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Bruce Lee

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Bruce Lee

Datasoft / US Gold (1984)

Synopsis

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee must survive through 20 levels of mayhem, with a ninja and a yamo on his heels every step of the way, to defeat an evil wizard. Can he attain the rewards of infinite wealth and immortality...?

What's your style?


Graphics

Pros:

Vibrant colours, great looking title screen emulates cassette cover.


Cons:

As with other versions, the main characters look a little simplistic.





Sound

Pros:

Delicate, nimble foot steps, as demonstrated in 'Enter the Dragon'! Good title tune.


Cons:

Sound effects are few and far between.





Gameplay

Pros:

It's a fun game to play, especially when stepping into such prestigious kung fu shoes.


Cons:

The game is too easy to master, it will likely take you no longer than an hour to complete.




Graphics

Pros:

In-game graphics are essentially no different to the Amstrad. Nice portrait of Bruce on title screen.


Cons:

Graphics are subdued by comparison, also replacing reds with browns. Yuk!





Sound

Pros:

The title screen has a marginly better music score.


Cons:

Bruce's footsteps sound like a squirrel trying to play piano on an old typewriter.





Gameplay

Pros:

You'll enjoy what the game has to offer.


Cons:

The offerings will be very easy to complete.




Graphics

Pros:

Nice vivid loading screen.


Cons:

Sprites are awful. Bruce looks more like a posturing Freddie Mercury.





Sound

Pros:

None that I can recommend!


Cons:

Again, Bruce's footsteps sound like Thumper on Red Bull.





Gameplay

Pros:

Similar levels of gameplay as with the Amstrad and Commodore.


Cons:

Some normally zippy elements of the game are slowed down, which makes it even easier for Bruce.



How did it feel to you?




In 1984, a decade on from the untimely death of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, a video game in his name was finally released and kids began to dream! You see, the TV at the time had several burnt offerings such as The Master, a ninja with a free bus pass, played by Lee Van Cleef. We marvelled at this guy in black robes with his deadly shurikens and smouldering misdirections, and we imagined the power of being all-seeing whilst remaining unseen.


But, even with all of this wonderful mysticism being central to the 80s, more than anything we wanted to be like Bruce Lee. He was the one who didn't hide behind a facade. He just plain went out there and kicked butt without any magic being involved. That is, if you don't count high-kicking an opponent in the face four times on the trot as magic. So, having seen his UK-edited cult movie classic 'Enter the Dragon' around my 12th birthday (ahem!) in 1983, what pre-teen wouldn't want to compete in a computer game as the greatest martial artist that's ever lived...?


The game consists of you, as Bruce, penetrating the lair of an evil wizard so that you can defeat him and thereby gain infinite wealth and immortality. The only things preventing you from doing so are a ninja and Yamo (some kind of green-skinned sumo wrestler), plus a few traps here and there. If you select the '2-player' option then one of you will take on the role of Yamo, although if you leave him alone for too long then the computer will take over. This game is no 'Way of the Exploding Fist' though, in the sense that Bruce has a limitation of only two moves - punch or flying kick. However, these skills are useful for beating the enemy senseless for a few seconds before they reappear once again a la Bill Murray.


Bruce must collect a number of hanging lanterns found within the 20 available screens so that he can progress further into the wizard's chambers. This he must do whilst avoiding the ninja, who carries a wooden stick for turning Bruce into juice, and Yamo throwing his not insubstantial weight at you. Several electrified traps send bolts of energy into your path requiring you to get your timing just right as you either jump over or through them.


One thing to note about each version of the Bruce Lee video game is that they all begin with an excellent loading screen. You might even be getting to thinking that this is a sign of things to come and you're going to be floored by the overall game. Well you just hold on to your nunchakus there for one second because there's floors, and then there's flaws! The problems I will deal with a little later, but these mainly rest with the BBC Micro adaptation. But first up, let's see how the Amstrad and Commodore versions compared.

Yamo is so trim here that you'd think he'd been out running with Eddie Izzard!

You could probably write down on a stamp the different aspects that separate the Amstrad and Commodore versions. For me, the title screen melody is not so stripped down on the Commodore. The colours on the Amstrad are vibrant with emphasis being placed on steering away from 'Commodore Brown'. The Commodore's detail on the furniture that you have to climb, and electricity bolts, appears marginally better. The Amstrad gives Bruce's footsteps a light patter as opposed to the Commodore's excruciating thunder boots. However, in terms of the overall style, and gameplay, there really isn't much to differentiate them, but to me the Amstrad has a very slight edge on visuals and sound.


The biggest change comes with the Spectrum and BBC renderings of the game. Both versions employ a black background for each game level and, in particular, the Spectrum's main characters are depicted as little more than an inverted silhouette of their former self. The biggest challenge on the Spectrum version is to stop yourself from chuckling at these characters who, apart from the ninja, are not comparatively well represented. Bruce looks more like Freddie Mercury posturing with his air guitar, and the Yamo is some kind of hybrid between Sooty and Bungle. Having said that, Bruce Lee on the Spectrum is just as playable as the Amstrad and Commodore, so you still have a game that's well worth playing once you're able to look past the scenery.


Lastly, we fall to the BBC Micro adapation of Bruce Lee. With its loading screen you'd think you were about to proceed onto a game of epic proportions. Think again. The moment you begin playing the game you immediately realise that the BBC version should never have happened! It's almost as if it the lead programmer was Vyvyan from the Young Ones. Bruce is no longer the bare-chested hero you imagine being depicted from 'Enter the Dragon'. His figure has now been cut as some kind of peroxide-blond, red trousered, pink T-shirt wearing dude who's just one safety pin away from being Johnny Rotten.


I just can't get my head around this. Seriously, how did this version ever come to pass? The Yamo is so trim here that you'd think he'd been out running with Eddie Izzard. The characters flicker uncontrollably, and if the Yamo beats you down then he often doesn't give you a chance to get back up again before swiping at you once more. Yamo also has a habit of appearing out of nowhere and knocking you down in a surprise attack, which you're totally unable to prepare for. There's also the absence of the ninja, presumably for reasons of overburdening the system. In any case, his presence would more than likely have resulted in the three characters becoming as odd an outfit as Rod, Jane & Freddy.


Putting the BBC version well over to one side, Bruce Lee on the whole is a classic game particularly on the Amstrad and Commodore systems. This used to be a regularly played game of mine to go to for both the one and two player options. The presentation of each screen level is straightforward and, as you might expect, contains many oriental-themed elements. Its only real let-down is the difficulty level, which is far too easy. Even though the enemy is relentless in its pursuit of you, they are not formidable opponents, however they strive to be worthy. Similarly, the traps that are designed to waste you in one hit are easy to overcome with just a little practice. Bruce Lee, the game, may not tax your game-playing skills, but it is good fun while it lasts. Plus, there's nothing better than high-kicking a ninja or Yamo back into a trap that he's just set off!


Do I recommend staying up all night playing the BBC Micro version? Suddenly, I'd like to leave your island!




Graphics

The graphics are pleasant enough on the Amstrad and Commodore. The BBC version? My nan could have knitted better graphics than that.


Sound

Your speakers will not be taxed during any version of this game in all fairness.


Gameplay

The gameplay is simple, though effective. It's far easier than Jet Set Willy, has great level design, plus you get to beat things up!


Overall

You play as the master of all martial arts. Who doesn't want to let their imagination run riot on that one?



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Comments

Nice review m8, great game. If only games were still this simple and innocent lol.

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Overall Ranking

82

7th Place

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ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

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