Arnie and Devito get cute

Mega Twins logo

US Gold * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Fairly familiar territory this one, I'm afraid. Cute Platform Game Syndrome. Probably terminal. No known cure. Tragic. Esther Rantzen's setting up a terribly sincere Telethon to raise money for it as we speak. Difficult times, difficult times.
It's the same old story. Long ago in a colourful and fluffy land lived a wise and just king. The king spent his days walking through the forests and talking to rabbits and deer. And at night he'd listen to cheeky Paul McCartney records and ring up all his loyal subjects on the telephone and tell them they were very special little people and he loved them all as individuals.
He was, to be honest, a right ponce. He also had two sons. Twins, actually. And they were pretty "Mega" too. Hence the name, I s'pose.

Anyway, some big evil monster somewhere decided that it'd had enough of all this poncing about and listening to Paul McCartney records and set about ravaging and pillaging, left, right and centre. All the usual palaver followed, all the bunny rabbits and deer got killed horribly, the king and his subjects got splattered everywhere and all the Paul McCartney records got smashed. So it wasn't all bad.

But as if by some blinding stroke of luck, those oh-so remarkable twins survived the apocalypse. Quite how these two managed to dodge all that fire and brimstone is quite beyond me, but surely they did and they grew up to become fearsome warriors - while retaining that all-important cuteness, of course.

And so, with spiritual guidance from that now familiar over-endowed platform game goddess, they set off through various worlds to restore peace, justice and the original recording of Mull of Kintyre to the land. Thank God for that, eh?

I don't think I'd be sticking my neck out too far by saying that Mega Twins owes quite a lot to games like Mario Brothers, Rodland, New Zealand Story and thousands of other cutesy platform romps. It's not quite what you'd call a wildly original concept, but Ver Twins manage to do all the old tricks with a fair dollop of style and addictiveness.

The first three worlds, which can be played in any order, take you through land, sea and air in quest for some magic items to beat the bad guys with. This means that the controls change slightly depending on which terrain you're on.
In the sea you are susceptible to currents, in the air you have to keep prodding up to keep airborne, and on the ground, well, things are as you expect. It's only a little thing but it helps to give Mega Twins that little bit extra.

Once all three magic items are in your cute clutches, they unite to become some mystical dragon thingy. Doesn't really seem to make much difference, but it does mean that you've made it to the monster lair. Spooky or what? Things get a lot from here on, as the monsters lob everything they've got at you and your twin. And that's it. At least as far as I can get.

The graphics are standard for this sort of game. You know the sort of thing - cute heroes, weird, wonderful enemies and colourful cartoony backgrounds. Hidden bonuses abound and extra weapons are there for the taking. Seen it before, and I've probably seen done better as well, But Mega Twins is inoffensive enough.
Unoriginal, untaxing and un-something else, but still good enough to spend any spare cash on. Worth a look if you've nothing better on.


Mega Twins logo

US Gold £25.99

Here's a game that tries to be cute with every bite of its data, but it doesn't make the grade. All the constituent parts are there, strong single-colour sprites, a twee cartoony tale and a jangly tune, but these twins just weren't born cute.

This is a platform-leaping, get-close-and-kill-the-_wbr>monsters-for-bonuses sort of game. The two young heroes, who can play simultaneously, are on the trail of their parents' killers. This entails a level-by-level trial by nasties, which the two nippers have to survive. Guardians sit at the end of each level and the Twins must bash them and their thralls, with little swords until they go 'poof'. To help you out in dodgy moments are smart bombs that take the form of star showers and lightning storms.

These components are fine as are the story and the concept but the game just lacks soul. There's no direct tactile feel for the sprite, you can move them but the is no real sense of control. As a result the game feels remote, which is a cardinal sin for an arcade, so there's no sense of involvement. Strangely the not-so-cute Mega Twins are MT, which is just the way it feels.


Gemeinsam stark!

Mega Twins logo

Mit den Automatenumsetzungen von U.S. Gold ist das so eine Sache: Manchmal sind sie recht gut, dann wieder nicht! Manchmal sind sie putzig, dann wieder so brutal, daß die BPS sie in die Verbannung schickt. Aber mit diesem Game gibt's bestimmt keine Probleme - es ist absolut jugendfrei und gut!

Fangen wir mal mit der jugendfreien Vorgeschichte an: 1000 Jahre Friede, Freude und Blaubeerkuchen waren einfach zuviel des Guten für das Land Alurea. Als nämlich eines unschönen Tages ein furchtbar böses Monster auftaucht, hat es leichten Spiel mit der Wohlstandbevölkerung - ruckzuck sind alle Einheimischen abgemurkst! Naja, fast alle. Die Zwillingssöhne des Königs hatte das Monster übersehen, wahrscheinlich, weil sie noch so klein waren. Aber jetzt, 15 Jahre später, sind sie groß und stark. Und rachsüchtig!

Storymäßig also mal wieder das Übliche, aber sobald das Heldenduett durchstartet, ist das eh wieder vergessen. Man darf sich hier nämlich aussuchen, in welcher Reihenfolge man die ersten drei Level absolviert, dasselbe gilt dann auch für die nächsten (und gleichzeitig letzten) drei. Sämtliche Spielabschnitte enthalten massenweise Plattformen, Gegner und Bonusgegenstände, ansonsten sind sie aber recht unterschiedlich gestrickt: Einer ist unter Wasser angesiedelt, wo es Fischen, Krabben und ähnlichen Getier an die Schuppen geht, außerdem liegt ein Schiffswrack rum, das man besuchen kann.

Andere Level spielen im Märchenwald, in einer Höhlenwelt oder in der Luft bzw. im Wolkenhimmel.

Dort oben treibt sich übrigens ein besonders schnurriger Endgegner rum: Wenn man eine Weile mit ihm die Klingen gekreuzt hat, hört er plötzlich auf und erklärt frohgemut, daß alles nur ein Test war! Auch sonst hat das Game einige Überraschungen (Geheimwege, etc.) und Gags in petto, beispielsweise hissen unsere Helden weiße Fahnen, sobald ihre Energieanzeige auf Null sinkt.

Nachdem es sich um Zwillingskinder handelt, ist eigentlich klar, daß es einen Zwei-Spieler-Simultanmodus gibt, aber natürlich kommen auch Einzelkinder zum Zug. Gekämpft wird grundsätzlich mit dem Schwert (und gegen ein Zeitlimit), ansonsten kann man laufen, hüpfen und ein bißchen klettern. Die Joysticksteuerung weist keinerlei Besonderheiten auf, sie funktioniert einfach, unauffällig und problemlos.

Neben der ausgezeichneten Spielbarkeit können auch die putzig gezeichnete und ruckelfreie Grafik sowie der arcademäßige Sound (Musik & FX) überzeugen. An Negativpunkten sind aufgefallen: dicke NTSC-Streifen oben und unten, einige wenige unfaire Stellen, ein paar der Endgegner tauchen mehrfach auf, und durch die Continue-Funktion ist das Game von erfahrenen Gamblern relativ schnell durchgespielt.

Das sollte nun aber keinen Plattformliebhaber von der Bekanntschaft mit Mega Twins abhalten, wer Games wie "Wonderboy" mochte, wird auch das Prinzenpärchen lieben - besonders im Duett sind die beiden echte Spaßmacher! (mm)


Mega Twins logo

US Gold come up with another conversion of a cute Capcom coin-op, this time featuring a pair of mischievous kids - and only their mother can tell the sweeties apart!

Dragons are stupid creatures. OK, they're fine at rampaging, terrorising and most thing of an evil bent, and they can become remarkably handy at barbecues. But when it comes to a dragon's real work, that of knuckling down and actually getting on with the job of casting dark shadows over a once peaceful land, they always seem to leave the job half-finished. Make one fatal mistake, if you will.

Let me explain. Once upon a time there was a peaceful country called Alurea. For 1000 years... etc. Anyway, the inevitable and probably well-deserved dragon invasion goes through the motions and kills everybody. Everybody except - and this is the incredible bit - the king's twin sons. Why!? Even the most turnip-brained, slow-witted Dragon should have spotted their obvious potential - these two text-book examples of super-heroes in the making - a mile off. But no, realism is sacrificed for gameplot (but would you want it any other way?) and fifteen years later the twins have grown up.

THOSE TERRIBLE TEEN TWINS
And now - as you've no doubt guessed -= they-re on a mission. They have the help of a seagull. They wear primary colours in built-up areas. Together they are a whacking 205 lbs of unadulterated cute. And here they come...

I like cute games and I'm not scared to admit it (but probably only because I know I'm not alone). There always have been and (hopefully always will be) almost as many 'cuties' around as there are shoot-'em-ups - they're two of the longest established game formulas around. So US Gold presents Mega Twins, a colourful, magical and, well, cute - there's no getting around it - tale of the dynamic duo's adventure, and it's typical of the genre.

Originally a moderately successful platform adventure coin-op from Capcom, your Amiga sticks rigidly to the original plot and presentation, and through the fantastic use of colour and sprite design successfully brings a very arcade feel to the graphics and gameplay.

There are three introductory levels of action, and then six 'battle stages' in which the two cuties must hack, slash and hit-the-ALT-key-to-use-some-magic their way through what seems 57 varieties of the cutest little baddies you ever did see. Even when the action hots up on screen, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the harrowing scenes of death and grimness for a Christmas party in a Toys-R-Us. Don't underestimate the cuteness here folks - these guys are to menace and evil what Arnie is to raffia-work.

The first level is set in a forest and underground caverns, the second is underwater (our heroes provided with snorkels) and for the third bit our airborne heroes take to the sky. (Oh yes, and proving that there's a bit of Rolf Harris in everyone. I've just got to tell you to watch out for bit in the sky where the twins are held aloft by birds in their hats _ it's brilliant!). The baddies change each level, so when you're underwater you're fighting fish, when you're in the sky it's an assorted variety of feathered foes, and when in the forest - well, 'things with legs' should cover it. The Twins collect coins along the way - and power-ups from treasure chests - as they continue their inevitable and unstoppable progress from left to right.

OK, so you've got the plot. But what's it like then? Well, the most immediately striking attraction is the graphics. Everything is cannily designed with fantastic attention to detail. Not only do the backgrounds vary enormously, but the animation in front of them is tailored to match the surroundings. Our two heroes move incredibly smoothly, and display a remarkable repertoire of expressions and 'custom' movement. US Gold have been quoted describing Mega Twins as "mischievous rather than cute", certainly you'll find yourself smiling at your screen long before wiping the sick off it. Wait until you're crisped by a dragon, or see yourself attempting to scramble up a cliff - Phil Cool would be proud of such facial contortions.


Everything is designed with fantastic attention to detail

IT TAKES TWO TO TWIN TANGO
The real gameplay hook is the two-player option though. Yes, there's something heart warming about taking on baddies with a buddy. The race for the power-ups, the arguments over who'll guard the rear and who'll take the front - it's all here. The only crucial ingredient missing is the ability to kill your chum. But hey, it's time we all made an effort to be nice - this is 1991 after all.

The variation in gameplay as the Twins negotiate different terrain relieves what some may otherwise regard as the repetitive hack-slash-jump action. Ever heard of a game called Sonic The Hedgehog? Well a lot what made Sonic such a mega-hit on the Sega console can be found here. The humour, graphics you could frame and give to your granny for Christmas and an addictive hook that will keep you coming back time after time.

Still, let's pick faults for a minute. For a start, at times there are too many baddies on screen. It's not something we'd normally complain about, and there's certainly no problem with slow-down, but the fighting does tend to degenerate into brawlish hacking. The swah-buckling babes could perhaps do with a faster elbow-action to cope - and at times sprite collision-detection is a little suspect - but on the whole what Mega Twins offers it does well.

In fact, that's the only real problem - what exactly does Mega Twins offer? The game design is unarguably both simple and dated. The variations in the gameplay (although well-executed) are all on the same theme, so it could be said that a lack of depth will lead to little long-term appeal. It comes across as a very good conversion of a fairly limited arcade game.

Was that enough criticism? Good. Now I can tell you to forget all that rubbish about depth. (How much depth did PacMan or Space Invaders have, for goodness sake). Right, Mega Twins is great fun to play. Mega Twins is cute. Mega Twins is a beautiful piece of programming. If cuties are what light up your particular Christmas Tree, then don't miss it.


ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE
And here are just three reasons to be cheerful. From the deserts of Sudan, to the gardens of Japan (almost) the dynamic duo hit the baddies with their fighting sticks. The background's just ooze primary colour loveliness, with the gamestyle varying accordingly.
Mega Twins
If you ask my advice, there's nothing so nice, as messing about on the river. These two, on the other hand, take things to the extreme and jump right in at the deep end.
Mega Twins
Just look at the hat! How cute? That poor little bird has to carry the two bouncing-bros through rain and windy weather without so much as a packet of trill or cuttlefish by means of thank you.
Mega Twins
It's all got a bit much for Player 1. He waves the white flag as he falls off the bottom of the screen. Now why didn't you call for the help of your brother while you had the chance?
BUILDING THE PERFECT HERO
Or heroes, rather. Whatever, you don't take GCSE's in superhero technique - oh no. Hardship, that's what puts concrete in your stomach and spit in your eye. Just look at what these harmless little chaps have had to go through...
Mega Twins
Evil invades the once happy land of Alurea. All living things are crushed under horrible scaly-foot.
Mega Twins
All except these two harmless babes, that is. Dragons live for ever, but not so little boys. Fifteen years later...
Mega Twins
Ooh! Look how he's grown! Who would have though...? etc etc. Yes, the twins become big 'n' ard. Player 1 is the eldest.
Mega Twins
And player 2 is the younger. In a single-player game, it is the elder brother who's first called into action. But his bro' can enter the fray any time.

Mega Twins logo

Quite what it is about this Super Wonderboy variant, I'm not sure. Whilst Twilight's conversion of the little-known Capcom coni-op features all the bells and whistles associated with its arcade counterpart, somehow it comes across as so... well, average. Graphically, it's nothing short of excellent, with all the coin-op's sprites faithfully recreated and set against some superb smoothly-scrolling backdrops. The gameplay, too, is virtually identical to that of its arcade parent, and this is where the problems start. Whilst Mega Twins pits its two child heroes against all manner of well-drawn and animated characters, the action plods along at such a sedate pace that the gameplay loses any chance it had at addictively.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not slagging the conversion, but I can't help but feel disappointed with it. The premise is there, and the platform action is riddled with original ideas as the two heroes make their way across the game's eight stages over land, in the air, and under the sea, but the lack of speed means that the game never really gets started.

The basic gameplay is similar to that of countless other platform affairs: guide your cutesy sprite across the multi-directional scrolling play area, slashing nasties with your sword and collecting monies and goodies. Every now and then a larger guardian is brought on both during and at the close of each stage and these can be either slashed to death or stunned with one of your limited supply of smart bombs. However, whilst this makes it sound rather dull, the sheer variety of nasties and the attractive graphical styles of the game's many backdrops ensures that, whilst it won't get your pulse racing, at least you won't get bored.

I've really tried to like Mega Twins and, indeed, there is a lot to recommend about it. But the slowness of the action, coupled with the slightly repetitive nature of the coin-op (granted an inherited fault) stop the game from becoming a worthwhile purchase and limit it to fans of the coin-op only.