us see.)

We shall examine a typical session of Jungle Strike. Settling for the keyboard option in place of the awkward joystick/keyboard combination, you curse the lack of support for the CD32 joypad or two-button joysticks at large. The game begins, and you are commanded to prevent the drug lord's minions from destroying important US monuments (or something).

You fly around a bit to familiarise yourself with the slightly inertia-y controls; no problem for players of Gravity 2. You call up your information console, ruing the fact that your ammo, fuel and armour readouts are tucked away on this supplementary screen; also that pressing fire cycles through the map, and the mission and sub-mission details so that it's tetchily easy to scroll past the one you wanted. There are your assigned targets - off you go.

You come in on a straight path. Error. Testy villains with rifles run around and pot at you. You strafe them with your machine-gun, and after three direct hits they deign to fall down. Tsk. Armed lorries zoom about, and your co-pilot locks on with a missile or two. Explosions tear up the (strangely desolate) Washington roads. A single rifleman staggers from the smoking wreckage, but a few rounds finishes him off and the hostage is free to scramble up the escape ladder. Victory is yours. On to the next sub-mission.

Ripple dissolve to a later stage of the game. A jungle section. Low on fuel and with none showing on the map, you're blasting open buildings. A pointlessly tedious element this, especially as an inadvertent extra shot during the building's destruction zaps its contents. But fortune smiles upon you, and you uncover that valuable petrol can. You co-pilot bungles winching it aboard on the first pass, and you look forward to rescuing a better assistant from the POW camps on the next level.

Now you swoop into a heavily guarded missile base. It's not your primary mission, but generally you can tackle the sub-levels out of order, dependent on knowing the location of your targets. (On some levels, the device of having to rescue a hostage who knows these locations imposes a realistic and unobtrusive structure - take note, (aaarghh) Tower Assault)

A tank spots your approach, but keeping your cool you swing around the monster ahead of its tracking turret, your gunfire automatically aimed by your co-pilot. An oily cloud unfoils into the sky as the tank explodes, leaving its charge of missile components open to attack. Success. But what's this? An enemy helicopter has been alerted to your presence. It pursues you across the forests. An ill-timed evasive manoeuvre, and your gunship rebounds from a palm tree, drinking up your energy levels as all obstacles are deemed to cause equal damage. Another repellent flaw. The helicopter picks up on your uncontrolled spin and rockets you to the ground. Damn its eyes.

Ripple dissolve to a further level. Beyond the night attack, where your blazing cannon lights you up like a beacon unless you turn up the monitor brightness and be done with it. Now you're grappling with a stolen stealth fighter, having already surprised the villains with a hover boat attack and motorbike chase.

The aeroplane handles differently from your gunship, and you invariably crash it upon takeoff, cursing the lack of information about the fighter and the way you're atypically returned to your faraway base for your next life. Swerving around the airstrip this time around, you concentrate on blowing an island's bridges. But the massive ground defences pound you off the screen. You have let down the President and his white-haired mom, Bob.


Bash the middle-class American teenager

MERINGUE
The similarities between levels of Jungle Strike quickly become apparent. New missions and challenges (the night attack, for example, or the one where you have to stop drug shipments reaching the shore) can't disguise the fact that shuttling the gunship between points of the map becomes stale with age.

The excitement of the game comes from blundering into tactical ambushes and scrapping with superior numbers, but as soon as you realise you can avoid trouble by circling an encampment to weed out tricky tricksters and then shuffling, rather than zooming, into the area itself, the thrill is somewhat deprecated.

It's as if the designers spotted this themselves, as the later levels rely far too heavily on the trick of severely limiting your munitions so you have to hunt leadenly among the huts. They also have an unfriendly habit of putting slightly too many hostages in a building so you're forced to go back and forth between locations for really no good reason; and at points you're given no choice about performing some ludicrous task the smallest error in which ends the game.

For instance, instead of waiting on the ground like every other hostage in the game, a defecting general takes it into his head to run into a tower and stand on the roof where, inexplicably, your winchman can't collect him. You have to destroy the tower to save him. But destroying the tower reveals a soldier who shoots the general. So you have to destroy the tower and shoot the soldier remarkably accurately, having to use exactly the right number of bullets as the next one hits the general. Tch.

Leafing back to Tim Tucker's review of the original Desert Strike, his main criticisms appeared to be that the game had few missions (four - Jungle Strike has nine, although the sub-levels bloat the figure substantially) and that the levels were too samey. This did not prevent him from awarding the game a spectacular 92%. Perhaps I am less tolerant than AP's famously generous and chummy crudely-reanimated zombie guitarist, but rather than seeing the lack of variety as a minor point to be quibbled over, I regard it as a major failing of the game.

Playing Jungle Strike at length I found myself mentally switching off, and flying around listlessly as yet another tank-sniper-enclaved mission objective combination hove into view. An undeniably fun game, but one that should be rationed.



Jungle Strike logo

Price: £25.99   Publisher: Ocean   061 832 6633
Rick skews doesn't like the sound of the Jungle, it frightens him. But Jungle Strike, now that's a different matter...

It all started three years ago with Desert Strike on the Sega Mega Drive. Since then, Electronic Arts 'Strike series has since spawned two sequels in the shape of Jungle Strike and Urban Strike. Like EA's excellent Sports series, the three Strike titles are great excuses for owning a Mega Drive. All the titles follow a similar style with levels divided up into separate missions, some of which have to be completed in order. In others it's possible to complete later missions first, but this is made much harder because earlier mission defences tend to be operational.

This intriguing blend of lateral thinking and blasting action works well, and Desert Strike has since been converted successfully to a number of other systems including the Amiga. And now, at last, what is regarded as the pick of the trilogy has been converted too.

Thankfully the Amiga conversion of Jungle Strike features much shorter loading times than its predecessor, and also improves on the Mega Drive original by way of sharper graphics in some levels and smoother scrolling routines throughout.

The actual plot and gameplay remain much the same though. After defeating General Kilbaba in Desert Strike, this time round it's his evil son and major drug baron partner who must be stopped before they wipe out the land of 64oz steaks.

The first thing you need to do is to pick a co-pilot to take care of winch operation and weapon firing. Flying is a full time job in itself you know. A number of co-pilots are on offer and each has variable skills. The best co-pilots are missing in action at the start of the game, but they're definitely worth the danger of finding and rescuing as their skills are like having a third crew member on-board.

Thankfully the helicopter is airborne from the start, while the controls are simple to grasp for such a complex machine to fly in reality. There's an option to have inertia and momentum switched off but this takes a lot of fun out of flying the bird and isn't really recommended. It's like controlling an ice hockey player with glue boots.

Itchy fingers
Levels cover a wide area so a tap of the F10 button brings up a very handy and highly necessary computer which contains, amongst other things, a map of the current level. By moving the joystick left and right the map highlights where the missions are based, as well as the locations of some of the ammo crates, fuel canisters and friendly landing zones.

The status of each mission is also available for perusal, as well as a detailed description of what each mission entails. Not all the spare munitions and fuel are detailed on the map though. These are only discovered by destroying certain buildings or vehicles, either enemy or friendly. Hidden armour which can be found in the same manner, but is harder to come by. These supplies are winched on board automatically by hovering over the spot and letting the winchman do the work.

Three types of weapon are available and all are replenished upon picking up a resupply crate. The chain gun is the most commonly used and comes with 1000 rounds of ammunition. It's possible to exhaust the supply of bullets but you'd need a seriously itchy finger!

The cannon is able to destroy all targets but is relatively impotent, so it's best used on weaker targets. Otherwise you could find yourself taking more hits than you're dishing out! More powerful Hydra and Hellfire missiles are available for heavily armoured opposition but the compromise is their limited supply, especially in the case of the awesome Hellfire.

Apart from the vague hope of finding hidden armour supplies, the only other way of replenishing defences is to find a landing zone and drop off either rescue friendlies or captured enemy soldiers. Each person carried represents 100 points of armour repair, so it's worth dropping off anyone winched aboard.

As well as a more advanced helicopter than the one used in Desert Strike missions, the player can use a whole host of other vehicles including a motorbike and a Stealth Fighter, which comes complete with an unlimited supply of weapons! These other craft tend to crop up half way through a mission rather than being in their own separate level. For instance in one of the missions the player will come across a bridge which blocks the flightpath of the helicopter. Rather conveniently there's a hovercraft floating about nearby and this has to be used if the player is to progress any further. These other craft naturally have different handling characteristics too, so the player is more vulnerable on the motorbike while the Stealth Fighter can operate at different heights. Again these different characteristics have to be learnt and to complete some of the missions.

Sadly, there's no option to get out of the chopper and progress on foot, although that's since been rectified in some of the missions in Urban Strike.

Jungle mania
Things don't go all the player's way however, and with the new and improved firepower on offer, Kilbaba and his cronies have come up with some equally fearsome armaments. For a start, standard tanks now have independent turrets, so like the gunner on the player's helicopter they can fire in one direction while the vehicle is moving in another.

A good example of the enemies' firepower is discovered if the helicopter hovers too long around the submarines in one of the water-based missions. Watch that armour disappear! Apart from anything else the sheer speed of some of the enemy vehicles also makes the going tough at times.

There's a mission early on in the game where a number of suicide car bombers have to be taken out before they smash into and destroy the American Embassies dotted around the map. The speed and manoeuvrability of the tiny cars makes them a job for crackshots only.

Despite the praise heaped on the Amiga conversion of Desert Strike, I disliked it because of its hideous loading times and garish graphics which did the Amiga no justice. Thankfully both of these problems have been rectified with Jungle Strike and the result is a much more polished title that retains the excellent playability of the console original.

This is certainly a difficult game, far more so than Desert Strike, but there are certain 'tricks' that can be learned from repeated playing. For instance it's possible to hide behind scenery objects and let them take the flak while you dodge round and destroy the enemy. It doesn't take a genius to work out how to approach each mission, but it's a refreshing change to have to think in a format as familiar as the shoot 'em up. This blend of shooting and thinking action blends together seamlessly and in the process creates a classic blaster well worth a ride.


Introducing Jungle Strike
Jungle Strike features an intro much more sumptuous than that seen in Desert Strike. It shows General Kilbaba's equally mad son Ibn and a notorious drug baron testing one of the nuclear warheads, with which they hope to destroy Washington D.C. The scene then cuts to a newsroom where the nuclear strike is reported, and then onto the player sitting in a darkened room watching the same news channel on TV. The phone rings and his new mission orders are about to come through. He must stop these madmen and their horrendous scheme immediately!
Jungle Strike: Somewhere in the pacific... Jungle Strike: ...A man is looking through his binoculars
Jungle Strike: The binocular zooms in to a jungle Jungle Strike: An atom bomb explodes
Jungle Strike: General Ibn Kilbaba watches the explosion and says 'Impressive.' Jungle Strike: The drug baron says 'Destroying Washington D.C. will teach the Yankees to stay out of my drug trade.'
Jungle Strike: A news announcer says 'Moments ago, a nuclear explosion was detected off the coast of South America.' Jungle Strike: A news announcer says 'We will keep you informed as the story develops...'
Jungle Strike: A person in shadow is watching the news and phones you, saying 'Captain, theres been an incident.'


Jungle Strike logo CD32

The follow-up to Desert Strike disappointed some, particularly after we'd been charmed rotten by Binary Asylum's Zeewolf, but be in no doubt that Jungle Strike is a helicopter shoot-em-up out of the middle-to-top drawer. Again, it's mission and taskbased as you hover the skies, picking off targets with bullets hydras and hellfire rockets. This time, though, despite obvious graphical similarities to its predecessor, the missions are more searching, the terrain more varied and there are more craft to ride, including a stealth bomber, bike and hovercraft.

Perhaps mindful of the somewhat xenophobic overtones of Desert Strike (evil General Kilbaba, Middle Eastern despot), the first mission sees you, amongst other things, attempting to rescue agent Akbar, a friendly turban wearer, though jingoism remains rife.

Be in no doubt that Desert Strike is a helicopter shoot-em-up out of the top drawer

Washington DC is awash with terrorists and the President and local library are at risk as you blast vans, rescue hostages - you know the sort of thing. There are nine campaigns to do, each with several missions, but despite this bloating of the original, you spend far too much time scuttling backwards and forwards.

And controlling the chopper is far less enjoyable than, say, the mouse-controlled Zeewolf, because you're always at the same height. And it's less intuitive. Sure, there are good things here (and Zeewolf isn't available for CD32) but after a while you'll be glad of that password system.



Jungle Strike logo CD32 Amiga Joker Hit

Die aus der Zusammenarbeit von Ocean und Electronic Arts entstandene Heli-Sim ist von der CD nicht weniger actionreich, als sie es von der AGA-Disk war - sondern um Feinheiten im Wert von zwei Prozentpunkten besser!

Die geleistete Detailarbeit kommt vor allem dem Spielkomfort zugute, denn die Steuerung geht mit dem Pad flockiger von der Hand - die einst auf Tastatur und Stick verteilten Funktionen sind endlich vereint. Zudem fallen die Diskwechseleien und Ladepausen nun unter den Tisch, wogegen der Erzschurke Kilbaba Junior immer noch unangenehm auffällt: Nach wie vor plant der Sprößling des in "Desert Strike" gefallen Diktators den Aufbau eines weltweiten Terrornetzes inklusive Atomwaffenangriff auf die USA...

Sein Gegenspieler sitzt natürlich vor dem Monitor, und zwar am Knüppel eines Apache-Kampfhubschraubers. Damit ist nun dem US-Präsidenten Begleitschutz in Washington D.C. zu geben, man soll Atom-U-Boote auf hoher See atomisieren, in der Wüste Ausbildungszentren und im titelgebenden Dschungel dann Mohnkulturen bombardieren, nächstens Gefangenenlager überfallen, im Schnee verborgene Raketendepots aufstöbern und schlußendlich Kilbabas Alpen-Villa dem Erdboden gleichmachen. Das ist für einen Hubi ziemlich viel? Stimmt, weshalb man auch mal das Kommando über Stealth Fighter, Motorräder oder Luftkissenboote erhält, etwa, um der Küstenwache Wasserminen vor den Bug legen zu können.

Zuvor darf man einen Copiloten und damit die Trefferquote seiner Zielautomatik bestimmen, außerdem läßt sich der Schwierigkeitsgrad über das An- bzw. Abstellen der Trägheit des Stahlvogels beeinflussen. Dem anschließenden Briefing folgt ein abwechslungsreiches Gameplay, bei dem die Missionen auch abweichend von der vorgegebenen Reihenfolge erledigt werden können.

Mittels eines jederzeit umschaltbaren Waffen-Trios (MG, Hydra- und Hellfire-Raketen) werden dann Radpanzer, Flaks, Feindhubis, Raketenstellungen und Fußvolk bekämpft, was neben flinken Reaktionen auch taktisches Geschick erfordert: Wer bloß wüst um sich ballert, wird bald merken, daß die Suche nach Munition und Treibstoff (die dann per Greifhaken an Bord zu hieven wären) mit einem angeknacksten Schutzpanzer im feindlichen Sperrfeuer keine leichte Übung ist. Wie gut, daß der Infoscreen stets unbestechlich über den Stand der Dinge Auskunft gibt und eine Karte bereithält, auf der alle Geiseln, Feindkraftwerke und sonstigen Ziele verzeichnet hat.

Die CD-Version steht insgesamt dem Original vom Mega Drive nicht nach, kann es aber auch nicht übertreffen: Es warten ein nettes Intro, hübsche und flüssig scrollende Iso-Landschaften sowie viele Zwischenanimationen.

Daß sich an den Sound-FX, der Sprachausgabe, den umstrittenen Todesschreien oder der Musik gegenüber der Version vom Januar nicht die Bohne geändert hat, ist aufgrund der Qualität des Gebotenen verschmerzbar - nicht aber, daß dieses packende Game einem Amiga mit CD-ROM unter Umständen die Steuerung verweigert. Es sei denn, man hat ohnehin ein CD32... (rl)



Jungle Strike logo

Price: £29.99   Publisher: Ocean   081 988 8888

Desert Strike was a highly acclaimed game, one of the best shoot 'em ups ever. It had all the necessary elements: plenty of enemies, in all shapes and sizes, varied and purposeful missions, a useful arsenal of weapons and detailed, wonderful graphics.

The most important thing it had on its side, though, was realism. This realism was not a product of multimedia photo-imagery or sampled sound, it was a product of thousands upon thousands of hours of television coverage of the real Operation Desert Strike in the Persian gulf. In the same way as some companies bring out film licenses Electronic Arts brought out a war license, and they made a mint on all formats once they converted the Megadrive original to the Amiga and the rest.

Unfortunately the Amiga was well behind the consoles this time too, it received Jungle Strike about the same time as the 16-bit machines saw Urban Strike. And now the CD32 version has arrived, courtesy of Ocean. Never mind, it was worth the wait.

The A1200 version was notable for its reduced loading time over the original, but the CD32 version beats them all. The interscene cuts are still there: this is really just a port of the original, but the fact that there is no disk swapping makes life much easier, especially as Strike is the sort of game you just want to get into and start playing straight away.

Once you flip the lid, stick the disk in and start playing you'll find yourself in what look like familiar surroundings, but if you compare it to Desert Strike, you'll realise just how much the graphics have changed. For a start this is an AGA only game, so there's more subtlety in the colouring. Also, although called Jungle Strike, the game's scenarios are actually spread out between city, desert, sea and jungle backgrounds, and so the variety is greater while colour and detail are improved immensely. The sprites are also very well defined.

Your chopper is completely new too, a Comanche instead of an Apache, and comes equipped with cannon, Hydra and Hellfire missiles. The latter being the most powerful weapon, but also the most scarce. However, although you start each level in the helicopter, certain parts of the mission need to be dealt with by other types of combat craft, and thus you get to fly an F117A Stealth Fighter, ride an Assault motorcycle and pilot an armed hovercraft.

Jungle Strike is not only more detailed, varied and graphically beautiful than its predecessor, it's also more difficult. Even getting past the first level will take a while, and if you blow up the wrong vehicle or die more than three times you have to start the entire level again- and it's a large level. Still, there's no ifs or buts: Jungle Strike is a great shoot 'em up.

You really are missing out if it's not on your CD shelf at this very moment. Go on go out and rush down the shops to get it - you know you want to.