Do you ever find it strange that graphic artists often choose to make their sprites cute and cuddly rather than mean and muscular in games where your prime concern is to murder everyone and everything in sight? Take Bionic Commandos, Joe Blade or Ikari Warriors for example, all feature characters that look almost as much like teddy bears as soldiers. Perhaps it helps us get away from the fact that with each shot we are brutally killing 'humans', and makes it all seem more like a harmless game with tin soldiers. Whatever the reason, it works, and deliberately or not that same technique comes through in Fernandez Must Die, where once again the sprites look friendly but act lethally.
Your part is that of a lone commando with a mission to terminate the evil dictator Fernandez. Not the most original background for a game, but then the game idea is not that new either. We have already had Letherneck and Ikari Warriors, and Fernandez follows a very similar trial.
It starts at the bottom of an enemy-occupied vertically scrolling landscape. You are kindly supplied with a jeep at the gates of the death zone. Mounted on the front is a machine gun that sees to the baddies, or if you feel really nasty you can run them over instead! This Jeep can take a lot of hostile lead but is not indestructible. When it has had enough it starts flaming under the bonnet before exploding a short while later. This gives you time to jump out and make a run for it to escape the blast.
There are times when leaving the relative safety of the jeep is necessary. One such incident is when you come across an armoury or other building. Run up to the door and a stick of dynamite is automatically attached.
There are loads of little touches that pull Fernandez well above the level of other Commando variants. When you approach a level-crossing the odds are that the barriers will be up. Hang around and they are lowered as a train chugs past, killing any soldiers on the track who die with a tragic scream. One jeep is parked at a petrol station. Get in the jeep and you can even drive through the car wash! Rockets can be launched to put a stop to armoured gun turrets, but blast one of these at a tree and it is reduced to cinders.
One thing Fenandez could do with is a proper title screen. The non-savable highscore table is not enough on its own. As far as I could tell, the landscapes in the game are continuous, not broken up into levels (if they are they must be pretty long because I never got to the end of one). I would have preferred to see a level system as it can overcome the problem of having miles and miles of ground to cover every game without a break. Still, Fernandez Must Die is about on par with Ikari Warriors in terms of gameplay and has some nice sampled sound effects on top of that, while there is still room for improvement on the theme.
Definitely in the running for anyone without such a game, this is one blast 'em up that will appeal to the aggressive instincts of all game players. The sprite may not look it but Fernandez Must Die is one hell of a violent game. But that's what arcade playing is all about isn't it?
A very simple action game, based on the idea of the legendary Commando. In this game, you drive an armed Jeep vehicle and have to eliminate all the enemies across the level. Rude graphics and sound.
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