25 years ago this month the highest ever rated game by Amstrad Action magaizine was reviewed, this game was Rick Dangerous 2. A platform / adventure style with loads of humor and a great deal of innoivation that set a bench mark for other platform games to follow. Amstrad Action were so impressed with Rick Dangerous 2 that It recieved a massive overall rating of 97%.
I have just re read the original review which appeared in Amstrad Action issue number 62, November 1990 to get myself upto speed.
Basically Amstrad Action or (AA) couldn’t find any faults at all with Rick Dangerous 2. The original review stated graphics 96%, sonics 94%, grab factor 98%, staying power 97% and an overall rating of 97%. AA stated “Rick Dangerous 2 is a very polished product indeed. A tremendous amount of work has gone into the game design, graphics and sound. In essense its a simple platform game, but the way it’s been presented makes its far far more than that.”
Well i got very aquainted with both the original Rick Dangerous game (AA#48 overall rating 83%) as well as Rick Dangerous 2 having played them both for the past 5 hours non stop.
I tried to understand how AA had come up with those exceptional ratings and my conclusion is that Rick Dangerous 2 has been coded in a tecnichally brilliant way to get the most out of a 64k / 128k machine. I mean some of the ideas and concepts in the game were ground breaking stuff at the time for 64 /128k machines. Pressing buttons to unlock passageways, jumping on lifts that move in various directions, being carried up an air lift / shaft, sliding bombs to kill static or moving enemies, being able to slide bombs down an air lift and flying around on an anti gravity bike just to name a few. So from a technical point of view, yes, Rick Dangerous 2 is exceptional.
Having said that does that mean it translates into a enjoyable and satisfying game to play? Only you the player can be the judge on that.
In my view the difficulty of Rick Dangerous 2 is set way too high, theres no way the average Joe or Julie for that matter, playing it for the first time or even the second and third time is going to complete the game with 6 lives and limited ammo and bombs. Its not impossible to complete on 6 lives but i think i’d have more chance of winning the lotto jackpot.
The frustration of having to complete the same tasks or get past the same area time and time again is what destroys the enjoyment of playing Rick Dangerous 2 for me. Sure you want to be challenged and engaged to think and thats what the traps, tricks and gameplay does but it just didnt enhance the gaming experience beacuse you find yourself repeating the same areas time and time again and it drives you mental.
Yes, you could say the graphics in Rick 2 are much better than Rick 1 but thats highly debatable, i think its a matter of personal choice, they are quite similar in many respects. Its certainly colourful and very detailed with very nice animations and a great deal of variety in sprites and backgrounds that match the themes of each level.
The sonics have improved with an intro to each level which is quite nice and well done but its only an intro and then its back to the basic fx noises of Rick shuffling his feet or shooting his gun or placing bombs that explode and the cries when you or enemy meet your death.
In Rick Dangerous 1 there are only 4 levels and the game concept is set in an Indiana Jones theme. Where as in Rick Dangerous 2, there are 5 levels and its set amongst a UFO landing in Hyde Park, London. So its a bigger game with more staying power and much more thinking and tasks to complete on each screen and ultimately in each level.
So the plot in Rick Dangerous 2 is different from the first but essentially he is still Rick Dangerous, but this time he travels to different planets and is battling all types of aliens.
For those of us who know of and have played the Rick Dangerous games then there needs no explanation but for those who are reading this article and don’t know a Rick Dangerous game its is essentially this – you play the hero called Rick Dangerous, who with 6 lives and armed with a gun with limited ammo and some bombs thrown in, go on a plaform adventure, running, jumping, crawling, solving puzzles, uncovering and avoiding traps, encounteriing hostile and unusual enemies that need to be killed sometimes with little thought and other times with a lot of thought and strategy and your goal is to save the world.
The levels in Rick Dangerous 2 contain the following themes – 1 Hyde Park London (inside the UFO), 2 The Ice Caverns of Freezia, 3 The forests of Vegetabila, 4 the Atomic Mud Mines and 5 The fat guys headquarters. You have a ray gun, sliding or static bombs and 6 lives for you to be able to kill your enemy and complete your task of saving the world from aliens.
You can play each level individually but to actually complete the game you must start at level 1 and complete all 5 levels in one sitting.
Level 1 starts of fairly easy and it even gives you some inital help with the use of yellow arrows pointing to objects tha Rick needs to press, but be careful it may be a trick.
But as you delve deeper into the game you find its pretty damn massive in size and its not at all easy, its quite the opposite. Each level is degined beautifully and captures its theme in a manner i don’t think we had seen at this time of 8bit home computer gaming, especially in the Amstrad CPC gaming scene. (For a comparison i suggest playing Switchblade by Gremlin software on the Amstrad CPC cartridge and reviewed two issues later in AA#64).
The names of each level explain just what your in for such as the Ice Caverns of Freezia is an ice planet where you find yourself unable to keep your footing, sliding along platforms in some cases and you are always weary of falling icicles out to harm you.
I think the Atomic Mud mines and the Fat Guys HQ were the most enjoyable and entertaining levels but they were just as hard and as frustrating as all the other levels. There is an end of level / end of game boss to kill at the end of level 5 which is pretty damn cool and appears in a photo i have provided.
Is Rick Dangerous worth a massive overall score of 97% today ?
For me its very hard to comment on and provide a definite answer on as i am without question biased in the fact that i love the Amstrad CPC and its games.
From a technical point of view, after reliving the game in its entireity, for what the game involves, what is included in the game, the whole package of gameplay and grahphics, sonics, humor, the sheer size, the innovations and its originality then i would say yes, it is worth its massive 97% rating that AA gave it 25 years ago. But from a pure enjoyment and gaming experience point of view maybe, just maybe it’s not.
9 out of 10
- A sequel better than the original
- 5 massive levels a game with loads of screens and so much to do and play
- Detailed and very cool graphics and nice intro sounds / tune
- Captures each level theme beautifully, excellent design and presentation
- Wonderful innovations such as air lifts and anti gravity bikes
- So many traps, tricks, and even more to discover
- Technically brilliant
- Frustratingly difficult
- No where near enough lives and ammo and bombs
- Annoying to the point of going mental that you are constantly playing same areas over and over again