After being horribly disfigured in a planted bomb explosion that wrecked his lab, scientist Peyton Westlake becomes Mark Caswell, a shadowy phantom of the opera-like figure bent on revenge. Here's Darkman to tell you all about it (Hold it! Something's wrong there).
Closely following the plot of the movie, Darkman has you in the lead role as he fights his way through the game's six levels of scrolly action. Essentially it's an arcade combat game that throws up quite a challenge (and it's really good to look at, too).
The game begins in Chinatown where Darkman hears that arch baddie Robert G Durant is making a pick up of illicit drugs money - money Darkman needs to fund his synthetic skin project. So, with fedora hat firmly placed on head and overcoat flapping in the wind, it's off to battle.
Plenty of henchmen stand between you and the dosh, most prolific are the heavy muscle squad who hit or shoot you. As they do this your energy level plummets and death swiftly follows, along with the dreaded Game Over message (it's pretty tough y'see).
But Darkman isn't helpless: he can hit or kick his attackers and a couple of swift smacks round the mush is usually enough to deter them.
NOT SO MUCH A CUTE POOCH
The dogs and ninjas that rush in and attack are a tougher proposition altogether. The dogs have to be leapt over and the ninjas are tough swines with very sharp swords. Once the money's recovered Darkman can start work on a synthetic skin disguise.
To generate the skin mask Darkman needs a collection of photographcs of one person to feed into his mask-generating computer. He's shown the character he must snap and given one minute and 12 exposures to capture at least a full front and side view of the subject's face. The sub-game is played like a shooting gallery with different faces appearing and disappearing at windows - you aim crosshairs at the right face and snap away!
In level two, while wearing the mask, Darkman has been trapped in his warehouse lab by Durant's goons. The only way out is to reach the roof.
Bottom right of the status panel is a picture of the mask in use, whilst next to it is the msk timer. As those of you who have seen the film will know, the synthetic skin only lasts a short time: the picture starts as Darkman's disguise but quickly changes to his usual bandage swathed image.
DIS GUY'S DISGUISED
When disguised, the goons think Darkman is one of them and isn't attacked. Alas, when the disguise has fully dissolved he's soon on the receiving end of a lot of trouble.
In level three, Darkman escapes to the roof but Durant is waiting in a helicopter with a very nasty grenade launcher in hand. You have to leap across the rooftops, platform style, while Durant takes pot shots at your disfigured body.
Once the maniac Durant has been shaken off another photographic session is played. This time the disguise is needed so Darkman can return to his lab on level four and blow it up, depriving Durant use of his technology.
A BIRD GOES BOOM
Here, while giving and receiving knuckle sandwiches, Darkman's objective is to open the gas cylinders scattered around and set the novelty nodding bird in motion. An odd thing to do but it eventually causes the lab to go kaboom! (in a dramatic and very noisy fashion). By then Darkman is (hopefully) back on the roof...
Level five sees Darkman grabbing onto a handy rope and dangling below the chopper. Durant isn't too chuffed that he has an unwelcome guest and sends the chopper onto the vertically-scrolling freeway. If Darkman wants to avoid being embedded in the front of a passing juggernaut he has to swing left and right to avoid collision.
If Darkman can hang on long enough Durant's chopper crashes into a bridge while our hero leaps to safety. A third and final photo shoot takes Darkman to Durant's evil boss, Strack, who's kidnapped his girlfriend, Julie (don't panic, Nick, it isn't your your little love-bundle!).
STRACK 'EM HIGH
Darkman had better have a strong stomach because Strack has taken refuge on a skyscraper still under construction for the sixth and final level. Fight your way through Strack's hoods to face the man who caused your deformity (and munch him into the ground).
Technically, Darkman is up to Ocean's high standards. The graphics are on the small side but well detailed and the title tune is a toe-tapping affair by the excellent Jonathan Dunn.
Playability suffers slightly because it's really tough. It'll take ages just to reach the end of the first level. Evan after several hours of intensive play, I'd only almost (but not quite) reached the briefcase full of money. The main culprits are the henchmen; they take their jobs much too seriously and are forever bumping Darkman off.
Darkman is very, very good and is highly recommended for games players who want a serious challenge.
He is the night! He's a shadowy streak in the dangerous world of a man who does not exist? Nah, that's not right. He's crime's new enemy and justice's new face - yes! - that's who he is! Darkman has arrived. The first level's flip-screen beat-'em-up gameplay is nothing new but still very playable, even though it can be frustratingly hard. The main sprite is very well drawn and animated, right down to his little faceless face (?), as are other sprites. Background graphics are very colourful and appealing, although they do get a little garish sometimes and hide the sprites. Darkman is a big game - huge even - but its extreme difficulty is very off-putting, otherwise it would be a classic.
That shadowy figure makes a decent appearance on the Speccy in a six-level game that bears all the hallmarks of a well-produced Ocean game. The only thing that may be off putting is the difficulty level, which is rather on the hard side. It's arcade combat with most of the action based on platform leaping and beating up opponents. However, level five is played differently as Darkman grabs a rope, and dangling from a helicopter has to avoid obstacles as the scenery of a highway scrolls vertically past!
It all looks very good, the Darkman sprite is well animated and the backdrops are colourful and appealing, although they can hide the sprites at times.
Darkman's a big game and a good one, only it didn't quite meet with Smash standards because it may be too frustratingly difficult for some.
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