Format reviewed: Amiga 1200
Submitted by: Gavin Eke
Elves eh? Never really considered them a violent bunch, but clearly Terramarque thought so & developed a 2D Fighter using Elves as the main protagonists.
The Amiga was starved of Street Fighter action, so several developers stepped into the breach to satiate gamers desire for fisticuffs action. Team 17's Body Blows, although technically accomplished, never really came close to replicating Street Fighters playability. So it was with great anticipation that Renegade were publishing a superb looking fighter.
The premise of Elfmania (apart from the fighting) was primarily based around currency. At the beginning of the game you were offered three characters to choose from. The reasoning was that you could only afford the basic fighters in the early stages. Accruing money through fighting bouts against other elves meant that the player could then purchase better & stronger fighters. Elfmania had a map screen which illustrates the various areas/stages in the game. Like a videogame equivalent of Connect 4, the player had to win six matches in a row to enable their Elf to be named King. These victories would be marked with a “X” on the map screen & six crosses in a row equals ultimate victory.
Despite their Elfish looks, the characters were lifted straight out the videogame rule-book. There is the quick but weak female fighter, muscle bound all rounder bloke fighter & a large, slow but powerful sumo-elf .
Due to a one button joystick control method, fighting is more akin to Yie Ar Kung fu than Street Fighter or Fatal fury. No flashy combinations here but single strikes & one easy to initiate super move where your elf spins manically towards the hapless opponent. Coins/Money are acquired by successfully striking your foe which can then be comically smacked back into the unfortunate rival. Bonus stages punctuate the action whereby additional funds can be obtained through hitting various vases & treasure chests releasing coinage.
Despite having been hotly anticipated by the Amiga press, Elfmania proved to be a false dawn for Amiga Beat-em up fans. Although graphically sumptuous & professionally presented, Elfmania was severely lacking in the gameplay department. The fighting action is basic with the strikes lacking any impact. The use of money is an interesting idea but perhaps would've been better applied by allowing your elf to be trained up with his/her abilities improved RPG style rather than purchasing additional characters.
Whether it was the limitations of the single button joystick control or Terramarque's lack of understanding of what makes an accomplished fighter, Elfmania ended up demonstrating the Amiga's graphical grace whilst highlighting it's inability to match the consoles efforts in complexity & depth. Maybe if it was designed with a joy-pad & CD drive in mind then things could've been different. However, the CD32 was too little too late.