Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The legendary Captain Silver, as well as being a rogue and a rapscallion, a ne'er do well, scourge of-the waveways and the scurviest knave ever to sail the seven seas, was also a forgetful old boot. Having plundered hundreds of ships and collected enough jewels and dosh to sink the Bismark, the silly berk buried it all on a deserted island in the Eastern Seas - and promptly forgot where it was. He spent the last tortured years of his life searching Antarctic wastes for his retirement money - a good ten thousand miles from its true location - and popped his clogs as poor as Russian potato-herder.
The only other person who knows the location of the treasure is Captain Silver's trusted cabin boy, Jim. He was there when Cap'n Saliva dumped the loot on the desert island, and then helped send Captain amnesia completely off the trail. And now that old one-eye has finally pillaged his last, Jim can make his way back to the sun and sand, to the large black 'X' and absolute riches. Devious little git.
Jim lad's six-stage quest takes him from the town of Barsend, through the innards of a pirate ship, by boat to Captain Silver's island, through a cave system, through the jungle and finally to the mountain location of the treasure - and Jim has to fight every inch of the way!
(Image caption) Deep in the bowels of the ship and under attack from scurvy pirates!
As the scenery scrolls past, he get accosted by all sorts of creatures, some of which look like they've got into the wrong game by mistake. As well as the normal run of pirates (large and small), seagulls, fish, savages, crabs, man-eating plants and wild animals, you also get to take on large wolves in clothes, vampire bats, witches, pumpkin-heads, dragons and even a Cheshire cat!
Our hero is armed with a cutlass to despatch these odd adversaries, and as each creature gets its comeuppance they leave behind green cards which are either blank or bear a letter. Both types are collected for gold pieces, but letter cards are also used to build up the name of ’Captain Silver' in return for extra lives.
Jim's attack strength can be increased by collecting or buying sprites. These small fairy-types float on-screen, and when touched imbue Jim's sword with the ability to shoot magic stars. Up to three sprites can be collected, providing a deathdealing barrage of five stars.
As the gold is stashed away, you may also enter shops that crop up at intervals (inside treasure chests and as large buildings marked 'Shop') to buy more sprites, plus boots (temporary mega-leaps), herbs (one-hit shields), and a clock (extra time to finish the level).
(Image caption) The first Boss to be beaten is this pumpkin-head-dropping blue witch!
At the end of each scene, there is a guardian creature who Jim has to blast or run through with his blade (several times) before proceeding with the treasure hunt. Jim's ultimate fate lies in the hands of the ghost of Captain Silver himself, who has finally found his booty and decided that if he can't have it, nobody will...
Presumably, this Data East game is a conversion from a 1987 coin-op - although we’ve never heard of it!
The action is pretty unimpressive to start off with: the sound is a bit naff, the graphics are plain and the gameplay looks really boring - if you saw it running in a shop, you wouldn't give it a second glance.
Once you get into the swing of things, though, CS offers a pretty tough challenge. The opponents are vicious, and while the jolly cartoon graphics make it look like kid’s stuff, this is one tough hombre!
Gameplay is solidly in the Rastan mould of jump 'n' slash, but while there's less emphasis on pixel-perfect leaps, your reactions have to be just as fast or you’ll soon end up back on the title screen!
Because the game is quite tricky, and there aren’t any continue options, CS becomes infuriatingly addictive! If you don’t mind too much how your games look and sound, then check this one out - you might be pleasantly surprised!
▲ Cartoon-style characters are big, bold and flicker free!
▲ Backdrops are colourful and nicely detailed, if a bit uninteresting
▼ Some spirtes are poorly drawn and hobble around unconvincingly
▲ There are loads of nice tinkly noises when you collect goodies
▼ Single soundtrack is a bit wimpy and gets on your wick after a while
▼ Sampled death scream is muffled and sounds pathetic
▼ Jim’s jump is accompanied by a painful ’crunching' sound
▼ Swordswipe sounds like a cat dying painfully!
▲ Within the six stages there are several mazy levels to explore
▲ You'll have to plan your tactics carefully to reach the treasure
▼ Jump 'n' hack gameplay isn't too much to get excited about
▲ Tough mission is unputdownable!
▲ With a long ’n’ tricky quest, you'd be pushed to finish this in a week
▼ No continue option means that you gradually tire of playing the early levels over and over again
Addictive despite it's plain looks and ordinary gameplay. Not a world beater, but fun.
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