Elfmania (Second Review)


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.



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