Blues Brothers

Title		Blues Brothers
Game Type	Platform
Publisher	Titus, November 1991
Players		1 or 2
HD Installable	Patch available
Compatibility	Tested on A500, A1200
Submission	RJP

The Amiga was well served with 2D platform games, but there were few
really great examples of the genre. Too often programmers tried to
emulate the most obvious outward features of Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario
without capturing their essential playability. Robocod is a good case in
point - it had the fast parallax scrolling of Sonic and the huge levels of
Mario, but it utterly lacked any sense of pace or urgency. What is it
then that makes a good platformer?  I'd suggest four (interconnected)

1)  The game should represent a challenge without being merely
frustrating. Fairness is crucial - no sudden unforeseeable deaths, leaps
of faith or ridiculous pixel perfect jumps. Each aspect of the gameplay
should be introduced gently and the difficulty imperceptibly ratcheted up
until the player is hooked.

2)  Tight level design. Levels should be big enough to make exploration
interesting and perhaps have several ways through them, but they should
never become samey and disorientating. It's critical that there's
something going on everywhere.

3)  Smoothness. A platformer can never be much fun if the main character
responds sluggishly and the scrolling is juddery.

4)  Simplicity. As Keith Richards once said, "There's something about
being constrained that opens up the possibilities."

Blues Brothers meets all of these criteria with flying colours.

Based very loosely on the film of the same name, you play one of the
brothers as they search for their missing musical instruments scattered
about the city. There are five good sized levels, each with one hidden
instrument; you have to find it and make your way to an exit. There are
baddies trying to stop you of course. Some are intelligent, chasing you
and shooting, while others simply run to and fro in classic Jet Set Willy
fashion. You can either evade them, or pick up packing cases that are
scattered around and throw them at them. Along the way you can pick up
records to give health bonuses, plus balloons and umbrellas that let you
fly. There are also some neat swimming sections that add variety. And
that 's about it.

There's an interesting 2 player mode where both brothers appear on the
same screen and the scrolling follows only one of them. Most reviewers
panned this feature, but with two competent players it adds an element of
teamwork, cooperation being needed to stick together.

It's nothing that hasn't been done a million times before, but it's all
executed with such panache that the whole becomes more than the sum of its
parts. The graphics are crisp and cartoon-like (but not sickeningly "cute")
with amusing animation, the scrolling fast and silky smooth, while the
music consists of superb Amiga renditions of songs from the film. The
difficulty curve is perfectly judged; I found that I progressed a little
further with each go.

In the final analysis, not the biggest or the most technically
accomplished Amiga platformer, but without doubt the most fun.

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