Category Archives: Sensible Software

#38: Cannon Fodder

Format: Amiga Genre: Real-Time Tactics Released: 1993 Developer: Sensible Software

[Two of The Four Cyclists of the Apocalypse (the only minor deities committed to a programme of rigorous consumer testing) are drinking tea.]

FIRST CYCLIST: Another biscuit?

SECOND CYCLIST: Don’t mind if I do. Now let me see… Bourbon I think. [Sound of munching.] Mmmm.

Cannon_fodder_box_art

[The THIRD CYCLIST enters.]

THIRD CYCLIST: Morning chaps! It’s a lovely day out on the ethereal plane, you should go for a ride. Oooh, are those biscuits? [Takes custard cream.]

FIRST CYCLIST: I would do, but I’m getting my bike resprayed.

THIRD CYCLIST: [Speaking with difficulty while chewing.] Ogh yesh? What colough?

FIRST CYCLIST: Black.

THIRD CYCLIST: [Swallows.] But didn’t you get it sprayed black last time?

FIRST CYCLIST: Yes, but it’s midnight black this time – the guy reckons it’s the blackest black you can get.

SECOND CYCLIST: But I thought black was simply the absence of colour, and hence it’s actually impossible to divide ‘black’ into shades – it’s either black or it’s not black, i.e. grey.

FIRST CYCLIST: [Pauses…] Yeah, but this is really black.

cannon_fodder_06

The mangled corpses of your enemies, yesterday.

[The FOURTH CYCLIST enters carrying a large box wrapped in a bin bag with a note saying ‘TAKE ME’ pinned on the side.]

FOURTH CYCLIST: Hey guys, look what I found! Someone just left it lying around outside the front of their house!

[The FOURTH CYCLIST whips away the bin bag with a flourish to reveal an Amiga 500+ with a stack of games.]

THIRD CYCLIST: Cool! Hey you know that reminds of that time at Amiga Power – you know, when we brutally slayed the entire staff?

[The others stop what they’re doing for a moment and gaze thoughtfully at the ceiling.]

FIRST CYCLIST: Oh yeeeahh! I’d forgotten about that!

[The Four Cyclists meditate on the thought for a moment, with wistful smiles playing across the voids where their faces should have been. The SECOND CYCLIST stands and claps his hands together, breaking the others out of their reverie.]

SECOND CYCLIST: Right! Shall we see if it works then?

Cannon_Fodder_recruits

'Cunning Metaphor For The Futility Of War', more like.

[Half an hour later the cyclists are gathered around a dilapidated TV listening to the A500 disk drive grind and sputter its way back into life.]

FOURTH CYCLIST: Right, what shall we play on then? Zool?

THIRD CYCLIST: Frankly I just have one thing to say to that: ‘up to jump‘.

FIRST CYCLIST: How about Cannon Fodder, the Game of Champions?

[Ten minutes later the quartet are watching the words ‘This game is not in any way endorsed by the ROYAL BRITISH LEGION’ appear on the screen, immediately followed by a giant poppy and the words ‘CANNON FODDER’. The accompanying music is ‘War Has Never Been So Much Fun’.]

SECOND CYCLIST: Reminds me of all that fuss about the poppy on the front cover of the game. Yet despite all the Daily Star’s accusations of warmongering and insensitivity, the game actually carried a distinctly anti-war message, as evidenced by the fact that your new recruits queue up in front of the graves of the newly dead – surely a potent image of the futility of war?

THIRD CYCLIST: Errr… yeah.

SECOND CYCLIST: Not to mention the fact that every soldier in the game had a unique name, which meant you couldn’t help but grow attached to your recruits as they steadily moved their way up the ranks. Seeing your favourite general die halfway through the game was nothing short of a tragedy – and by extension, this emphasised the tragedy of death in real-life combat.

THIRD CYCLIST: Yeah, it was annoying when they died.

1242577203-01

Igloos and snowmen were a common occurrence in Cannon Fodder. Natch.

SECOND CYCLIST: Erm, I’m not sure you’re really getting this are you? The point is that in most war games you’re in control of nameless goons or some ridiculous super-soldier that can be resurrected at the touch of a button, and as such you never really end up caring about them. But by giving the soldiers individual names, Cannon Fodder succeeds in creating a bond between the player and the game characters, and their very fragility and the permanance of their death serves to strengthen this bond. Because you know that your character can be killed by just a couple of shots, and that if he dies he’s gone forever, you take extra care to look after him. Do you see?

FIRST CYCLIST: YES!!! GOT HIM! DIE YOU MOFO! Right, that’s level 1 done, anyone else fancy a go?

THIRD CYCLIST: ME ME ME!!!

SECOND CYCLIST: Sigh.

Lewis

(Hang on – what on earth was all that about? – Ed)

Sorry, it’s a review In The Style Of… Amiga Power. You can read more about the mighty beings of Amiga Power by cruising down the InformationSuperHighway to this CyberInfoDump. If you didn’t find any of this in the slightest bit interesting or amusing, then you probably used to read (“Michael Jackson” – Ed). Tsk.

3 Comments

Filed under 1993, Amiga, Real-Time Tactics, Sensible Software

#20: Wizkid

Format: Amiga Genre: Miscellaneous Released: 1992 Developer: Sensible Software

Wizkid is an early title from Sensible Software, who went on to develop the legendary Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder. It makes it onto the list by merit of its sheer lunacy – a trait I feel should be encouraged in games wherever possible.

wizkid_box_art

The R. Crumb-inspired box art for Wizkid

Wizkid is a sequel to the 1987 game Wizball, although it bears little resemblance to the original game. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to actually classify Wizkid into any kind of genre. The main chunk of the game involves clearing the screen of enemies by knocking blocks into them with your floating head, but once you’ve finished a round, your head is reattached to your body and you have to solve a series of increasingly bizarre puzzles to find the route to the next level. An example of one such puzzle is when you’re presented with the screen below.

wizkid_08

One of the earliest puzzle screens.

 Here’s what you have to do, according to the GameFAQ by Johnny “ThunderPeel2001” Walker:

Keep winding the well’s handle until the bucket appears. Jump onto the bucket to sink deep into the well. Go into the Ladies room and use a toilet in order to unblock the volcano (this is Wizkid, weird things happen). Go out and into the Men’s. Use the urinal one in from the left and it should leak when you flush it.

Head back outside and jump into the bucket again before you drown. Water should rise and take you back onto the upper screen. Now you can keep winding the handle for infinite colour bubbles, but you can also jump into the volcano (where the bubbles come from) and you’ll find yourself next to a Kitty and the exit to Round 3!

In short, you have to use a ladies’ toilet at the bottom of a well to unblock a volcano, then flood the level with a faulty urinal. Told you this game was weird.

The toilets at the bottom of the well.

The toilets at the bottom of the well.

In a later level, entitled ‘Wizkid Meets Dog Girl’, you have to jump into the mouth of a barking, digitised woman, and in the level entitled ‘The Ghost of Wizkid Past’, you have to work out a way to kill yourself in order to descend into the grave, fight Dracula and find the exit for the next level. The whole game is like some crazy acid trip of inventiveness, and you get the impression that the developers were having an absolute whale of a time coming up with all this stuff.

The turtle jail where the evil Zark is holding your cat hostage.

The turtle jail where the evil Zark is holding your cat hostage.

The game also keeps up Sensible’s tradition of including loosely justified hidden obscenity: to finish each level you have to collect a set of musical notes, which then cascade down from the top of the screen in what the manual calls the ‘golden shower’. Ah, good old Sensible, where are you now? Best Amiga developer ever? Probably. Any company that releases a game called Sim Brick is all right in my book.

If you jump on the fourth and sixth sheild of the Viking ship a donkey is revealed. For no reason.

If you jump on the fourth and sixth shields of the Viking ship a donkey is revealed. For no reason.

So there you have it, Wizkid made my life slightly better because it made me laugh. A lot. Possibly even as much as Advanced Lawnmower Simulator (but more on that another time).

Lewis

(Screenshots from www.lemonamiga.com)

1 Comment

Filed under 1992, Amiga, Miscellaneous, Sensible Software