Cliff Hanger

by James P.H. Day
New Generation Software
Crash Issue 30, Jul 1986   page(s) 13

Producer: New Generation
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: James Day

This game introduces a new concept in disposing of your enemies. No more shoot em ups; forget a quick round of fisticuffs or dose of martial artistry. Cliff Hanger,the hero in this game, is a tough talking, gum chewing cowboy who's vocation in life is to rid the Wild West of gun-toting bandits.

Cliff takes a slightly unconventional approach to his job and tends to resort to rather unusual methods of killing his victims. Boomerangs, cannon, elaborate time bombs and the faithful boulder all make up Mr Hanger's arsenal. These are shot, dropped and thrown at the foe, usually resulting in a nasty splat as the baddie is Imprinted into the ground. Cliff is a cold hearted assassin and dances a little celebratory jig as each opponent is sent to Boot Hill.

The object of the game is to stop the bandit from getting to the end of the canyon in each screen. The baddie-splatting techniques get more complicated as the game progresses. Points are scored for each time the enemy is destroyed depending on the difficulty of the manoeuvre.

There are fifteen levels in the game, each consisting of three to five screens. The computer chooses a different screen at random until you have successfully completed all the screens on the current level. After a while, the baddies have a chance to get their own back. Boulders roll back on you unless you don't watch out, and boomerangs render you senseless unless they hit the bandit.

Cliff has five lives and loses one every time you misjudge a move and fall off a cliff top or are crushed by a runaway boulder.

The screen graphics are all in yellow and black and depict a variety of scenes from the wild west portrayed in a cartoon style. At the start of each new screen a gunshooting bandit either appears, trotting over the horizon, or lurks on the screen, hidden away somewhere. A series of objects are presented in each screen and you must decide how to use them in order to kill the bandit. Sometimes the method of killing the Man in Black may be obvious - such as rolling a rock off a cliff top at precisely the right time so that it crushes the baddie below. Other more complicated screens involve mini puzzles which include such items as levers and railway trucks, and require a series of actions to be carried out before the bad guy is killed.

Each baddie must be killed in each screen for the game to progress. Once you've worked out how to use the equipment on a screen, timing is essential if Cliff is to rid the wild and woolly west of the gun toting banditos.


Control keys: redefiinable
Joystick: Kempston, cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: monochromatic
Graphics: cartoon style, simple animations
Sound: minimal spot effects, no tune
Skill levels: one
Screens: 50

New Generation have been quite quiet for the last few months and it's nice to see them finally bring out Cliff Hangs, which I can remember seeing advertised ages and ages ago. Cliff Hanger's presentation reminds me of the underrated Trashman, and the game has a few of the Trashman touches as well. The game is good fun to play and kept me involved for quite a long time; what lets it down is the appalling sound and the mediocre graphics - a few small beeps and some very simply drawn colourless backgrounds respectively. Although the general look of the game is a bit poor, the idea, despite being simple, is effective. The price is a bit too high for the kind of presentation the game has got, and it would have been better released in a budget range.

At first sight this seems to be the kind of game that you play once and then give up with, but there is something about it that makes it very playable. The graphics are below average, the characters are poorly drawn and the playing area is monochrome but the backgrounds are nicely detailed. The use of sound is disappointing: only a few spot effects here and there. The game itself plays like a Road Runner cartoon, so if you enjoy squashing people you will probably enjoy this. It isn't too bad a game, but I think it is overpriced.

This is a nice game at heart. The graphics are pretty, though the monochrome display makes the game less attractive than it could have been. The game itself has some really cruel bits in it, but that makes it all the more fun! I had expected it to be a cheapie, but at eight quid, it does seem to be a good deal too expensive. Though it is addictive, and I confess to having spent a long while playing it, the fun gleaned from it doesn't seem to justify the expense. Sure, there are lots of different screens, and they get more nasty as you progress but I still think it's too expensive. New Generation had a lot of potential in this game and it would have been great as a budget title - as it is, it's definitely too expensive.

Use of Computer: 66%
Graphics: 67%
Playability: 72%
Getting Started: 68%
Addictive Qualities: 75%
Value for Money: 56%
Overall: 63%

Summary: General Rating: Basically a good game, but overpriced.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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