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.
[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.
[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.]
[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?
[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.
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.
(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.