I remember the day my mate bought Sword of Sodan from Maughan Micro Computers, a pokey little shop in the Metro Centre. I was there, and it wasn't that long after he'd got his Amiga. He had a few games with it at that point, although a lot of them had come with the machine... Wizball, The Karate Kid Part II (I wonder where that one went?), for example. Of course, having stepped up from the Commodore 64, it was very easy to be seduced by screenshots on the back of the box. And Sword of Sodan's screenshots were amazing.
Phwoar, look at her! Or him, if that's your preference.
Back to his we went, and opened the game. Three disks! Three! It had to be amazing! In actuality, it just meant a lot of loading. And not much game, as it turned out... I think we completed it on our first go, taking turns as we progressed through the levels. It was a bit disappointing in that respect, but on the other hand, it did provide a sense that this computer was the future.
I thought I'd give it another go now, to see just how it fared more than twenty years later.
To be fair, it's not really a very good game. It's a straightforward left-to-right scrolling beat 'em up, but it's no Double Dragon or Streets of Rage. It kind of reminds me of an odd game called Great Gurianos, in fact. When I say "left-to-right", I mean left-to-right... it all takes place on a single plane, in a single direction. So there's absolutely no strategy involved... you just have to slash and jump at the right times. Oh, you can duck, or do an overhead hit... that's a total of three fighting moves. And occasionally you pick up potions which have varying effects.
...that didn't end as they'd expected...
For a game that was bought on the basis of its screenshots, the graphics aren't really all that good, looking at them now. When static, they're a massive step up from the 64, with huge figures taking up large amounts of the screen. The animation isn't much cop, though, and although the different game areas are nice and varied, the enemies within aren't, with usually only one or two of a kind on any one level.
Moments later, the giant's head was removed from his shoulders. The bigger they are...
Having slaughtered the game to this point, I have to say I found it kind of refreshing to play something so straightforward. These days, everything has to be so complex. There's some merit to a game that sets out its stall in such a basic fashion. Sword of Sodan is not a game I would buy on any format if it were released today, but I can actually see myself playing it again at some point. Not sure if that speaks more about the game or my personality.