Just in case you are making any holiday plans, whatever you do, do not book up to stay at the Soviet nuclear powerplant on Koala Island in May 2011. You see, according to the plot of Rubicon, it is going to explode, spreading radiation of 1,230,000 units over 300 square miles which, it has to be said, could be a little irritating if you happen to be suffering from sunburn at the time. There is also a chance that you will feel the side effects of total mutation.
You see, in this game, all the animals have mutated beyond recognition and now possess the intelligence of mankind. It is your job to make your way through the various radioactive areas, reach the Nuclear base and disarm the nuclear weapons stored here. Needless to say, I have not got even a seventh of the way towards doing this yet (I cannot even get off the first level) as things, sideways shoot- 'em-up speaking, are a bit hard. In fact, if anyone can bat Keith on the highscore table with 900,000 points, then mine is a pint of bitter and some dry roasted peanuts, please.
Other things, graphically speaking, are pretty great, though as the screenshot should show; it all looks very arcadey and Ghosts 'n' Goblins, doesn't it? What you cannot see here are the two solid layers of parallax scrolling, the 32 colour graphics, the fast action and all the other things boasted in the press release. Graphics wise, Rubicon does justice to the Amiga and should be congratulated for it. Um, well done.
However, as ever in the case of shoot- 'em-ups, the gameplay is decidedly shallow. Shallow in that all you do is run in one direction and shoot baddies, stopping to pick off the occasional stationary dragon or dinosaur - quite how innocent animals mutated into the sort of fantasy creatures to be found here is something that eludes me completely, by the way. It is almost as if, heaven forbid, the game was written first, then the plot scrawled down at the last minute. (Not that that could ever happen of course, oh no).
Anyway, back to the point. The point is that the gameplay is a bit shallow. Rubicon is a fine, fine shoot-' em-up, but it is blatantly unoriginal with not one surprise in store. The weapons system is quite nice - an arming canister floats down Bionic Commando-style, you select which of the seven weapons you want armed (you learn which weapons to arm first as you progress into the game), but I am sure we have all seen this somewhere before. Still, what the hell, eh? Having said all the above, I still find it pretty good fun.