Retail Price: £8.95
Author: Steve Evans
It's hero's hour again and time to take a stroll behind enemy lines and destroy an entire army single handedly. Who Dares Wins II puts you in the popular position of a sole commando plonked deep within enemy territory. Armed with a few grenades and your favourite machine gun you must delve even deeper and capture eight outposts while fighting off massive opposition in this, veteran arcade ace programmer Steve Evans' first excursion onto the Spectrum from the Commodore.
The action takes place over a flick screen landscape where you progress upwards - reaching the top of a screen flicks you to the bottom of the next screen and so on. The object of the game is to reach and destroy the outposts found at the end of a series of landscapes.
When the game commences your Commando nonchalantly stands at the bottom of the screen. Bombed-out buildings lie either side of him and the only choice is to go forward across the barren scenery. Within a few seconds of moving forward the enemy soldiers become alerted to your presence and rush out from the sides of the screen, jumping off buildings, running from behind trees, firing their guns and lobbing grenades all over the place. Luckily they're not too advanced on the technological scene and only carry single shot rifles while you, on the other hand, have your trusty sub machine gun capable of pumping bullets out at quite a considerable rate. Mind you, you need the rapid fire since the numbers of enemy is sometimes overwhelming.
The enemy landscape is full of hazards just awaiting an overzealous soldier and sometimes these traps lie right near the bottom of a screen so when the game flicks it's easy to go blundering into them. Some of the horrible dangers include quicksand, pools of water with crumbling banks (our hero can't swim!) and rivers. There are other more mechanical hazards too: soldiers with accurate mortar bombs, trains which trundle along railway lines that have occasionally to be crossed, jeeps, lorries, missile firing tanks (very deadly), bomb dropping aeroplanes and fighters which fly straight down the screen and strafe the ground (and any people on it) with machine gun fire. All ground vehicles and mortar bombers can be disposed of with a well aimed hand grenade. You start the game with three grenades and extra ones are parachuted in for you to pick up later on.
Occasionally you stumble across one of your allies, although he's in a lot more trouble than you are. You see, he's tied to a tree and if you don't set him free he ceases to be because he's about to get shot by a soldier. If you shoot his would be executioner then you'll earn yourself extra points and the rescued person's gratitude.
Nearer to the outpost rivers are encountered with little thin bridges being the only way across. Soldiers on the other side wait for you to move onto the bridge so that they can pick you off with ease, so shoot before you cross. There are sometimes little patrol boats on the river, but these don't pose a threat to the soldier and can be easily destroyed with a grenade. When the outpost is finally reached many soldiers pour forth and a pitched battle, with you in the middle, ensues. Here the game becomes immensely hectic and it's up to your reflexes and digit dexterity to ensure survival. If you manage to gun down all the soldiers then the outpost is declared yours and you automatically go forth to try to retake the next outpost.
On later outposts the going gets far tougher with soldiers in potholes and a far more hazardous landscape to claim all of your five lives. If five lives seems a little meagre then don't fret too much - extra lives can be earned at regular point intervals.
Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Interface 2, Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive and straightforward
Use of colour: a bit thin and suffers colour clashes
Graphics: lively enough but disappointingly stick-like characters
Skill levels: progressive
Alligata who first brought out the 'Commando' style game on any type of micro are a bit late with their Spectrum version and by the look of it they haven't spent much time on it either. Who Dares Wins II suffers from a distinct case of colour clashing which I thought had gone from the Spectrum altogether. The graphics are very small, with stick-lie soldiers apparently suffering from a bad case of vitamin C deficiency. The sound is the sort that makes your table vibrate under you and gives the earplugs a good airing. Playability is quite good due to the idea of rescuing men but the flipping screens holds you up in your tracks. This may appeal to the 'shoot em up what ever they are freaks' but I'm afraid it is not up to the Rambos or Commandos of the Spectrum scene.
A good shoot em up, I think. Colour has been used well, and the backdrops are quite good, even if the men are too small. Playability-wise, it's very good indeed, and it's also highly addictive, though I did have to make an effort to start again after knocking out several outposts and getting some way into the game. There's lots of fun to be had blasting all the little enemies, and l enjoyed it; I think most shoot em up freaks will too.
There are so many Commando type games available on the Spectrum nowadays they've really got to be something special to justify buying. This, unfortunately, isn't really of a high enough standard and pales besides Elite's Commando and Imagine's Green Beret. The graphics are flickery and the landscape rather bland, and there are other niggles too, like being able to stroll through trees and other landscape features. The game is still fun to play, though, but isn't really worth buying if you've already got a 'Commando' game.
It was with great anticipation and a jingoistic spark of glee in my eye that I unwrapped and load Who Dares Wins II. I'm a sadistic devil-may-care mercenary at heart, so the thought of blasting my way through the slavering hordes of the Armies Of Death on a suicide mission filled me with warped joy.
Oh dear! What happened? Was I gripped? Was I drowned in cold sweat? Was I in fear for my life? in the words of Big John Wayne (or even small Lewis Collins), 'The Hell I Was!'
Here was have a conversion of a game designed for another computer, and not a tewwibly tewwific one at that. The sprites are flickery, the controls respond with the urgency and vigour of a sloth doing his tax return. In short, I was bored. It was far easier to run through the enemy onto the next screen than to ratty-tat them with my pixel-spitting machine gun. Every now and then I'd lob all my grenades by accident, due to the fact that the lobbing control is the same key as the trigger of my shooting iron. Frustrating, eh?
How is it that a game like Rambo can be quite well put together, and yet this has all the hallmarks of haste and compromise. Sure, it plays okay, but it looks naff. How can I possibly be gripped and sent on flights of blood-letting fancy if the mean and dangerous character I'm controlling looks like a wind-up soldier?
The joystick control seems to be non-existant - none of my interfaces would work with the game.
So, what can I say after this torrent of criticism, except perhaps suggest a new title for the game. Who Dares Yawns?
Programmer: Steve Evans
Memory: 48K, 128K
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Bang, Bang, Pop, Pop. A lone soldier zigzags at a trot into the compound. Minute dots stream from the enemy's rifles, but he waltzes round them.
Now there's more movement as the opposing troops appear, flickering wildly from behind some primitive looking trees. The air is filled with gunfire and yet nothing can stop the lone commando. More soldiers charge straight through the walls of flanking buildings - as if they weren't there - to join the fray. Two collide and sink to the ground in an indistinguishable blur. With one last convulsive flicker they disappear, shot by our hero who has turned a tree blue by his mere presence.
Grenades are his back-up and he's got five of these. Just press on the fire button for a while and he'll throw one. A small problem here. To chuck it you must briefly press the fire button on your joystick; keep your finger there a fraction too long and you'll waste his five grenades.
Fortunately, he's not invincible and eventually gets blown up by a patch of red. This starts off as a bomb thrown by a missile launcher. It wavers through the air and lands in a splurge of colour. Fascinated our hero doesn't try to dodge and gets himself splattered.
Further hazards await this intrepid blue figure. He must cross into the jungle and rescue a prisoner of war about to be executed at pistol point. Having dodged an almost invisible patch of quicksand, killed the executioner and avoided more bombs dropped by aircraft, he has to storm the enemy garrison to complete that level.
Life now gets hectic as you try to manoeuvre your commando past a posse of scurrying soldiers. He has to shoot at least 12 and avoid a lorry before making it into the gateway.
Once through this section you must tackle rivers, boats and steadily increasing numbers of enemy soldiers, pass through eight territories before starting all over again at a higher difficulty level.
The attribute problems are appalling with violent colour clashes each time two objects meet. Sound - an annoying little jingle - is thankfully limited to the menu screen.
The graphics are small and basic and if Alligata thinks this will compete with Commando, Rambo and Green Beret it should think again.
The development of this game was quite a battle. The Commodore version of Who Dares Wins was hit by a crossfire of injunctions from Elite who claimed that the game bore distinct similarities to the arcade game Commando that they were producing under licence. Almost as soon as it appeared Who Dares Wins was withdrawn and in the next breath replaced by the sequel, Who Dares Wins II, with the offending details altered.
Now the conversion has arrived on the Spectrum and the spirit, if not the minute detail, is that of the best selling Commando and Rambo. The mission is to singlehandedly take on an entire army in order to rescue prisoners who have been pencilled in for the firing squad. To save them from being rubbed out you must fight your way through eight fields of battle and capture eight command posts. You are armed with an infinite supply of ammunition for your automatic weapon and five grenades. Additional grenades can be picked up along the way by carving your way through the enemy defences to the spot where the grenades have been airdropped by parachute.
Five lives are allowed for you to complete your mission and if this seems generous at the start it soon becomes apparent that you need every one of them as you face innumerable battalions, machine gun nests, tanks, snipers and mortar fire. Unless you have a knack for combat games almost every bullet will have your name on it and it will turn into a certain suicide mission.
Freeing prisoners does have its rewards. If you can blast the one man firing squad before he shoots the captive you earn a handsome bonus and a wave from the grateful prisoner, (well what did you expect, a medal?).
When you hove successfully made it through all eight sectors you are met with the dismaying message that all the territory you've captured has been grabbed again by the enemy due to your inept backup forces. So it's back to the beginning again to face even stronger forces. Which just goes to show that if you want something doing to it yourself. This is a frenetic create-your-own-carnage game with enough action to satisfy those who revel in the alone-in-the-war-zone type of game. If you want something with a little more than mayhem and massacre however, you won't find it here.
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