by Hugh Binns, J. Dave Rogers, Nick Jones, Raffaele Cecco, Nick Davies
Hewson Consultants Ltd
Crash Issue 64, May 1989   page(s) 84,85

Raf Cecco

Who said fairies don't exist? Don't believe a word of it! Well, actually, they won't exist for much longer, not if the evil, wicked and generally not particularly cuddly Queen has her way. In a fit of quite understandable outrage at the unbearably loveable fairies, she's decided that the only sensible course of action is to kidnap the lot of them. Quite right too.

But having performed this act of utterly justifiable nastiness, the entire land falls into a horrid darkness, the crops fail, the frogs get plague, Skippy fails his 'A' levels, etc, etc. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that you're supposed to free all these disgustingly naff little fairy-warys so as they can go round making the land a happy place to live again. If you fail, darkness will reign for ever, and evil will penetrate the very heart of the land blah blah blah.

On each level, there are five fairies and by jumping on top of them, Stormlord frees them from the spell of the Queen (sounds a bit dubious, but if that's how Mr Cecco's mind works, then that's fine by me). Dotted around the landscape are lots and lots of interesting thingies which help you progress; things like springboards which fling you millions of miles (sort of) across the sky, and pots of honey which attract bees (and Pooh Bears, but I haven't found any of them in Stormlord).

Getting in the way, though, are Venus fly traps (usually stuck underneath a disappearing platform to catch you unawares), little plants which spit death at you, acid rain which kills, and Marks, who spoil the fun by telling you everything you have to do next (however, you might not have this problem at home; we suspect it might be limited to the CRASH office).

If you complete a level then you go on to a bonus section where the freed fairies waft about over your head. If you blow kisses at them they'll cry and if you collect ten tears then you get an extra life (ahhh).

Stormlord is a cross between an arcade/adventure and a platform game, with shoot-'em-up bits as well - such as when you have to lob swords at a flock (?!) of attacking dragons. Without doubt it's a tough game, so even if you do figure out all the adventure bits, the arcade side of things will still tie you in knots. But the presentation is so good it's unlikely you'll be able to leave the game alone. The graphics are of the highest quality, well animated and beautifully coloured. And what's more they scroll perfectly smoothly making you wonder why anyone ever wrote a flickscreen arcade/adventure. Sound is excellent, with a good title tune and some wonderful in-game effects. Stormlord is immensely playable, highly addictive and a great CRASH Smash.

MIKE [90%]

Raf Cecco has gone and done it again folks! Not content with writing two fabberoony CRASH Smashes, namely Exolon and Cybernoid, he now makes it a hat trick with Stormlord. The game has all the polished graphics and sound that we have come to expect from Mr Cecco. And a simple but enjoyable concept makes it addictive and immensely playable. All the animation is smooth and there's a lot of it to make each level incredibly varied. The sound complements the game well with excellent tunes and sound effects, some of which are quite funny. This is a totally brilliant game, there is so much in it and it is set at just the right difficulty level to give you hours and hours of enjoyment. Get down to that software shop and get it NOW!
NICK [91%]

The game of the Log finally arrives and it's totally brilliant. The attention to detail is quite exceptional, from the winking fairy on the title screen (no boob jokes please, Phil) to the superb in-game sound effects. The scrolling of the marvellous graphics really is great, and this has to be the prettiest game we've seen in ages. My only complaint is that the game is so hard. The dragons in particular seem unbeatable, although with practice you can get past them without losing a life. This is the sort of game we used to expect from Ultimate, and makes as good use of the Spectrum as can be imagined. Don't miss it!
MARK [93%]

Presentation: 89%
Graphics: 93%
Sound: 92%
Playability: 91%
Addictive Qualities: 91%
Overall: 91%

Summary: Raf Cecco does it again, the best looking game for ages and extremely playable too.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 42, Jun 1989   page(s) 38,39

Reviewer: Ben Stone

Sod blasting billions of horrible green snotty monsters from the planet Xurigg for a game of Invaders - rescuing fairies is where it's at. You've got it all if you're a barbarian from the dark ages, I can tell you: action, girls and a kinky set of sheepskin togs that'd keep the Joan Collins Fan Club happy for at least a week...

"Stormlord the barbarian was having a bit of fun, see. Playing around with the local bunch of fairies and wood nymphs - well, nobody thought anything of it them days. Anyway he was having a bit of a laugh, right, and stone me, all the fairy folk an' that disappeared - poof! Worr, Stormy was a bit on the 'ole miffed side I can tell you.

"So off 'ee went, see, goes looking for them dunn'ee. An then 'ee finds out that this evil witch wossername's behind it all. She'd gone and locked up all the fairies by themselves in dungeons an 'at - all over the place they are. That fairy power of theirs, you know it's the stuff that keeps all the riff-raff out of the neighbourbod, well it's just about run out if you ask me 'cos there's all these strange types around the place now.

"Well I reckon that if Stormlord don't get his skates on and rescue all them fairies a bit sharpish that witch'll have his guts for garters and then where'll we be 'eh? With no one around to protect us from the likes of 'er, eh? We'll be for the high jump and no mistake, you mark my words, mate..."

Stormlord is a flip screen arcade/adventure with the player taking the control of (you've guessed it) Stormlord the hard man, in his quest to rescue fairydom and the rest of the inhabitants of his land from the evil clutches of the nasty witch (sounds a bit familiar dunnit?). The basic aim is to locate and rescue the fairies. The status bar displays how many fairies you've got to find to complete a level and the time you've got left to do it in. To rescue a fairy you simply walk over it, but things aren't quite that simple as they're often inaccessible or guarded by traps or some of the witches henchmen.

Scattered around Stormlord's world you'll find all sorts of objects to help you in your quest - these are automatically picked up and swopped with the object currently in Stormlord's pocket. Their uses are nearly always pretty obvious - for instance bees are attracted by the honey pot, so if a swarm of bees is guarding the entrance to a fairy's dungeon swop the honey pot for an object near by and hey presto, the bees should move towards the honey leaving a safe passage to the fairy. Simple enough for mere mortals like me to be in with a chance of completing the game without too much of a headache.

Another neat feature is the springboard. Like the objects, correct use of this is vital if you're going to succeed. A little like a teleporter, the springboard transports you from one location to another when you walk over it - watch out though, you might get sprung into a trap.

Your character, despite his larger than normal size, is remarkably easy to move around with the original(ish) left, right, crouch, jump and fire controls. Getting to grips with these takes a little longer than usual because both jump and fire controls are variable - the longer the jump key is pressed the higher the jump, and you can shoot out either bolts of energy or a powerful sword depending on how quick you are with the key presses.

The game is split up into several levels and an end of level sub-game. Completing a level is just a matter of rescuing all the fairies in it. Once you've completed a level you're magically transported to a peaceful land where the fairies that you've just rescued are having a bit of rest and recreation. The object of the sub-game is to try and get a couple of extra lives - fairly important as during the main game these get depleted somewhat rapidly. To gain an extra life you have to collect fairy tears. Aw! And as any self respecting mythologist knows, the only way you're going to get a fairy to cry is to break her heart. Stormlord, being a bit of a lad, doesn't have much trouble in this department. Instead of firing nasty swords and stuff he shoots kisses up into the air at the fairies (innit cute!). Once the snogging session is over the fairy's heart is instantly broken and she sheds a tear for her lost love to pick up (I think I'm going to throw up...!). Once you've gotten tears Stormlord is awarded an extra life.

This is another masterpeice of game design and programming from Hewson's ace Raffaelle Cecco but after Exolon, Cybernoid and Cybernoid II what else would we expect? From the moment I started play I was completely enthralled in Stormlord's world, large colourful graphics and great sound keep the player playing and my guess is that it'll keep most people happy until they complete it. For once I can't see a thing worth whingeing about, so I won't - just go and buy it.

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Life Expectancy: 84%
Instant Appeal: 95%
Graphics: 93%
Addictiveness: 93%
Overall: 93%

Summary: Another stormer from Raffaelle Cecco. Buy it!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 86, May 1989   page(s) 65

Label: Hewson
Author: R. Cecco
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Aaaargh! I can't take it! Not more lovely little pixie type elfin fairy folk! You know what the bad thing is? You don't get to kill them, you have to rescue the little mites. You don't get to harm a single one! Life just isn't fair sometimes.

You see, there's this evil Queen, right. An' what she's done, right, is kidnap all the little fairies and imprison them in these funny, hard to reach places. To save them, you have to work your winding way through an arcade adventure with more than a slight emphasis on the arcade element.

Each of the levels is set on a horizontally scrolling landscape full of all sorts of funny things. There are springboards that catapult you to areas unreachable by any other means. There are lots of different sorts of animated nasties, like the eggs that transform into flies when they hit the ground and the homing worms. Then there are the bubble spouting thingeys. They are annoying. They fire little bubbles into the air that you have to walk under. Time it wrong and you lose one of your eight lives. Eight might seem a little excessive, but believe me, you need them all.

Finally, there are the puzzles. These are made up of two parts. The first is an impassable object, the other is the means to get around it. For example, the first problem you find is a locked door. Close at hand is a key. You get my meaning?

It won't be long before you are linking puzzles like nobody's business, and it's then that you notice the glitch. The frustratingly unplayable glitch. There are just too many positions where you die through no fault of your own and there is nothing you can do about it. For example, at one point on the first level, you have to go through a Dragon's cave to get to one of the fairies. Dragons swoop past, killing you on contact. They swoop from above and they swoop from below. You can only fire forward. This means that if you are in mid jump and one swoops from below, then you get hit. There is just nothing you can do. It's this kind of bad planning that lessens the mark of what could have been a very highly rated game.

The graphics are great. There is no other way to describe them. Tons of colour. Large, well animated sprites, great explosions, smooth scrolling and no colour clash. I smell the hand of Cecco here, and I'm not wrong. One thing that did make me laugh was the slightly dubious use of naked female statues. Did he really have to put them in, and did they have to be so big? I can see the letters flooding in now.

As an arcade adventure, it's less than average. The puzzles are simple, and not in the slightest bit taxing, so the game has to fall back on its arcade elements, and as I've already said, as an arcade game, it's not all that hot.

So, what are we left with. A less than average arcade adventure, and a frustrating arcade game. It's by no means crap, it's just not as good as it's hyped up to be.

Graphics: 88%
Sound: 73%
Playability: 62%
Lastability: 73%
Overall: 71%

Summary: Not the best game Hewson's ever released. Not the worst, but not the best.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 21, Jun 1989   page(s) 48

It's raining Hewson.

Raf Cecco is the biggest names in 8-bit games, with an impressive track record of releases like Cybernoid, Equinox and Exolon. Nearly all these games have blended shoot-em-up action with arcade adventure to produce a unique style. Stormlord's 2D side-on view is also typical of Cecco games, as are the detailed graphics that appear on all screens.

Your character walks and jumps around four levels, throwing fireballs and swords to dispose of enemies, solving a series of puzzles, and finally completing each level by rescuing five imprisoned fairies.

Objects which pop up throughout the game, although only one at a time can be carried, must be used to perform specific functions: keys to unlock doors, an umbrella to keep the rain off and honey to attract bees, which doesn't take too much working out. Among the more entertaining features are trampolines that act like teleports but do so by chucking you through the air.

As ever with Cecco games there's a host of timing problems where evil-doers have to be avoided rather than shot. All this avoiding and shooting is familiar but difficult, so even hardened players will have trouble completing the whole thing. It's enormously frustrating, and far too frequently demands near perfection from the player.

Despite the fact that it has been well programmed, looks great and is really quite action-packed, Stormlord is just too frustrating. If gameplay is to progress at all, it must get away from timing problems, unavoidable deaths and other things best left back in 1984. Stormlord is not really a bad game: it's just not as good as gamesplayers these days have every right to expect.

Reviewer: Bob Wade

Atari ST, £19.99dk, July '89
Amiga, £19.99dk, July '89
Spec 128 £9.99cs, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
IBM PC, No version planned

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 75/100
1 hour: 50/100
1 day: 65/100
1 week: 50/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 5/100

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Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 8/10
IQ Factor: 4/10
Fun Factor: 6/10
Ace Rating: 574/1000

Summary: Frustrating gameplay has a dampening effect early on and, although this can be overcome, the game only has four levels.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 92, Jun 1989   page(s) 14

Spectrum, C64
Spectrum £9.99, C64 £9.99

Times are hard for fairyfolk. An evil queen is moving in, and she's started her despotic rule by imprisoning all the fairies in the land and posting hordes of creepie-crawlies to guard them. Only one pixie can conquer the queen and save the fairies in time, and that pixie is Stormlord.

His Hi-Bounce boots and rapid-fire thunderbolt casting abilities make Mr Stormlord a natural for dealing with dangerous horizontally-scrolling platform shoot 'em up situations like this, and he sets to with a will, blasting any worms, dragonlets and flies that crawl out of the shrubbery. Hold down the fire button and, VA-VOOM!, you unleash his magic sword which whizzes across the screen, destroying all in its path. The blasting isn't constant, appearing only when you venture into certain parts of the landscape, but when it does come, you really have to get that trigger finger going!

To finish each stage, you have to collect a quota of fairies, who are languishing in the most inaccessible places. Releasing each fairy requires a wee bit of problem solving picking-up-objects-and-using-them-in-the-right-location vein nature. Don't panic, though, the connections you have to make between objects and situations are fairly straightforward, but they're still substantial enough to give your ego a boost when the solution finally dawns. When all the level's fairies are in Storm lord's capable pockets, he has to play for an extra life in The Subgame. In it, you blow kisses at flying fairies, who fall in love and drop a fairy tear when hit. Pick up ten tears and an extra life is yours. How sweet.

Not that this is a game for softies, mind. Raf Cecco has once again done the Spectrum proud with a superb blend of arcade and adventure, mixing just the right amount of both. Sprites and backdrops are good and colourful, and everything moves very smoothly. Hearty sound effects, cute jingles and a rousing opening score keep the speaker cones bouncing.

Nick Jones, the guy behind the C64 Cybernoids, has programed Commodore Stormlord, with the aid of graphics man, Hugh Binns and the Maniacs of Noise, and they've made a damned good job of it. Graphically excellent, aurally superb and completely addictive gameplaywise, it's bound to be a hit. Probably the best 8-bit arcade adventure I've seen this year.

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Graphics: 85%
Sound: 82%
Playability: 88%
Value: 82%
Overall: 87%

Summary: Another terrific arcade adventure from Raf Cecco, who once again shows there's life in Clive's old dog yet.

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 18, May 1989   page(s) 40

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £14.99


Raffaele Cecco's latest game has been long and eagerly awaited by 8-bit owners. Raf's most famous work is Cybernoid, but his credits also include Copout, Solomon's Key, Equinox and Exolon.

Classed as something of a sequel to Exolon, Stormlord takes place in the dark regions of a mystical medieval time rather than the spacestations of the unknown future. The Realm of the Mighty Stormlord went about its business peacefully and diligently, and for many years its people were happy with their humble lives.

The Stormlord had ensured protection from outside forces... until now.

The Queen of Evil has infiltrated the Realm, and captured many magical fairies who helped protect the land. Now, its defences in tatters, the Realm has been overrun by all forms of nasty creatures - the minions of the Queen of Evil. Stormlord's people are in a desperate state, unable to defend themselves from the violent, greedy attacks of the Queen's demonic beasts.

Naturally, as the leader of both the community as a whole and the peace-keepers who watch over it, it is Stormlord's job to rid the land of demons, before its too late. The fairies must be freed from their cages and any beasts encountered slain, so that peace can once more be the land's guiding influence.

Stormlord is controlled by running and jumping along a horizontally scrolling landscape, composed mostly of platforms. Dragons, bees, acid rain, eggs which release giant insects, pawns and other beasts attempt to damage him, but he has an everlasting supply of swords and incendiary devices with which to preserve his eight lives.

To avoid a long slog there are springboards to catapult him high into the air and take him rapidly from one location to another - hopefully a place where a fairy can be rescued. Objects such as honeypots, keys and umbrellas help access to otherwise hard to reach areas.

There's a bonus round in between levels too, where Stormlord blows kisses (small heart shapes) at a number of dancing fairies and in return they drop tears which can be collected for points. Unfortunately, like the actual levels, this is done against a time limit.

Well, Mr Cecco has done it again. There's nothing new or particularly special about Stormlord, yet is highly playable from the minute you pick up the joystick. It's by no means an easy game, either. Considerable practice is needed before the second level can be reached, and even then, the first level can still prove to be a problem.

Simple gameplay hides behind glossy presentation, but really this proves that the more straightforward the play, the more addictive the game. Although often frustratingly difficult, Stormlord has you going back time and time again to collect just those two or three more fairies that will complete the level and help restore freedom to The Realm.

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Overall: 86%

Summary: The backgrounds are well defined and cleverly shaded, and scroll smoothly as the brilliantly drawn Stormlord stomps along. The varied and amusing enemies are equally cleverly animated; well done Hugh Binns for some great graphics. The quality effects (including an amusing wolf-whistle when Stormlord lands on a statue), lively jingles and good, lively music round it all off nicely.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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