Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC
Developer: Rapheal Cecco
Submitted by: Gavin Eke
What have Stormlord, a cat & the spectrum version of Space Harrier all have in common? Answer, they all begin with nine lives.(although I've never personally tested that theory on any cats, living or dead!)
Many of us seasoned gamers will know how difficult titles were back in the day. However, if there was ever a clue about how challenging a game was, you only had to look at the number of lives the player began with to garner some idea.
The objective of Stormlord was to move your avatar across four scrolling landscapes whilst releasing all trapped fairies before day turned fully into night. Of course this was easier said than done as Stormlord had to solve various puzzles whilst avoiding environmental hazards & facing multiple enemies. Fortunately, you're not completely defenseless as your character can spew forth bullets to quash his adversaries. As platforming goes, Stormlord isn't rocket science, although there are a few nasty surprises such as the classic dissolving floor jape that will land you in a danger area, often causing a loss of life. Springboards litter the levels allowing the player to be propelled into a different area together with a trapped fairy or other important object to ensure progress. The puzzling aspect is relatively but pleasantly logical. Want to tempt a swarm of bees away from an essential key? Well, best you grab that pot of honey you saw earlier in the level to tempt them over, thereby allowing easy access to said key. However, despite this apparent logical simplicity, Stormlord then goes & spoils it all by being too darned difficult. Just when you solve one puzzle, the game then throws a ridiculous amount of enemies into the mix which your avatar cannot possibly cope with, without succumbing several times over. Environmental hazards can also lead to loss of life & some ensure that you will succumb at least once on each passing.
In essence, Stormlord is a crying shame. Rafaello Cecco has obviously put much time & effort into it's visual charm. There's an abundance of colour & detail in tandem with a smooth scrolling routine. Not to mention the well drawn half naked fairies (How could I forget them!) The soundtrack is very catchy together with plenty of spot effects (notable cheekiness is given to the wolf whistles when approaching semi-dressed fairies). The quality is there for all to see but unfortunately the frustration quotient is too high. It appears that the granting of nine lives before your character has even put one foot in front of tother, is a backhanded apology to the gamer. In a way, an admission that, yes, Stormlord is too hard & yes, maybe more play-testing may've been beneficial.