Title ElfMania (Second Review) Game Type Beat-em-up Players 1 or 2 Copatibility OCS, ECS and AGA (no enhancements for better chipsets.) HD Installable Patch Available Submission Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer Review BRIEF DESCRIPTION Elfmania runs along the lines of your standard fighting game: Two players face off against each other in a pretty but irrelevant landscape, and try to beat their opponent to the ground with fists, feet, and the occasional weapon. Apart from a money-based lives system, and a customizable route towards the big bad guy (who for some strange reason is good rather than bad), its pretty much Street Fighter with more cuteness, eye-candy, and a large enough dollop of its own style to keep you enticed. SPECIAL HARDWARE/SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS A joystick. Two if you want to play head to head against another carbon-based life form. 1 Meg of RAM is certainly necessary. COPY PROTECTION The usual disk-based copy protection. MACHINES USED FOR TESTING A500, 0.5Meg Chip, 0.5Meg Fast, Kickstart 1.2, external Floppy drive, Thompson RGB monitor. A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD, GVP Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI), additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor. A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 Multisync monitor. (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU) Elfmania performs the same on all these machines. Loading is a bit faster on Amigas with more CPU grunt to decompress the data, and is significantly faster with a hard disk install (though some time is still taken for data decompression.) A reasonable bit of disk-swapping is necessary if you're unfortunate enough to be running it from a single floppy-drive. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Wow. Gorgeous. Is this really just ECS? It looks too good! ..In fact, I had to see it running on the old A500 I had at the time to be convinced that it would look so gorgeous on that hardware. And it did. I was impressed. Now, once you're done admiring the visuals we get down to it. Its an easy game to get into: its your standard fighting controls. Walk left, walk right, jump, crouch, and do the various blocks we never bother with when it comes down to it. Fire accesses various punches and kicks dependent on the joystick direction. With some short work the first opponent isn't so difficult to dispatch. GENERAL OPINION This is a nice fighting game. I mean, not only is the presentation absolutely top notch: Unparalled ECS graphics, various presentation elements and music playing while the next bit loads, and a reasonable soundtrack keeping the momentum. Not only do we have that, but the game is easy to pick up and hard to put down. The moves are a little limited. That is to say there aren't a whole lot of them. (This is the "easy to pick up" part.) But the main area that needs to be mastered is their delivery. Timing is important. Once you get that right the enemies go down a whole lot quicker. But then they twist the formula a little, and this is probably where the lack of moves isn't so important anymore. As you progress your enemies become quite a bit tougher. You may know your moves well, but they're only scratching your foe. The twenty hits you got in are easily cancelled out by the one they get back. To really hurt them you're going to have to use your accumulated funds to purchase someone who can put some more weight behind those punches. So becoming a master at the 2000 moves and variations your character can pull out isn't the game. You've probably got less than ten moves here. But you're going to have to learn them for several of the characters. And each of them has a super-move too. Not so important against experienced foes, but it does add a little spice to the mix. Learning some of the people can be tricky, because you can't choose the big guys straight away. But your path to the advanced levels is quite flexible. You can start tackling harder levels as soon as you can afford someone for them. (In fact you can take on hard levels from the outset, but you probably won't get far.) So clearing out 20 easier levels isn't necessary if you want to get straight onto the heavy training. That can be saved for a more serious campaign later. Another interesting twist to this game is the money. As you beat your opponent down they lose their coins. They bounce around the screen, and you can actually hit coins towards your enemy, causing them some damage if you hit. And once they die it rains yet more money, which can be hit for collection. There is also a bonus round, which naturally involves money. It feels a lot like asteroids: Break the big money-earns into little ones and break them down into coins. All flying around the screen and awaiting collection to boost your lives and score. The bonus appears on the map as another round, and so the player is free to choose it or not. Similarly they can freely choose which location they wish to fight in next, trying for specific opponents, some of which can be seen immediately, while others are chosen randomly on entering. Only the general difficulty levels of a place is known. But the player always has free choice where to fight next. CONCLUSIONS Nice game. Simple, but with a few nuances and flexibility in gameplay that keep it from feeling simple. It has enough character of its own that it holds its place well amongst the many fighting games already available. Its fits in well with Shadow Fighter, Capital Punishment, IK+, and the like, because there is no other fighter on the Amiga quite like ElfMania. Oh, and all the characters are Elves, as you've probably guessed. It's easy to forget, as apart from all the characters having pointy ears, there's much the same character variety you'd see in Street Fighter. If you like fighting games you should definitely check this one out, as you might well find you've never played anything quite like it. If you don't, checking it out anyway might well introduce you to a very accessable example of the genre. If you don't like it you'll probably still have been blown away enough by the presentation to feel the experience was worthwhile.