Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Heartbroken'

Rating:4 User: dm_boozefreek

The 36th Chamber of Shoa Lin is possibly my favourite kung Fu movie of all time starring Chia-Hui Liu (Pai Mei from kill Bill) as San Te the Shoa Lin monk who was eventually responsible for the creation of the 36th chamber of Shoa Lin. It tells the story of how he came to end up at Shoa Lin and how he progressed through the ranks to become a Kung Fu master in a very short time. The movie was directed by the Shaw Brothers who have been making fine kung Fu movies for years and years and years.

However for how much I like the Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movies Heartbroken was not written by them. It was written by the Shaw brothers, but not the Kung Fu movie makers. No The Shaw brothers I'm on about aren't responsible for a single Kung Fu movie as far as I can tell. They are however responsible for making Atlantis Software considerably less shit than it was.

Heartbroken is a medieval arcade adventure and features absolutely no Kung Fu what so ever! It does however feature magic spells, trolls, ogres, knights, a dragon, an evil warlock, and of course the obligatory damsel in distress.

The game is quite simple and features the Shaw Brothers usual style of extremely nice looking but minimally animated sprites. I'm still quite in awe how they always have these sprites in their games that have about 2 or 3 frames of animation total, and still manage to make them look and move very nicely. It's pretty much the same story with all their games, and it's not a bad thing at all.

Anyway Merlin has retired and buggered off, but he was nice and left you his Spellbook. Of course the doddering old sod didn't hand it to you, he just casually dropped it off somewhere near the starting screen. The idea of the game is obviously to rescue the princess from the warlock, and this involves you having to find the ingredients to stick into the cauldron to make a key to unlock her cell. Of course first you have to find the spell book, and then you have to be standing in front of the cauldron to use the spells. There is one thing which is quite shady here, and that is just how deviously hidden the cauldron is on the first adventure (There is actually a clue on the cover of the game itself, but the solution may not be obvious right away). First adventure I hear you say? Yes to call yourself a master of this game you have to complete it 3 times in a row. There's no saves after you complete an adventure so you literally do have to play through them all in a row (Or at least you did before emulation).

Sounds daunting, but actually once you know what you're doing you can play through all 3 probably in less than an hour. I did it before I reviewed this game, and it's very easy to do actually.

The game is a flick screen affair with ladders and platforms you can't jump in this game, but to be honest you don't really need to, of course in this day and age a game like this without a jump seems a little unnatural, but it works. Anyway if you did have a jump the game would be way too easy.

There isn't really a lot of love for this game, but personally I think it's a delightful distraction, and for an arcade adventure it's quite lite really, and it's not too taxing. I also like the style of the enemies, and it's apparent that the Shaw Brothers are fans of Ghosts n' Goblins. It could be coincidence, but the ogres, and the ghost demons look a little too familiar to have not been influenced by Capcom's insanely difficult platformer.

The game does suffer from one considerable flaw but it's easily avoidable and that is very rarely the ogres will be invincible, and just keep coming at you no matter how many times you shoot them. This can be remedied by leaving the screen then re-entering it, as this problem never seems to happen twice in a row. Another annoyance is that Ghost Demons have a habit of making a beeline for you when you're climbing a ladder. You can't shoot while your on a ladder, so this becomes frustrating sometimes. The final problem I find is that occasionally the collision detection can be a little off at times, it's not totally ridiculous, but it is noticeable at times that you died unfairly.

These problems aside the game is fun to play, and as I've said not really too taxing. One thing I like in this game that adds a tiny amount of strategy (but not much really) is that to use a magic spell you have to sacrifice your score so you may have to go and grind a little if you don't have enough points to cast a spell. The graphics for the scenery are nice, colourful and quite detailed, and the game even has an ending. The end sequence is pretty simple and nothing special at all really, but at least the effort was made to add an ending.

Once you complete adventure 1 if you choose to continue, adventure 2, and 3 are basically "Arrange Modes". The items are in different places, the enemies are tougher, and it costs more points to cast your spells.

All in all a simple, fun, and colourful arcade adventure, that I enjoyed when I was 10 years old, and still enjoy now. Along with Superkid, and Hop n' Chop this is one of my fave Shaw Brothers games, it may not be the best arcade adventure ever, but it was £1.99 well spent, and I think I may still have my original tape somewhere?