You have to Dinamic, there's no messing around with their titles; this game isn't called "Satan Has A Cheese and Wine Party", or "Satanic Drag Racing Simulator" or "Satan Versus the Oogroids from Plenth"; it's just called SATAN, so you know exactly who's the star of this excellent sword-and-slashery arcade adventure.
It's interesting to compare Satan with Rastan, a similar concept just re-released on budget. In both games, the hero is a loincloth-bulging barbarian hero, who has to take on hordes of evil demons on a quest for, er, something. The main difference is that while Rastan has a rather large, colourful graphical style, Satan plumps for small, highly detailed but largely monochrome characters. Sometimes your hero tends to merge into the background, and the animation is a tad slow and jerky, but individual screens look very nice and some of the monsters are gratifyingly hideous.
The first section of the game is a straightforward arcade adventure in which you have to run, leap and swing enthusiastically through demon-infested caverns. The demons come boiling out of nowhere, and if you zap them with magical bolts they leave behind useful icons; shields which add protection, life-restoring potions, and extra weapons such as three-way shooters. But, if you leave it too long, the icons turn back into demons, and what nasty demons they are; armoured lizards, crab warriors and fire-spitting harpies to name but three.
Your main aim is to keep climbing upwards; this you do by jumping up onto stalactites, shinning up, then making mighty leaps sideways to the next handhold. The actual running/jumping/shinning/leaping animation is great, though not particularly smooth, and there are nice optical effects as you launch magic bolts and zap monsters. You can shoot sideways as you climb, but you can't shoot as you jump, so it's a challenge to bump off the monsters before you climb onto the next plateau.
Finding arched exits gets you into side caverns where even more dangers lurk, and a Satanic scanner at the bottom of the screen shows you where danger lurks and points your way to the eventual exit (which I haven't reached yet.) This is all very good, but the big gimmick of the game is that if you finish level one you get an access code to the second part of the game, which is loaded separately. Here your barbarian hero metamorphoses into a bearded sorceror, and the game assumes a more strategic aspect as you plot to use your magical powers to defeat old whiskery, chops Satan himself.
In this section (for which Dinamic thoughtlessly failed to give us the access code) you emerge from the caverns and explore Satan castle, again facing terrors such as hooded executioners, winged demons and ghouls. The difference is that in this stage you get to choose different magical spells and weapons to aid you in your quest. Oh well, eventually I suppose we'll get to see it.
Great stuff. I'm almost tempted to say magic.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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