Joe Blade is back and he's as addictive as ever. Anyone who has played Joe Blade I and II will already know the kind of format the games take, and will probably be rushing out to by this one as I write.
This time Joe has gone and lumbered himself with a load of hostages to rescue from a building. If you've ever seen the film Die Hard starring Bruce Willis you will know the sort of story line (I wonder where Players got the idea from?). There are various objects that can be picked up around the building to help our guard gunning friend, these include grenades, detonators, bombs and disks. The lift system running up and down the building is a very useful way of moving up a floor, in fact it's the only way! Collecting lift passes will let you go further up the building each time.
A main feature of the other Joe Blade games were the little puzzles you encountered every so often, and number three has thankfully kept these in. They allow Joe access to security rooms. All these neat touches are what makes Joe Blade so successful, coupled with an excellent quality of graphics and sound. Hours of enjoyment: an instant hit with me, take a look at it for yourself.
How many successful budget-only series of games can you name? Well, there are CodeMasters' 'Simulator' games, but they are less of a genuine series than a load of different games with the 'Simulator' tacked onto the end. Joe Blade, on the other hand, is a genuine series - this third one being, yes, you guessed it, the third to be released - and all of them have been massively successful. There's a good reason for this - they're rather good. Admittedly, JBIII doesn't add an awful lot to the formula - Joe still finds himself wandering around the same passages and corridors, shooting people and picking things up - but as with all the best sequels there's just a bit more to it then the first two games. Correct me if I'm wrong, in fact, but I suspect that III is a good deal bigger in playing area, as well as more sophisticated in construction, and, if only for that reason, it's far harder to finish. Initially sceptical, I found myself drawn further and further and further into the game, almost coming to the point of no return - the Map Drawing Stage. Fortunately I pulled back just in time otherwise I'd be playing it still and there would be nothing but a white space on these two pages, but it was close. Joe Blade fans will know what to expect and will probably already have bought it. But others will enjoy it as well - it's clever, tricky and worth your attention. Recommended.
Spectrum, Amstrad £2.99
Ol' Joe's out on patrol again, aiming to put an end to the devilish goings-on of his arch enemy, Crax Bloodfinger. Cheeky Crax has kidnapped six top politicians and is holding them to ransom in his secret fortress. Worse still, the hideaway is packed with primed explosive devices and, of course, he's brought in loads of mercenaries to guard against any would-be rescuers. Such trivialities won't put Joe off though, and he storms in.
Joe Blade III is strikingly similar to the first Joe Blade game, almost to the point of being a straight copy. However, that didn't put me off playing the game for quite a while, and having a lot of fun in the process. The bomb disposal sub-games get the adrenalin flowing, and the map layout is as fiendish as before. If you don't mind paying three quid for a game that's almost the same as the prequel, then buy Joe Blade III - it's not bad at all really.
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