REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Blood Brothers
by Steve Marsden, David Cooke, S. Leighton, Ben Daglish
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
1988
Crash Issue 54, July 1988   (1988-06-30)   page(s) 78

The planet Sylonia is under constant attack from the Scorpions, a band of space convicts who specialise in small plundering raids. Hark and Kren, two 18-year olds, return from a jet-bike expedition to find their village burning, their home destroyed and their family dead. Shocked and confused they make a pact of blood brotherhood and resolve to seek out the murderers.

Controlled individually by two players, or alternately by a solo player, Hark and Kren make their way through the Scorpions' muttiloaded flick-screen complex of underground tunnels and mines. Subterranean platforms overhang hazardous rivers of sludge, anti-gravity surfaces cause the heroes to float, and mining wagons roll dangerously from side to side. Aliens, which need to be shot several times, home in on the heroes and drain their energy. Each brother has a jet-pack for extra mobility, while additional equipment (guns, fuel, weapons units) and looted jewels are scattered around the environment.

A display shows current energy, thrust and weapon capacity in the form of status bars. As energy and power get used up, the brothers are able share their resources on contact with each other.

Different sections of the mine area can only be accessed via the surface. Pressing fire at the mine entrance switches into jet-bike mode. Taking control to their technologically advanced aerial craft, each brother negotiates a 3-D environment of pillars and walls displayed using a first-person perspective. By weaving in and out of the narrow gaps and sooting obstructing blocks, the blood brothers attempt to reach the next underground entrance. A collision forces them back to the beginning, and if the bike runs out of fuel to in mid-flight, it explodes and the riders life comes to an immediate and premature end. The remaining brother carries on the mission in the hope that alone he may counter the Scorpions' threat.

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: fast monochrome jet-bike graphics with detailed and very colourful underground stage
Sound: good 128K and 48K title track. Fairly standard in-game effects
Options: one or two players, sound on/off, restart. Three individually loaded modules (environments) of play


'Blood Brothers is a tale of two levels. One - the jet-bike stage = is very playable and challenging, while the other is repetitive and aggravating. Both, however, feature credible graphics: the first stage is very reminiscent of Micromega's 3-D Deathchase and contains some super animation of monstrous walls and towering pylons as they speed towards you and (hopefully) zoom straight past! Once into the underground stage it's very easy to get quickly bored with the similar appearance of every screen - even though there's three modules - and in my mind this bring the game down to an average level. The recoil action of the man is very clever feature, but proves to be a real pain, being annoying rather than challenging. If you like the underground stage then the game will be a very appealing purchase; however, the average player will only find an average game.'
PAUL ... 75%

'Hmmm. I don't quite know what to make of this. It seems like Gremlin had two games kicking about and just joined them together. The jet-bike section is about the best, with 3-D pillars and a bike that just refuses to slow down! All dodging and weaving in and out of tight corners is incredibly addictive. The accompanying platform section lets the package down a bit games like this have been around for ages and they lose all their playability after only a few goes. There are three separately loaded modules in the game, and each one is basically the same, merely having a different layout and a few new aliens here and there. The platform section is neatly coloured although the 3-D section is monochrome. 48K sound effects are just the usual gun sounds, but on the 128K there is a fantastic tune at the beginning. Blood Brothers has the best of both worlds - platform and 3-D - which makes it a very addictive arcade game'
NICK ... 88%

'Gremlin have taken the ageing platform formula and spiced it up with an extremely innovative idea. The 3-D Jet-bike sequence is exciting enough to stand as a game on its own. Hair-raising gaps, seemingly impassable walls, looming obstacles and incredibly sharp turns make for continuous tension and suspense - not least because the whole procedure looks deceptively easy. What the Sylonian underground lacks in terms of originality, it makes up for with unusual effects. Weapons have a powerful recoil, so blasting willy-nilly through the platform complex needs to be tempered with a little strategic thought. Shoot your laser from an awkward place, and you may find yourself plunging to a sudden swampy death on the unexpected rebound. It's a pity that there's no one-character option, but this is an inconvenience rather than a major fault. Even taking into account this minor quibble you have a polished and very compulsive game. Buy it.'
KATI ... 89%

Presentation87%
Graphics85%
Playability88%
Addictive Qualities87%
Overall85%
Summary: General Rating: With two stages and three modules Gremlin Graphics have not only provided value for money but also two very attractive and playable games.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 32, August 1988   page(s) 27

Those chaps at Gremlin seem to have a fascination with blood. First came Blood Valley, now there's Blood Brothers. What next? Blood Cousins twice removed? Anyway on with the review.

Blood Brothers begins when twins, Hark (what light from yonder window breaks), and Kren return home to the planet Slyonia to find their family has been murdered and their home destroyed, by a band of space baddies called the Scorpions. Vengeance is vowed and armed with some sophisticated weaponry, the pair set out to single-handedly hunt down and destroy the Scorpions and recover the stolen lolly. All in a day's work, really.

You control (I'm not sure whether that's the right word), Hark or Kren as they jet-pac it around a multi-screen complex of platformy, geometric caverns, blasting aliens, collecting jewels, and then blasting some more aliens. But inertia and gravity effects means that one lax moment and hey, splato! you're dead. Also, when you fire, a massive recoil can batter you uncontrollably through several screens like a pinball. Ouch! The aliens are pretty dumb, they generally stick to plain ol' left/right, up/down movement patterns. But some, usually one per screen, have an irrepressible affection for you, and will home in for a bite of your rear. And as they're tenacious little so-and-so's, it takes six shots to oxidise an alien, and this, added to the recoil-syndrome, really makes kiting ET's a chore. You have little chance of surviving, what with well 'ard aliens and decreasing energy, ammo and jet-pac power.

The simultaneous two-player option is okay, but in such a fast-moving downright deadly game, there's little space for skill.

There's also little graphic or strategic incentive to reach the next screen. Each screen looks much the same as the last one, and getting past each doesn't exactly require a feat of mental dexterity.

But the one little trick that really perks up this game (and its score), is the jet-bike section. This is the bit where you straddle (fnar), your ultra high-tec but still quite trendy jet-bike and go off in search of other mine shafts. To get to the shafts you have to steer your bike through miniscule gaps and around tight corners in the impervious walls that bullet towards you, whilst avoiding (or shooting) the strategically placed towers and making sure you don't run out of fuel or ammo. This part is really addictive. I spent a sweaty, foul-languaged hour trying to get to a certain mine shaft. I succeeded eventually (using the well-worn hackers adage:- if at first you don't succeed. use a multiface) and joy upon joys, I could remember the route and re-succeeded on the re-play Remarkable.

The overall game takes place over three loadable modules with differing graphics, differing routes, and differing strategies - apparently. Every level, I found seemed to require exactly the same combination of frenetic blasting, swearing and incredible good luck. And all in all, it was a little boring.


Graphics7/10
Playability8/10
Value For Money6/10
Addictiveness7/10
Overall7/10
Summary: An annoying platform shoot 'em up, saved only by a savagely addictive sub-game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 75, June 1988   page(s) 6

Blood Brothers is yet another spacey-shooty-ouch-that-hurty-collecty arcade adventure. And despite that fact it is flamin' excellent!

You play one member of a huge team (well, 2) and you have to penetrate each of the 3 modules of the game and collect all of the gems. Easy peasy. Not so. At the time of writing, I've yet to complete a module, and I've been playing it for more than a few hours.

Before you can start collecting all the gems and bits and bobs (more of those later), you have to atcherley get to your module, and to do this, you have to get through the dreaded 3-D flight on a jetbike through a slabs and wall sequence. You are viewed from behind and slightly above, looking over your own shoulder, so to speak. The walls and slabs start a short distance form you, with a large gap in a wall to start with. These soon rush toward you at an alarming rate, and when I say alarming, I mean these self-abusers are FAST! You have to steer your little bike around and over obstacles, looking for the entrance to the module which looks like a curtain of snow on a black background. Finding it is one thing, steering into it is another. It takes an extraordinary amount or time to get used to the road handling of your new machine.

Climbing and diving is no hassle, but the left and right steering is a right royal pain. The bike nips from left to right quite nattily, but inertia ensures that it doesn't change its course back to flying straight immediately. So you usually end up overshooting the hole in the wall you were aiming for and crash into the large expanse of brick next to it. Not that that has any drastic effect. All it does is send you back to the start of the sequence. No big deal if you crash early in the game, but it's when you're nearing the entrance of the module that you tend to cry with frustration. The worst bit about this sequence is that it costs you fuel. Once you run out of fuel you lose control of the bike, and inevitably crash into the next wall, which causes you to explode in a glorious manner.

The whole graphical feel of this section is unmatched by any other kind of 3-D flying thingy ever. The scrolling is amazingly smooth, and the enlargement of distant objects is done very well indeed. Just one minor bug. It's difficult in places to tell whether you have passed an object or not. Of course, the obvious solution to that is to blow it up. Yes, you can blow things up as well!

Once through this bit, you're into the module and it's platform time again. Praise the Lord (OOooooooh, yeeeeeaaaah!), this one is good. Controlling your little sprite with his little jet pack you have to fly around some caverns shooting lots of strange shaped things and collecting gems, extra bullets, extra fuel and extra laser power.

I can see Blood Brothers being very popular in the near future. It has everything a good game needs, good graphics, good sound, great playability, a good few hours of addictive gameplay, and all for under a tenner.

Label: Gremlin
Author: S Marsden and D Cooke
Price: £7.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon


Overall8/10
Summary: Well above average arcade-adventure with emphasis on the arcade. Climb aboard yer jetbike.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 81, July 1988   page(s) 50

MACHINES: Spectrum/Amstrad/CBM 64
PRICE: £7.99 (Spectrum)/£9.99 (Amstrad)
SUPPLIER: Gremlin Graphics
VERSIONS TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad

Tut, tut, tut. In these super-health conscious days, Gremlin Graphics certainly hasn't been reading its inter-galactic government health warnings. Blood Brothers? Gasp!

It's not that many weeks ago that one of the television companies was slammed for showing an old film which included two chums becoming blood brothers. Shameful! Bad Example! Irresponsible, cried the critics.

So it comes as some surprise to find our heroes "draw blood from their wrists and press them together, mixing the blood, and combining their companionship." Now even with added health dangers, it's not a great idea to go around cutting your wrists. It's liable to hurt and be very, very messy.

And just why two brothers - who after all are blood brothers to begin with - should want to indulge in this dangerous and totally ridiculous ritual, is never explained.

Here endeth the health warning. Back to the game.

This is a space tale of slaughter and revenge, the ingredients of a thousand Westerns. Brothers Hark and Kren - aren't they two of the bods from A-ha - have been zooming around testing out their new Skywalk jet bikes. They return home to their village on the planet Sylonia and find the plate in ruins, the homes destroyed and their families slaughtered.

the thugs responsible for this heinous crime are a band of crazed space convicts known as the Scorpions, who roam the galaxy preying on the innocent, plundering, looting and stashing the swag in an underground city of tunnels and mines on Sylonia.

Understandably Hark and Kren are a little miffed at finding their home and loved ones are no ore. So addled by this tragedy are their brains that they indulge in the blood brothers ritual and swear revenge on the Scorpions.

Now Hark and Kren are, apart for a predilection for self-mutilation, completely non-violent. However, in their attempts to pass exams the brothers have built a range of sophisticated weapons. These fearsome hardware built as part of their A-level A-level Holocaust, are strapped to their sky bikes and the brothers set off for revenge.

The game opens with the bros at the mine entrance. Two people can play, one using the joystick, the other keyboard. You can choose to drop into the mine, start exploring, collecting gems, extra fuel etc and blasting the aliens. On the jet bike - much more fun, I found - you fly towards a mine entrance, avoiding blocks, blasting away others. It's a sort of maze and dodge 'em.

But basically, the game is much-of-a-muchness, playable but not addictive, entertaining but not memorable.


Graphics7/10
Sound5/10
Value7/10
Playability7/10
Overall7/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 8, July 1988   page(s) 53

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £12.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99

BROTHERS GRIM

One of the designers and chief programmers of Blood Brothers is Steve Marsden. who previously wrote the well-received The Final Matrix released by Gremlin about this time last year. His latest game follows in the footsteps of many that have attempted to add value by joining several game-styles together.

The planet Sylonia is a peaceful planet naturally vulnerable to the attentions of intergalactic space convicts such as the Scorpions. During a long summery day when the brothers Hark and Kren were testing their new Skywalk Jet Bikes the Scorpions paid Sylonia a visit. Hark and Kren returned home to find it in ruins and their parents dead. After burying their parents the two 18-year-olds swore a blood oath to earn vengeance, and set about adapting their Bikes for the battle to came. When every last weapon and device had been built into their bikes they set off in search of the evil Scorpions.

The blood brothers eventually track the convicts down to a mining planet. The game begins with the two brothers standing at the entrance to the first of numerous mines on the planet Scorpia. If both are sent into the first mine, one player can use keys to control Hark and another uses the joystick for Kren. This isn't really recommended, however, because if one player goes off-screen he is frozen until the other player joins him. In addition players can shoot one another, bouncing them off screen as easily as contact with the mines' aliens. The best strategy is undoubtedly for the brothers to tackle mines separately - pressing a key switches between the two.

DROWNING SLOWLY

The objective of Blood Brothers is to collect all the gems in each mine and destroy any matter generators. An additional task is collection of stores to replenish weapons and fuel tanks of Jet Bikes and the Jet Packs used to manoeuvre in the mines. Alien creatures attempt to kill the brothers by bouncing them around, and should one of them touch the rippling water a lethal undertow quickly disposes of him. (Since each character has only one life it can be irritating watching him slowly being drowned.) Creatures can be killed if shot five times, but care has to be taken over the guns recoil. When all the gems have been taken from a mine the brothers can fly onto the next one.

Standing on separate platforms at the mine entrance the brothers can choose to go to different mines, or by standing together to the same one. The Jet Bike section has you guiding your character through a city of blocks, only a few of which can be shot away. At the city's end stands the entrance to the next mine. If the bike crashes, you are sent back to the last mine entrance where you choose between going back into the mine - for Jet Bike fuel perhaps - or making another attempt at getting to the next mine.

On both Amstrad and Spectrum the game is divided into three different modules and once the main program has loaded you can choose which of these three to play and load it. Gameplay doesn't vary overmuch, though, and the general impression is one of two dated game-styles bolted together with only limited imagination.


Overall58%
Summary: The Spectrum has a marginally faster Jet Bike section, and a rather garish mine section, but in terms of playability is virtually identical. On the 48K there are reasonable spot FX , while the 128K has a good tune - although the game modules are still individually loaded.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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