Review by MrSid
Average Turrican clone anyone?
I have always been guilty of defaulting back to the same few games and never really checking out other ones. Im the same when I go out for curry for instance. I order the same thing EVERY time as im afraid I won’t like the thing ive never had before. So, this week I decided it was about time I checked out some of the games I never played back in the day that I have heard about on podcasts. I remember Matt talking about Assassin in his Team 17 podcast he did ages ago and I had a copy so I thought, what the hell, ill give it a go.
I have always been a fan of Team 17 games so was looking forward to playing Assassin. True, from the box screen shots it looked like a complete rip off of Turrican and Strider but hey, I was intrigued to how they would do it differently and how Alistair Brimble’s amazing music would sound.
So it all starts with some pretty impressive sampled speech reading out the intro story about how you are the man to assassinate the evil tyrant called Midan. Next up you get a pretty decent theme tune by Alistair Brimble. I wouldn’t say it is his best work by a long way as is isn’t particularly catchy or memorable. It does suit the game though as it is pretty dark, tension building and atmospheric.
So now into the actual game. The first section is the ‘Construction Zone’ and within each sector are various levels. Essentially it’s a platform shoot em up. As well and running left and right, jumping and crouching, you can climb walls and ceilings, which is actually a nice little touch and something a little different. Your main weapon is a boomerang (ooohhh scary) and similar to Turrican, you can pick up power ups which you can use in exchange for a bonus ‘special weapon’. From what I can tell, pretty much all them bonus attacks pretty much all do the same thing ie kill everything around you.
So the aim of the game is to get through all the screens and reach the exit and along the way various enemies come at you that you must kill or avoid. These enemies range from killer dogs to angry constructions workers to cyborgs. You can collect the various stars dotted around for extra points. In the ‘Special Edition’ released 2 years after the original, the enemy dogs are removed and the boomerang is replaced with a laser. Why? I have no idea.
Average at best. Sure, they are bright and well drawn but they are kind of what you would expect from this kind of game. They didn’t ‘wow’ me and I have definitely seen better on the Amiga. Think Alien Breed, Superfrog, Project X, they all had their own unique look and Assassin hasn’t really. The biggest let down for me are the really plain backgrounds which look really dull. Super Metroid managed some amazing background graphics in a similarly spec machine so why couldn’t Assassin?
I previously mentioned the intro music and sadly that’s where the music ends. You don’t get any in-game music! A big disappointment as what you are left with are a set of sound effects. Looking at magazine reviews from back in the day, the sound effects were ‘highly praised’ which I don’t get. Maybe this is harsh, but they sound ‘tinny’ and realy out of place. The main effect on the second level sounds just like a dentists drill. It’s really not nice and to be honest, a real let down. Maybe im in the minority on this one. Let me know if you agree.
Assassin is really playable. It plays exactly the same as Turrican and moves at a good pace. As already mentioned the whole grappling the ceiling a cool extra touch. Everything is controlled with the joystick, even the special moves. The gameplay is easy to get into and really good. For sure, Assassin’s best point.
Nowadays Assassin im afraid stands out an inferior Turrican clone. The lack of background graphics and in-game music don’t help it age well. I played it but got bored pretty easily. There just isn’t enough variety In Assassin to keep me entertained. It just didn’t grab me and as an overall experience feels pretty uninspiring.
GET YOURSELF A COPY OF TURRICAN INSTEAD!