Producer: Electric Dreams
Retail Price: £9.99
Author: Mr. Micro, from a Data East coin-op
Karnov's burly form has been a familiar figure in the arcades for some time, and now the Russian flrebreather is making his dazzling debut on the Spectrum conversion of the Data East coin-op. His hazardous quest is simply to destroy the dastardly dragon Ryu and recover the lost treasures of Babylon.
Following the selection of a one or two player option, there is a theatrical flash of lightning and the bulky figure of Karnov appears. His adventure takes place over nine multiloaded levels across a horizontally scrolling eastern environment of sandstone pillars, exotic buildings, swirling rivers and bubbling volcanoes.
The unfriendly inhabitants of this strange and hostile land range from the bizarre (flying fish, jumping jacks, ostrich riding skeletons) to the more familiar (dinosaurs, fireflies and sabre-swinging arabs). Contact with any of these means the loss of one of five lives.
Karnov's basic weapon can be improved by collecting extra firepower. Other bonus icons include ladders, boomerangs, 'superboots', for extra jumping ability, flippers, power pills and wings. Once collected these are displayed on a panel at the base of the screen and activated at will via the keyboard. Status displays indicate time remaining, current score and number of lives left.
Each level can be negotiated using a number of different routes which involve swimming and flying (using the appropriate bonus objects) as well as the more orthodox method of walking and jumping. A particularly large enemy has to be defeated at the end of each section before Karnov can move his bulky body on to the next.
Having negotiated eight gruelling levels, the colossal cossack faces the final challenge of combat with the wizard. Stripped of all his bonus items and restricted to single fire power Karnov meets his greatest challenger yet.
Graphics: well designed backgrounds and characters. Packed with colour and limited clash - but VERY slow
Sound: extremely basic spot effects and tune (only heard on loading)
Options: one or two players (the second player didn't work on our finished version, however, so check it out first!)
Karnov, hefty hero of the arcade, appears in a dazzlingly colourful conversion. The sprites are carefully animated (Karnov's climbing actions are particularly impressive) and as much shading as possible has been crammed into the detailed backdrops. Numerous exotic aliens and carefully drawn landscapes create a suitably weird and wonderful atmosphere. With several different ways of completing each level and plenty of bonus objects to collect the game has enough substance to keep the most reluctant Russians playing for some time. Defeating the toughest aliens requires brains as well as brawn; success involves using the right bonus icon at the right time. It's just a pity that smoothness of control has been sacrificed to the complex use of colour. Karnov's jumping movements are slightly jerky and scrolling slows down while he is up in the air. The gameplay, although still enjoyable, doesn't quite match up to the high expectations invited by the graphics. Still - despite these limitations Karnov is an enjoyable and addictive game.
If you're looking for a great shoot 'em up that's challenging and has good graphics then look no further: Karnov has it all. The characters are excellently drawn as are all the backgrounds; there's even a colourful, detailed map of Wonderland on display while each level loads in. Electric Dreams have done a great job in making the game colourful while avoiding the majority of attribute problems. My only moan is that the game slows down terribly when more and more nasties arrive on-screen and this slight fault does tend to make the game unplayable if you don't kill them all quickly. Each level holds many surprises and the baddies get increasingly more menacing as you progress. I loaded up one of the last levels of the game and didn't survive for more than a couple of seconds! The sound effects are very basic but there are a few nice ones on the lightning and some of the other obstructions. Karnov should appeal to all those gamesters out there who just like to blast everything in sight!
So this is the legendary Karnov - he of the hot tonsils. Well I can't say he's lit any candles in my life. Karnov may well have outstanding graphics and colour, but it's what you do with them that counts - and Electric Dreams (in the form of Mr Micro) have done very little. The scrolling backgrounds are terribly jerky and the more hectic the actions, the slower the game becomes. This ruins the whole feel of a potentially fast action arcade game. Karnov fails to make the impact of such arcade conversions as Bubble Bobble dies to its lack of playability - the game is absolutely no fun to play at all. The screenshots may look fantastic and out of this world, but don't be seduced by looks; this is merely a poor game heavily disguised.
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