Metal Masters logo

INFOGRAMES * £24.99 Joystick

The beat-em-up has grown up. In fact it has grown into a couple of 100-feet high robots who don't mind beating the silicon out of each other. In the sport of the future it's not people who get hurt, instead it's robots who take the pounding.

In a cityscape arena the metallic monsters blast, pummel and generally try to reduce their opponents to a heap of iron filings. This sport is impressive to watch, harmless to humans, and keeps the scrap-metal merchants happy.

The body shop
Before any of this takes place though, the robots need to be built. For your first fights you have the default, and weakling robot, but wina battle and you get cash for your trouble. Cash can be spent on uprating your body parts for a leaner, meaner machine.

Three basic building blocks are used to build the oversized metal-men. Legs are needed to manoeuvre, arms with which to do the business, and a body unit to control and to hold the lot together. Many types of each are available, costing more the tougher or more deadly they are.

Parts can be sold too, though they depreciate in value the more worn they are. The more battles won, the better the robot you will be able to afford. This doesn't make things any easier though.

Let the battle commence
You will be fighting tougher adversaries the more experienced, and the more powerful, your robot is. There are two modes of combat. From afar you can fire missiles by holding down the button and pushing in the appropriate direction; up to shoot your head, left from your left arm and so on.

In close combat hits are scored with punching movements, allowing you to aim for different parts of the body depending on the direction the joystick is pushed in. This is fine for straightforward body blows, but things can get a bit messy when trying for those diagonal punches.

The computer-controlled robots are dead hard, they manage to avoid what you throw at them quite well, but always seem to manage to land blows on your mechanoid. It's a fair old struggle to win even your first fight.

Two's company
Metal Masters can be played on your lonesome, or against a buddy. The two-player game certainly offers the most fun; there's far more satisfaction to be gained by beating your chum three times in a row than in humiliating (or being humiliated by) the computer.

Underneath all the pretty graphics (and they are quite pretty), Metal Masters is a fairly straightforward beat-em-up. In fact it is quite limited in the number of fighting moves when compared with other, more conventional games of the genre. There's o backward somersaults here to get in a tactical position, instead it's merely a case of walking up to your opponent and bish bash bosh.

Added to that, the computer is a very tough opponent, seemingly unbeatable at first. And for these reasons it's frustrating to play and rapidly becomes boring. There's limited enjoyment to be had from playing one of your mates, but as far as long-term interest is concerned, forget it.

Metal Masters logo

ST-User haben ja schon etwas länger das Vergnügen mit den streitsüchtigen Stahlkolossen - jetzt wird der Kampf der Roboter auch auf unserer "Freundin" ausgetragen. Wie deren sensible Schaltkreise wohl auf die ungehobelten Blechrüpel reagieren?

Früher oder später mußte es ja so kommen: Nach all den kreischenden Karatekas, keulenschwingenden Barbaren und sonstigen Nahkampf-Fuzzies dürfen sich nun stählerne Killerroboter gegenseitig die Dioden aus dem blechernen Leib reißen. Der Held als Bausatz: praktisch, unempfindlich (ein Robbi kennt keinen Schmerz!) und vor allem unheimlich ausdauernd - hier wird wirklich gekämpft, bis der Abschleppwagen kommt!

Aus der Idee wäre also sicher einiges herauszuholen gewesen, und Infogrames V2A-Titanen bieten ja auch ein paar gute Ansätze: Man kann sich wahlweise mit einem Computer-Fighter oder einem menschlichen Freund prügeln, wobei die amigagesteuerten Gegner eine beachtliche Vielfalt an Farben, Formen, Ausrüstung und Kampfmethoden aufweisen. Auch das eigene Kämpferlein läßt sich ganz individuell zusammenstellen, vorausgesetzt, es hat sich erfolgreich geschlagen. Dann darf man nämlich die sauer verdiente Siegprämie zum digitalen Altmetallhändler tragen, um seinem Kruppstahl-Baby ein paar chice neue Körperteile und/oder Waffen zu kaufen.

Die Klopperei selbst findet in Arenen statt, die jeweils eine Ebene weit in die Tiefen begangen werden können. Gesteuert wird die Materialschlacht mit dem Joystick, für Daumenschwache gibt es sogar einen Automatikmodus, in dem der Computer die Kontrolle der Killermaschinen übernimmt. Im Nahkampf geht es mit stählernen Fäusten zur Sache, zur Überwindung größerer Distanzen werden Silvesterraketen und Laserkanonen benutzt.

Und sonst? Man kann die Kämpfe abbrechen oder verlängern, in einzelnen Zwischensequenzen dürfen zur Abwechslung auch mal (recht kümmerlich wirkende) Hubschrauber- und Panzerverbände in Schrotte verwandelt werden. Achja, die Kampfmaschinen lassen sich auch auf Disk absaven - das war's.

Grafik und Animationen sind durchaus okay, wenn die Jungs aufeinander losgehen, fliegen die Fetzen. Beim Sound werden eine ziemlich mäßige Blechmusik, dafür aber ganz ausgezeichnete Techno-Geräusche geboten.

Das Spiel krankt jedoch an seiner mißratenen Handhabung und dem nur halbherzig durchgezogenen Konzept: Die Steuerung ist (besonders in den Auswahlscreens) furchtbar ungenau, rätselhafterweise muß der Joystick für Solo-Fights am Mausport angeschlossen werden, dazu steigt das Programm gelegentlich ganz einfach aus. Außerdem ist das Kampfgeschehen auf die Dauer eher lasch, es fehlt ihm eindeutig an Action und Thrill - ein paar Rollenspielelemente und ein ausgetüftelterer Heldenbaukasten hätten hier wahre Wunder gewirkt.

Metal Masters ist also nur auf den ersten Blick beeindruckend - wer genauer hinsieht, muß feststellen, daß die Kampfroboter unterm Lack doch ganz schön rosten! (mm)

Metal Masters logo

Oh dear. The idea of this all sounded quite promising, in a 2000AD-ish sort of a way. We're in the future, right, and, well, to quote the booklet that comes with it 'The metal giants', masterpieces of high technology, implacable and indestructible, fight without respite on tracks of fire or under arches of steel!

Always bigger, always stronger, the Metal Masters knows no limits! Will you be up to it? Yes, as you might have guessed, this is a French game, and as such comes complete with our old friend, the dodgy bit of translation. Not knowing quite what to expect then, I booted it up.

First came a rather nice picture of a giant robot, with a few little people standing around welding and making repairs. Then came a copy protection code screen (which seemed to crop up with monotonous regularity throughout the game) followed by a bit of a wait and then... what's this? Surely it can't be...? Yes it is a - a ropey old single screen beat-'em-up, in this day and age! And at this price! It's a scandal!

It's particularly nightmarish when you see quite how useless this is. The graphics are reasonably pretty I suppose (though nothing to write home about), but underneath lurks, well, lurks nothing. The controls are very limited, what your robot does on screen seems to bear very little resemblance to any joystick instructions you might give it, and the monotonous action just plods on. And on.

I've always hated beat-'em-ups anyway - they-re just so boring - but if I had to justify my loathing to anyone, I couldn't do much better than simply sit them down for a few minutes with a copy of this.

The occasional neat touch - such as the little train that chugs on screen to pull away damaged robots - and the ability to build your own Metal Master to take part in the competitions do little to liven it up.

No this is a clunker alright, and would be hard to pushed the scrape a decent mark at £9.99, let alone at this price point. Bit and then, just to make sure, bin the bin.

Metal Masters logo

In a novel twist on the popular beat 'em up theme, Infogrames have replaced the countless martial arts experts of the genre with massive robots the size of Telecom Tower. In a future where wars are a thing of the past, the need for violence is supplied by the Metal Masters robots of the title.

These creature are made up of a number of key component parts, and are upgraded with more efficient weapons and facilities as they become more successful. Thus, every evening, the Masters arena is crammed full of eager citizens who watch the combatants knock the stuffing out of each other.

Metal Masters can be played by one or two people with each player taking control over one of the battling robots. Once the player has enrolled for the competition, the task of crating a powerful fighter begins.

As can be expected with a rank outsider, cash is initially hard to come by, and the resources available will only stretch to the bare minimum of equipment. Once a few fights are won and the money starts to roll in, all manner of visually impressive and deadly weaponry can be grated on to your robot - including a rather neat chainsaw and a massive hammer - which extends the range of your destructive capabilities.

The actual fight sequences are very impressive and the sheer size of the robots is rammed home in an introductory sequence where its crew have to use a lift to climb into its nose cone! Unfortunately, this sense of scale is soon lost when the game actually starts. Two robots are shown as two, two inch high, sprites which, whilst looking suitably hi-tech and armed to the teeth, don't have the stature to look menacing or particularly powerful.

Depending on its armaments, each robot has a number of offensive moves which are accessed via combinations of the joystick and firebutton. The robots can be made to punch, fire their on-board lasers and missiles, and can also side-step enemy flak by stepping into the pseudo-3D play area.

As each punch or shot hits home, a damage indicator for each section of the machine gradually rises, and when these are fully depleted, the loser collapses in a pile of scrap and is dragged off by a tiny pick-up truck.

During the all-important fight, the controls are smooth and easy to access. However, in one-player mode the computer-controlled fighters have been made slightly too tough. By the time you reach the end of the bout, your robot's casing is virtually destroyed and the prize money isn't sufficient to buy a new set.

Admittedly, as the player's skills improve, then the robot won't concede so many hits - even though there is still a strong element of hit 'n' miss during the battles - but this initial difficulty may prove a deterrent and kill the urge to keep trying.

That said, any such difficulties are a relatively small problem and when more monies are won and better weaponry added, Metal Masters starts to open up into a rather smart beat 'em up. It's by no means a classic, but a curious oddity nevertheless.