Leander (Second Review)

Title           Leander (Second Review)
Game Type       General Action
Publisher       Psygnosis
Players         1
Compatibility   OCS/AGA
HD Installable  Yes, with patch
Submission      Eric Haines (ehaines@mint.net)

    The 1987 Taito arcade game Rastan is one of my all-time favorites. You
controlled a barbarian warrior-type who hacked and slashed his way through
six side-scrolling levels. The gameplay was about perfect; I kept playing
until I managed to win first on one quarter, then on one life. Naturally I
wanted an Amiga version, but if there ever was one (Taito did advertise
one as "forthcoming" at one point), I missed it. So, I kept buying
Rastan-esque games in hopes of the next-best-thing. Three of them come to
mind: Torvak the Warrior, Risky Woods, and Leander.

    Leander is the least like Rastan, but the best game of the three. It
was released back when Psygnosis was publishing some of their better
games, and it certainly holds up.

    One thing it has in abundance is the well-known Psygnosis polish. For
the most part, it really gets the most out of standard A500 hardware. It's
got very tasty graphics (with a Japanese flavour), fluid animation and
scrolling, and some brilliant title-music. It even takes advantage of
extra memory. (To reduce disk-loading, I think, and with three disks,
that's a good thing. Alas, the hard-drive install patch fails on my copy
of disk one, so I still have to play from floppy disks.)

    Like Risky Woods, an important element is killing enemies, picking up
their money, and buying upgrades at shops. But while Rastan (and Torvak
and Risky Woods) all have primarily one-way scrolling, in Leander you can
wander all over the levels, going back and forth, up and down ladders, and
even inside caves at will. Each level has a different objective (generally
an object to pick up), which you're informed of at the beginning.

    There are three worlds in all, each with a bunch of levels and a
distinct theme, so you'll be kept busy for quite some time. Fortunately
for a game this large, you get passwords as you progress, so you don't
have to start from the beginning each time.

    Unfortunately, the level design starts to unravel a little during
world three (although the Lemmings sub-level is amusing), which detracts a
bit from the perfection of the first two worlds, but not by much. Also
unfortunately, the old 512K Chip RAM limit rears its head again, so you
get to pick either sound effects or music but not both. The in-game music
isn't as great as the title music anyway, so I usually went with the sound
effects, which are fairly plentiful and complement the game better.

    But overall, if you like platform games, I don't see how you can go
wrong with Leander. Like Rastan, it just "feels" right. My only real
complaint is that, like a number of other games I completed, it promises a
sequel - "Tigrander" in this case - that never materialized as far as I

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