Although the title of this game is Kwah!, perhaps the loading screen title of Kwah! is more to the point. The game is too unfriendly to be linked with mainstream adventuring, requiring a very precise and linear solution pathway to be followed to completion. The game however is slick, the graphics very well done, and it does allow all the usual adventure inputs. so what the heck - until someone can say just what this game is I might as well review it here.
The story here concerns an unlikely hero, Kevin, who transmutes into the superhero Redhawk who, naturally enough, can fly. But as the story goes, he is unable to do this at the start of the plot - due to some forcefield around the gates of the Lee Rehabilitation Centre on the outskirts of the city. Kevin, who seems to be a journalist onto his own story, goes there armed with tape recorder and press card to find out what happened to him before he lost his memory.
The game commences at 10:27am, and the seconds slowly tick away as you work out what to do with Redhawk at the gates of the Lee Centre. Along the bottom of the screen the game reveals its links to the adventure world: GET, DROP, SAY, KWAH, EXAM, PLAY, STOP, RECD, STO (for STORE), REC (for RECALL) are accessed via Symbol Shift and the numeral keys along the top of the keyboard. No's 3 and 4 together come up with SAY KWAH, and in this way Redhawk can change to Kevin and vice versa. PLAY, STOP, RECD refer to tape recorder operations, the rewinding of the tape apparently deemed unnecessary when playing back! STO AND RECALL aren't mentioned in the instructions I received but presumably have something to do with RAM SAVE.
Input is not only achieved by using the keywords provided, but also by typing out words as in any adventure. The language needed to achieve any action is very narrow, or to put it another way, compared to most adventures this gauge is very unfriendly.
The strength of Kwah! as a game lies in its cartoon strip graphics along the top half of the screen. The three pictures in the series are very well done and very true to the atmosphere of a cartoon comic. If you input for a character to say something (even if it's rude), up it will come in that characters speech bubble. Inside the Lee Centre good old Doctor Lee says ' Welcome Mr Oliver', and then, 'Follow me'. Kevin follows Lee until he stops and says Well then....' This is where the game slows a bit, but there is a way of speeding it up. If you type in WAIT the program flicks through a great wad of comic strips in quick succession, each one with the print 'Time passes' on it. Direction arrows point out the exits at the present location. Should you input something it doesn't understand, and you'd have to be a genius not to do this every other move, then the program stops counting down time until you press SPACE.
Kwah! is a very unusual game. It will not appeal greatly to mainstream adventure enthusiasts, but will strongly appeal to comic strip fans. Once you accept the games limited vocabulary, you can then sit back and enjoy a highly original and graphically pleasing game.
Input facility: sentences and keywords
Do you remember Redhawk? That strange comic strip-type adventure about a chap by the name of Kevin who found himself in hospital, without his memory, except for the word 'Kwah'.
Saying this strange word suddenly transformed him into a super hero called Redhawk (who, rumour had it, was currently running neck and neck with Spiderman in the Super Hero of the Year competition, but enough of idle gossip and back to the review).
Redhawk had middling reviews despite its questionable gameplay. But mainly due to its innovative style comic strip graphics which was a bold venture by the programmers.
But it sold well across the board, hence Melbourne House accepting this sequel - Kwah!
The original game lacked a few things to make it special, the plot was a bit thin, the graphics while OKish really needed jazzing up a bit to try and imitate a real comic strip. The vocabulary was very small and very fussy and the game was actually quite slow to play.
In Kwah there have been improvements. The plot has been carefully thought out, the parser is greatly improved.
What about the plot? Well, Kev is still trying to piece together his past and after some research decides that he must have stayed at a place called the Lee Rest and Rehabilitation Centre at some time.
So, the opening scenes are Redhawk landing at the gates of the Lee Centre and finding strangely that he can't take off again. Then all sorts of things happen to our brave hero. Gassed - tied up - gagged - locked in a padded cell - oh dear, Kev's in trouble. He can't even say Kwah, 'cos he's gagged. Or can he?
Kwah! is good fun, and much better than Redhawk. There are in fact three objectives in the adventure - one is to escape the complex and return to civilisation with a scoop for the paper - the other two you'll have to work out for yourself.
Label: Melbourne House
Reviewer: Gary Rook
SUPPLIER: Melbourne House
Yes, he's back. The one and only Redhawk - the world's first computer generated superhero. This time he finds himself up against a mysterious and inscrutable oriental called Dr Lee who apparently holds the secrets to Redhawk's Origin.
Dr Lee is up to no good in the Lee Rest and Rehabilitation Centre, where Redhawk's alter ego Kevin - Kevin? Is that really any sort of name for a superhero? - remembers spending some time in the dim and distant past.
Kevin/Redhawk is anxious to learn more about his past so he heads for the Lee Centre - and this is where you, dear reader, come into the picture.
Talking of pictures - you'll recognise the screen layout from the previous Redhawk game. There are three picture panels at the top of the screen which either show your last three "moves" or scroll around automatically if something you've done has triggered a chain reaction. It really is like reading a comic book. Speech bubbles appear from the characters and boxes containing info or prompts also turn up.
Below the pictures you'll see your inputs in a message window. There's also a little compass showing exits from your location, and a couple of energy bar graphs.
Along the bottom of the screen are words which relate to the top row of Spectrum keys. Using these you can control the neat one key input which saves a lot of typing much used words like examine or GET. You use these keys to control Kevin's tape recorder - make it record, play, stop etc. More about this later.
There's also a RECALL key which enables you to quit the game at any point and get back to the beginning. Remember to press the symbol shift key before you try to use the one key input technique, otherwise it won't work.
You can also STORE the game at any stage. Do this regularly as you play and hitting the RECALL button will take you back to our last move. Useful!
The game starts with Redhawk dropping out of the sky and landing outside the Lee Centre. For a while you'll fiddle about trying to move - which you won't be able to. Redhawk can't even fly because some thing is keeping him well and truly grounded.
After a while it might strike you to say KWAH! and change to Kevin. Don't try typing this in without using the single key technique otherwise the computer will just look puzzled and the game freezes up until you hit the space bar.
This is one of the game's less entertaining features. If you key in something the parser doesn't like the game locks up. Can get a wee bit irritating this!
Anyway, as Kevin, you find you've got a press pass and a tape recorder. Show the press pass to the security camera and the gates to the centre open and you're off and running.
Inside the centre you'll meet Dr Lee and you can use your best investigative interview techniques to get him to reveal secrets about the centre which you'll need later on.
But mention anything about superheroes or Redhawk and as quick as it takes Lee to nip out and release a cloud of gas into the room you'll find yourself gagged and bound inside a padded cell.
Shades of Hulk here as adventurers everywhere will know all too well. But if you've used your trusty tape machine to record a certain useful word you'll be laughing 'cos stupid old Dr Lee has forgotten to take the tape machine away from you. Thought this guy was supposed to be an evil mastermind?
By the way, you can use the tape to record useful conversations as well, giving you the ability to keep clues about your person.
Once you've escaped the padded cell with the aid of some magic plastic you're free to explore Lee's centre, discover a young, fellow super-person, find out more about your origin AND save the world from Dr Lee by bringing him to justice. All in a day's work for your average superhero.
The youngster you find in another cell is a result of one of Dr Lee's experiments. Like Kevin/Redhawk this little chap has the ability to change into a superbeing. But he seems to be a bit odd as he keeps shouting things like; "I am green, I am green!" Which might mean he's concerned about conservation and trees - but I doubt it somehow.
The centre is inhabited by guards which Redhawk can knock out. But always remember to hide the body!
Like the original game, KWAH is a hybrid adventure. Purists who hate graphics won't like it. Arcade adventurers probably won't understand it. And out and out zappers won't want to even contemplate coming near it. But they should ALL try it.
KWAH! is an excellent and original game which everyone should at least have a look at.
Redhawk fans will rush out and grab it as soon as it hits the shelves. Comic book fans will be close behind.
Bored with other mild mannered adventure games? Then don't say BLAH!, or NYAAH!, say KWAH!
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB