Friday, 13 May 2016

Doman (Amiga)

Round about the mid-90s, though most people had cast the Amiga into the past, never to be thought of ahain, there was still enough of a following for the system that commercial game releases were still coming (and, in fact, would continue until at least the early 00s). It's in the mid-90s that a small Polish developer, named World Software, released a few belt-scrolling beam em ups, that would become infamous for their grim settings and gratuitous violence. Doman is one of those games.

I can't tell you anything about the plot, as obviously, all the game's text is in Polish. But I can tell you that it's set in a dark, bleak world of medieval fantasy, where the background has giant black mountains and foreboding forests, while the foreground has impoverished villages where all the inhabitants are hung up, or beheaded, or generally suffering some kind of severe misfortune. You play as one of two absurdly muscular barbarians, one with dark hair and a sword, the other with blonde hair, a beard and an axe. You walk from left to right, violently murderering groups of soldiers, orcs, wizards, demons, archers, and so on.

Despite coming out as late as 1994, it doesn't have any option (as far as I can tell) to use two-button controllers, nor does it have the typical beat em up combo system. Instead, you can perform different attacks by holding the fire button and pressing different directions. The most effective strategy is to rely on the attacks assigned to up and down. The up attack knocks enemies to the ground, allowing you to pummel whoever's standing with the down attack, which is pretty good for attack power, range and speed. When the downed enemy starts to get up, knock the current guy down and switch targets.

The structure is pretty strange: the first time I played, I though I was just doing really badly, and failing to get past an incredibly long first stage. After getting a game over and seeing the high score table, I realised I was wrong: the scores are just a simple percentage, which I assume is how far you made it through the game. So that's pretty interesting, the game being one long stage, right? There is one bad thing about the game, though: there's a lot of loading. It stops to load every time you walk a screen's distance, it stops to load whenever a group of enemies appear, and the load times at the start of the game, and between games are very long. Also, if you plan on playing it on real hardware, it comes on five disks, which will be an immense pain if you only have one disk drive.

Doman isn't a bad game. It can seem unfairly hard at first, but once you've got a hang of how the combat works, it gets a lot more manageable. Obviously, there's many, much better beat em ups on consoles and in arcades, but as far as they go on the Amiga, it's easily the best I've ever played. Plus, there's a little bit of novelty in playing an arcade-style game that comes from Poland, when in recent years, eastern Europe is probably more known for PC games, first person shooters, and so on.

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