by Canvas: Roy Gibson, Simon Butler, Steve Cain, Martin Calvert
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 37, February 1987   (1987-01-22)   page(s) 114

Highlander is based on one of last year's more unusual films. Immortals it seems aren't just the stuff of rumour or legend - they actually exist and roam through time in an endless battle with one another. Ultimately 'there can be only one'.

Highlander the game is based on just one element of the film - the sword fighting sequences. During these, the hero, McLeod, has to confront and kill three other immortals. The only possible method of executing an Eternal is to behead him, and this is McLeod's aim when he faces opponents. The immortal who finally triumphs becomes the holder of 'the knowledge', and consequently the saviour or destroyer of the world.

The game can be played in two ways: you can be McLeod who must fight against a series of increasingly competent competitors. Alternatively two players can fight each other in a head-tohead, one playing McLeod and the other taking on the character of one of his adversaries.

Each of the three levels is loaded separately and has a different setting and a different immortal for McLeod to try to decapitate. The first section features Ramirez, the least skilled of the immortals. Fizir is the second opponent - an ancient and skilled contender who is malicious and uncompromising in his fighting. If his head is removed then it's on to the final level which is set on rooftop in New York where McLeod faces the most deadly of all the immortals - the dreaded Kurgen. Kurgen is the most proficient swordsman of the everlasting fraternity, and killing him confers the 'knowledge' onto McLeod and the World is safe again. Failure however has disastrous consequences...

McLeod has fourteen different sword fighting moves at his disposal, accessed in traditional beat 'em up style. McLeod can move right or left across the screen and can attack or retreat, crouch down or leap into an attack position ready for the kill. Most of the fighting takes place with McLeod in a standing position. In this position McLeod has two defensive moves to protect his neck and body along with six attacking positions. In the kneeling position there are three attack modes glowing McLeod to defend his neck, head and feet.

Energy bars at the bottom of the screen indicate the status of the two combatants - fighting and taking hits costs energy while resting restores it slowly.

Control keys: Player One- W up, D right, X down, A left, S fire; Player Two- U up, M down, K right, H left, J fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: bleak; mainly black and white with a coloured border
Graphics: extended pixel graphics which look blocky and awkward
Sound: spot effects (but not many)
Skill levels: three
Screens: one main screen on each level

'Highlander is yet another trite beat 'em up. This time your weapon is a sword so you can hack off the head of your opponent. The tie-in with the film (the head-hacking sword) is so vague that it may as well not exist. The game itself isn't really state-of-the-art. It is very easy to get bored with hack 'n slashing, simply because there isn't enough variation. Graphically I am disappointed; the characters are colourless, chunky and badly animated and the backgrounds are unvaried. The sound is less than good - there are no tunes and very few effects. Highlander is not a good game.'

'Highlander was one of my favourite films of the summer, so when OCEAN grabbed the rights to the computer version I was sum that they could make a great computer game out of it. To make the game like the film OCEAN should have gone towards an adventure/arcade scenario. As it is, I find it totally boring and quite unplayable. The graphics are very simple expanded sprites and the backgrounds contain a bit of colour. They don't look very impressive. Pity it's not as good as the film.'

'What FAT graphics! Not something we see that often on the Spectrum. That was the first thing that struck me, and the second thing was the fact that I found it very difficult to win a battle. No doubt I'll get better if I practice, but frankly, I can't be bothered. Highlander is more than a tiny bit boring; despite the fact that there is a reasonable variety of moves, not all of them seem to work properly. I can't understand why McLeod turns into a blob, liquidises, and throws his molten form at Ramirez. Highlander isn't one of the best games around. It doesn't appeal to me.'

Value for Money53%
Summary: General Rating: A disappointing game that bears little relevance to the film.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 58, January 1987   page(s) 52

'There can be only one' says the cassette inlay but the game of Highlander, sadly just ain't it.

It's all been loosely based around the patchy movie in which Conner MacCieod has to kill all his brother immortals to win a mysterious prize - which in the film turns out to be fertility. And the mode of execution? Nothing less than blood-squirting decapitation.

In the three-part game you train as an expert Samuri swords player before you can despatch your opponent and take your just rewards. There are three game Loads the difference being a new background is loaded as a Screens and a new opponent.

Only the top third of the backdrop contains an illustration and the rest of the screen is kept black to avoid colour clash with the main figures which one big (about half-Dark Sceptre size) and well animated.

Your first opponent is Ramirez. He's a Spanish gay blade and, as your teacher, he knows he's unlikely to survive.

You get a sword-play hint sheet but it turns out to be next to useless once you start to play. The basic move is duck, joystick down, and perhaps advance, joystick left.

Highlander is all about energy and, in the film, when you win a fight you take on the life force of the vanquished. It's not a fact which has been assimilated by the programmers. If you kill your quarry his blood - and little else - spurts all over you after his head's toll off - screen with a unique splatter sound effect which can only be found on the Spectrum.

You can tell you're losing when MacCleod sits down on the job and refuses to get up. Shortly after your energy slips into the red sector - not good.

Kill Ramirez with a dazzling display of attack, timing and position and your move on to the next background, in modern day New York. He's a shady character called Fizir. Here the game and film part company. MacCleod does battle a Saracen at the beginning of the film but his name's Fasil, not Fizir.

Yet more attacking play and you're through to the final conflict between you and the evilsome Kurgen.

It was here I was defeated.

The third battle is very difficult to win, and you'd think the challenge would make a good game. You'd be wrong. The three parts to the game are virtually identical and I was losing interest long before I got to the third part.

And there's almost no technique or finesse required in the fighting. Relentlessly slam the joystick and keep on till you win. Let up for a second and you're dead. So's the game.

Label: Ocean
Author: Canvas
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert


Summary: No prizes here. Ocean probably paid big bucks for the license and has ended up with a golden turkey.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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