Switchblade 2

Title		Switchblade 2
Game Type	Platform
Company		Gremlin, 1991
Players		1
HD Installable	Yes (With WHDLoad Patch)
Compatibility	Yes (With Patch)
Submission	Martin Smith Profiled Reviewer

Having restored the pride of his people by retrieving and repairing the
Fireblade in the first Switchblade title, Hiro wanted an easier life.
However, Havoc was soon back to cause more trouble, and our intrepid hero
was rushed back into action.

The game is a platform-based adventure, with a variety of sections.
Initially you start above ground, but soon reach the first underground
section. This resembles the original Switchblade, in that each part of the
level is revealed by getting close to it. Level two is outdoors, featuring
a set of vertical progressions across landscapes with gaps which can be
circumnavigated, while level 3 is largely flat, with bonuses on higher
ground. Not sure what comes later, but I can't wait to see. The levels are
large and varied, with lots of hidden sections to uncover, and something
new to surprise the player in every level, including sloped sections,
moving platforms and flying enemies.

There's a shop section, which is accessed roughly halfway through each
level, offering lots of improved weapons, plus energy recharges (half
energy costs 15 credits and full energy costs 20, perhaps due to economies
of scale). The most useful is the dragon, which hovers around you, and can
be coaxed towards taking out most enemies with a single hit.

Visually it is extremely impressive, with very well drawn and animated
sprites. The combination of organic and metallic on some of the enemies
is highly effective. The backgrounds on level 2 are nothing short of
jaw-dropping, although later titles like Lionheart and Assassin were much
prettier as a whole. A lot of effort clearly went into the atmosphere and
Japanimation feel, although the use of hotdogs and burgers as the energy
boosters is annoyingly clichéd, anachronistic and misplaced. Having both a
gun and a sword works well, making hand-to-hand combat effective and
making it reasonable to take on flying creatures. Your character's 'Super
Leap' move makes life much easier, and created the ideal strategy for
avoiding the machines which fire bullets out of the wall - stand out of
their range and repeatedly jump and fire.

Its not completely without niggling problems though. There are quite a
few hidden spikes in the ground, which have a habit of coming up at
inopportune moments, and can't really be planned for. I'm not happy about
game elements that test memory rather than skill, and can artificially
prolong a game.

One or two of the character's moves could have been better - in
particular, getting on to ladders was a nuisance, and Hiro's refusal to
automatically continue across a second overlapped ladder was awkward,
illogical and infuriating. As there are firing beams aimed across the
ladders, and bad guys ready to pounce, you'll lose lives in infuriating
ways. Compared to most platform-based games these are rare though and–
careful planning usually does the trick.

Still, all in all it made for a tour de force of action adventuring, one
of the Amiga’s best. Only Thalion's Lionheart is really of a comparable
standard on a 68000 Amiga.

Overall 90%

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