[Acorn Gaming]


Fire and Ice

[ 4/5 **** 4/5 ]

"The finest platform game ever" trumpets the box, to the sound of quotes from rave reviews the world over. Given such a herald, you can't help but expect something really special to be lurking inside the box. So - is there?

[Fire & Ice title screen]

When Fire and Ice was released for the Amiga and ST roughly four years ago it was soon soaked in a hail of critical acclaim. But that was then, and this is now. Does this game really stand up to four years of relentless progress that has seen all matter of cute anthropomorphic platformers earn millions of pounds for their creators?

The star of Fire and Ice is a supposedly-cute anthropomorphic creature who has to save the world as we know it. No marks for originality there, anyway. I won't reproduce the entire story line here, but the basic idea is that some bad guy (Suten by name) is about to takeover the Earth, and you have to go and show him who's boss. You, by the way, are Cool Coyote, endowed with special powers by some God-like guy who wants to get rid of Suten.

As you progress through the game you come across a wide variety of enemy creatures whom you must dispose of. Nothing unusual there. But what's really nice about Fire and Ice is the method you use to kill your enemies, which requires you to repeatedly fire ice pellets at them until they freeze, and then walk into them to shatter their brittle, frozen form. If you don't shatter them, they thaw out and become more resilient to your ice pellets in the process. And you can't just completely ignore half the baddies, like you can in many platform games, since some of them own a piece of a giant ice key which they release when you shatter them, whereupon it magically levitates above the ground, waiting for you to collect it. A nice feature is that you don't actually need to touch the bit of key to collect it - get near to it and it will start swirling around the screen and into your grasp. Collect all the bits of the ice key and you can unlock a door to leave the level, and since different creatures hold different parts of the key each time you play, you can't just learn which baddies to bother with and which ones to ignore.

There are six or so different `worlds' to visit, most consisting of a few levels, and usually at least one secret level per world. The hidden levels are some of the most spectacular graphically-speaken, actually. Finding these hidden levels adds quite a bit of depth to the game. In fact, the game harbors lots of things to discover - there are plenty of hidden bonus blocks which give you various power-ups, and sometimes the path you need to follow is hidden, too, and there are loads of hidden level warps to discover. As you progress through the game you're given access to a wider variety of power-ups, some of which are notably more powerful and useful than others! You also have a special snow-flake weapon which you can use to freeze all the baddies on the screen. To collect these snow-flakes you can fill clouds with ice until they start snowing. Nice...

I must admit that when I first played the game I was a bit disappointed. I'd looked at the lovely colour pictures in Archimedes World and on the back of the box, and was expecting loads of beautiful raster bars. Unfortunately they're sadly missing from the Acorn version, and the game really does lose something. The backgrounds on the first few levels are very bare - they've clearly been designed to rely on the raster bars, and without them they don't work so well. That said, there is some nice, subtle parallax scrolling. At the bottom of the screen there is a pretty-but- useless map of the game (which I didn't realise was a map for ages!) complete with wavy water. The interrupt-driven palette change for the map does flicker a bit at times, however, especially during loading when sometimes the entire screen changes colour!

I should mention that the screen isn't always `plain and empty' on the first few levels. As you play the game it alternates between day and night, and at night time a parallax starry background appears, which compliments the foreground graphics quite well. Once seven days have passed (recorded by a snow-flake at the top-left of the screen which slowly melts away) you meet a firey end.

Another thing which struck me straight away was the truly awful music. Calling it music is an insult to music! A sub-Electron dirge, more like. It does get better as you progress through the game, but the sheer one-track inanity of it simply defies belief when you first play the game. It's strange, since the music which greets you on the title page is excellent. The sound effects in the game are perfectly adequate, however - nothing particularly bad and likewise nothing particularly amazing.

This game rewards perseverance. You are forced to play through all the levels in one go, and I reckon that you would have to spend about thirty lives on the final level alone before you could possibly hope to complete just this one level in one go! To get those thirty lives you'd need to play through the entire game quite a few times - and each of those goes would take at least an hour and a half. And that's not mentioning all the other levels. This problem is indicative of a greater malaise - the game is clearly quite dated. The `play-straight-through' design is very rare in new releases, and some of the ideas in the game are very cliched.

The level design is good throughout, and by the time you reach the final levels it is consistently excellent. Each time you think you've seen everything, the game introduces a new feature. And every time you think you've completed the game, something else happens...

The game is inhabited by the occasional coyote puppy. The way they look about when they stand still is, well, so adorable! Yeah, I know it's only a computer game, but they're brilliantly drawn and characterised. Anyway, they follow you about and if you guide them to the exit you get a bonus life. This feature adds quite a bit of depth to the game, and also makes the game world seem more `alive'. Incidentally, there are quite a few extra life bonuses to discover as you progress through the game!

Despite its imperfections I would still recommend this game. I must admit I found it a bit dull at first, but perseverance pays huge dividends! The later levels make all the effort worth it. And you can't `learn' this game, since many elements of the game are random - albeit within sensible limits. In fact, the random element is a huge breath of fresh air. I'm fed up of playing stale games where everything is identical each time you play.

Review by Gareth Moore, ©1995

[ 4/5 **** 4/5 ]

And finally...

Thank you to Warner Interactive Entertainment who kindly supplied a copy of the game for review.

Available from:
Warner Interactive Entertainment
No.2 Carriage Row
Eversholt Street

Price: £24.95

  • The game is copy protected but can be installed onto a harddisc
  • When run on a Risc PC there are all sorts of problems with the palette change making the screen flicker. I wouldn't buy this if you only own a Risc PC.

[GraftGold Creative Software logo]

...this page last updated: 15/9/95...
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©Gareth Moore 1993-2003

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