ANKOKU DENSETSU LEGEND OF DARKNESS / DARK LEGEND [US-LEGENDARY AXE II]
MAKER: VICTOR MUSICAL INDUSTRIES / ATLUS / RED
RELEASE DATE: 7 SEPTEMBER 1990 / 1990
STYLE: ACTION / PLATFORM
Overview If you've ever had fantasies about being a bronzed barbarian warrior like Conan, travelling the lands to defeat your foes with a swift blow from your enormous weapon, then here's your chance to make them come true. Ankoku Densetsu is a platform hack and slash game, much in the vein of Rastan. You travel through various dark and gloomy settings, chopping the heads of green maggot-spitting zombies, skeleton warriors and other denizens of the evil realms that no self respecting barbarian could ignore. There are several types of weapons to collect - the sword is standard, the axe is quite powerful but short range, and the long chain weapon is less powerful but very useful at taking out the baddies at a distance. With the relevant power capsules, each weapon can be powered up several levels to inflict more damage. You also get a pretty little fairy star that you throw out in front of you to viciously incinerate all who dare oppose your will. While there is plenty of hacking action, there is also a platform element, with you having to navigate your way up a waterfall on falling blocks, and find your way out of an area with skull platforms that drop out from beneath your feet.
Comment This is probably the closest thing to Rastan (the original, not the awful Rastan II) that you can get on the PC Engine. Graphically, the game is a mixed bag. The general atmosphere is well crafted, with dark, gloomy scenery, although lacking in imagination. The sprites and animation are poorer than I would have hoped for. There's something not right about the shading which makes your main character in particular look a little amateurish, and the walk cycle when holding the chain weapon, for example, just looks stupid. Some of the bosses are well done though and there are a few neat touches like the parallax scrolling on one of the later levels. Audio is excellent - it sounds just like an extension of Dungeon Explorer and sets the mood very well indeed. With a little more work (and maybe a little more ROM on the HuCard) this could have been a stunning game. As it stands, while the visuals are variable, it still holds up as a highly enjoyable action platformer and well worth putting some time into. sunteam_paul