Label: Melbourne House
Author: Beam Software
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Stripped to the waist, barefoot and alert, a stocky figure stalks through the bamboo thickets. His arms raised, ready to loose an attack of unbelievable ferocity and speed upon any man or beast that may dare to give him a wonky glance.
This, fellow brick-kickers, is the one "you've all been waiting for". Early last year, the entire games-playing 'community' could be found hammering away in Way of the Exploding Fist at computerised or human opponents in ludicrously serious bouts of hand/to-hand GBH.
Now, almost a year later comes the sequel. At face value there doesn't appear to be a whole lot you can do to make a sequel of a game that - essentially - involved little more than kicking things.
So Melbourne House has decided to change things a bit, and actually give you a purpose in life, as opposed to simply wandering around, hacking away at the nearest person.
Your quest is to rid your homeland of a terrible tyrant who is making the lives of your fellow villagers very tedious.
Obviously, your foe isn't stupid enough to leave himself open to attack, and surrounds himself with lots of completely deadly bodyguards.
It's not really worth your while trolling up to the Warlord and suggesting that he should leave your homeland alone and vacate the premises alone when you bear in mind that you are only a novice in the martial arts.
Thus, the first part of the game centres around your self-tuition of aforesaid arts. While walking around, you will stumble upon a number of scrolls. Now, each scroll contains some of the secrets known only to the most boss-eyed and creepy walk-on-rice-paper wizard types as found in all the best Fist-style movies.
Once you've got the scrolls (yes, hahaha very "double entendre", I'm sure) it's off to the nearest temple for a bit of mat-bashing in order to learn their secrets. Once used correctly, you can see in the dark, move immobile objects etc.
On the way, it's highly probable you'll run into a group of black panthers who will quite happily tear you to itsy bitsy ribbons if you don't do something about it. Doing something about it seems to consist entirely of kicking them very hard in the head. Moderately funny but hardly a) mentally taxing / b) socially aware.
Other delays are incurred by dealing with the bodyguards that you encounter.
This is real Fist territory as you flail away with limb and joystick, inflicting increasingly effective blows. Most of the joystick moves from the first game are here, roundhouses and all. Each time you score a hit on your foe, a pleasing graphical whack indicates contact, and his stamina gauge is depleted.
There's a good deal of running around involved in Fist II. As each scroll has its own temple, and you can only use it in the correct one. you'll often have to retrace your steps. As this often involves avoiding the groups of black cat things and more bodyguards, it can become taxing - even challenging.
Graphically it's swings and roundabouts. The backgrounds aren't great, and the scrolling is far from pixel-smooth. On the other hand, your character runs about very pleasantly and the fights are much better than in the original.
From Crack-crack-bam to Which-way-now?-crack-bam.
Lacks polish, but Fist II is still a damned good fight for anyone's money. And this time there's scope for a bit of mapping too.
LET'S DO THE TIMEWARP
Yes! We're going back in time to take a lok at some games of yester-year. Why? Because they've all been re-released for £3 each and they're in your shops now!
This one must go down as one of the greatest computer game disappointments of the decade. If you remember the enormous impact made by Way of the Exploding Fist, a) you're as ancient as I am, and b) you'll probably remember the thrill generated by the first ever martial arts game on a home computer. For the first time, instead of shooting alien opponents, you could punch, kick, knee and chop your enemy into an insensible mass. It was great.
Some time later Fist 2 appeared, and what a massive disappointment it was. For some reason the graphics and animation seem to have degenerated; even worse, although the fighting element was still there, the main thrust, oo-er, was a sort of arcade adventure scenario in which you spent most of your time running around the flip-scrolling landscape looking for something to fight. Peasants, warriors, ninjas, shoguns, assassins and panthers (like, big cat type panthers) try to beat you to a pulp along the way, and after ten minutes of boredom you'll be quite happy to let them.
Theoretically Fist 2 should have been smashing, with the martial arts elements added to the arcade adventure theme. But the backgrounds aren't up to much, the playing area doesn't seem particularly large, and elements such as poisonous gas, and the ability to restore your energy by meditating in a temple, just serve to slow things down.
Give it a miss.
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