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Athena

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Released: 1987

Publisher: Imagine Software

Developer: Andrew Deakin, Ivan Horn & Martin Galway.

Submitted by: Stuart Hunt

If, like me, you are of a certain age. You’ll no doubt recall some of the more saucy adverts adorning our favourite computer magazines back in the day (1987 in this case). Game Over & Barbarian weren’t the only games to feature scantily clad females fighting for their equality (ahem!).   SNK fans will no doubt recognize the name Athena (Asamiya) from her exploits in the King of Fighters titles as part of the Psycho Soldier team.

However, her first starring role came as a Greek goddess striving to rid the land of evil by fighting through seven scrolling landscapes to face the Dark Overlord. For some reason, rather than donning armour from the beginning to face the oncoming hordes she puts on a bikini & goes forth to vanquish evil.  Athena’s journey begins in a forest with no weapons to call her own until acquiring various items along the way. The gameplay is reminiscent of a fantasy version of Green Beret. Enemies charge at our heroine from both sides of the gameworld, therefore, she’ll need to watch her back often.  Additionally, Athena will obtain various different weapons usually hidden in breakable blocks. Some weapons will prove more useful than others, however, once Athena has picked a weapon up she’ll be stuck with it until you find another. Further useful finds are winged boots that allow your heroine to ascend to new heights when jumping. This ability proves handy for reaching initially inaccessible areas.

Athena’s health is represented by an energy bar which will deplete on contact with hostiles. This will prove to be handy as she’ll be clobbered on many occasions  by fast moving foes. This point nicely leads on to the main drawback of a polished title. Having never played the arcade original I cannot make a direct gameplay comparison with the Spectrum version. However, taken on it’s own merits, the ZX version has very well drawn graphics, if monochromatic in appearance, with smooth scrolling. Together with a particularly good title tune, it’s clear that the programmers are well versed with the hardware.

The main issue comes with the games difficulty level, & particularly the movement of your protagonist who turns round with the speed of an 18 wheeler truck in quicksand. This issue is exacerbated by enemies arriving from both sides of the screen at a fair old lick resulting in your energy bar being constantly depleted. However, if your foes don’t get you, there’s always a time limit on each level to contend with. Fail to complete a level within the allotted time & it’s literally game over anyway. Still, if you like a challenge then maybe you should give this girl a whirl, but be warned, she’ll make you work for it!.