Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Satan (Amiga)

Black Tiger is something of an unsung hero in Capcom's late 80s arcade oeuvre. Though it's a great game, it never achieved the level of fame enjoyed by the likes of Ghosts and Goblins or 1942. In fact, though it got ported to various microcomputers in Europe, the first official console port didn't come until 2010, 23 years after its debut! Despite being mostly forgotten, though, it does have its advocates. For example, the first time I encountered it was a fan-made port on the Korean handheld the GP32 in the early-mid 00s, and it had a rethemed spiritual sequel in the form of Sonson 2 on the PC Engine in 1989. Why is all of this relevant? Because the first half of Satan is clearly very influenced by Black Tiger, further cementing its place as a minor cult hit, despite having fallen from the collective conciousness.

Satan's plot is about a warrior who wants to kill the eponymous demon, but realises he needs to become a wizard to do so. To become a wizard, he journeys through some kind of subterranean world killing monsters and collecting money and power ups, until he faces off against what looks like a white dragon from Castlevania. Then his wizardly diploma falls from the 'bove, he grows a beard, and sets out on the second part of the quest. This bit is okay, like a poor man's Black Tiger, pretty much. But Black Tiger is really good, so that's not too harsh a criticism.

The game's second half has you playing as the newly-qualified wizard, using money to buy spells with which you fight Satan himself, who, upon defeat, splits into two and then four flying demons. There's also something about rescuing captured wizards before Satan can kill them, but this is where the game reveals itself to be broken: those wizards are all on platforms that are too high to reach. It seems like there's a whole exploratory part of this half of the game that's just totally inaccessible because your jump isn't high enough. You can still fight and kill Satan in his various forms, though if you go back to the shop once he starts flying, there's a good chance that when you come back outside, he'll be offscreen somewhere, killing wizards with impunity.

It really is a shame, as like I've mentioned on this blog before, it often feels as if the Amiga is a system that coasts by on nostalgia, and doesn't really have many actual good games, and Satan is so close to being a good game. It just lets itself down with one stupid mistake in the latter half. Tragic!

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