Sunday, 12 October 2014

Black Viper (Amiga)

I don't cover a lot of Amiga games on this blog, because though pretty much every Amiga game is obscure outside of Europe, in Europe, it had a pretty big following, so there's still quite a few games that are well known by a lot of people.

But by about 1995-ish, the system had been pretty much abandoned by big publishers and, to be honest, most people buying new games too, leaving only dedicated enthusiasts making and laying new Amiga games. Black Viper comes from well into that era, being released in 1996.

It's an into-the-screen sprite scaling motorbike riding game, like Super Hang-On, but with guns. The player is Efrin Kadan, a lone fighter for freedom on a post-apocalyptic earth ravaged by a war with aliens. Though for some reason, the aliens all seem to ride around in mad max-esque cars and motorbikes, covered in rust and spikes. The fight for freedom taking the form of riding a motorbike (the titular Black Viper) long distances, shooting the alien vehicles, and not shooting the "innocent" articulated lorries.

The graphics are a mixed bag, with the backgrounds being beautiful vistas of blasted wastelands and deserts, and the sprites being indistinct grey-brown lumps. Also, someone on the development team must have been a Cradle of Filth fan, since two of the selectable BGM tracks are named "Summer Dying Fast" and "The Black Goddess Rises", though unfortunately, they ear no resemblence to their namesakes.

Black Viper should be a fast, exciting game with tons of action, but because of various stupid little problems, it's more of a chore to play. Since it adds a bit of shooting action to the usual racing shenanigans, it stands to reason that it has a mechanic whereby the player takes damage, and can eventually be killed, resulting in a game over. This is fine, but not only does Black Viper only allow the player to partially restore their health between stages, but because of some slight clunkiness in the way the game handles collisions, situations in which the player gets caught between the side of the road and another vehicle are not only common, but also devastating, often taking almost half the player's health in a few seconds. There are power-ups on the road, that can instantly restore some health, or offer a temporary shield, but thanks to their random placement and the fact that they whizz by almost instantly, collecting them is a matter of luck more than anything else.

Also available between stages are weapon power-ups, though buying them is a very bad idea, since every time I have, halfway through the following stage the message stating "weapon damaged" has been displayed, leaving me weaponless, and not long after, dead.

The most ridiculous problem this game has, though, is the fact that though it was released in the year 1996, long after anyone with an Amiga had already started using a Mega Drive controller with it's many buttons, it inexplicably only recognises a single fire button. There is a control setting in the options screen that claims to include an option for two-button controllers, but setting it seems to make no difference at all. It is effectively a painted-on fire alarm.

In summary, Black Viper is a bad game with some nice backgrounds (though since it's so broken, you'll probably only see two of them). Oh, another small point in its favour is that it puts the intro on a seperate disk, so you never have to waste time watching/skipping it, plus it includes an option to turn in-game cutscenes off too. If only modern developers were so kind.

No comments:

Post a Comment