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SummaryGenerally an impressive game if you can face some of the frustrating sections
The GoodThe levels are large and varied, with lots of hidden sections to uncover, and a range of scrolling styles and enemies. The combination of organic and metallic on some of the enemies was highly effective. There's a great deal of originality in the enemies, especially the air strike planes on level 3, and the usage of some large enemies more than once with different surrounding challenges (similarly to the goose in SWIV) is very clever.
Visually it was extremely impressive, with very well-drawn and animated sprites. The backgrounds on level 2 in particular are nothing short of jaw-dropping. A lot of effort clearly went into the atmosphere and Japanimation feel.
The gameplay was nicely varied, with levels indoors and outdoors. The shop section was one of the most versatile at the time, offering lots of improved weapons, plus energy recharges (half energy costs 15 credits and full energy costs 20, perhaps due to economies of scale). I particularly like the dragon, which hovers around you killing everything in its path, allowing you to coax it where you like with some skill.
Having both a gun and a sword worked well, making hand-to-hand combat effective and making it reasonable to take on flying creatures. Your character's 'Super Leap' move made life much easier, and created the ideal strategy for avoiding the machines which fire bullets out of the wall - stand out of their range and repeatedly jump and fire.
The BadLater titles like Lionheart and Assassin were much prettier as a whole. The use of hotdogs and burgers as the energy boosters is annoyingly clichéd, anachronistic and misplaced.
The spikes in the floor were infuriating, coming up just as you walked over seemingly innocent pieces of floor. As you walked back towards them, they were idle before reactivating, so you couldn't really plan for them. The whole thing was more a test of memory than skill, and perhaps designed to make the game artificially harder.
One or two of the character's moves could've been better - in particular, getting onto ladders was a nuisance, and Hiro's refusal to automatically continue across a second overlapped ladder was awkward, illogical and infuriating. As there are firing beams aimed across the ladders, and bad guys ready to pounce, you'll lose a lot of lives in infuriating ways.