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Last Duel

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Released: 1988

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Capcom

Developer: Capcom

Submitted by: Mike Bevan

Last Duel is a strange but playable shoot’emup-cum-racing cocktail where you’re given the keys to a nifty car/bike/plane transforming contraption which looks like its somehow escaped from kids TV cartoon M.A.S.K. In the spirit of many an 80’s arcade title there’s also a ‘hot chick’ to rescue should you make it to the end. Apparently she’s a princess, but strangely she doesn’t seem to have many clothes on.

The game features six vertically scrolling stages and alternates with each stage between two different game styles. The first stage has you motoring through a track-like course Spy Hunter-style (it’s more like Data East’s Burnin Rubber to be more specific if you take the ability to jump into account). The screen scrolls at a semi-controllable speed which can be increased or decreased with the joystick. Extra weapons can be collected in the normal shooter fashion and it’s just a question of blasting your way through the gauntlet of enemy cars and gun turrets until you reach the level boss. Later levels have gaps in the track that can only be traversed by ‘jumping’ over them (represented with the oft-used 80’s graphical trick of making your car sprite twice as big as it was on the ground). A minor annoyance is the fact that if you don’t keep up with the scrolling you can ‘collide’ with the bottom of the screen and blow up, even if you are only pootling along at about 15mph. These futuristic flying cars might look pretty but they’re not all that durable.

Every other stage your car cannily transforms into a spaceship and you take to the air in a series of bio-organic shooter levels. In ‘flying mode’ your ship has a ‘rolling’ capability which gives you a fiery Terra Cresta-like transformation to shield you from the enemy onslaught. In simultaneous two players mode it’s actually possible to control both the plane and car iterations at the same time on the ‘track’ stages (a concept later seen in SWIV) and unleash a team ‘surface attack’ when both of you are in plane mode. Cheekily though the designers deliberately made the game harder when two players are onscreen throwing a higher number of enemy formations your way.

Last Duel isn’t one of Capcom’s best arcade shooters, but it has a certain charm about it. Nowadays you can play it on Capcom Collection Volume 2 on the Playstation 2. It’s an underrated and enjoyable blast, with the car’em-up sections adding something fairly unique to the standard shooter flying bits and making up an enjoyable little old-school arcade action package. With or without the semi-nuddy ladies.

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