Wrath of the Demon logo

Readysoft £29.99 * Joystick

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry, said the demon and promptly set about laying waste to the land to prove it. It is the king's land you must save and the demon is the person who you must defeat in the standard issue-crisis scenario.

The long-winded mission begins with a gallop across the countryside as your ill-equipped adventurer rides his white steed as fast as he can. For such a small-time hero (to begin with, at any rate), he's quite a large sprite and rides a comparatively large horse.

Both traverse a background of eleven levels of parallax, in a very smooth execution of the technique. As he rides towards almost certain death, he's assaulted by gargoyles who drop on him from above, and he must persuade his mount to jump obstacles and has to grab up from the ground any useful items he passes by.

Hobnoblin' The Goblin
After the prolonged hand and eye coordination this level demands, you scroll onto level two, in which two goblins attack you by your campfire. The first comes for you with a sword and a grin that has the words "Kick me" written all over it. The second remains on the right of the screen, hurling daggers and swords that you have to duck down or leap over during your combat with "Kick Me".

It's a difficult bash. Neither gobbo presents much of a target and when you take a hit, you're either knocked backwards or even off your feet altogether.

You begin level three by entering the hole inhabited by a large blue lounge lizard with terminally obstructive tendencies. However, he's not much of an opponent in spite of his intimidating bulk. The hit that sees him off reduces him to the insignificant stature of a flea-sized sprite who immediately makes a sharp exit stage left.

It's a shame he leaves because he then misses out on the arrival of a blond 'n' blue floating bimbo on business from the boss. Unfortunately, all she does is deliver bad news (to wit: one recently captured princess must also be rescued) and shoots off before you can say, "My name's Horn The Enormous, what time do you knock off?"

These first three levels, though they're fun to play a few times, don't have much in the way of staying power and amount to nothing more than false starts. But big time hack-'n'-slay comes your way from here on in, though, so the sooner you can finish the first three levels and save your game the better (you can load and save during the between level screens).

Unlike the single screens of previous levels, true parallax scrolling adventure starts here. And ends, most likely, because it's vicious. You can travel in either direction, just to make things difficult, and there are hordes of monsters so horrible they would make an appearance by Jeremy Beadle looked good.

If the 600th location carries as half as much conviction as the first does, then any amount of effort you put into getting there will have been well worth it.


DRINK AND BE MERRY
Wrath of the Demon: Screen explanation The skull surrounded by circles (screen top-left) is your life-force indicator. Successive hits turn red circles into gold, clockwise.
When the last disk changes your hero eats dirt so it's a good idea to purloin the potions which pop up. Zap gives the bad guys what's good for them, a sip of Shield gives you a taste of immortality and Heal makes you feel better.
However, there is no way of distinguishing between the three (except that early on, you only get healing potions) and some of the phials and bottles are booby-trapped with toxic waste (avoid large red vases and anything that looks like an Aladdin's lamp).
Indicators in the bottom right of the screens tell you how many of what you have got, but no more than three potions of a given kind can be carried at once. Potions can be carried between levels and wounds are also healed between each stage.
SHADOW OF THE OTHER GAME
Wrath of the Demon spans five disks and boasts 600 locations. Only one disk is required at a time, lower levels loading one at a time, later ones demanding the odd game-freezing access. Disk one contains a Psygnosis-style intro sequence but nothing else. This delivers in terms of high-quality animation but it's already been outclassed by The Killing Game Show.
The similarity between Readysoft's latest and the efforts of the Liverpudlian lads doesn't end there. The soundtrack, courtesy of David Wittaker, is a subconscious reprise of the one he wrote for Shadow of the Beast. But more disappointingly, the gameplay is remarkably similar too, and is flawed in the same respect. Most of the hazards and obstacles are entirely predictable after one play, which means there's never any reason to go back to a level you've completed and play it again. The only reason for struggling on is to get another eyeful of gorgeous graphics. Fortunately, in this case, that reason is good enough.

IN THE BEGINNING
Wrath of the Demon: Intro Wrath of the Demon: Intro Wrath of the Demon: Intro
Wrath of the Demon: Intro Wrath's gobsmacking intro is highlighted clockwise from bottom left. Opening shots like the bell tower and the village are animated with complete pans. Some good perspective work follows (the chap running into the screen, for example) and it comes to an end with subtle effects as the howling wind catches the parchment. Wrath of the Demon: Intro


Wrath of the Demon logo

Grafisch übermäßig aufgemotzte Games wie "Dragon's Lair" oder "Beast 2" sind, was ihre Spielbarkeit angeht, allzu oft eine herbe Enttäuschung. Nicht so das neueste Werk von Readysoft: Dabei handelt es sich zwar auch um ein kleines Grafikwunder - aber eines, das man tatsächlich spielen kann!

Bemerkenswerterweise stammte die Amigaversion des Grafikspektakels "Dragon's Lair" ja ebenfalls von Readysoft: diesmal hatten sie aber ein paar Programmierer unter Vertrag, die über schöner Optik die Spielbarkeit nicht aus den Augen verloren haben. Erstaunlich, ist Wrath of the Demon doch das Erstlingswerk des kanadischen Newcomer-Teams Abstrax! Die vier Disketten sind prallgefüllt mit 15 Leveln voller butterweichem Scrolling, witzigen Animationen, passenden Musiken und einen trickfilmartigen Vorspann à la "Beast 2". Und eine Hintergrundgeschichte gibt's hier natürlich auch:

Vor vielen, vielen Jahren hatte der Hofzauberer eines fernen Königreichs einen uralten und sehr mächtigen Dämon beschworen, auf daß er ihm helfe, den König zu vernichten - der gute Mann wollte selbst gerne auf den Thron klettern. Der Dämon dachte jedoch gar nicht daran, sich um die Wünsche des Magiers zu kümmern, stattdessen zerstörte er das ganze Land samt König und Zauberer und legte sich wieder schlafen.

Die Zeit verstrich, Generationen kamen und gingen, ein neues Königreich entstand, und die Menschen vergaßen die schrecklichen Ereignisse. Da trug es sich zu, daß einer guten Fee im Traum Horden von Monstern erschienen, die sich daranmachten, das jetzt so blühende Land erneut zu zerstören. Eilends warnte sie den gerade aktuellen König vor der Gefahr, und der sandte auch sogleich einen Boten mit einem Bittbrief zu seinem besten Ritter. Doch der Dämon war mal wieder schneller und ließ den Boten durch seine Schergen niedermeucheln.

Aber es begab sich, daß just in diesem Moment ein fremder Reisender um die Ecke gebogen kam und den feige dahin-gemordeten Boten in seinem Blute liegend fand. Genauer gesagt, Boten, Blut und Brief. Den Brief brauchte er schnurstracks zum König; der versprach ihm dafür auch gleich sein liebreizendes Töchterlein, wenn er - ja WENN er doch bitte eben auch noch schnell das Königreich retten könnte, nachdem er den Brief schon so schön transportiert hat. So und damit bist Du an der Reihe...

Im Vorspann des Games darf man die Boten-Abmurksszene bewundern, schön schauerlich unterlegt mit Käuzchensschreien und Hundegebell. Sobald man sich von diesem Schrecken erholt hat und wieder unser seinem Amiga hervorgekrochen ist, kann man langsam darangehen, sich die Hand der Prinzessin zu verdienen. Die Holde sieht zwar erträglich aus, aber leicht zu kriegen ist sie nicht: 15 lebensgefährliche Landschaften wollen durchquert sein, bis man ernsthaft über eine mögliche Thronfolge nachdenken kann.

Im ersten Level reitet man einem (wunderschön animierten) Pferd von links nach rechts auf einem Schotterweg dahin. Auftauchende Hindernisse Müssen übersprungen werden, heran stürmende Flugdrachen kann man mit gezielten Faustschlägen ins Jenseits befördern. Und die von Zeit zu Zeit herumstehenden Zaubertränke sollten auch noch aufgesammelt werden, davon gibt es drei verschiedene Sorten: eine beschert den Helden drei Sekunden Unsterblichkeit, eine weitere zerstört fast alle Monster, die gerade in der Nähe sind, und die dritte bringt verbrauchte Lebensenergie sofort zurück.

Nichtsdestotrotz schafft man diesen Abschnitt erst nach etlichen Anläufen, denn die Hindernisse am Boden und die Monster in der Luft kommen mit so einem atemberaubenden Tempo daher, daß man mit äußerster Konzentration und Reaktionsschnelligkeit das Ende des Levels erreicht. Und hier geht's schließlich erst richtig los! Als nächstes stehen nämlich die ersten Schwertduelle auf dem Programm: Anfangs sind die Gegner zwar noch klein und putzig, aber in jedem Spielabschnitt werden die Biester größer und greulicher bis hin zu Monstern, die beinahe den halben Bildschirm füllen!

Außerdem müssen an einigen Stellen Schlüssel und Extrawaffen eingesammelt werden um weiterzukommen.

Die Grafik ist zwar nicht sooo atemberaubend wie etwa bei "Dragon's Lair", aber sie schlägt eine ganze Menge von dem, was sich zur Zeit so am Markt tummelt. Abwechslungsreiche Hintergründe, feinstes Parallax-Scrolling und hinreißende Animationen (es ist einfach traumhaft, wie der wackere Held von seinem Reittier fliegt!) lassen einen nur zu oft vergessen, daß man sich ja eigentlich um dieses böse Monstern kümmern sollte...

Die verschiedenen Musikstücke sind ebenfalls sehr stimmungsvoll, die Effekte dagegen ein wenig kümmerlich geraten. Bei der Handhabung sind Licht und Schatten ziemlich gleichmäßig verteilt: Die Joysticksteuerung geht grundsätzlich in Ordnung, sie ist nur manchmal ein wenig zäh. Die vier Disketten wollen natürlich auch gewechselt werden, wer ein Zweitlaufwerk besitzt, tut sich da mal wieder erheblich leichter.

Der relativ hohe Schwierigkeitsgrad verliert durch zwei ausgesprochen anwenderfreundliche Features viel von seinem Schrecken: Zum einen gibt es unendlich viele Continues (!), zum anderen kann nach dem Bestehen eines Levels der Spielstand abgespeichert werden. Alles zusammen ein wirklich brauchbares Game, das zudem nicht einmal übermäßig teuer ist. Knapp 90 Eier für so viel geballte Grafikpower plus Spielspaß - da darf man einfach nicht meckern!
(C. Borgmeier)



Wrath of the Demon logo CU Screenstar

Once more a brave hero is called upon to right wrongs and slay vile creatures in the name of justice. This time an evil demon threatens a peaceful land. Only one faery can stop this dark force, only one person can rescue this feary from the demon. It's down to you and your faithful joystick.

As is increasingly popular on arcade adventures, Wrath of the Demon features an extended intro sequence. This tells how the story of how your character became involved in his quest and uses some excellent audio and visual effects that rivals anything Psygnosis can do.

Depending on the section your character will either fight with a sword or his fists. Like most unwitting heroes he has no special powers and is often outclassed by some of the larger demons. Fortunately, there are lots of hidden potions which, once found, help give you a fighting chance.
A heal potion will cure wounds, a zap potion destroys all the weaker enemies on screen, and the shield potion gives you temporarily invulnerability.

Level one has you galloping down a road on hose back. Large rocks, boxes and wheels litter the road and colliding with any of these reduces energy levels. The only way to avoid them is by pushing forward on the joystick to make your horse jump. An assortment of minor demons run themselves at you, kamikaze fashion, and can be quickly dispatched by a sharp right hook.
Potions occasionally surface on the road, requiring a deft bit of manoeuvring to collect them. The horse is animated exceptionally well and with nearly fifteen levels of parallax scrolling, this is a very attractive section.

The real violence starts on level 2. While you're resting a couple of goblins jump out from a bush, looking for a fight. One stands at the far side of the screen chucking rocks and knives at you while the other draws his sword and sets about hacking at your knee caps. This is probably the least impressive section with just one screen and a very small enemy sprite.

Next is the famous blue dragon, guardian of the caves. He's an impressive size and extremely well animated, making up for a rather poor previous section. It takes quite a few hits to dispatch him, as well as a healing potion. On the final hit he groans, shrinks to ankle height and runs off.

The game changes on the following section to a two way horizontal scroller. This bit is almost impossible to complete without an extra healing potion. At the far left of the level is a key. Between it and you are minor demons, who take a few punches and sod off, larger demons who take quite a few hits before they die and a variety of blades, flame jets and spiky yellow things which shoot out of the ground without any notice, knocking off energy points. It's these ground based hazards which cause the most problems. It's impossible to judge when to run so it's all down to luck.

When the key's been collected you have to go all the way back to the start of the level and then go right. The hazards here are similar to the previous ones, culminating in a blue, withered monster chucking fire balls at you. A zap potion is the only way to pass him and finish the level.

The not-not-so-jolly green giant is next. This due is really tough. He attacks continuously, only pausing to lift up his hair and smirk. Occasionally a snake will rear its head and bit you, causing even more damage. It isn't an easy level.

A picture is displayed between levels, updating you on the story and your position in the game. Nice, but you can't skip past it.

Should you come to a sticky end at the hands of a demon you can restart from the beginning of the stage. You need to press the fire button very quickly when you die; if it's left too long the game resets to the intro sequence and you have to go through the start up text and some tedious disk swapping.

Wrath Of The Demon isn't a classic, but then again it's not a game that's easy to put down once you've started to play.


DAY OF THE DEMON

Horror and human fear have been money making subjects for the American movie industry since 1908. Classic films like The Exorcist (1973), Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and the Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (1919) have become cult movies, remembered for their fear value rather than for huge budgets, extravagant production or gripping plot.

Classic monsters have constantly risen from the pits of hell to plague unwitting heroes and heroines. Pinhead from Hellraiser was thei eighties anti-hero from the other side. Though he finally met his match in the sequel, he carved a name for himself in the horror hall of fame. Night Of The Demon (1957) had Dana Andrews as an occulist who unleashes a giant medieval demon on the world. The demon itself looked like a suitably altered version of the King Kong outfit. The overall effect was startling at the time.

Even now Freddy Krueger has nightmares, Jason his ice hockey mask and the Ghoulies are still going after yours. Horror, demons and their sequels are set to carry on well into the next century.



Wrath of the Demon CDTV logo CDTV

READYSOFT * £29.99

This is basically your European beat-em-up arcade romp extravaganza. So, in other words, it's just an Amiga game: and again, not a terribly good one. It hasn't even got a hi-fi soundtrack, but it boasts (literally, on the cover) over 3Mb of graphics data, which is mainly a decent intro animation and some quite nice between-level links. But over 3Mb of data on a disk that could hold 500Mb is not that impressive.

The game, if you haven't seen it, has decent graphics but is otherwise uninspired. Hack-n-slash on CD is made tricky with the remote control, because however much you press the buttons, you get dead anyway. This isn't a bad Amiga game: it's just a pretty average one. As a CD it's a disappointment.



Wrath of the Demon CDTV logo CDTV

READYSOFT * £29.99

This is an arcadey-style action game which looks very pretty and takes up quite some disc space with a very nice Amiga-originated intro, but it's rather poor all the same. The first section, for instance, is a sideways-scrolling affair in which you, as a horse rider, must jump obstacles and pick up objects that suddenly appear on the screen, which at best makes it the equivalent of a very poor shoot-'em-up.

Later beat-'em-up levels aren't really any better, so we've yet another offering that fails to do justice to the optical storage medium. Yes, CDs can store masses of data, but that data is dull data without some thought given to its entertainment potential.



Wrath of the Demon CDTV logo CDTV

Bei dieser actionreichen Grafik-Oper können wir's mal wieder kurz machen: Hier sind nicht nur Optik und Gameplay mit der normalen Amigaversion identisch, sondern auch der Sound! Wir sparen uns also alle weiteren Kommentare und verweisen ganz zwanglos auf unseren doppelseitigen Test in der Februar-Ausgabe.