Skeleton Krew logo AGA Amiga Computing Gold

Where have all the good shoot-'em-ups gone? Jonathan Maddock, with magnifying glass in hand, is on the case and Core Design may be able to help out with their latest offering.

INTRODUCTION

The fusion between the big and small screen is rapidly becoming closer and closer. Unfortunately, people within the industry, who should know better, are playing us with all manner of CD rubbish. These titles feature famous actors and actresses backed up by lavish graphics and sound, but they're sadly lacking in the gameplay department and are about as 'cinematic' as Uncle Wilbur's slides of his previous day trip to Bournemouth.

Luckily for most Amiga owners, the majority of this software is currently doing the rounds on the PC, but in the future these titles will no doubt become more commonplace on our machine. This is not the type of product we gamers want and personally I think we should take a stand, now.

We'd like a game that looks and feels as though it should be on the big screen, but what we don't want is some dodgy, hastily-acquired film license to be made into an even worse piece of software. What we want is something like Skeleton Krew, Core Design's brand new, fast and frenetic shoot-'em-up.

Why are we all required to own a copy of this game? If Skeleton Krew was transformed into a multi-million pound movie, perhaps directed by David Lynch or James Cameron, it would be, quite simply, a feast for the eyes and it would probably break several records at the box office. Before this (fantasy?) film can begin to get underway (OK, so it might not and will probably never happen, but use your imagination!), Core's game must make it through the System review grinder unscatched. Not an easy task!

STORYLINE

The year is 2062. When Deadly Enforcement Aggressive Destruction Incorporated (DEAD Inc.), owned by kryogenics scientist, Moribund Kadaver, takes over a monolithic kryogenics plant on the outskirts of Monstro City, strange goings on start to get even stranger.

Kryogenic mutations, known as Psykogenix, appear on the streets, forcing the populace from their homes until the entire city is overrun by the DEAD Inc. monstrosities. News of this outrage reaches the headquarters of MAD (Military Assertainment Department) and special operatives are dispatched to Monstro City. Only one returns and the survivor, in his dying breath, speaks of a terrible Psyko Machine being created in Moribund Kadaver's mobile laboratory - Dead 1.

In desperation, MAD call upon the services of a team of morbid mercenaries known as the Skeleton Krew.

82%

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

A skeleton is the rigid or semi rigid framework that supports an animal's body, protects its internal organs, and provides anchorage points for its muscles. The skeleton may be composed of bone and cartilage (vertebrates), chitin (arthropods), calcium carbonate (mollucs and other invertebrates). It may be internal, forming an endoskeleton, or external, forming an exoskeleton.

The skeleton is constructed from bones. Bone is hard connective tissue. It consists of a network of collagen fibres, impregnated with inorganics, especially calcium phosphate. Enclosed within this solid matrix are bone cells, blood vessels and nerves.

In strength, the toughest bone is comparable with reinforced concrete. Humans have about 206 distinct bones in the skeleton. The interior of long bones consists of a spongy matrix filled with a soft marrow that produces blood cells. Here endeth the science lesson.


 

SOUND

For what seems like years now, I've been whinging about the current state of computer game music and just how bad it is the majority of the time. The company which has impressed me the most over the last couple of years is Core Design. Their sound department seems to get better and better and for Skeleton Krew, the boys have made an important step forward.

Instead of our bog-standard computer music, they've lovingly embraced the thumping beats that go together to make a hip-hop/rap track. Skeleton Krew opens with some atmospherics, a quick voice sample and then the loudest, meanest, biggest, baddest drum loop thumps in and threatens to destroy your sound speakers. Listen to the tune enough times and it's quite easy to imagine someone like Cypress Hill rapping over the top of it!

This is my first musical highlight of 1995 and it's all thanks to Core Design who have obviously got the intelligence to use someone who is skilled at creating original pieces of high-quality music that belong in the '90s and not the '80s.

Other musical moments worth a mention are the huge pounding set of drums which play in between levels, and to get the best out of them they must be turned up as loud as possible. The actual in-game music is slight, but luckily atmospheric enough to keep you happy. The sound effects are also very impressive and compliment the hot shoot-'em-up action perfectly.

90%

 

GRAPHICS

I've already made comparison between Skeleton Krew and the big screen and it's all thanks to the game's wonderfully chunky and highly stylistic graphics. The characters and backdrops have been drawn so that they reflect the dark, moody and futuristic atmosphere of the product.

As you might have guessed from the screenshots, Skelton Krew is a 3D isometric eight-way scrolling shoot-'em-up, but this could have caused untold problems for the developers as almost every angle has had to be catered for.

The three main characters (Rib, Joint and Spine) have their own attributes and are capable of turning a whole 360 degrees. At the end of the day, I don't suppose it matters which one of the 'krew' you choose, but at least you can make that choice.

The animations are quite good, especially when some of your enemies die, and it's more than likely that you'll be impressed by the huge end-of-level guardian. The levels vary quite a bit and there are enormous colour changes as you progress into the later stages of the game.

The graphics are very impressive, and it's obvious that they've been created by someone with a love for science fiction films and comic books.

Skeleton Krew looks pretty damn good and although I would have liked to have seen enemies that vary a bit more, I can still doff my cap to Core's graphic designers.

80%

 

OPINION80%

It's been an incredibly long time since I've played a really good shoot-'em-up and although Skeleton Krew didn't manage to completely satisfy my hunger, it certainly left me starving for some more.

I do like the game, but I've got a fondness for shoot-'em-ups anyway, so the casual gamer might want to have a look elsewhere. For people who are interested in stabbing that fire button as fast as possible, Skeleton Krew could well be your cup of tea.

It's got a higher body count than your average Quentin Tarantino movie and it looks the part in the dark and moody graphics department. Core's blaster has also got the added bonus of a truly excellent soundtrack and in places it can get quite addictive, but it's unfortunately let down by a high boredom factor.

Not all of the six levels has got an end-of-level guardian which is a real shame as the one in the first level is very impressive. The simple fact of the matter is that Skeleton Krew, despite its appearances, just isn't different enough from its competitors to warrant a really high score, although shoot-'em-up fanatics will no doubt love it to bits.

Core's game is certainly tough enough to keep you going for quite some time and because of the sheer quality of the comic book-style graphics and the thumping hip-hop soundtrack, I'm happy enough to increase the percentage, but casual admirers of the genre might feel that there's something missing if and when they eventually play the game.



Skeleton Krew logo AGA

Steve McGill discovered more than a few skeletons in Core Design's cupboard when their new shoot-em-up dropped on to his desk for review.

Tedious, annoying, banal, boring, drab, dreary, dull, humdrum, irksome, laborious, lifeless, monotonous, prosaic, prosy, soporific, tiring, uninteresting, vapid, wearsome. Guess what? All of the above definitions of tedious apply to Skeleton Krew. Apart from the graphics and the choice of control systems, this game's got nothing going for it whatsoever.

It's almost as if Core had spent all their time designing the graphics and the monstrous adversaries and forgot about inserting any gameplay into the thing. And, in retrospect, to cover up for this inadequacy, it appears that they've opted to disguise the omission by making the game so difficult to play that they hope nobody'll notice the oversight.

Firstly though, you have to take a look at why the game's so bad. The plot's an arbitrary bolt-on which adds nothing to the non-existent atmosphere.

It plays like an isometric Gauntlet with none of the good bits. There's no incentive to make progress, no sub tasks to be engaged in and, apart from spare lives, nothing worth collecting.

All the action centres around shooting things and finding the exit to the next level. There are even sections where you're trapped until you kill everything in your way. So basically, all there is to do is, move, dodge, shoot, move, dodge, shoot, ad infinitum.

In fact, the glaring questions that remain to be answered with Skeleton Krew are, why did Core release it in this state? Why couldn't they have held on a bit longer and worked on some game mechanics, such as those used in the Alien Breed series, to make the game interesting and inject a bit of lastability in it.

As it stands it's worrying that such a shoddy product has been put on general release by a developer with Core's pedigree.

Or put it another way. Avoid Skeleton Krew at all costs. The asking price is £34.99. Not only is that an insult to the Amiga market it's aimed at, it's also an overpriced rip-off.



Skeleton Krew logo AGA

Die Luftschacht um "Banshee" ist kaum vorüber, schon zettelt Core Design eine weiter Action-Orgie an. Diesmal wird allerdings bodenständiger gekämpft - in futuristischen AGA-Landen und feinstem Iso-3D.

Schauplatz der Story ist die Stadt mit dem hübsch sinnigen Namen Monstro City, so sich Jahre 2062 die grausigen Geschöpfe eines ehemaligen Totengrabers mit dem nicht minder bezeichnenden Namen Mordibund Kadaver ein Stelldichein geben.

Statt seine Kunden dem ewigen Frieden zu überlassen, hat der Kerl sie nämlich wiedererweckt,um nun mit einer Armee halbtoter Bio-Cyborgs die lebende Bevölkerung terrorisieren zu können. Und wer könnte den Robo-Zombies wohl besser die Dioden ausknipsen als das durchgeknallte Söldner-Team namens Skeleton Krew? Trät doch auch dieses Trio seinen Namen nicht von ungefähr, denn die Kerle scheinen selbst einem Genlabor entsprungen zu sein...

So bringt der etwas träge Joint satte 250 Kilo Lebendgewicht auf die Waage und eine in den Arm integrierte Laser Dampframme mit in den Kampf, was ihn zum Schrecken aller Feinde macht.

Die schlagkräftige Feministin Rib ist hier körperlich zwar nicht ganz so gut ausgestattet, dafür aber so flink, daß die Gegner ihre liebe Mühe haben werden, sie zu treffen. Für Allrounder bietet sich dann noch Spine an, der eine gesunde Mischung der Vorzüge seiner Kollegen in sich vereinigt.

Ist die Heldenwahl gelaufen, findet man sich allein oder als Zweier-Team im erst von sechs umfangreichen und abschnittsweise unterteilten Levels wieder.

Der Feldzug beginnt auf der Erde, wo Mutanten Robbis Heckenschützen und Laserbarrieren am knapp bemessenen Energiepolster der wackeren Streiter knabbern. Vorausgesetzt, man überlebt hier den Aufzugabsturz in den wasser durchfluteten Keller-Abschnitte, sind noch gemeingefährliche Gen-Würmer zu zerhexeln und Riesenäuler zu stopfen, ehe ein Trip zur Venus aus dem Programm steht. Hier geht's gegen seltsame Pflantzenwesen, dann sind die wild um sich ballernden Kraftwerke des roten Planeten Mars dem Erdboden gleichzumachen.

Jetzt werden noch die Schachte von Kadavers Hauptquartier durchforstet, und anschließend wird im finalen Endkampf der großenwahnsinnige Totengräber selbst beerdigt.

Doch bis dahin ist es ein weiter Weg, gepflastert mit dicken Endgegner; kleinen Knobel-Einlagen der Marke "Erst nach Zerstörung der Trafostation öffnet sich das Tor am anderen Ende des Levels" und Bonusräumen voller Barem.

Was man sich dafür kaufen kann, wird alten Ballerhasen allerdings kaum mehr als ein müdes Lächeln entringen können, denn weder läßt sich die umschaltbare Standard-bewaffnung aus Laser und Minen weiter ausbauen, noch finden sich echte Nützlichkeiten wie kräftigere Schutzschilde oder schnellere Laufschuhe im Angebot - die Kohle geht allein für die dringen benötigten Extraleben drauf.

Ohne zusätzliche Reinkarnationen stunden die Chance somit auch wahrlich schlecht, denn die Gegner greifen bisweilen in solchen Massen an, daß sich Treffer trotz des nicht sonderlich hohen Spieltempos beim besten Willen nicht vermeiden lassen. Vor allem im Solokampf schmelzen die drei AnfangsLeben mitsamt dem Gnaden-Continue schneller dahin als ein Schneemann im Backofen. Und das alles ohne Sicherheitsnetz, sprich Level-codes!

Aber noch an anderen an anderen Stellen erweckt Skeleton Krew den Eindruck eines mit heißer Nadel gestrickten Spiels, dem aufgrund von Termindruck der letzte Feinschliff verweigert wurde. So ist beispielsweise in der ansonsten gelungenen und mit einem astreinen Comic im "Schwermetall" Stil verschenen Anleitung von Intro-Animationen die Rede, die dann auf dem Bildschirm nirgendwo zu entdecken sind.

Umgekehrt wird jedoch verschwiegen, daß die Steuerung (welche übrigens auch die Tastatur unterstützt) vier verschiedene Modi kennt, zwischen denen jederzeit per Funktionstasten umgeschaltet werden kann - ein Feature, das den Spieletester vor so manch grauem Haar bewahrt hat!

Zu empfehlen ist darüber hinaus in jedem Fall die Verwendung eines Zwei-Button-Sticks bzw. -Pads, da mit nur einem Feuerknopf viele Aktionen nicht flott genug von der Hand gehen.

Ansonsten warten die Leveldesigner zwar nicht gerade mit originellen Einfallen um sich, aber ein abwechslungsreicher Spielverlauf mit netten Überraschungen und eine sehenswerte Präsentation ist ihnen auf alle Fälle geglückt.

Die zumeist im düsteren Alien-Stil gepinselten Hintergründe geizen nämlich mehr mit hübschen Details und scrollen sauber in alle Himmelsrichtungen, die sogar mit Schatten versettenen Sprites sind astrein animiert verfallen bei höherem Feindaufkommen aber in störendes Ruckeln.

Leider läßt sich die nette Rap-Musik Bloß im Titelbild, bzw. in den Zwischensequenzen hören, im Spiel selbst muß man mit Geräuschen im Hintergrund sowie auf Dauer etwas nervigen FX vorliebnehmen.

Wir haben es also mit einem relativ schnörkellosen Iso-Shooter in Power-Präsentation zu tun, quasi der zeitgemäßen Neuauflage des alten Arcade Hits "Escape from the Panet of the Robot Monsters". Was hier fehlt, ist der alles entscheidende Aha-Effekt, aber vielleicht feilt Core Design für die kommende CD-Version ja noch einige rauhe Ecken und Kanten des Gameplays ab - und vielleicht darf sich Skeleton Krew dann das begehrte Hit-Prädikat auf die Packung nageln. (rl)



Skeleton Krew logo AGA

Hey you, the Skeleton Krew. Can you spin your head?

Now I don't know about you, but I really like forced 3D perspective. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the best view you can get in any game. Just imagine something like Sensible Soccer in glorious loads-of-colour-3D-vision. It would be fab. (You could call it FIFA Soccer, or something - Ed).

And if someone did a shoot-'em-up in this forced 3D perspective that would be equally fab, because if there's one thing I love more than a shoot-'em-up it's another one. Yes. A Shoot-'em-up viewed from that forced 3D perspective. That would be good. Oh look, there's one.

I've been looking forward to Skeleton Krew since it was first previewed last April. There's a big range of special weapons and equipment - one of the team has worked as a comic artist and 'the Slice ('And' - Ed) Dice Trunkator promises to cut the enemy in half at waist height and blow the sections int a thousand flaming pieces while the F-Flenser tears the flesh from the bodies of your enemies' were just some of the attractive phrases used by K'hris Lloyd in his hilarious K-for-C concept piece.

The game was mentioned I the same breath as Smash TV and Es'k'ape From The Planet of the Robot Monsters and, infact, previewed opposite the same company's spectacular 1943 clone Banshee. And now, at last here it is.


Call it FIFA Soccer or something

KOUPON
But let's not get ahead of ourselves in typically tolerant AMIGA POWER fashion, there's a plot to describe first. It's the year 2062, and there is an evil bloke by the name of 'K'adaver at large. There are three members of the Skeleton 'K'rew named Rib, Joint and Spine (and not Knuckle, which seems the obvious choice) who must stop him.

Rubbish of course, but it's a good excuse for Core to do what they do best - make lovely-looking atmospheric game. There's a little comic book at the front of the manual and the chunky art is carried over into the animation and backgrounds.

It's a refreshing graphic style - distinctly different without being too over-the-top - and I like it. The impressive atmosphere is further enhanced by the contrast between the levels in aliens and bad guys and things.

So Good graphics, then. But that's about the only thing the game has going for it. Each of the six levels (spread over four worlds - Earth, Venus, Mars and - tchah - the Psy'k'ogenesis Planet) sprawls all over the place, but there's a defined route for you to follow. Exploration is limited to coming across the odd secret room or two. There are no extra weapons, 'different' things to do, or 'wrong' ways to go, and without this variety, the simply blasting becomes tedious.

If a shoot-'em-up is going to work, for want of a better description it's got to tap into certain emotions. You have to have danger. Action. Excitement. Uncertainty. Unpredictability. How about an absurd number of outrageous and spectacular weapons? (This is supposed to be 2062, remember). What about adding vehicles for those really difficult parts of the level?

You could even give the player the opportunity to wander around a bit, not necessarily going in the right direction, but at least giving them a chance to roam.

You should certainly give the monsters a bit of venom, as in Skeleton Krew they seem just to go through the motions rather than actively attacking you. It's actually much easier to run around them than get into a fight. Even the two-player mode which should have seaved the game, just ends up doubling the frustration.

It's dull, and the only element of competition comes when yous ee a pile of 'K' ash lying on the floor and both race to loot as much as you can.

Individually, these problems with Skeleton Krew are minor. Collectively they severely restrict the amount of fun and excitement to be had. It's by n means a bad game to play but it is badly designed and when Core can do something as anarchic and fun as Banshee and have had the game in development for almost a year, we expect a lot more than what Skeleton Krew has to offer.



Skeleton Krew logo AGA

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Core Design 081 988 8888

We starved Alan Dykes for six weeks before letting him get his hands on this, the latest shoot 'em up from Core Design.

Skeleton Krew has brilliant music. It's not often that you can say this about a game, and it's even less often it warrants opening a review on, but this game has been endowed with a particularly good theme tune. It's a hip hop style rhythm, with tastefully sampled and sequenced drums and vocals and it's a pity that some variation on the theme doesn't run through the game, once you actually start playing. Skeleton Krew reverts to run of the mill sound effects.

Shoot 'em ups invariably have a loopy storyline and Skeleton Krew is no different. An evil genius named Morbund Cadaver has taken over a place called Cyro City and inhabited it with nasty Cadaver spawn known as Psykogenics, a variety of mutant animals, ranging from deformed humanoids to wasps and octopuses.

A group known as the Military Ascertainment Department (or MAD for short) are more than a little worried about this, but instead of sending in massive legions of vicious stormtroopers, or nuking the place like would have done, they decide to recruit some cryogenically stored mercenaries to do the job.

Your job, should you purchase the software, is to control one of these mercenaries and do MAD's dirty work.

Well-armed Spine
The three mercenaries are known as Spine, Rib and Joint and one or two players can take a character into action. The best character by far is Joint. He's a little slow but is massive and well armed. The token female is known as Rib and in a rather sexist twist to the plot, is the weakest member of the squad. Spine is fast and reasonably well armed and provides the ideal second player accompaniment to Joint.

The game takes place in what Core Design describe as Supergorescope, which basically means that it has a isometric 3D-style view. There is eight-way scrolling, but because of the size of the playing area in most levels, this feature isn't really taken advantage of in a big way.

The characters are teleported into a combat zone with three lives and you can pick up credits which are littered around most levels. Once a character loses a life he or she disappears and is replaced by a shadow on the floor, which can be moved up to four squares in any direction. Then, once you press the fire button, the character will be resurrected on the selected square.

After you have lost all three lives the game finishes. You however are given one continue which allows you to start off again at the beginning of the level you died on, rather than the beginning of the game again.

Skeleton Krew isn't too difficult, in fact I would say that they've got the balance just about right - which is just as well because there is no option to select or change the level of difficulty.

When I first played the game, the perspective and the style of gameplay reminded me of the old Mirrorsoft classic, Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters, if anyone can remember back that far.

Losing Control
Unfortunately controlling the characters is a little difficult. You have to rotate them to move in any of the eight available directions, but you can't fire and rotate at the same time. Well, you can, when you're in rotate mode, but you can't really hit anything of consequence while doing so. If you're not in rotate mode you're stuck to firing in a particular direction until you take your thumb off the fire button, turn around and fire again.

Confused? So was I when I first tried to play the game. And I still am at times. This can lead to rage and frustration, struggling against the joystick to line up and shoot in the right direction.

The weapons, which include lasers and grenades are very effective, but once again a quirky control method when using Joint conspires to make them ore difficult to use than a square peg in a round hole. Once you've rotated to face your enemy you'd think that pressing the fire button would send the dreaded Psykogenic into laser blasted oblivion, right?

Wrong. If you fire while directly facing an enemy, the laser beam or grenade goes uselessly to its righthand-side (or left hand, depending on your point of view at the time).

Basically as soon as you press the fire button Joint turns 45 degrees before firing. Bizarre eh? Could be the weight of his weapon. Hmmm.

Supergorescope
Once you get used to the controls Skeleton Krew does become fun to play. The sprites are fairly well defined and the sheer variety of enemies is such that every new level brings up a new challenge. The end of level guardians aren't too difficult either, you just need patience and fast reactions.

For an A1200-only game the graphics are good but not very special. The Supergorescope has been well implemented and the scrolling and game speed are as smooth and fast as you like. The shooting, dying, teleporting sound effects aren't all that spectacular, but they are acceptable.

Once I got used to Skeleton Krew I enjoyed it. It's not a groundbreaking blockbuster, it's just a good shoot 'em up, if a tad quirky. There are control problems, and some of the smaller levels are a bit tedious, but it 's long enough and playable enough to keep you absorbed until the end.



Skeleton Krew CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Computing Gold

The Krew are back in town and ready to hit the CD32. Core Design's shoot-'em-up, Skeleton Krew, appeared on the A1200 recently and received our System Gold Award. And not it's here ready to blast its way on to a CD32 near you.

Set in 2062, bad guy Moribund Kadaver has taken over a kryogenics plant and is busily turning the kryogenics into mutated Psykogenix. This nasty lot start to foce the population from their homes and the place becomes over run. Only one gang can stop the mayhem - the Skeleton Krew. You can join these mercenaries, playing as either Spine, Joint or Rib, and with weapons in hand, try and put an end to the chaos.

Viewed from a 3D top-down isometric view, it is an eight-way scrolling, out-and-out blast fest. It's all your usual shoot-'em-up fare but it differs in employing a rather unique graphical style. A dark futuristic atmosphere is portrayed well through the comic book characters that would look equally at home in 2000 AD stories, and the brilliantly drawn high-tech backdrops.

Sound is exceptional too, with a strong dance track pounding in the background. Gun blasts, yelps and explosions compliment the action and give a sense of satisfaction after each baddy is destroyed. The in-game music really is good quality which makes a nice change to a lot of the accompanying dross we get these days.

It all looks very impressive with huge end-of-level guardians to destroy, a multitude of evil mutants to blast in to oblivion, and two effective weapons to do it with. Unfortunately though, it's not all that varied. It's a very challenging game but it can become rather repetitive. If pure shoot-'em-ups are your bag then it is a good example of the genre, but the average gamesplayer will demand a bit more to challenge the grey matter.

78%


Skeleton Krew logo CD32

Core Design * 01332 297797 * £34.99

And we were so looking forward to Core Design's Skeleton Krew. Wonderful isometric view, fabulous graphics, enormous sprites; it can't fail we thought. We were wrong. Yes, it really does look most excellent, the Krew are mighty, robotic beings with bad guns, yet the game is interminably dull because there is so little variety in the gameplay.

You move through the levels and shoot the baddies - not in itself a bad thing but this is ALL YOU DO.

Skeleton Krew is the shoot-em-up follow-up to the bouncing Banshee. But you really don't know why you're shooting this endless wave of aliens - there is no obvious reward for your hard work, no bonus games or anything. As difficult (for it is), dull shoot-em-ups go, Skeleton Krew is right at the top of the pile. And we were so looking forward to it. Shame on you.



Skeleton Krew CD32 logo CD32

Auf AGA-Amigas haben sich Cores futuristische Schwermetall-Söldner bereits letzten Monat ausgetobt, nun treten sie auf CD zum Kampf gegen die Gen-Zombis des verrückten Totengräbers Morbund Kadaver an.

Wer nach so kurzer Umsetzungsphase bahnbrechende Neuerungen (womöglich noch beim Gameplay) erwartet, muß natürlich enttäuscht werden: Die Skeleton Krew besteht nach wie vor aus dem mächtigen Joint mit 250 Kilo Kampfgewicht und einer im Arm integrierten Laser-Dampframme, dem flinken, aber etwas konditionsschwachen Mädel Rib und natürlich Spine, der die Vor- und Nachteile seiner beiden Kollegen auf sich vereint.

Und sobald sich solo-Kämpfer für einen und Simultan-Fighter für zwei der Helden entschieden haben, startet der gleiche Feldzug durch sechs abschnittsweise unterteilte Iso-Levels.

Wie gehabt werden zunächst auf der Erde Mutanten-Robbis, Heckenschützen und Energiebarrieren mit dem Laser ausgeschaltet, anschließend wässerige Keller von Cyborg-Würmern und Riesenmäulern befreit. Sodann bekommt man es auf der Venus mit phantastischen Pflanzenwesen und später auf dem Mars mit mechanischen Gefechts-Installationen zu tun.

Den Abschluß bildet dann ein Matsch durch die Gewölbe von Kadavers Hauptquartier, an dessen Ende sich der Bösewicht persönlich zum finalen Endkampf stellt. Ehe es soweit ist, haben aber ungezählte Gegner in allen Farben, Formen und Größen am knapp bemessenen Energiepolster des bzw. der Heroen geknabbert, und der Spieler durfte sich an kleinen Puzzle-Einlagen, Bonusräumen und netten Mitnehm-Gimmicks wie frischer Energie oder Extraleben gütlich tun. Trotz fehlender Extrawaffen mangelt es also nicht an Abwechslung.

Das ganze Spiel werden aber auch auf CD nur Könner zu sehen bekommen, weil es eben ein gewaltige Aufgabe ist, allein mit der unbegrenzt munitiontierten Anfangsknarre all den oft im Dutzend anstürmenden Feindsprites, Zwischen- und Endgegnern Herr zu werden.

Vor allem dem Solisten nützt das eine Gnaden-Continue da wenig, denn die drei Startleben sind bald verbraucht und Levelcodes noch immer nicht in Sicht. Hier wäre also genug Raum für Verbesserungen gewesen, zumal die Steuerung nun nicht mehr zwischen vier umschaltbaren Lenk-Modi unterscheidet.

Dank der zusätzlichen Buttons am CD32 Steuerknochen ist die Handhabung jedoch trotzdem kein Problem, außerdem fehlen hier natürlich die Zwangspausen zum Nachladen oder Diskwechsel.

Optisch sehen die Schlachtfelder nicht besser aus als früher, aber egal: Das multidirektionale Scrolling der schick düsteren Iso-Dungeons ist nach wie vor sauber (solange nicht allzu viele Sprites den Screen stürmen), und neuerdings ertönt auch im Spiel selbst Musik - und zwar so abgedrehte Grufti-Trance-Rap-Mixturen, daß sich so mancher die CD allein deshalb kaufen wird.

Das atmosphärische Actiongame mit dem launigen Duo-Modus ist also auch in dieser Version sein Geld wert, allerdings läuft es nur am CD32. (rl)



Skeleton Krew CD32 logo CD32

Core, £35
AP47 59%

You know CDs, right? Well, forgive me if I'm being stupid here, but isn't the whole point of using CDs to make better games? (And I don't just mean 'better'in the sense of a couple of extra levels, an intro sequence and some music.) If it is, then I wish people would get on and do it.

The reason for all this moaning is Skeleton Krew. I reviewed the disk version in the last issue, and then a couple of weeks later this CD release lands on my desk. And it's practically identical, apart from a bit of music. Not even an animated intro.

But the real pain in the beck is the control system. The disk game has a handy feature whereby, if you've got a two-button joypad, you can lock your weapon to point in one direction while walking in another. With the CD32 version you don't have that luxury. You can hold down two buttons at the same time to achieve a similar effect, but it's all very fiddly and you end up locking in the wrong direction and having to rotate back or forward to get in the right position, and then if you press the other button you switch weapons and then you have to switch back... It's so confusing and slow.

So strangely, the CD version of Skeleton Krew is even worse than the already-terrible-tedious disk version, and by a significant margin.



Skeleton Krew CD32 logo CD32

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Core Design 01322 297797

The year is 2062, and Monstro City is at the mercy of evil kryogenics experimenter Moribund Kadaver. Ever since his monolithic kryogenics plant opened at the edge of the City, the populace of Monstro have been terrorised by a strange and hideous mutant known only as Psykogenix.

When news of the goings on reached the Military Ascertainment Department (MAD), special operatives were dispatched to Monstro to give the mutants a damn good drubbing... only one returned. His last few breaths tell of a terrible Psyko Machine being created by Moribund Kadaver in his secret lab DEAD 1.

So MAD decide to get nasty, and send in the Skeleton Krew, a trio of hard core mercenaries who live for causing death and destruction. This is where you get the opportunity to take control of either Spine, Joint or Rib in their attempts to stop the psychopathic Kadaver.

Skeleton Krew is an isometric shoot em up, where the aim of the game is quite simply to kill everything that moves. Each level has hordes of mutants hell bent on tearing you to shreds.

Fortunately, you have at your disposal two different type of gun, the first a straight forward energy blaster allowing you to pick off the monsters at long range, the second being high powered energy mines which are devastating for those more intimate encounters.

Skeleton Krew is a brave attempt at producing a really instinctive shoot 'em up, but unfortunately the game is let down a tad by gameplay that could have been better. For example, every level is the same old thing. "Oh look there's a monster BANG!", this gets incredibly boring FAST. The graphics while being well drawn are very jerky, and some of the animation on the sprites is left wanting in some areas.

Skeleton Krew would have been a great game if some variety had been added to the gameplay and if more time had been spent ironing out some of the game's little niggles, such as the sprite animation and scrolling. Heaven knows why our editor gave it such a high mark last month.