Take part in your own American Civil War in this masterpiece of Spectrum programming from Infogrames where comic strip heroes created by Lambil and Cauvin, 'Les Tuniques Bleues' or 'The Blue Jackets' (who they?) come to life.
The objective of the game is simple. Eliminate all the enemy armies across America to ensure victory for your side. You do this by moving your troops around the States, launching surprise attacks on your enemy's forts, hijacking trains and having full scale battles across blood stained fields. There are four main parts to the game, each packed with excellent animated graphics, lots of colour and real toe-tapping tunes.
You start with a map of the USA. The armies are shown by soldiers representing good and bad on each State. The type of flag there shows who it belongs to. Running around the edge of the map is a railway line and on the coast ships sail up and down. If you attack a fort you go into an arcade sequence where the fort scrolls along and you have to dodge the guard dogs, ammo boxes and knives coming from the enemy to reach the flag at the far end. Roles are reversed with you defending if an enemy decides to have a go at you.
Intercepting a train is done in a similar way to the fort. The train runs by and you climb up the side and run along the tops of the carriages, jumping the gaps to make it to the driver. Watch out for those knives again though! Engaging in battle is a funny game too. The foot soldiers, horse and cannon operators are all shown on a large field with bridges and rivers separating the two sides. The first army to be totally destroyed by the other is the winner and that state becomes the prize.
North and South really shows up a lot of other games by being just so slick in presentation and graphics. There are animated sequences as an introduction, and when you win and lose a game, as well as all the excellently drawn and animated arcade sequences. Play is a little puzzling at first but you easily get the hang of it and you can vary the difficulty. You do this by selecting options at the beginning of a bout. You can choose to have the ships on or off, an important decision, as they bring reinforcements from Europe. You can have Indians on or off to save being attacked and change the weather conditions which stop an army moving.
For those of you who don't like playing arcade sequences all the time there's also an option to stop them: battles are then decided for you by the computer. North and South is not to be missed. If more games were like this there wouldn't be talk of the Spectrum dying. Three cheers for all those involved (hip, hip, hooray!).
NICK ... 95%
'I'm surprised and very pleased to see that the programmer has managed to cram so much into a Speccy game! The graphics are colourful and highly detailed, and the hilarious civil war jingles and tunes complement the action perfectly. As with all two-player games North and South is best played against a mate. This way it's great fun to blast the hell out of one another and still be friends (unless one of you's a bad loser). It's very rare for me to mark a game over 95%, but I love North and South to death (Bang! You're dead -Ed).'
MARK ... 97%
Cripes! This goes back a bit. Andy and Matt reckon everyone was addicted to the 16-bit game of North And South when YS was still a sister mag to Zero. (Talk about a pair of old cronies, eh? That was over a year ago!) Anyway, here's the Speccy version, so let's jump straight in with the old funkometer and see what's what...
Basically, it's French, it's a sort of American Civil War strategy-cum-arcade game, and it uses characters from a comic strip called Les Tuniques Bleues (which is also from France, is supposed to very funny and looks a bit like Asterix in, well, blue tunics really). For those who are crap at History (like me), the Blue Tunics were the Northern, or Union, soldiers (the goodies who wanted to free the slaves) and the Confederacy/Rebels/blokes in grey uniform were from the south (and wanted to keep the slaves and make them pick cotton and horrible things like that).
Right, so what've we got? Well, first there's the option screen (one or two-player, which side, whether you want some disasters thrown in - take a look at the box-off below for more info), and then it's on to the map proper.
This is split up into states, and it's where you make all your strategy decisions. Armies are represented by single soldiers, with flags indicating which territories are held by which army (if an area doesn't have a flag then it's unoccupied and up for grabs). As for battles, those come about in one of two ways - either you attack your enemy, or, erm, they attack you. (Simple, eh?) The screen then does a bit of a costume change and we're into...
The battlefield. Hurrah? The best bit! It's a sort of oblique bird's-eye-view jobby, with you looking down across either a canyon or a field, and your units (artillery, cavalry and infantry) shown up in little groups. It's basically a case of choosing which unit to fight with and then blasting the peanuts out of all the varmints who are trying to do much the same to you. The graphics are really nice and chunky, but smooth too (the horses are especially good), and when I went charging in over the bridges, well I could fair feel the wind flowing through my hair, I really could (and then I hit Retreat just as soon as General Wotnot came charging back at me! Aargh!)
Nope, it's certainly no picnic out there, which means after a few battles you're bound to want to stock up on some more men (well, I did anyway but that's probably 'cos I was so crap!). What you need is money, and this is where the towns come in. If you manage to occupy two towns that are linked up by railway (we're back to the map here, folks) then at the end of your move a train will run between them with some gold. Get five bags worth and blimey! If that's not a new army over there!
OI! WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ARCADE BITS?
Hold your horses (ho ho) - I was just getting to those! First there's one with you sprinting along the top of a train trying to get the driver's seat to stop it - it loads when you break up the opposition's railway line by taking over a state between two towns (actually it's rather similar to the bit in Back To The Future 3. Spooky, eh?). And then the other one happens when you snatch a town (which automatically happens when you snatch a state). Again its a horizontal scroller, only this time you're in an enemy fort throwing knives and punches at the enemy, and scuttling along as fast as your merry heart will let you to get to the flagpole and raise your standard. (Phew!)
And that's it! Confused? (Well, go back and read it again then!) North And South really is the biz. Most people find straightforward strategy stuff a bit dull (like, say, Crete across the page) - what this game does is show how addictive it can suddenly get when you throw in some juicy arcade bits (After all, if it's you who's actually doing the fighting then its bound to hold your attention for a bit longer.)
And it's not just the gameplay that makes the game so spanky - the graphics are excellent! The fort and train bits, the loading and option screens, they're all really colourful and like the original 'strip'. It's full of really nice little touches too. There's the loading screen of a silhouetted tunique doing the bugle call and the crowd scenes at the end (if you win that is - lose and it's a carnaged battlefield). And when you fail in the arcade bits your man drops to the ground and starts crying, pummeling the ground with his fists. Cute!
North And South is a lot of fun. And intelligent with it. One of the last things we saw from Infogrames was Sim City of course, and, despite the arcade stuff in here, this has much the same quiet style (and value for money). Jolly highly recommended!
Sacre Blu! Ce'st formidable. Only last month, Infogrames picked up a an SU Gold award! ("Mon dieu", he said just before he fainted and had to be resuscitated with a clove of garlic.)
North and South is a strategy arcade game that puts you in the trousers of an American soldier during the Civil War. (Well not ACTUALLY in his trousers - they might not fit too well). You can play against another player or the computer and are either North or South, depending upon your political preferences. You must destroy the Confederates (or Yankees) and can start at any year between 1861 and 1864 and the map of America, will show you the correct historical state of the battle at that time and all you then have to do is to unsheath your sabre and charge!
The options menu is extensive - there are three optional disaster scenarios; indians which may attack at any time, storms which move around and stop all fighting and European reinforcements which are dropped off to whichever side happens to own South Virgina (Lordy, lord. I just love y'all walking through my lounge!)
North and South is a great game that will cover all options for both arcaders and strategists alike, thanks to the optional strategy mode where the computer determines the outcome of battles. There's a wealth of fun to be had here so, as they say in France, "Alez!"
Price: £12.99 Tape, £17.99 Disk
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
ANDERA'S COMMENT: I just love the pretty graphics y'all. It's just such a shame that they didn't have any of those Southern women in those fine lace dresses with the bustle.
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