Computer Graphics Memory Disk Space Minimum 80386SX-20 VGA 4MB (550K conventional) 20+ MB Max/Rec 80486SX/DX-40 SVGA. 8MB (550K conventional) 20+ MB Control: Keyboard, Analog Joystick, Digital Gamepad (recommended) Sound: PC Speaker, SoundBlaster, Ad Lib, Microsoft Sound System Notes: Will run with Microsoft Windows Version 3.1 and OS/2. Recommended to be run in DOS 5.x (or higher) with minimum of 550 KB of conventional (low) memory available. Reviewed version on: 80486DX-33, ISA SVGA, 8 MB Reviewer recommends: 80486 SX25 or faster CPU * Shareware and CD-ROM versions available plus a Strategy Guide
However, instead of being a human super-stud (or studette) with rippling muscles and a square jaw, contestants are pilots of 90 foot tall battling robots. Sort of like riding inside the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers machine and battling a giant ink-spitting squid, only more fun.
A key feature of this game for parents is that it has NO BLOOD. The battling robots kick, punch, flip and otherwise commit mayhem, but the pilots inside are always safe to fight another day.
Epic MegaGames is the leading multimedia PC game publisher/distributor on the east coast. Their catalog contains dozens of titles. It can be easily downloaded from Compuserve.
In the full release version there are 11 different robots. Each robot possesses three specific special moves, plus twelve standard features such as power, agility, speed, endurance, etc. By winning bouts and earning prize money the standard features can be increased by up to ten times. By my calculations, each robot can have over 100 variation in its make-up and performance abilities.
Compare this with most other combat games (including Doom) - the main character can buy bigger guns and score health or ammunition points, but he never gets faster or stronger. He can't even get a change of clothes. In One Must Fall, you can paint your robot a new combination of colors after any fight. Or trade robots and change the characteristics of the entire game.
After gaining a little experience against the competing robots, we were able to win money battling lesser foes, and upgrade the Jaguar (or simply trade it in) until we could master all the foes in the tournament. As I recall, this took nearly all day Saturday - an excellent way for parent and child to spend some quality time together. On Sunday, Robo-Rob got up early and wasted enough opponents by noon that we were able to get him out in the yard raking leaves. (Surprise: He told us it was a good idea to get out and rake, so he could work out the kinks in his back from running the joystick!)
Action and interaction between the battling robots is shown on- screen with enough frames of high quality artwork to give the feeling of true motion - at least on the 80486 DX-33 we used.
Jumps, punches, kicks and throws all came off smooth. When a particularly effective score is made, the trajectories of broken robot parts were consistent with where your eye expected them to go. Whenever a robot falls, the entire image on the video monitor shakes, giving a movie-like special effect. This level of accurate detail is becoming the new standard for high-quality multimedia PC-based games.
Right when you first start up One Must Fall: 2097, you'll be startled by the loud carrr-rrack! that occurs as a bolt of lightening sparks across the screen with the opening logo. Then the music begins building an appropriately ominous feeling. The music occasionally seems to be out of sync with the action on the screen, but it doesn't distract from the game action.
The special effects are so good they add a third dimension to some of the scenes. For example, when robots punch each other, the "klunk" sound has been fine tuned to resonate the way your ear expects it to sound when two 90 foot tin cans collide. Great job!
At the finish of each fight, the winning robot strikes a victory pose, and the sports commentator makes appropriate comments. After each fight, you are free to spend your winnings on upgraded abilities, special weapons, "more power," or to trade up to a better robot.
One Must Fall: 2097 is exciting and satisfying to play with lots of immediate perks and rewards to keep you interested and entertained.
The Double Play mode is designed to support either two players with joysticks, or one player with a joystick and one with a keyboard. This system works well, but if you are going to try Double Play mode seriously, make sure you have two joysticks and a fast CPU.
The only criticism we had was that we couldn't figure out how to block the moves of the computer-driven opponents, though they were definitely able to block some of our best moves. I suspect that the Strategy Guide holds the keys to learning how to block.
*Things We'd Like To See:*
While One Must Fall is fast paced, fun and non-bloody, three improvements would help insure its long-term success.
First, we expected to get at least a glimpse of the inner workings of the robots. From the initial blurb, I thought One Must Fall would actually put us in the driver's seat of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers giant machine. It would be really nice if an add-on kit that gave an insiders "tour" of at least the Jaguar robot would be made available. The view looking out and down from a 90-foot height should provide some slick opportunities for the graphic artists and animators.
Second, while One Must Fall is as good a two-dimensional martial arts game as you might find in a Video Arcade, we would still like to see some effort put in toward adding a third dimension of depth to the playing area. Moving robots up and down and side to side will eventually limit what the game can do. With software available from AutoDesk (3D Studio and Animator Pro) and other game tool companies, One Must Fall needs to look toward a pseudo 3-D gaming arena in the future.
Finally, after hours of use we noticed that the headlines and text for the Sports Cast/Replay that followed each fight began to repeat. There needs to be more attention paid to mixing up the messages on the Replay so that it doesn't give the impression that the animation/graphics/sound guys were so involved with the "way cool" stuff that they neglected the simple text stuff. The reason this text in the Sports Replay is getting my inputs is because Robo-Robert was hyped to see what the Replay announcer had to say. In other words, Rob was READING the text. What a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to throw in some real sport description words and upgrade a kids vocabulary. Then, when the text in the Sports Replay window started to repeat, young Robert commented that it made for one less "payoff" after a successful bout. More words, better words, and non-repeating words, please!
*Installation Hints and Kinks:*
Before first installing One Must Fall, it's probably a good idea to clean up your hard disk drive, defragment it and set aside about 20 MegaBytes of space. (You may have to remove DOOM, but that's okay, you won't miss it!). Run the MEM program that comes with DOS. You'll need at least 550 kilobytes of Conventional RAM available, plus at least 2 Meg of expanded memory. After checking disk space and memory available, we found DOS-based setup and installation as provided by Epic MegaGames to be just fine. Since a lot of business-related stuff is done on my PC (with Windows) I am in the habit of using some old 5 1/4 inch disks and creating stand-alone Boot disks for the games. This does two things - it keeps the game players (translated: Children) out of the business stuff and it controls which games they have access to. I add some lines at the end of the Autoexec.BAT file on the Boot diskette that limits their choices.
The Config.SYS file of the Boot disk sets up only those devices needed for the game and reduce the likelihood of a system crash during play.
I recommend you try the Shareware version, but for I strongly suspect you'll quickly be contacting Epic MegaGames to purchase the complete package.