1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
In the far future, the evil ninja lord Havok reined over the land, until Hiro the immortal defeated his robot army and banished the fiend. Now Havok and his forces have returned, stronger than ever, and Hiro has returned to fight once again. Armed with lethal metal-slicing blades and an array of weapons, you must guide Hiro across the scrolling landscape, destroying all enemies in your path and bring down Havok once again.
If you haven't fallen asleep from that threadbare plot, then here are more details for this Lynx adaptation of the Gremlin game. Hiro starts with three lives, though each life can take several hits before dying. Money, health, and points can be found along the way, while extra lives and advanced weaponry can be bought in the shops located in the game. There are six levels in all, each divided into several substages and capped with the obligatory boss villain.
The video game market is filled from floor to ceiling with hundreds of these scrolling, kill-everything titles, some very good and some very mediocre. SWITCHBLADE II leans towards the latter, with fairly bland gameplay that feels flavorless and leaves you hollow. On the surface, there is nothing at fault with this game, as it follows all of the formulas: Controls are simple and responsive, the story and gameplay are tried and true, and there's a wealth of enemies, weapons, and scenery. Just go in and clobber anything that moves, right?
On the other hand, this game lacks a soul, a sense of adventure and excitement. There's very little challenge, with enemies patrolling mindlessly or attacking in ones and twos, and no time limit or other form of pressure. Young players may find this game tricky, but experienced players will easily stomp over the forces of evil. Many other games offer the same basic action, only better, or faster, or more difficult, but SWITCHBLADE II quickly becomes an exercise in boredom. There's no solid reason to dislike this title, but it offers little incentive to like it, either.
The graphics and sound of SWITCHBLADE II do not do anything to enhance its appeal. The graphics are small and passable, with a good variety to reflect the different types of terrains and enemies. Unfortunately, they fail to get the player excited, and the animation is extremely simple. Similarly, aside from a stirring title theme, the game is mostly quiet, except for the tapping of Hiro's feet and assorted explosions. Remaining sound effects are uninspired and quickly forgotten.
SWITCHBLADE II is yet another side-scrolling kill-everything action game that will quickly get lost in the crowd, as it commits the cardinal sin of boring the player. People who dislike this game genre will not be swayed by SWITCHBLADE II, and action gamers can easily find other, similar titles that are more enticing.
GAMEPLAY: 5.0 GRAPHICS: 5.5 SOUND: 5.0 OVERALL: 5.0