System 3 - they thrilled us with Last Ninja 2, they went a bit wobbly with Dominator, and now they're entering into the Indiana Jones explorer-type domain with their latest offering. Tusker. And, you'll be pleased to hear, it bears much more of a similarity to the former in concept and gameplay than the latter. Hurrah!
You take the role of the intrepid explorer trying to realise your dad's ambition, just like in The Last Crusade. Only whereas Indy's pop was obsessed by the Holy Grail, your dad's obsession was... Calvin Klein aftershave! Ho ho, only joshing, readers. No, what he really dreamt of finding was the fabled Elephants' Graveyard. The only thing was that on one of his expeditions he popped his clogs! So, being the loyal son, you venture forth to continue his work.
Like Last Ninja II, it's a sort of 3D scrolling arcade adventure. Unlike Ninja though, it has three multiload levels instead of six. But then again the backgrounds are all in colour this time and feature some nice touches, like the way your sprite is half obscured when he goes behind solid background details or up to his waist in water. It's a bit weird the way that you're also obscured by foreground detail, 'cos it means it's possible to get creamed by an Inca type with a big mallet without seeing what's going on! Still, the overall impression of the graphics is very good - these allow for exciting Indy-type situations, in which bad guys appear from behind huts when you least expect them! The sprites themselves are in monochrome, as are the objects and weapons that you collect, and the animation is pretty neat too. You can punch high or low, you can kick, you can pick things up and you can use different weapons and objects (or both). Choose a knife and you can stab, choose a water bottle and you can drink, choose a gun with bullets and you can shoot. Get the picture? There are all sorts of beasties to be killed, including zombies (which creepily reassemble from piles of bones in front of your very eyes!), man-eating plants, and even bloomin dinosaurs!
The best thing about it though is the way Tusker captures that certain 'je ne sais quoi' feeling (as the French would say) - that element in the Indy movies which made them so exciting and fun-packed. For me it's the way Indy solves certain puzzles and overcomes problems using the unlikely objects to hand. This is what you have to do in Tusker. Present the right object (or combination of) at the right time and in the right place, and you'll get a clue to help your quest. There are loads of objects to be picked up and these can be used to fulfil different purposes.
If, like me, you loved the Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade game but bemoaned the fact that the problem solving and puzzle element of the movies was a bit lacking, then try Tusker for size. An arcade adventure with the emphasis on adventure, with some pretty spiffy graphics and a good many hours worth of puzzling. Mappers and tippers will be in their element!
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