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Who can forget the morning after a curry? That sickly-sweet smell from your bot as you stagger around the house trying to blame it on the dog, the cat, the vicar.
Pity the Super Methane Brothers, then. They live with nasty niffs all day, every day, thanks to a device called the Methane Gas Gun that's used to kill the assorted nasties in this platform adventure.

You have to help the brothers, Puff and Blow, complete over 100 levels of bug-infested nastiness before they can escape the clutches of the Key Keeper and the hideous Tower of Time.

To trap the bugs you have to squirt them with methane, such them into your gun, then splat them against a wall. All the baddies on a level must be destroyed before you move on to the next and, of course, you're up against a time limit.

Boy, this is addictive. Once you've got the hang of the controls. Methane soon gets you zipping about all over the place destroying baddies, solving puzzles and reaping richly deserved rewards.

All the levels are very different and there are lots of secret rooms and bonus bits to keep you guessing. It's not stunning graphically, but the sprites are detailed and manic music really draws you in.

The two-player mode is great, but having to start all over again when you run out of continues is very annoying. The CD32 version adds a brief animated intro and little else.



Methan ist hoch nur ein Gas...

Super Methane Brothers logo

Puff und Blow sind im Plattform-Turm ihres Widersachers gefangen und müssen nun versuchen, dem 100 Screens großen Gefängnislabyrinth zu entkommen - und der Hausschlüssel wartet natürlich in der Turmspitze.

Entweder allein oder in brüderlicher Gemeinsamkeit darf somit Etage um Etage unter Zeitdruck von allen Bösewichtern gesäubert werden. Die käferartigen Gegner sind ihrerseits auf die jeweils fünf Heldenleben scharf, die unsere Flüchtlinge mit ihren Methangaswummen verteidigen:

Zuerst werden die Angreifer betäubt, dann saugt man die produzierte Gasblase wieder auf und klatscht die noch kurze Zeit Besinnungslosen gegen irgendein Hindernis - klar, daß die Opfer einer solchen Behandlung nicht nur den Löffel, sondern auch alle mitgeführten (Spielzeug-) Boni abgeben!

Andere Extras (z.B. für mehr Tempo oder vorübergehende Unbesiegbarkeit) tauchen meist nur kurrzfristig am Screen auf und müssen schleunigst ein-gesackt werden. Zusatzleben verdient man sich durch fleißiges Sammeln von Punkten bzw. Spielarten; darüber hinaus enthalten einige Abschnitte Geheimtüren, die zu Schatzkammern führen.

Dazu gibt's die seit "Gauntlet" bekannten Gegner-generatoren, die natürlich umgehend zerstört werden sollten. Anders gesagt: Das Gameplay der Methanbrüder riecht reichlich abgestanden, hinzu kommt eine unfaire Kollisionsabfrage - und Paßwörter wären sicher auch kein überflüssiger Luxus gewesen...

Trotz der "kindgerechten" Präsentation kommt daher so was wie Spaß selbst unter junge Methanisten höchstens im Zweierbetrieb auf. Was übrigens auch für die gleichzeitig veröffentlichte CD-Version gilt, die sich ihr dezentes Plus an Grafik und Sound mit zehn Mark Aufpreis bezahlen läßt. (ms)



Super Methane Brothers logo

Like everybody else, you've probably spent most of yoru life wanting to be a Rentokil operator. Here's your chance.

Every so often, a game turns up that really stumps the reviewer. He can't decide whether it's good, bad or indifferent. It can be a traumatic experience as you'll soon find out. After all, what do you think of someone when they dither and stumble and stutter when they're trying to make up their mind? You think they're a plonk, right? You wouldn't believe anything they said even if the truth of the matter loaded itself, cocked itself and shot you in the head at point blank range.

And that's the malady facing me now. It's draining my dopamine levels and flooding my brain with de-oxygenated serotonin. For the first time I can feel the full weight of game reviewing responsibility pressing on my shoulders. It's not a nice feeling, believe me. It's like waking up in the morning and staring your true self in the face and wilting in the radiance of Karmic Kaos.

The majority of you trust us and, in my case, even if you've disagreed with everything I've ever said about every game I've reviewed in AP ever, at least you should still be able to gauge whether the game I'm reviewing is worth buying or not (well that's the theory anyway. Go on, shoot me down and prove me wrong).

Of the few things that we at AP take a real pride in, the main one is our inability to be deflected by pressure from internal and external agencies. You know the kind of pressures I mean: software houses whooping and whinging; the advertising department griping; publishers bleating; readers ranting; inferior rival mags imitating and so on.

Without trying to sound too unprofessional or cock-a-doodle-doo, it's only a few months ago that the whole AP team nearly got sacked for sticking to your guns over an internal misunderstanding; it was a bloody fight with no winners or losers (We'd like to point out that if Steve says any more on this matter, he's fired - Ed) but other than that little snippet, I'm not saying any more on the matter, only that it was resolved and we're still here.

PRETENDER
Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing like a good fight to get me going (especially if it's with swords). But, and this is another of those big buts that I throw into a review occasionally, I'm only prepared to cross swords if I have the conviction of one hundred per cent belief in my assertion. And that's the crux of this whole argument. I still can't make up my mind about Super Methane Brothers. If I don't really believe what I'm saying about it, how can I expect you to believe me?

The short answer is, I can't. So this time, rather than launch into a diabtribal invective or a scooshy praise be, I'll describe the game and outline the points that should make it sound interesting or boring. The rest is up to you. (Hang on - 'Scooshy'? - Ed)

Super Methane Brothers is an arcade-style platformer. In fact, it tries very hard to be the old arcade game TumblePop, only it doesn't quite make it. The action takes place a screen at a time, each screen consisting of a different design in terms of denizens, walls power-ups, completion strategy and layout.

So, in theory at least, there should be room to say that there's plenty of variety. Yet despite all that, after playing it for a while, it seemed to be pretty much the same all the way through, for screen after screen. It wasn't just me, either - due to my dilly dallying, I recruited quite a few reviewers from AP and other mags to express their opinions. I figured it would help me make up my mind. But no, no-one could convince me either way that it was crap or good. So it looks like there's more description in store.

There are 120 screens in all. Each has to be completed within a set time. If you don't manage that, a horrible minion appears (usually in the form of a clock monster) and tries to despatch you. You can still complete the screen, albeit with a bit more difficulty, but time gets really short. After another elapsed time period another time minion appears and then you're done for sure.


It was resolved and we're still here

BLOW OUT
To complete a screen, you have to empty the screen of 'baddies'. You do this by puffing a cloud of methane gas at them. This envelops them in a cocoon-like shell. Once in this shell, they're vulnerable to being suck into your gas gun.

Incidentally, subjective fact fans, it looks a bit like an asthmatic child's applicator with a plunger at one end. Once in the gun, let the baddies out via a vertical surface and they break up into a confetti shower of bonus point icons. Let them out into the open air and they come back at you faster and meaner than before.

And that's all you do, basically. That's as in-depth as the gameplay gets. There's the odd moment of light relief with bonus rooms where you run around against the clock and try to collect as many bonus icons as possible, but they only seem to be there to fulfil the obligatory bonus screen role.

Once all the baddies have been dealt with you've finished the screen. Dispose of them quickly enough and you earn a bonus card. Earn four bonus cards and you're rewarded with a bonus life (you start off with seven lives and can obtain more through extra crediting).

There're also four parts of a key to be collected (although, as of the time of writing, I've only managed to collect one part, around about level/screen 35). There are no start-up points or passwords, so when you get killed outright, you've got to plough through a whole load of screens which, by the time you've reached level 42, you could probably do in your sleep.

Oh, and there's the option to play with a friend, but the screens at least the earlier ones, don't seem to increase in difficulty from one player screens to two. So that's a bit of a let-down, really.

WASHED UP
I'd like to say there was much, much more, because I did feel ever so slightly, without too much emphasis on the ever, addicted - if only to see if I could reach the next screen. Not because I particularly wanted to see it, you understand.

See what I mean about being wishy washy and dilly dally? I still haven't made my mind up. It's a poor man's Bubble Bobble without the involvement. And that's just about the most controversial statement you're going to get out of me for this review.



Super Methane Brothers logo

Paul Presley reviews a game that involves releasing gas. Insert your own joke here...

How we did cartwheels when Arkanoid appeared. How we whooped and huzzahed when Frontier triggered our memories of a misspent youth sat in front of Elite. But see also how we treated Super Space Invaders with an adequate degree of distaste. You can only push nostalgia so far before it turns around and punches you squarely on the nose. A lesson there for us all!

But with that rather terse warning still ringing in our minds we once again embark on the express train of memories and return to our 8-bit salad days with Super Methane Brothers. The secret - and this is an important bit - is to treat your aging classic to a complete overhaul at the Nineties game workshop. This is what Apache have done with the Bubble Bobble genre and so managed to create a game that appears fresh and new.

HIDDEN DELIGHTS
The idea, as with all of yesterday's arcade brethren, is a simple on. Clear each screen of its enemy infestations and progress to the next. Complete a hundred and you win the game. Complete a mere ninety-nine or less and you are deemed to be found wanting.

But wait! Such simplicity is perhaps too much to comprehend. Before you turn your attention towards something with a little more bite you should be told that there is more than meets the eye awaiting your joystick-carried commands.

Bonuses by the hundreds sir, of many a variety. From raging fruits (of the apple and orange kind) to little motor cars. From giant playing cards to over-cooked sausages. All are worth points and so much more and it is here that we see the true beauty of SMB - the thought that has gone into providing the player with much more than the initial challenge.

To contain all this you would naturally expect a plot. Such plots are usually as thin as a week-old pair of socks and here we do not have an exception. The siblings are an unearthly pair, although they share much in common with the Californian youth - a love of trekking the country in an one-top sports car - without wheels.

On one such trip their car hits a snag, or a rock if you will, hurling the pair from their seats and towards a mysterious tower. In true Scooby Doo fashion they investigate and find themselves trapped, their only hope of escape coming from a mysterious stranger who arms them and reveals their objectives.

This is told in the opening animation, a graphical sequence that sets the style for the game to come. Cartoon themes are the key to SMB's appeal. Cartoons in the Japanese mould (large eyes on small creatures). Cute and colourful is not so much a watchword as a whole Bible at the designers offices. The sound too is interesting - you'll either love it or hate it.

Apache appear to have gone to several towns and had what amounts to a field week when it comes to the game design though. Pick up enough banana bonuses and you gain access to certain cheat rooms. Collect four different playing cards and you arrive at the hidden playing card rooms.

Accumulate enough bonuses in these rooms and you open passages to yet further stages. The list is endless and does more than enough to provide you with more to do than just shoot things.

Mind you, there are even several ways to do this. You have your gas guns of course, but you can also hit your opponents with water, throw marbles at them, hurl a few tomatoes, and even turn the pesky varmits into nine-pins and lob a bowling ball at them. All of this depends on finding the bonuses available and putting them to use.

IT TAKES TWO BABY!
Now here's a funny thing. I was playing SMB by myself and after several hours I began thinking that the lasting appeal might not be as great as I first thought. Then someone else picked up the second joystick, pressed start, sucked up a bad guy (the method required to dispose them) and threw it at me, stunning me for several seconds - two-player gameplay had been discovered!

The two-player element to SMB is great fun. Because you can hit each other with bad guys, tomatoes, ten ton weights etc. and so the game takes on a very competitive feel as opposed to a teamwork kind of thing.

As we all know it is much more fun to beat your friend at something than to work with him. I know full well that sucking up monsters and jumping on platforms isn't going to appeal to everyone but the brothers gaseous certainly provided fun for a couple of hours.

As long as you don't plan on making a night of it, you might just find it fun too. SM Brothers is a pleasing starter before a fully blown meal.