Remember Commando? Or Ikari Warriors? Two games that caused me to hark back to my eight-bit computing days. Well, Watchtower borrows heavily from this style of gameplay and makes no bones about it. 'A top-down view Commando-style arcade war game!', shouts the press release. But what seems to have been forgotten is the fact that Commando is now about a decade old and was written on machines with only a small fraction of the Amiga's power. Fair enough if it's only the style that's reminiscent and not the whole product, but OTM has simply not thought the game on at all.
I may be doing Watchtower a slight disservice there, because my memory of those games is a little on the hazy side. For instance, I'm unsure as to whether Commando had a simultaneous two-player mode. Watchtower has, but then again I'm fairly sure Ikari Warriors had one as well, so that could hardly be classed as an improvement.
Actually, there are a couple of things where I reckon OTM has taken a step back rather than a step forward. Throwing grenades is now intolerably fiddly for example. You used to just tap the fire-button to fire a bullet and hold it down to throw a grenade. In Watchtower you have to hold down the firebutton and tap the joystick twice in the direction you want to chuck it. This inevitably leads to you losing a lot of lives and causes frustration as you struggle to get to grips with the unnecessarily tricky control system. Surely if you're going to attempt to emulate one of the classic games of all time without improving on it, you have to at least stay faithful to what made the original what it was.
The other thing that annoyed me is that instead of the bases that you used to have to storm to complete a level - you know, the ones with all the soldiers pouring out after you - have been replaced with standard end-of- level bosses such as big trucks or tanks. This is a definite downturn for me.
But having said all that, if you can forgive its many shortcomings. Watchtower can be quite good fun to play.
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