Pirates of Dark Watera game by Sunsoft, and Iguana
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Fans of the Dark Water comic book and cartoon will be glad to hear that their fave adven¬ture is coming to both the SNES and the Genesis. The SNES version, a two-player simultaneous game, has eight levels and features three swashbuckling heroes -- Ren, Tula, and loz. Armed with swords, magic, and martial arts, the three set out in search of the 13 treasures needed to destroy the evil substance known as the Dark Water.
The Genesis version is for one player only.
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Video swordfighters looking to brighten up their day can dive into Dark Water. The Pirates of Dark Water vividly recreates the fantasy/adventure depicted in the animated TV series and the action toy figures of the same name. Dark Water shipmates will recall the tale of Prince Ren, who must find the six fabled Treasures of Rule in order to dry up the sinister Dark Water, which threatens to defile the ocean world of Mer. His cohorts are the former pirate loz and the Ecomancer warrior Tula.
This is a hearty hack-n-slash Genesis action/adventure game cast in the nearclassic mold: Have sword, will travel (but no kidnapped princess). You slice and dice through eight wondrous but deadly stages as you seek the Six Treasures to drain the Dark Water.
Dark Water Sailors
You can play any of the three characters in this single-player quest. The precise, imaginative controls put you in complete command. The game's basic two-button fighting mechanism is familiar: jump, slash, or throw a special weapon, like Tula's Ecomancer Energy. You can stop or jump on a dime, and you can even grab onto objects to save yourself during a fall. Each character has talents that give them advantages in certain stages or against certain enemies.
- If an item drops out of the screen when you uncover it, immediately jump down after it. It might be intact.
- Don't use Niddler to swap characters unless it's critical, and always stockpile Minga Melons.
- If you must make a blind jump in the Pandawa Jungle, remember that the coconut booby traps always hang above a platform.
- You can't drop from somewhere unless there's something under you.
Water's Dark and Deep
The familiar-but-fun video swordfighting is cut-and-dried, but it's challenging enough to make you cut and cry. Even though accomplished adventurers will wade through much of the Dark Water opposition, each stage eventually stalls you with massive evil heat and some cool curveballs, such as the Dark Water's living blobs of yuck that chase after you. Three lives don't leave much room for error, but at least you get passwords.
- Nets have limited range, and you can cut your way out of them.
- For some reason there are plenty of nifty hiding places, but you never find anything In them.
- You can survive up to a three-story drop.
Since bad guys drop items when you slay them, the game's inventory system comes in handy. You carry Keys to open doors, Food to recharge energy, and four Potions that give you important tactical advantages. The Gravity Potion, for example, zips you across the screen when you jump.
Every stage is populated by unique-looking foes. Villainous pirates, vile spider creatures, and skeleton soldiers are among the aggressive gangs. If you whack them, they reappear when you backtrack. You'll also curse the net- tossers of the Pandawa Jungle, the Bobo Mountain spearmen, and the freeze-spell genie in the Andorus caves. The bosses, unfortunately, are not so tough. They generally succumb to pattern attacks, if you can figure them out.
- You can stockpile some items by using the ol'hack-the- enemy-then-leave-the-screen- and-retum trick.
- One projectile nails two foes if they're close together.
- To beat Konk in the Pori of Pandawa, repeat this attack sequence: Charge, slash, and leap over him. Beat him quickly or he'll launch sharp stuff.
- Unlike his cohorts, loz can dispatch foes with one swordstroke.
The primo game art stars character graphics from the TV show. The parallax-scrolling backgrounds are absolutely otherworldly. The animation features some nifty (if sporadic) CPU-controlled fighting moves. For example, Tula pulls a nice backward judo throw and loz has a nasty stab-and-lift sword strike.
The Dark Water audio is a little wet, though. The music sounds good, but while the opening tune kicks, the stage tracks are much too repetitive. The effects, on the other hand, are sparse. All the evil dudes voice the same "ughhh" when they get hit. Moreover, the character description screens show favorite phrases for each hero, but you never get to hear them.
A Pirate's Life for You
This hack-n-slash game is a cut above the rest of the crew. You may have to channel surf to find Dark Water on the tube, but if you're looking for video adventure, Pirates is prime for plunder.
A pirate's life is tough -- especially when he's stranded on another planet. Sunsoft's Pirates of Dark Water enables you to glimpse that life by guiding a trio of warriors as they dispatch space-pirate Bloth and his not-so-merry men.
Don't Rock the Boat
Best known as a cartoon, Pirates is now available for the SNES and Genesis. The two games are wildly different, with the SNES version playing like a side-scrolling sword swinger. You -- along with a friend, if you choose -- start by picking from three characters: Tula, a swift but not very strong lady warrior; loz, a giant who is powerful but not very agile; and Ren, the handsome fighter whose skills are somewhere in-between.
The goal is simple: Fend off the attacks of Bloth, who's vowed to eliminate the Pirates of Dark Water on the planet Mer. His fighters are relentless -- at any moment there could easily be four attackers on you at once. There are also traps and craggy cliffs you can fall from.
Keep an Even Keel
Manipulating your combatant is simple; the ability to jump, punch, block, swing a weapon, and unleash a special move is just a button push away. Some variety is offered: If you're several steps from your adversary, Button X causes a knife slash, but if you're holding him, Button X will fling him across the play field. Though the graphics and sounds are decent, they're not spectacular. The most intricate visuals come before a level starts, when you get a Mode 7 zoom on the map, but the rest of the game consists of basic side-scrolling graphics that are more detailed than an NES game, but not much more imaginative. The audio treatment is similar: It's adequate, but you'll tire of the repetitive battle sounds.
- When you're leaping chasms, double-tap to the side before hitting the Jump button, and you'll span the distance. Just don't soar into traps on the other side.
- From a safe distance, the double-tap run with the Jump button enables you to steamroll over opponents.
- Traps can be hazardous to your health, but you can also use them to your benefit. Simply stay clear of the tap and lure your opponent into the danger.
- loz is slow with his sword, so if you're in a tough jam that requires a fast response, use his punches.
Where the game really lets you down is in its FunFactor. Pirates of Dark Water doesn't really challenge you to discover opposition patterns; it's more a "throw everything but the kitchen sink at the player" mentality. There's not much finesse in the design, nor in your game play, as a result.
Sunsoft is known for trying new things and designing games that push the player to work for his play, but occasionally a disappointing game slips through the cracks. Pirates of Dark Water is sadly adrift in a sea of sameness.