We have been expecting you, Mr Pond

Robocod logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

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

Oh crikey. Oh crikey o'riley. I am in love with my second game this month. First of all I was reduced to a mound of trembling jelly by the knee-knocking gorgeousness of Alien Breed and now I have gone head over heels for RoboCod. What will the neighbours think? And do you know what is best about both games? They are both original. No big money licences, no celebrity endorsements, just good ol' fashioned computer games for the sake of making good ol' fashioned computer games. Ooh, I have come over all nostalgic.

Visions of Manic Miner, Jet Pac and Chuckie Egg swim before my misty eyes. Those were the days. And, smite me backwards with a steaming hot Spectrum power pack, those days look like they might be returning. Hurrah, hurrah and thrice hurrah.

Anyway, before I completely lsoe myself in the hazy realms of 8-bit memories, I'd better tell you just why RoboCod has sent me so squiffy at the joints. Cos it is bloody brilliant, that is why. It is one of those games that just spurts playability and general loveliness out of the monitor and all over your lap. From the wonderful way it lampoons RoboCop - who could resist a game with the subtitle "He's mean, he's green, he's part machine"? - to the intricately crafted levels, it is a winner through and through.

The story goes like this: The evil Dr Maybe has taken over Santa's toy factory and is producing deadly toys to completely bugger up Christmas for everyone. Who could save the world from a nightmare of exploding Ninja Turtle figures? Well, we did try that woman from Watchdog but she was not in. it was then that the governments of the world has a brainwave and got in touch with F.I.5.H, who in turn got in touch with Pond. James Pond, that is.

Since his last mission, which spookily took place in the original James Pond game, James has been "hanging out" with all his under-sea homeboys but when duty calls he is ready for action once more. He reports to "F" and welds himself into a robot suit which will enable him to breathe out of water. Thus fortified against the slings and snorkels of outrageous fortune, he stomps off to exact fishy justice on Dr Maybe.

OK, that is the story out of the way, so just what can RoboCod do? Well as you can imagine, RoboCod weights a bit, with two tonnes of solid titanium stapled to his nipples, and so instead of zapping the bogus bad dudes with a gun, he just jumps on their heads and squashes them. Fair enough. He can also extend his body vertically and grab onto platforms high above him. This is a really handy gadget, and there is no limit to how high he can go. You can really have a laugh making him latch onto a really high platform and then letting go. Yuk yuk yuk.

You can also scrunch down to look at what is going on below you. Add to this the usual array of power-ups that grant you the ability to fly, or to become invincible, and you have got a pretty tough fish.

Robo can also hop into vehicles to aid his progress, and these range from a nifty little plane to a car to a bath tub. Not really sure about flying around in a bath tub, but Millennium reckon it is true, so we will give them the benefit of the doubt. And if you think that is weird, wait until you clap eyes on what awaits you inside the factory.

Each set of levels takes place in a "room", each of which represent different sorts of toys and games. There are nine rooms in all, each comprising several levels and a big guardian-type thingy. The rooms cover such topics as sports - where big footballs and golfclubs tower above you - to the circus where crazed clowns try to fillet you. The cartoon style is there throughout, with pretty much everything having a silly little face on it, and even the nasties look like rejects from the worst 60's acid nightmare. Bizarre is not the word. Erm, well, actually bizarre is the word. And so is bonkers.

The graphics are brilliantly stylised, managing to keep the feel of the original but still adding something new. Bigger, better and brighter than before is the best way to describe them. The animation is spot on, with plenty of neat little touches to look out for. For instance, the way that Robo will pick up momentum as he runs down a steep slope and then skid to a halt at the bottom, with his little fins now more a blur of speed.

Naturally, the programmers take full advantage of this momentum and usually put a really fiendish trap at the bottom of the slope so you run straight into it and die horribly. Still, you have got to laugh.

Sound, believe it or not, is excellent too. The tune is a bouncy cartoon-style parody of the ominous RoboCop theme, and the springy sound effects complement the graphics well. Boing, thud, ker-splat and wibble. You certainly won't be turning down the volume on this one.

Of course, RoboCod does suffer slightly because it is "just another platform game". In the past few months alone we have had the rather excellent Magic Pockets and the commendable Rolling Ronny, but RoboCod stands up well against such competition. It is better than Ronny, there is no doubt about that, and I might even go as far as to say that it is better than Magic Pockets. Scandalous? Well, I am just a sucker for a fish in body armour.

There are tons and tons of features and little cheats to discover as you go along. Enough to keep you exploring for weeks on end. But all of this begs the question - what comes next? Dirty Haddock? Pike Rogers? Put it this way, if you liked James Pond, buy this anyway or I will come round and break your windows. Yes, I will. Now bog off while I have another bash at the Sweeties level...


Out and about with the Cyborg Strout
During his adventure, RoboCod can take advantage of three different vehicles. And here, in a pretty coloured box, they are:
RoboCar
Robocod: RoboCar
RoboBath
Robocod: RoboBath
RoboPlane
Robocod: RoboPlane
RoboCod is not above resorting to devious means. As you can clearly see, the thieving bar steward has gone and swiped poor old Noddy's car. But Noddy's just an outdated symbol of blinkered xenophobic fascism anyway, so who cares? Obviously, if you really want to make a splash when you are out on the town, you should be driving a porcelain bath. Beats Porsche any day, I do not think. Conclusive proof that certain games programmers are a few lozenges short of a chemist's. To really shift through the levels, the Roboplane is the thing to find. Fast, deadly and decidedly plane-shaped, the RoboPlane is most certainly a plane. Yes, it is definitely a plane. And a very nice one too.


Robocod logo

Tough armour combined with a lifetime of undersea experience. Ladies and gentlemen - we present the future of fish enforcement.

Not too long ago, the dreaded Doctor maybe tried to take over the world by setting up his enterprises out at sea. In order to satisfy his maniacal greed, he suppressed the ocean's inhabitants and set up rigs to churn out pollution at an alarming rate.

The super underwater-espionage unit, FI5H, managed to place an undersea agent inside Maybe's operations and the scaly superagent thwarted the evil tyrant's plans. That fish was Pond... James Pond.

However, megalomaniacs very rarely disappear for long, and the world's leaders have evidence which would suggest that strange things are happening at the North Pole. A force of robotic soldiers has managed to infiltrate the factory comples of a Mr S Claus, a jovial fellow who carries out charitable work all over the world, particularly during December.

After escaping from his sabotaged work place. Mr Claus revealed to the press and top politicians that a strangely familiar character was trying to take over his operations to make heavy demands on the people of the world. It appears that Maybe has returned!

The prime minister has announced that FI5H have decided to take on the mission. Hope rests on one person. The suave and scaly Mr Pond. All haste must be taken to reach James, who has been on an extremely rigorous training program - a program which, until now, has remained secret. The reason? Well James now has a new form. His body has been adapted using a new breed of fishy cybernetics. James Pond is now Robocod.

Gone fishin'
The form of this sequel is radically different to the first, highly successful, Pond adventure, becoming more of a console-type jump-and-collect game rather than a platform shoot-'em-up. You take control of James in his mission to infiltrate the North Pole factory complex and repel the evil Doctor Maybe.

The warped maniac has planted a series of bombs disguised as penguins throughout the various factory sections, threatening to explode them if his demands are not met. This would ruin Christmas for billions of people all over the world, so success is paramount.

You must travel to the factory complex and break into the various sections to defuse the bombs. The sections are dedicated to the production of various items:

Sports
This is where various sporting goods, such as golf clubs, table-tennis sets and boxing gloves are made. Find a pressie for dad here!
Toys
Deadly dolls prowling pom-poms and terrifyingly teddies abound in this cuddly nightmare. Do not trust your children to those cute fellows - they pack a pretty mean punch!
Confectionery
Chrimbo treats are scrummy... if they do not turn round and bite you! You may never be able to face a liquorice all-sort again!
Mechanicals
Tools, cogs and machinery may be useful but they can be dangerous at the hands of an evil maniac! Watch out for the nasty cars and trains on this section.
Bathroom
Sweet-smelling soaps and bath items for mum, but these dangerous items may be a tad too deadly to make the perfect gift.
Castles
Toys for boys are supposed to be exciting, but pack them full of marauding enemies and they become frightening!
Music
Ah... the restful qualities of music. But watch out for the instruments which fight back.
Circus
A holiday circus! What fun! Make it safe so that it is a joy - not a nightmare.

Wanna buy an alarm?
One thing in your favour is the fact that Mr Claus was sold a security system by a bit of a cowboy. The salesman neglected to mention the cold tends to affect the electronic locks, causing them to breakd down if other sections of the factory are opened. If you manage to battle through a section and reach the exit, the next door's lock will open for you.

After completing one of the sections on a floor of the factory, you can then whiz up the stairs to the next section. However, the warehouses have a surprise in store. Dr Maybe has placed one of his evil creations in them, their sole purpose being to do you in. You must bash them up before leaving the room to open up the next floor.

Sonic boom
For the past few months, Amiga owners have been looking with envy at Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Megadrive, thinking that this kind of game would never appear on the Amiga. However, the original James Pond showed that extremely good console-style games could be done on machines other than Sega's and Robocod goes even further to bridging the console-computer gap.

The graphics are extremely bright and colourful, making the game one of the best looking platform romps to appear for quite some time. Back this up with some highly jolly tunes by Richard 'Magic Pockets' Joseph and the game is an audio-visual treat.

The presentation is not the only good thing about Robocod though. The gameplay is addictive enough to keep any platform fan gripped for longer than is healthy, and there is enough variety to keep the going interesting for weeks. Even if you manage to reach the end sequence, the game is by no means completed. There are secret rooms, hidden sections and all manner of puzzles to keep you coming back for more again and again.

The Amiga version of Sonic has been mooted for a while, a fact which has had Amiga owners drooling. This is beside the point now, since Robocod is just as cute, just as fast, more colourful, bigger and perhaps most importantly, more fun than the blue spiky one. You no longer need to worry about saving up for a console - Robocod is here!


Robocod


Robocod logo

Die Katastrophe aller Katastrophen steht unmittelbar bevor: Der verbrecherische Dr. Maybe will in 48 Stunden die Spielzeugfabrik des Weihnachtsmanns in die Luft sprengen! Eine verzweifelte Situation, ein unfassbarer Anschlag auf den Weltfrieden - ein Fall für James Pond!

Robocod Da wäre allerdings noch ein kleines Problem zu lösen: Unser schuppiger Topagent bevorzugt bekanntlich das nasse Element, aber die Spielzeugfabrik befindet sich leider nicht unter Wasser, sondern am Nordpol. Deshalb wurde extra ein Anzug angefertigt, in dem James ständig von Frischwasser umspült wird. Aber das Teil hat noch eine höchst bemerkenswerte Eigenschaft...

Wenn man nämlich auf den Feuerknopf drückt, fängt Mister Pond nicht etwa zu ballern an, sondern streckt sich... beginnt richtig zu wachsen.. das hört überhaupt nicht mehr auf - zweimal die komplette Screenhöhe schafft er locker!

Das eröffnet völlig neue Perspektiven für ein Plattform-spiel, denn das Wort "unerreichbar" kann man hier getrost aus seinem Wortschatz streichen. Da ein verlängter Pond ein relativ wehrloser Pond ist, ist während der Streckphase erhöhte Vorsich geboten. Ansonsten kann sich der Geheimfisch aber ganz gut verteidigen, indem er seinen Widersachern auf den Kopf hüpft.

Standardfeinde wie Schlangen oder Spielkarten-Raben geben bereist nach ein, zwei Hopsern auf, bei den dicken Brummern (z.B. einem rieseigen Teddybär) darf man sich dagegen fast die Fussflossen platthüpfen, bis sie sich endlich in Wohlgefallen auflösen. Im übrigen ist James vornehmlich mit dem Unschädlichmachen der in der Fabrik verteilten Sprengsätze (geschickt als Pinguine getarnt!) und dem Einsammeln von Bonusgegenständen beschäftigt. In manchen der neun Level findet er auch nützliche Extras wie ein Flugzeug oder ein paar Flügel - beide sind natürlich zum Fliegen gedacht.

Auch sonst haben die teilweise sogar anwählbaren Abschnitte so einiges zu bieten: Alle sind sehr abwechslungsreich gestaltet und enthalten recht nette Details, z.B, bewegliche Plattformen, Bonusräume, Regenschirme, die sich als Fallschirme zweckenfremden lassen, und einiges mehr. Die comic-artige und bestens animierte Grafik ist wieder genauso gelungen wie beim ersten Teil (dasselbe gilt für die Joysticksteuerung), bloss bei Vertikalbewegungen ist ein dezentes Ruckeln im Scrolling zu verzeichnen.

Und noch zwei Schönheitsfehler: Zum einem besteht der Sound aus nervtötender Jahrmarktmusik und durchschnittlichen Effekten, zum anderen dürften alte Platformhasen mit den anfänglichen drei Leben schon sehr weit kommen - der Schwierigkeitsgrad ist recht niedrig, vielleicht etwas zu niedrig.

Damit wollen wir Millenniums hinreissenden Tiefsee-Agenten aber bestimmt nicht schlecht machen, ganz im Gegenteil: James Pond II kann es locker mit den vielgepriesenen Plattformspielchen von der Konsolen-Front aufnehmen! (C. Borgmeier)



Robocod logo

Millennium just keep on punning with the second fishy tale of a do-gooding aquatic invertibtrate and his fight against evil. This time James Pond has grown a robot body - and got about three times better!

There's been something of a fuss made lately over a Sega MegaDrive game called Sonic The Hedgehog - you may have heard about it. The praise is well deserved because Sonic is (in my book anyway) quite simply the best arcade game ever released for any console or home computer. It's very pretty, very fast, and has bags of character - I mention this because many Amiga owners will have tried Sonic, and wondered about Sega's well documented refusal to release this on any hardware format than Sega's own.

US Gold have been in there pitching for the Amiga rights, but as things currently stand, they haven't had much luck. It looks as if Sega have got what they want - the underlying message is "if you want to play something as good as Sonic, buy a Megadrive." Sound commercial sense you might say. I say, knickers to Sega.

Amiga producers are perfectly capable of conjuring up games that are just as good and just as fast as Sega's, and you don't have to go to Tokyo to find the necessary talent. Try Cambridge.

Robocod, like Sonic, is a colourful arcade platform romper with treasures to collect, kinda cute bad guys to bump off, and levels to complete. Yes, it's a formula that's been tried and tested so many times that it's on the verge of a cardiac arrest.
But Robocod is different, because, well, because it's so different. It's almost as if the author sat down before he started and decided to re-write the rules of Amiga arcade platform games. Lord knows, we need something new.

James Pond is once again the hero character, but this time he's a fish with a metal suit (Robocod - geddit?) packed full of special attributes which would probably prove essential to all good fish heroes. Chief among these is his ability to move safely around in the ope air without flapping about a bit and then making like a Sainsbury's Rainbow Trout.

In the original James Pond, our hero was out to find the evil Doc Maybe, and stop him polluting the sea (cue huge environmental yawn from readers). Now Maybe has toddled off with all Pond's penguin pals, and our hero has had to surface in order to get his buddies back. All that environmental nonsense has been trashed in favour of good old fashioned fun - and what could be more fun that a game set largely in a huge factory which produces sweets, toys, presents and other desirable consumer products?

In fact, the game is built up of eight levels, each of which is based on a product theme. The first (and easiest) is all cuddly toys, while the second is centred around sports gear. While the game progresses we move into the territory of musical goods, bath toys, cakes, card and board games, sweets and mechanical playthings. As you can imagine, this little lot leaves plenty of room for a delightful and ever changing panorama of graphical tricks, humorous touches, novel bad-guys and - best of all - capricious game-play.

And that's not all. This is a game that's not just big, not just huge - it's bloody gigantic. Each of the eight factories includes between three and eight levels, and very few of them are linear. You really have to explore, and even if you're getting a little bit lost, there's always lots and lots of good things to pick up and puzzles to solve. On each level there'll be a few of those penguins I mentioned before - to clear the level, you have to pick up a pre-designated number of your flightless chums, then find the exit (handily signposted by an 'exit' sign).

It's really not all that difficult to skip through the game, pick up the nice guys and make for the next factory. But here's where Robocod is special - there are so many jokes in the game, so much devilish chicanery, that you can't resist having a look round another corner, or climbing a huge series of platforms.


The programmer has shamelessly plundered every suitable game in existence for new ideas

It's all the more enticing because of the hero's large repertoire of movements. Of course (of course?) he can walk along on those odd little tail fins of his, and he can crouch and jump too. So far, so ordinary - what's much stranger is the way he can also stretch his robot body up to reach platforms, thus enabling him to swing along on his little fishy hand beneath them. He can bounce on top of baddies too, and whizz down hills at quite a lick (in much the same fashion as You-Know-Who-The-Hedgehog, actually).

On each level the style of gameplay changes, and Pond's array of movements will often change to suit the new environment. There's a secret room that's made of jelly for instance, and of course Pond finds a way to deal with the difficulties this presents. Sometimes there are little gadgets which will give him extra capabilities (a set of wings, a car, a plane, and so on), and while few of these tricks are original, it's a rarity to find them all together in one game.

The haven't been squeezed in here either. The game is blessed with absolutely loads of room to move around in, suffering from none of that feeling of claustrophobia which haunts even some of the best Amiga platformers (Toki and Magic Pockets being recent examples that spring to mind).

The trouble with the first James Pond game was that it was all so samey, and not a little difficult. By level four you were so bored, it didn't seem worthwhile investing all that much time on levels which were becoming increasingly, even ludicrously, challenging. In the yet-to-be-established (though we'd really like it to) tradition of sequel writers listening to the complaints of gamers, this wee problem has been resolved for the new game.

Pond carries three batteries (he's a cyborg fish, remember), and while he possesses at least one, he can't die. If you bump into a baddie, you lose a battery. This isn't so bad because there are enough batteries lying around to run a fair sized airport, let alone a small fish - add this to your three levels, AND three 'Game Continues' and even the crappiest of gamesplayer will have quite some fun romping around this game for some time (even if they don't get anywhere very much).

The game's big, you see - in something like Toki, you'd have the whole thing finished in no time with those little extras, but Robocod is so darned ginormous that this is most unlikely, even for the sharpest of games player.

I suppose gameplay is the most important part of it (it always is, isn't it?) but for me what carries this off is the sheer audacity of the thing. Programmer Chris Sorrell has shamelessly plundered every suitable game in existence for new ideas, and he's had the cheek to even tease a few a little (watch out for some neat Lemmings and Rainbow Islands gags).

He's also had the good sense to raid popular culture, and there's everything here from 19th century literature through 1930s cinema to tacky chocolate bar advertisements. We're always complaining about games lacking any real wit or imagination, but from the punning title downwards this is packed wit it. It would be wrong for me to spoil the fun - and anyway, you've really got to be there to enjoy the jokes - but let's just say that the incidental characters, the gentle touches of background wit, and the perplexingly ingenious nature of so many of the different levels make Robocod fun-time classic, and a surprise one at that.

I'm going to step onto hallowed ground now and say a very dangerous thing. When all is said and done, and all angles are considered, I reckon, without prejudice, that this might (and I stress just might) be better than Rainbow Islands. There, I said it. Now buy Robocod, decide for yourself, and may God blow my trousers off if I'm wrong.
Kaboom. Oh, ouch. (Ahem)



Robocod logo CU Amiga Superstar

Although it can be argued that consoles are holding back the development of more advanced games and ideas, their big plus point is that they have forced game developers to pay as much attention to gameplay as aesthetic appeal.

However, whilst many Amiga titles aspire to such playability, only Millenniu's sequel to James Pond can truly claim the crown. Completely ignoring the arcade/adventure precedent set by the first game, Robocod combines the speedy scrolling of Sonic The Hedgehog the countless quirks and add-ons of Super Mario World, and the most appealing computer game hero since Gremlin pensioned off Thing On A Spring.

Starring a bionically re-engineered version of our aquatic agent, with a new telescopic inset implanted into his midriff, Robocod is set within Santa's Toy Factory (PLC) where St Nick is being held by the evil Doctor Maybe - returning after the humiliation he suffered in the first game - and marks a new pinnacle in platform games.

After boarding Santa up in one of the factory's many rooms, Maybe is awaiting Pond's arrival deep in the heart of the building. SO, starting in the wintry wastes surrounding the complex's many entrances, James is all set to do battle and ensure that Christmas won't be disrupted after all (hurrah!).

Santa's factory is split into a number of attractive themed levels, which includes cake rooms whipped up from icing and a toy room built up from Lego. However, our fishy spy can only access these rooms in a specific order so each must be tackled as he comes across them. Each section is made up of a series of eight-way-scrolling rooms, which vary in size, and are patrolled by a number of evil creatures. The production of these nasties ties in rather neatly with the scenario as they are made by a series of toy-making machines which have been reprogrammed by Maybe to secure the area - a nice touch of consistency. Despite his genial appearance, Pond is armed with the ultimate in weapons - his backside - and by pulling down on the joystick whilst he is mid-jump, our hero points his rear downwards, and rolls himself into a ball to protect himself from damage.

Each of the rooms is made up of a series of platforms, upon which is the key to the completion of each stage - Penguins. And if you're wondering about the relevance of these birds to Santa's grotto, it's simply because Millennium have secured a promotional deal with Rowntrees to promote the game via their biccies - perhaps John West would have been more appropriate.

Getting back to the point, though, by hook or by crook (and by plentiful use of his elongating torso and jumping ability) James can make his way across the colourful platforms and collect the assorted extra lives and bonuses which are generously scattered upon them, all the time avoiding contact with the marauding toy soldiers, snakes, draughts-pieces, and other level-related baddies.

To make this considerable task slightly easier, though, certain levels arm James with assorted Cars, Planes, floating bathtubs(!), and a pair of Marioesque wings for those hard-to-reach corners. Using these devices to his advantage, James must hunt down the aforementioned Penguins and knock them from the perches and, when this is done, a small beacon lights up indicating the exit.
Beware, though, for on later stages, false beacons have been left to send the poor agent back to the starting point.

It's not just the incredible playability that makes Robocod so much fun, it's the variety of things to see and do. Rather than sticking to the same linear platform formula, there are bonus rooms to be found, end-of-level guardians, and literally thousands of goodies to be collected. The good news doesn't end there, either. The good news doesn't end there, either. The game is a real peach to look at, with the intricate foreground graphics lit by bright, but not gaudy backdrops, offsetting the game's bold look perfectly. The look, the playability, the control over Pond himself - make Robocod one of the best games I have every played. As far I'm concerned you can stuff Magic Pockets, this is the ultimate in platform playability and quite simply the best game to arrive from the Millennium stable to date.


SQUIDS IN...
With Robocod about to hit the streets, already software houses are starting to realise the potential of fishy main sprites. Here a few to expect:
The Codfather (U.S. Gold)
The Shrimpsons (Ocean)
Lotus Turbot Esprit (Gremlin)
Cods (Renegade)
Alien Prawn (U.S. Gold)
Video Squid (Gremlin)
Sharkman (Ocean)
Mega Fins (U.S. Gold)
Wrath Of The Bream-on (Readysoft)
Billy The Squid (Ocean)
Battle Squidron (Innerprize)
Cruise FOr A Carp-se (Dolphin-e)


Robocod logo

As a close friend of Captain Birdseye, a lover of caviar and a total devotee of James Pond, Amaya Lopez was the ideal choice to review Millennium's new, long-awaited fish tale, Robocod.

Remember James Pond, that irresistibly-gilled Sean Connery look-alike who plunged the waters of the deep, fighting for truth, justice and a pollution-free environment? Well he's back in the sequel, Robocod, where he's done away with his smart DJ and gone for the '90s image - er... a rather clanky, tin metal suit.

He's also adopted a more consumerist approach - gone are his Greenpeace days of saving the world and his fellow fish mates, now he's into making children happy (yeuch).

Since James Pond, there have been many fishy developments. The evil Dr Maybe, angered by his defeat at the fins of Pond, has made a new bid for world domination. His agents have infiltrated the giant toy factory in the North Pole and turned all the cuddly, fluffy bunnies, teddies, choo coos etc into vicious psychopaths. What's more, the penguins are set to explode in 48 hours. Yep, unbelievable - but true, Dr Maybe's cunning plan is for the toys to be given as presents to children all over the world, where they'll aid him in his bid for global domination.

Being on the ball as usual, the underwater intelligence agency FI5H have chosen James Pond as the er... fish for the job. Their scientists have also biologically improved him - he is now the proud owner of an Extendosuit (TM) with microchip implants and fab turbo gills which enable him to survive out of water. With his new robotic power, Mr Pond has metamorphosed into Robocod - a fish so tough, you'd be better off eating squid.

Robocod must bravely explore the giant toy factory and the nine different factories within in search of the exploding penguins. They range from a scary sports hall to the bath-time accessories department, belligerent board games room, and even a loony circus.

On his travels Robocod encounters the likes of terrifying teddies, battle-thirsty toy soldiers, mad boy-racer toy cars, crazy wind-up dolls, birds of prey playing cards, evil presents, angry flowers - in short more fearful foes than Freddy Krueger's worst nightmare (well almost).

Amiga reviewAmaya: I must admit, despite the fear of being cast in the sexist 'all girls like cutesy games' category, that I just lurved James Pond. So, understandably, I was rather excited at the prospect of playing Robocod.

What I didn't expect, however, was such a complete change of character for our James. Where James Pond was cool and rather adult in his 'green' approach to saving the world, Robocod seems pitched at a much younger market. Gone is the clever Bondy theme and the brilliant Bond-like soundtrack. It's been replaced by a very simple 'fish out of water' story line, with Robocod saving the world in Santa's toy factory.

Somehow, it lacks the neat inventiveness of James Pond's scenario. That said, if we take Robocod for what it is - a very cutesy, platform game with bonuses to collect and baddies to avoid - then it really is rather good. It's also easier to stay alive in the sequel. Yes, every now and then you can gather a bonus which contains a battery and hence an extra life.

Robocod himself is neatly animated with various different moves. He can withdraw into his shell to avoid nasties, attain great heights in his Extendosuit (TM) (by zooming up on the end of a long, metal tube), grip onto ledges and generally boing around. And the way he wiggles is really quite endearing, too.

In the sports hall level, Robocod can, if you're as skill as I was, find wings which'll enable him to fly. The funny thing is they attach to his head and make him look remarkably like Jimmy Saville. There's also his brill plane complete with flying Ace scarf, and goggles, but perhaps best of all is the flying bathtub in the bath toys level.

Like the graphics, the sound effects are rather good. However, the soundtrack is sadly disappointing. It's bouncy and catchy enough, yet nowhere near as good as the original's. However, if you're looking for a cutesy, christmasy platform game, you won't go far wrong with Robocod. Stop



Robocod AGA logo AGA

Splash down! He's back, licensed to gill and fresh from the set of Goldfish-finger... James Pond!

The re-emergence from the bottom of the aquarium of the most scaly sex symbol in the seven seas set my mind thinking about fish. Well, really about fishing. You see I've never been fishing, and whenever I quiz the fishing fraternity about their nefarious hobby, they always reply how tranquil an activity it is. Sitting around calm waters in rural settings - relaxing.

Maybe I'm missing the point? I can understand the peace, and relative calm of sitting by still waters on a warm summers' day with vast quantities of chilled beer - that like.
But getting up at three in the morning, carrying 50ft poles around and dipping your hands into half a tonne of wriggling extras from a Hammer movie? No way! Well enough of my fishy tales and back to Captain Birdeye's stunt man, our James. As you might have gathered, he's back in a remake of his classic, second mission.

Most gamers will remember with a tidal wave of nostalgia the A500 version. Starting as a virtual unknown, Mr Pond was heralded as fresh (fish), unusual, and highly playable with no big money tie-ups or license endorsements.

ENHANCED MOOD
Since then the "mean, green, part machine" tuna-type chappie has become an overnight success, neigh a veritable "cod" of the platform world.
Well, after a while away swimming up the Gulf stream, James has cleaned his gills out, and is back in a refreshed, enhanced mood.

For those of you who don't recall the original plot, I shall refresh your protein-starved brains. The evil Doctor Maybe has hijacked good ol' Santa's toy factory. The nasty piece of work has been manufacturing a range of lethal playthings in an attempt to knacker up Crimbo for everybody.
Desperate governments eventually come up with the solution. Get in touch with F.I.5H, who in turn will contact the only man for the job - James Pond.
Pond immediately reports to F. Instead of kitting out Jimbo with hi-tech gadgets like the homing condom, or a watch that turns into a space shuttle, F gives him a special robot suit, which enables our hake-like hero to breath on land. It also enables him to expand his torso to preposterous lengths. This comes in extremely handy during play as very often Jim has to reach ledges and grip on with his fishy fingers.

This leads me rather neatly on to the play. The action is stereotypical platform mayhem. There are loads of power ups that enable you to do silly things like fly - I ask, who ever heard of a flying fish?
James can also waddle aboard numerous other modes of transport. These vary throughout, but don't be surprised to find yourself trundling across the screen in a bath tub or flying past in a plane.

If this wasn't surreal enough, each level is played in weird rooms made up of various giant toys and games. Not many times in a gamer's life he'll get mugged by Sindy! - not really. There are nine levels in all, and they're all as wacky as each other. One moment you'll be flipping past giant, grinning tennis balls; the next confronted by irate golf clubs. Some mornings it's the last thing you need. Honestly Millennium, what are you running down there, a home for acid casualties!

Anyway, basically you've got to jump, squash, stretch and generally splash your fins around, defeating baddies and killing massive level mothers every two stages.

But what of the enhancements, I hear your gargle from your padded bowl? Well, the 1200 version to all intents and purposes looks very similar.
The same beautifully stylised graphics haven't altered. They just seem more slick and polished. The animation is still spot-on and there are loads of little touches which make for more titillating play.

The major improvements seem to be with such things as the backdrops. They've gained more depth, loads of colour and scroll more slickly. There also appear to be a few more sections to contend with an each level on this version. But really after that, that's yer lot.

Now please, don't think of the previous comments as a criticism on my part. James Pond is brilliantly addictive and great fun to play. If you had it on your original Amiga and have just traded your trusty tool in for a 1200, I'm not sure. I'd buy it 'cos I think it's awesome, but obviously the choice is yours to ponder over.
However, if you've never got your fins wet before with the fishy one, don't delay, jump in at the deep end and enjoy endless fishmongering frolics with the hottest, halibut-type hunk in Hollywood.



Robocod AGA logo AGA

There is an unwritten rule in the game reviewing business that says you cannot strt a piece with the words 'once upon a time'. But now we have got the first couple of sentences of this review over and done with, we do not have to worry about silly rules, especially ones that no-one has ever bothered to even write down.

Once upon a time there was a game called James Pond, and it was not terrible. You would not have sold your granny to get a copy, but you might have spent about £25, or less if you had bought it by mail order. Since the game was an unmitigated success the people who made it took the tried and tested, Hollywood approved, course of action and made a sequel. Like most sequels, this one, code-named Robocod, was not as good as the original. Unlike most sequels it was much, much, much (you get the picture) better.

Robocod took the book of Amiga platform games, read it from cover to cover, cut it up into little pieces and then reassembled it in a way not completely dissimilar to the one used by William Burroughs in his writing of Nova Express. The result was a game that, at the time, completely redefined Amiga platformers. Unlike, go on, I will say it... Zool, which was just wow!, Robocod was wow! And it made you think as well. The bonuses were hidden so cunningly that even today, after overa year of hard playing, I come across new ones. The cheats were so clever that you would think it was not intended for computer games players at all, but for Oxford undergraduates.

OK, I may be getting all misty eyed and nostalgic here, but I have just heard some really great news. Millennium are bringing out Robocod for the A1200, and I am going to get to review it for Amiga Format magazine. The pinnacle of my career, sans doubt!

TANGIBLE ASSETS
Now there are more than a couple of games that have been rehashed for the AGA Amiga baby, but none have really added much to the original. Millennium have avoided this criticism by adding a very tangible, and pretty tricky, five levels to Robocod. And they did not even bother to tell me, I just found myself playing a game I thought I new inside out, when BANG! There I was charting unknown platforms. And extraordinary fun it was too.

The backgrounds benefit in most places from the 256 colour treatment, but the sprites have been left as they were. It is good to see that Millennium showed more restraint on the Amiga than on the Mega Drive version of Robocod, which featured overly distracting Zool-AGA style backgrounds. Some of the backgrounds, like the clouds on the train level, have not been given the AGA treatment, which is a real shame, because they would have looked particularly great. More great news for A1200 owners, or ones who own hard drives at least, is that Robocod AGA is operating systems legal. This of course means that it is HD installable.

So now the bit where we tell you whether you should buy it. This is a tricky one because the game poses an interesting dichotomy, depending on whether you own the original or not. So here goes. Yes, if you do not have a copy of the original then you should have this - it is the best game yet for showing off the A1200, and it is a huge great bag full of fun too.

If you have a copy of Robocod non AGA, do not bother with this. The original works fine on an A1200 - just disable the CPU caches and use the original chipset. The AGA version is a dream, but it is the kind of dream that costs £25.99, and for just five more levels and 224 more colours, it ain't worth it. On the other hand, if Millennium were to offer existing owners an upgrade for say £7.99 I would say do it.



Der Goldfisch

Robocod AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Noch bevor der schuppige Geheimagent im herbst zum dritten Mal die Amiga-Plattformen stürmt, schiebt Millennium eine aufgepeppte 1200er-Version seines zweiten Abenteuers ein - samt Lizenz zum Hüpfen!

Nun hat das Original ja bereits anderthalb Jahre auf dem Buckel, frischen wir also zunächst kurz die Erinnerung auf: Der fiese Dr. Maybe will die Spielzeug-Fabrik des Weihnachtsmanns in die Luft sprengen, was unser furchtloser Flossenträger binnen 48 Stunden vereiteln muß.

Das Schicksal nimmt auf den derzeit arg strapizierten Plattformen seinen Lauf, jedoch trieb es die Anti-Hüpf-Fraktion selten so bunt wie hier - Toaster, Schneemänner oder Teddybären wollen überwunden und tonnenweise Bonusgebäck sowie vereiste Pinguine gefunden werden, auf daß sich das Tor zum nächsten der rund 80 Levels öffne. Pond begegnet seinen Gegnern wie immer unbewaffnet, doch kann er sie mit einem gekonnten Kopfsprung zur Raison bringen oder sich bis zur Decke hinauf strecken, um sich so an Freund und Feind vorbeizuhangeln.

Damit das alte Spiel auch am neuen Amiga Laune macht, wurde nicht nur die Präsentation aufgebohrt, auch am Levelaufbau haben die Programmierer gefeilt und sogar ein paar komplett neue Abschnitte springen lassen. Die Optik kommt nun noch bunter rüber, das multidirektionale Parallax-Scrolling klappt absolut ruckfrei, und die knuddelige Begleitmusik klingt etwas klarer als anno A500. Damit nicht genug, fleißige Retter des Weihnachtsfriendens kommen in den Genuß einer völlig anderen Endsequenz.

Okay, von einem 1200er-Quantensprung zu reden, wäre trotz allem etwas übertrieben - aber da sich James auch ohne Murren auf die Festplatte nageln läßt, bietet die neue Version doch eindeutig mehr Spaß fürs Geld! (rl)



Robocod AGA logo AGA

Gentlemen - the future of cute platform game enforcement.

One of the more tragic omissions from the Amiga Power All-Time Top One Hundred this year was Robocod, and with this release of the 1200 version, now is a good time to put this right.

The trouble is that this is yet another platform-console cutie, and I would place omoney on the fact that a fair amount of you are just a tad fed up with platform-console-cuties by now. I know we are. So how, then, am I to convince you that this is THE platform cutie to beat all platform cuties? This fact is made more clear in retrospect, because we have seen a lot since this was first released back in 1991, and taking a fresh look at it we can see that it still has more playability than most of the rest of them put together.

But first some facts. It says something about Robocod that just playing it again revitalised my admiration for the game, but there is more to this than just a re-release. This is the enhanced 1200 version and Millennium have taken the opportunity to integrate some great new background graphics, some extra colours and five brand new levels. The enhancements are not astounding, but they are an improvement and are very tastefully done. The five new levels are a genuine bonus too, but it is not enough to persuade an existing owner to part with a further £25.


This is THE platform cutie to beat all platform cuties

But what about those who have not seen this superb game before? Well, James Pond is a fishy super agent whose job in this adventure is to save the world from Doctor Maybe. The fiend is trying to ruin Christmas by destroying all the toy factories in the North Pole using penguin bombs.

There are over 50 stages of action in which our hero (Pond) has to collect all the explosive penguins before they cause disaster. You control James by zooming around the platform-orientated stages, bouncing on any baddies who impair your progress, and using the capabilities of your Expandosuit to stretch up to higher platforms.

It is not only the number of levels which is impressive but also the variety - one minute you are doing Sonic The Hedgehog-style speed trips, the next you are avoiding giant teddy bears and (get this) flying playing cards. You simply are not given the opportunity to get bored.

What we have here then is a great welcome return of a great platform game of yesteryear which is still miles ahead of a lot of stuff around now. The enhancements work well, and if you have not got the game, this is an essential A1200 purchase. If you have got the game, take care - there is not enough stuff you have not already seen for you to spend out this amount of cash.



Robocod AGA logo AGA CU Amiga Screen Star

MILLENNIUM OUT NOW £29.99

With A1200 owners still starved for software which makes use of their machine's capabilities, it is good to see companies such as Millennium producing A1200 enhanced versions of their back catalogue.

They have taken their aquatic smash-hit Robocod and revamped many of its aspects for a standalone 1200 version. It first appeared on the Amiga over 18 months ago and was an instant hit thanks to its colourful graphics and masses of levels. When the Megadrive version appeared shortly afterwards it too received rave reviews. The biggest single improvement on this version of the game is the addition of five new levels. Each level is broken down into several smaller ones, so you are actually getting about 18 stages.

Many of the existing levels have undergone changes and now contain 256 colour backdrops. Some of the sound effects have also been updated, although these are few and far between and easily passed over. As before there are several thousand screens to conquer, nearly all of which are populated with some of the strangest characters yet seen on the Amiga.

One of the best features is the variations in the levels. You might be required to practice precision jumping on one, then at the next junction you find yourself hanging down a corridor at a speed that would make Sonic pack up and go home.

There are just so many graphical touches and hidden levels that you can play right through the game several times without seeing them all, so there is always something to go back for.

There are not any radical changes in terms of speed and gameplay in this version, so if you have played the game to death on the Megadrive or A500 you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you have never played Robocod you are missing out on one of the finest platform games ever.



Robocod CD32 logo CD32

Robocod * Millennium * £29.99

Yes indeedy, the fishy fellow is back again, but this time on CD format. To put it into fish-type vernacular, the original was a rather nice piece of trout with almonds. The A1200 version was definitely fresh salmon, but the CD32 version is an absolute dollop of caviar.

But enough of the fishy chit-chat and on with the plot. The evil Dr Maybe has planted lots of bombs ticking away in the toy factories on the North Pole. To sort out this dilemma, the trout with the clout James Pond has been put on the case by F.I.5.H. Utilising the robosuit his bosses have given him, James must stretch through 2,500 screens of play area.

There is level after level of colourful madness for you to indulge in, as you bounce around the baddies and take on the might of end of level guardians like massive teddy bears or psychotic double-deckers.

As platform titles go, Pond is as good as you are going to see. Obviously, there are not that many differences to the A1200 version reviewed several months ago - that is not to slate it all though; it featured 256 colour screens and animation smoother than a baby's bum.

The game also has a full-length animated intro which is a really excellent piece of stylised animation.

Realistically, if you have got an A1200 and a copy of Pond on disk, there is little point in buying it again on CD. But if you have not got an A1200 and are speculating over the CD32 then this prize platforming product is definitely worth your guppy eggs.



Robocod CD32 logo CD32

Life is strange. If some bloke tries to tell you otherwise, like that it is just a bowl of All Bran, or that it is what you make it, kick him in the crotch. He is obviously a dangerous loony. Life is strange.
I have spent the last few years of my life lamenting volubly that I did not get to review Robocod when it first came out on the Amiga. Maff Evans reviewed it, back in issue 29, and a damn fine job he did too. Back then Robocod scored a huge 91 per cent, and time has not dulled the shine on this glisteningly great platform game. But times have changed and Evans has gone to be a knob-twiddler in Future Music.

I, on the other hand, have had the opportunity to review Robocod twice in the last four issues. First it was the all new (well, bits were new) and enhanced AGA version which surfaced in issue 49. In the 20 months since its original appearance, our fishy friend had put on five new levels, lots more colours, and absolutely no pounds and no pence. A feat well worthy of equalling its original score. Congratulations to Millennium for producing a truly enhanced AGA game.

Now, in Issue... hold on, let me take a look at the cover... oh yes, Issue 52, Robocod is back again. And this time James Pond is flashing his fins on CD32. Millennium can quite rightly be proud of themselves for the undeniable achievement of having got the first CD32 game on the shelves (their Diggers beat it to the machine, but comes free when you buy one. Surely they deserve to sell bucket loads of this game, then?

Well, they undoubtedly will. But whether they deserve to is a matter for debate.

The non-interactive nature of the printed medium makes debates a bit tricky, though, so we will have a kind of kangaroo court. I will make the case for the defence of this undeniably excellent game. Then I will make the case for this being a cynical marketing move by a set of money-hungry capitalists, and then I will give the game a score and get on with my life. You can draw your own conclusions.

CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
- Robocod has earned a coveted Amiga Format Gold award twice.
- It is, without a doubt, one of the most playable, enjoyable colourful and generally suckworthy Amiga games ever. Ever!
- The CD32 version of Robocod has the same five extra levels as the AGA version.
- The CD32 version of Robocod has seven tracks of digital audio.
- The CD32 version of Robocod has full animation intro and a full electronic book containing secret F.I.5.H information.

CASE FOR THE PERSECUTION
Robocod CD32 costs £29.95 - four quid more than the floppy version.

For years, publishers have been claiming that when CD software arrived it would be cheaper than disk stuff because it won't be as pirateable. The production costs of a CD are similar, or maybe even less, than the production costs of a two-disk game.

Is it possible that because Robocod CD32 is the first Amiga CD game available, and early buyers of the CD32 will have little choice, that Millennium are trying to turn a fast buck? Or is it possible that despite all they have said, now the time to stand by their rhetoric has come, software hosues are not in fact going to charge less for CD software? Are we going to be charged a premium for the fact that we are getting our games on shiny 12cm discs instead of blue 3.5-inch ones? Are we to believe that, although the development costs of the game have been covered by the floppy version, the cost of producing an average animation and a session musician soundtrack warrants a price hike?

I do not know the answer to these questions, but if I were you, I would ask myself several times before I shelled out more for a CD game than it costs on floppy.



Pond hoch 32

Robocod CD32 logo CD32

Jetzt haben wir das zweite Plattform-Abenteuer der schuppigen Geheimdienstlers schon zum dritten Mal im Test - nach den Versionen für A500 und A1200 legte Millennium nun eine Fassung für das Amiga CD32 vor!

Auch wenn es nur eine Umsetzung mit Detailverbesserungen ist, bitten wir die Kapelle um einen Tusch: Robocod ist das erste testreife Game für Commos neue Schillerscheibenschleuder. Kein übler Einstand, immerhin bürgte der Flossenträger bereits in seiner Urfassung für Jump & Run nach Maß...

Vorgeschichte und Gameplay wurden denn auch nicht angetastet, nach wie vor will der üble Dr. Maybe die Spielzeugfabrik des Weihnachtsmannes sprengen, was Pond binnen 48 fiktiven Stunden vereiteln soll. Also hetzt er durch 80 exotisch-bunte Levels voller tödlicher Abgründe und hüpft Schneemännern, Spielzeugsoldaten und -autos oder Mega-Teddies auf den Kopf, um als Pinguine getarnte Bomben zu entschärfen.

Dank eines Hi-Tec-Anzugs kann sich der Cartoon-Agent schier endlos strecken, sonstige Extras oder Waffen gibt es nich, das tonnenweise herumliegende Sammel-Gebäck bringt meist mehr Punkte, manchmal auch ein Zusatzleben.

Die hübsche Grafik mit den Knuddel-Sprites und Parallax-Scrolling in Weichspülerqualität wußte bereits am 1200er zu beeindrucken, was also kann der CD-Agent, das seine Vorgänger nicht konnten? Nun, zum einen gibt es auf der Power-Konsole ein echtes Zeichentrick-Intro, zum anderen sieben zusätzliche und teilweise wirklich exzellente Musikstücke. Und weil auch die Steuerung durch die Zwei-Button-Bedienung des Joypads noch einen Zahn zugelegt hat, ist der neue Pond ganz klar der beste Pond! (rl)



Robocod CD32 logo CD32

Millennium £29.99

Another opportunity screams out loudly but goes begging. You would think that with a game this old, sticking with the original James Pond on the disk would have been the least Millennium would have tried to suggest some kind of value-for-money scenario, but all you get here beyond the A1200 version of this veteran platformer is a really poorly digitised cartoon video intro sequence with outrageously flickering colours and a bit of a James Pond 3 preview.

It's probably some complicated corporate thing to do with GBH having the rights to James Pond 1 or some similar deal, but the fact is that Robocod is too old and too duff to justify the full-price treatment on such a glamorous new format. It's improved slightly by the addition of a load of new buttons on the joypad, but it is still the same gigantic sprawl of nothing very much that it used to be back in 1991.



Robocod CD32 logo CD32

MILLENNIUM, OUT NOW £29.99

They've milked it and milked it. it's been on every single format ever released, and the padded foam costume has seen more often than the Jurassic Park trailer.

Thankfully, all these things can be forgiven as Robocod is still one of the best platform games ever written. With that in mind, it comes as nor surprise that the second tale of F.I.5.H.'s highest paid agent is one of the first CD32 titles, and like every other version that has appeared, it's an absolute stormer!

You shouldn't need any introduction to this Super Mario-style platformer, so I won't give you one. All you need to know is that it was incredibly addictive when it first arrived on the scene, and now it's even better. It has eight new levels with far more on-screen colours. As you would expect, the CD version is simply the AGA version with a few more bells and whistles.

Firstly, of course, the sound has been upgraded somewhat, with seven full tracks of digital audio music playing through the game alongside the now familiar spot effects. Also, a full online book has been included, giving you a full history of F.I.5.H. and all its agents. This book is interesting for a few minutes, but not absolutely necessary. What impressed me most, however, were the few minutes of full-screen cartoon animation at the start of the game. Each frame has been handdrawn and then scanned into an art package. The end result is a little grainy, looking somewhere between Danger Mouse and an early Mickey Mouse flick, but is impressive none the less.

When all is said and done, though, the game is much the same. To my mind, Robocod will always be one of the finest Amiga platform titles, and is most definitely something that should sit on every CD32 owner's CD rack.