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Ocean Software Ltd
1991
Arcade: Action
£10.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links


10,11
James Leach
Chris Bourne

So justice has a brand new face, eh? Well it's a bit of a shame that it's behind a load of bandages where we cant get a glimpse of it. Still, I'm sure it's very pretty. Darkman the movie was a fair success (but not a total stormer) so let's suss out what Ocean have made of that rather dark crimefighter with the shrink-wrapped head.

I must confess that I was one of the millions who didn't actually see the film, so I'm not completely sure what happened. But the Darkman manual gives a few clues. It seems that a while ago there was a large explosion (done by some criminal nasties). An innocent blokie was strolling past just at the wrong moment and boom! Off comes his face. (He was in his lab actually. Ed) Whatever, it's still a mess. Understandably peeved by this, the innocent dude decides to get revenge. He does a spot of weight training and learns how to punch people really hard, then goes after the baddies, whose names are Durant and Strack. They're well evil, and also quite difficult to find, so Mr Darkman (for 'tis he) has to do a lot of head-punching before he gets close to them. And here's where you come in (hurrah!),

ZIT-DA-DEE-DOO-DAH!

The game's primarily a beat-'em-up (plus a bit of 'overhead helicopter' stuff), but it isn't like one of your run-of-the-mill fighting ninja death massacre affairs. Nope, it's actually rather well done. In fact I'd go so far as to say that it's really good. You've got the usual moves and you're going to need them - you're up against some pretty unpleasant people.

Yep, Darkman's certainly on the superior side. It's got tons of action sequences, its fast, it's flicker free and it's very difficult. This last point's actually pretty important - it you're notoriously crap at these sorts of games you could get hacked off with it because you start off with only one life and apart from the occasional energy power-up, you have to conserve your strength for ages. I found this hard to do. I tried wading in and punching every-body I met but my energy just melted away. So then I tried running off and only attacking people when I was behind them. I lasted longer but it wasn't as much fun. Three lives would've been better.

The graphics are well spiffy and change with every level, but the basic idea remains the same. You don't get any super-weapons to use (pity), and you can easily get overwhelmed by dozens of baddies. It didn't spoil the game drastically but I did chew the joystick to pieces once or twice in my frustration (and you know those Konix Navigators - they taste revolting!). Now I'm off to wrap loads of toilet-roll around my head, put on the shades and see if I can scare people on the streets of Bath. Who says computer games don't have any effect on you?

Damn good beat-'em-up - but it's very tough and you only get one life, so you might not get too far.

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HOW DARKMAN KEEPS HIMSELF BUSY

LEVEL ONE is set in Chinatown. You're trying to intercept a load of drug money belonging to Robert G. Durant, one of the big baddies, but you've got to get through all his henchmen before you see the dosh. Because they're Chinese, the guys who attack you tend to throw lots of sharp metal objects (so lots of ducking is the only way you're going to survive). Oh, and kicking is far better than punching (which is pretty sound advice for the rest of the game as well really).

Next you reach the factory, and LEVEL TWO. Foolishly, you get trapped here and have to fight your way out to the roof. But this could be a bit tricky. You see, that swine Durant has turned on all the funky machines in his factory, so as well as lots of angry fellows trying to shoot you, there are extra automated hazards. As you toddle along you've got to pick up an extra energy pack (effectively removing all your damage so far. Phew!).

LEVEL THREE's set on the rooftops, and - aha! Here's that scallywag Durant. And what's this? He's got a helicopter with grenade launchers on it! Oh dear. There's only one thing for it. You've got to leap across the rooftops to your lab, avoiding it like the plague. This is a bit difficult (especially if you suffer from vertigo) so do take care - one slip and you'll end up a thin wet mess on the pavement hundreds of feet below!

LEVEL FOUR's in your lab. Safe? Just for a moment, yes. You get a bomb together out of gas cylinders to surprise all the baddies. You can rest a bit here, as they're all too scared to go into your lab (you might have a knife or something). It makes things easier if you kill as many blokes as you can before you actually get to the lab (more points and less to deal with later).

In LEVEL FIVE you grab a rope hanging from the helicopter just as your precious lab explodes. Durant lowers you onto a busy motorway and you end up swinging around trying to avoid the traffic (and the odd grenade he chucks down as well). If you stay alive long enough you automatically drop onto a tanker and tie the rope to it - and watch it explode! (It's actually possible to learn the positions of the cars and lorries on the road so you can time your swings accordingly.)

LEVEL SIX is the last one. You're off to get Strack (the arch-arch baddie). He's in a skyscraper, surrounded by cronies. Get in there, kill all the bodyguards and go after Strack. If you've got this far you'll be dead good at fighting so it shouldn't be too difficult to boot him off the building, thus making sure he won't hatch any more evil plans. Once you've done this you meet up with your old girly (who you'd actually forgotten about) and it's time for hugs, kisses and other nice things like that (except that she's not exactly going to want to kiss someone without a face, is she?).

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If you haven't seen the film you can catch up with the plot by reading this optional teleprinter display at the start.

Chinatown, and you're picking another fight to two mean chaps. You really are a stirrer, aren't you?

Oops. Some scallywags chucking shuriken at you! One's just whizzed over your head (phew), but, er, another's just smacked you straight in the tum.

Watch out for the doorway, Darkman! There's a bloke hiding in the shadows about to pounce.

Nasty man trying to hurt you.

You.

Your trendy long flapping coat.

Your energy. (Try not to get punched and thwacked too much.)

Your score.

Time for bomb (which you, er, haven't built yet).

This is a load of screens we've put together showing Darkman making his way through Chinatown. There seem to be an awful lot of men trying to get in his way as well as dogs which run on, savage Darkies's leg (taking down his energy by a few points) then rush off. The yellow crates are very useful for standing on and kicking people in the face, but you've got to watch out for shurikens, bullets and other nasty, pointy things which people try to lodge in your kneecaps. Another hint, there are some secret platforms on this level which give you total safety from the baddies. We'll leave you to find out where these life-savers are though. (So don't say we never give you decent hints in the reviews!)