Monday 3 May 2021

Ninja (Mastertronic, 1986)

Developed by Sculptured Software.

Designed and programmed by Steve Coleman, with music by Rob Hubbard. C64 loading screen by Jim Wilson. Originally released for the Atari 8-bit computers and Commodore 64 in 1986 by Mastertronic.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Bryan Brandenburg and Soft Arts in 1986.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Icon Design Ltd. in 1987.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Brian Beuken of Icon Design Ltd. in 1987.

Atari ST conversion: Programming by Steve Coleman, Graphics by Tanya Platt, Loading screen by Jez Nelson, Music by David Whittaker.

Commodore Amiga conversion: Programming by Rick Nooner and Bruce Milner, Graphics by Tanya Platt and Joe Hitchens, Loading screen by Jez Nelson, Music by Brad Dahl.

Arcadia conversion by Sculptured Software (further details unknown).

Released as "Ninja Mission" for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1987, and for the Arcadia in 1988 by Mastertronic.



Welcome to the second Mastertronic May at FRGCB! With any luck and time on my side, there should be three games to be dealt with this month, much like last year, and we shall start with a relatively big one: Ninja from Sculptured Software, designed by none other than Steve Coleman, who is also responsible for such classics as The Pharaoh's Curse and Rainbow Walker, as well as the 8-bit Atari conversion of Raid Over Moscow.

Ninja (a.k.a. Ninja Mission) was developed simultaneously for the Atari 400/800 and Commodore 64 by Coleman himself, making this comparison even more interesting to make than what it would normally have been, but I didn't expect that there were conversions for practically all the usual suspects - only the MSX is missing, really.

At the time of starting to write this entry, the ratings/scores at our favourite haunts are as follows: the 8-bit Atari version has a score of 7.7 from 762 votes at Atarimania, and the ST version there has 6.8 from 9 votes. On the Commodore front, the C64 version has 7.5 from 135 votes at Lemon64, while at LemonAmiga, there's 6.44 from 54 votes for the Amiga version, and separately, 7.0 from 4 votes for the Arcadia version, which is reportedly extremely rare, so the number of votes are no wonder. As usual, scores for the DOS version have been taken from Abandonia, where the editor has given it a rather sub-par 2.0 out of 5.0, while 1831 visitors have voted it a more respectable 2.9 instead. For the Amstrad scores, the review at CPC Game Reviews has a score of 5 out of 10, while the CPC-Power rating is 15 out of 20. Finally, since we don't have an up-to-date score from the Spectrum folks, the archived World of Spectrum score from a couple of years ago was 6.62 from 16 votes.



Ninja (Mission) is a side-viewed flip-screen arcade/action game with an almost painfully obvious martial arts tone about it. You control a ninja person in a ninja suit, making the ninja person as anonymous and storyless as you could ever expect and/or hope one to be. Your mission is to gather all the idols that have been spread around the palace by the evil ninja warriors. Killing the enemy ninja and other fighters is practically optional, but it's difficult not to, but all the fighting action happens in a fairly similar manner to games like the Way of the Exploding Fist and such, with the addition of throwable weapons. Also similarly to all the traditional arena fighting games, you only have one life to waste.

Cover art from the Atari ST version.
What makes Ninja stand out from the other flip-screen action games is, that all your enemies are procedurally generated according to your process in the game, but the number of enemies on screen is more or less the same on each game, as is the number of throwable weapons you find lying on the floor. In other words, each game is different, so while sometimes you will find it easy to complete the game in about 5-10 minutes, other times you will find yourself beaten to a heap of ninja apparel within the first five screens.

Combine the small elements of randomness to the otherwise simplistic style of the game, and cover it all with ninja apparel and a whiff of martial arts that was so much in vogue back in that part of the 80's, and you've got yourself a sure hit game, particularly if it's cheap. It's not groundbreaking, but it's good fun with the necessary amount of variety to keep you coming back to it, and it has ninjas. What's not to like? Well, there are some bugs in the game that depending on the version you're playing, either might or will eventually ruin the experience for you. But I'm getting ahead of myself.



Although we have more than enough versions of Ninja that don't really fit into the Loading section, we might as well examine the versions that have tape releases while looking at the loading screens.

Amstrad CPC: 4 minutes 27 seconds
Atari 8-bit: 16 minutes 15 seconds
C64, Mastertronic: 4 minutes 24 seconds
C64, Your Commodore: 1 minute 53 seconds
ZX Spectrum: 4 minutes 39 seconds

Concerning the tape loading times, it looks like a fairly levelled fight here, apart from the C64 re-release in a Your Commodore covertape and the Atari 8-bit tape, which is even more astounding in its length than usual. At any rate, the C64 has the quickest loader even in the original Mastertronic release, but if you're just looking for speed and not the original coverart and loading screen, the covertape in Your Commodore issue #2 from 1990.

Loading screens. Top row, left to right: Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC.
Bottom row: Atari ST, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore Amiga.

For every 8-bit version, other than the Atari, the loading screens are more or less pixelated versions of the European tape cover art, whereas the 16-bits use the disk cover art as a model. The exception that the 8-bit Atari makes is, that it shows a black screen with a bit of text on it for the first half of the 16 minutes it takes for the game to load from tape, and for the latter half, you see the text and background colours change on the screen every 10 seconds or so. The DOS version has no loading screen as such, for obvious reasons, but it does have a title card with no graphics on it, which shall have to do for this section.



Playing Ninja should be simple enough for anyone who has ever played any martial arts game - in fact, it should be even simpler, since there are less moves you can perform than in most arena fighting games. Since you can walk through the building as freely as your feet allow, the only special moves in that area are down, which not only ducks, but also picks up any throwable weapons from the floor; and up, which can jump a little on the spot, as well as jump through the ceiling, if there's a designated hole for such action. In the 8-bit versions, the flashing idols are picked up simply by walking over them, but in the 16-bit versions, you need to pick them up similarly to the throwable weapons.

After all the basics, you are left with six fighting manoeuvres. Just pressing the fire button makes you punch - repeatedly, if kept down. For other moves, you have to have the fire button kept down before doing anything else, and with that, moving the joystick forward will make you kick, up-forward diagonal will make you jump-kick, down-forward diagonal will make you crouch-kick, straight back will make you use a throwable weapon if you have any, and up-back diagonal will make you swing the katana on head level. Using the katana to kill is the most effective one, but also gives you less score than the more risky moves.

The way the game is constructed is more or less linear in the progression of difficulty. As you collect the idols scattered around the map, you will undoubtedly reach the top floor at some point, and after having collected all seven idols, you need to get back to the screen you started from, which is "Torii in the Sea". Mind you, you cannot access the topmost room, Akuma's Chamber, until the other six idols have been collected. The closer to the top floor you get, which is supposedly meant to be a linear progression, the more enemies you will come across in a single screen. On ground floor, all the enemies that you have killed will remain dead, but once you pass through the ceiling between second and third floors, the dead enemies start to respawn. Coming back down from the top floor, the number of enemies seems to become more or less random.

Regarding the enemies, though, there are only three types: a thug, a karateka and an evil ninja, and their level of difficulty ascends in that order. The evil ninja differs from the other two clearly by being able to do everything you are, instead of just kicking and punching, and he also takes the least damage from meleƩ attacks. Also perhaps worth noting is, that only two enemies are allowed to attack you simultaneously, even though there can be up to five enemies in a room at once; however, the DOS version makes an exception to this rule, by making it possible for all enemies in the room (max 5) attack you simultaneously.

As you would expect from a cheap game like this, there are a few oddities and bugs in Ninja, that have the ability to produce "ragequits", as they are called these days. A properly odd feature, not a bug, is that in most rooms, the enemies will merely stand around peacefully until you're close enough to alert them. If they're standing still, you cannot hit them with any throwable weapons, either, as if the throwables would only fly at a specific two-dimensional route, and a non-offensive enemy is not on that route. As a less offensive example of what you might consider as a bug, the entry rules of the floor/ceiling holes are inconsistent - sometimes you can fall through them by just walking over them, and other times you can walk over them with no problems. There is no obvious reason for this. As a more offensive example, sometimes any random enemy can develop sudden steel skin, which makes killing them particularly difficult, but they can kill you in a couple of kicks. The real killer bug, however, is the one where you can enter a room with no exits, so you will get stuck there until you reset and reload the game. Of course, there are more bugs in the game than I care to account, and different kinds of bugs for different platforms, but I'd rather just compare the actual game content as they're supposed to be, as far as possible.

One of the most characteristic and, however unfortunate, memorable things about this game is the text screens shown in transition between every room. There is surprisingly wide variety of length of time between all the versions regarding these text bits. As the 8-bit versions load the entire game in one chunk, the "approaching" texts are not really more than ornamental, if you could call them that, and they appear on the screen each time for a single second, and a little above that on the AMSTRAD. The DOS version's speed is largely dependant on your (virtual) PC's setup, but while the "approaching" texts might go through in less than a fraction of a second, you'll still be well able to play the game. The ARCADIA version has no text screens, while rather strangely, the AMIGA version has them, and they linger on the screen for about 2.5 seconds while the next room is being loaded from the disk. The ATARI ST version is the slowest by a country mile in this regard, as it takes around 5 to 7 seconds to load each screen. Takes away some of the enjoyment, really.

Another fairly basic playability factor is how fast and accurate the action is. It is fair enough to consider the C64 and 8-bit ATARI versions as the default, even if they have some slight differences in movement speed. Compared to all the other versions, though, the differences are barely notable. In the SPECTRUM and AMSTRAD versions, your walk is fastest, but the action slows down increasingly with the number of enemies on screen simultaneously. The DOS version can be either the slowest or the quickest around, again depending on your PC setup, but as you're most likely to be playing the DOS version using DOSbox, you'll find it difficult to make it run slow enough to be uncomfortable. The AMIGA and ST versions are comparatively slow and juttery, the AMIGA version notably more so. Again, rather curiously, the ARCADIA version is notably less juttery than the Amiga version, the movements are closer to being pixel-based than animation-cycle-based, and it's also slightly quicker.

While we're at it, we might as well make note, that the 16-bits have less good alterations in them than bad ones. The one good thing about the 16-bit versions is your increased pocket space for collecting throwable weapons - in the 8-bit versions, you're only allowed to carry three at a time. This is superbly important on the 16-bits, because killing your enemies without shuriken and flying daggers is slow, tedious and a matter of chance on which one of you dies first. The ARCADIA version isn't quite as unfair in this regard, but it's also not as easy as the 8-bits. The 16-bit versions also make the game more linear, instead of the free-roam maze it is on the 8-bits.

The ARCADIA version adds a few interesting little features, which aren't present in any other version. On ground level, the screen between "Shijo entrance" and "Torii in the sea" acts as a sort of barrier. Although you can enter and exit the screen, you cannot go through it from either side, as you get bombarded with an endless stream of enemies. The only notable thing it adds to the gameplay is the necessity to take the long way back after you have collected all the idols. You might wish to argue also the necessity of a second fire button for wielding your katana, but frankly, it's not. The big surprise here, which unfortunately I have to spoil, is that after getting the final idol, you have to fight Akuma himself, and this adds a whole different purpose to this game.

Getting back to the 8-bits, the SPECTRUM version has some severe problems. In fact, it's practically unfinishable due to, let me see if I can get this right: interrupts activating at the wrong time, resulting in areas of memory being overwritten, resulting in the disappearance of one of the idols. The game is also prone to crash often and randomly, so it's possible you won't even make it to the first screen before the game crashes. If you want to play the SPECTRUM version with any chance of getting to finish it, you basically have to download a bugfixed (by Einar Saukas) version of it, available at World of Spectrum. Happily, I can confirm this bugfixed version is finishable. It's just not as playable as you would hope for it to be, though. Fighting your enemies is, for the most part, superbly easy, as you only need to keep yourself jump-kicking and swooshing your katana every now and then, and you should be able to finish the game in no time. In fact, the bigger problem is, that all your enemies are too stupid to be able to deal you any damage, unless you give the evil ninjas a chance to use shuriken, and even then you can withstand three or four hits. The only real troublemaker is the way your character walks in segments, so you need to find a way to align yourself properly for each hole in the floor or ceiling, which can be more time-consuming than the actual fighting and finding the idols. So, even though it's practically more playable than the AMIGA and ST versions, it's doesn't offer any challenge at all, and as such, is worthless as a game.

Just to be clear, your character walks in step-like segments in all versions, but in the SPECTRUM version, this method has been implemented in such a way as to make going through the holes much  more difficult than in any other version. The AMSTRAD version feels closer to the SPECTRUM version in speed and segmentation of the walk, but at least it has no such problem with going through the holes. In the 16-bits, the segmented movements are even plainer to see in everything that the titular Ninja does, while the other 8-bits feel more rounded and smooth somehow.

Of all the versions, and despite its Amiga-originated problems, the ARCADIA version is the most enjoyable one all around. Although it's more linear than the original, it has more longevity due to the more strategic manner you have to play through the game, and it suffers the least from any really damaging bugs. The C64 and ATARI 800 versions are, quite logically, the best of the home computer bunch, followed by the DOS version. The AMSTRAD version offers a good enough challenge, but suffers from some of the same problems as the SPECTRUM version, so it takes the middle spot on the list. The ATARI ST and AMIGA versions are tediously slow and juttery, as well as practically impossible to beat, and the ST version is only barely less tedious and impossible than the AMIGA one. The SPECTRUM version in its original bug-ridden form, easily takes the last place here, and although the bugfix by Einar Saukas fixes many of its problems, it still suffers from the utter lack of challenge, so no change there.




As you might have gathered from the section above, a large part of the differences in the game's playability has to do with how our protagonist moves around, which naturally also affects the graphics in some form. But since that's more about movement, you shall see that in the accompanying video, which is linked in the Overall section.

Title screens and control options, left to right: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, IBM-PC compatibles.

Ninja is one of those rare games that start with no title screen, unless it's necessitated by optional controls. The AMSTRAD and SPECTRUM versions feature such a menu, as does the DOS version. Since it's all just text in some uninteresting form, it doesn't really add anything to the game from a graphical point of view.

Title sequence from the Arcadia version.

For the ATARI ST and AMIGA versions, the title screen is just the loading screen with an additional small black slab with a text scroller at the bottom left corner, so I'm not really sure it counts. Might as well count the loading screens from the other versions if we take that route. Singularly, the ARCADIA version does the arcade thing properly, and features a unique high score table, an attract mode and a title screen. Nothing too fancy, but at least it's very much separated from the rest of the game.

In-game screenshots from the Commodore 64 version.

Here we have five action screenshots from the COMMODORE 64 version, plus an example of a text screen between screens. One of the screenshots shows the untimely demise of our hero in a random room, and the others are taken from "Torii in the sea" (top left), "Shijo entrance" (top right), "Zashikigura" (bottom middle) and the final room "Akuma's Chamber".

The cheap production is almost painfully visible from the info panel at the bottom, which consists of text written with the basic system font and an energy bar on top of each active character name. The "approaching" text is also written in the same font, which feels a bit underwhelming. The background graphics are simple, yet atmospheric, and the primary area occupied by all the sprites is grey with some yellow lining for almost every single room - Akuma's Chamber being the only exception. Speaking of which, Akuma's Chamber changes the main character colour from yellow to light blue, which looks freakishly ominous in the context, but otherwise it's one of the least impressive rooms in the entire game. Some of the room titles don't exactly correspond with the colours featured in the pointed features, which would suggest that the game was primarily designed for the ATARI 400/800, but this problem with colours could have easily been deflected by renaming the rooms to suit the C64 colours.

On a more positive note, the characters are fairly well animated, at least for a budget game; the throwable weapons looks neat and crisp in their hi-res monochromeness, and the idols have that little important bit of flashiness and detail about them that make you want to pick them up.

In-game screenshots from the Atari 400/800 version.

The ATARI 8-BIT version doesn't really differ much from the C64 version. You can see the obvious differences in palette and a few select colour choices here and there, as well as the basic system font used for all the text, but you have to look a bit closer to notice any real differences. The most notable thing is, that the idols have no real defining features about them, and they don't have any flashy effect, either. Also, the throwable weapons use the same lo-res wide-pixel graphics as the rest of the game, so they are less well defined than on the C64 - but at least they have different colours: white for knives and yellow for shuriken. Also, Akuma's Chamber has a bit of blue lines in the floor, but that's barely noticable. At least the animations are pretty much the same as on the C64.

In-game screenshots from the Amstrad CPC version.

If you want 8-bit graphics with more contrast, the AMSTRAD version should suit your purpose, since it looks otherwise very similar to the ATARI and C64 versions. The only dramatic change done for the CPC version is the new font, which is very stylized, almost to the point of being unreadable. The idols are a bit flashier again, but look more like pancakes with a face, and there's an odd bug here that sometimes leaves the face features on the floor after you've picked up the idol. An unimportant, yet notable change is the absence of knives, and the shuriken all look more like large neck ornaments. The last big change is, that although Akuma's Chamber's defining colour remains light blue, the sprite colours remain yellow/orange. The animations are much as they are on the C64 and ATARI, but their movement have some odd restrictions that weren't present in the previous two, and things do get slowed down a bit with more enemies on the screen.

In-game screenshots from the Sinclair ZX Spectrum version.

The SPECTRUM graphics are much as you would expect - largely defined by the monochrome sprites, which are well-enough animated, but as I mentioned, there's some severe slowdown issues and even glitches when there's more than two characters on the screen. Although the lack of colour and detail was to be expected, the blockiness and relative lack of colour in the backgrounds is a bit worrying. Also, the idol is a black lump of weird mass, and the throwable weapons are just as black and basic as possible. Apart from the figher sprites, the only really positive thing I can say about the SPECTRUM version is the different font used in the "approaching" text.

In-game screenshots from the DOS version in CGA mode.

Despite all my efforts, I haven't managed to get to Akuma's Chamber in the DOS version, but at least there are two graphic modes to showcase here - the regular CGA mode and the more colourful Tandy mode. The CGA version is, quite frankly, less colourful than the SPECTRUM version, but you do get practically all the graphical features in the Tandy mode as well. The CGA version has some odd graphical glitches here and there, with missing parts of some structures replaced by letters and other odd characters, but at least this doesn't make the game unplayable. The palette consists of red, orange, green and black, but there are much more details even in the CGA mode than you get on the SPECTRUM, and some of the rooms have more details in them than even in the original ATARI and C64 versions.

However, the most remarkable thing about the DOS version is the info panel, in which you can now see two different fonts being used, and even more spectacularly, the hero and the enemies are now represented by pictures, which practically enables the maximum number of active enemies to go up to five. The energy meters themselves have also been redesigned to now have a solid black bar underneath the decreasing red bar, and whenever someone is taking damage, the corresponding energy bar flashes.

In-game screenshots from the DOS version in Tandy mode.

The Tandy mode in the DOS version is much more colourful, which makes all the details much more refined than in the CGA mode. The one minor disadvantage here is the unimaginative font used for the info panel and "approaching" texts.

In-game screenshots from the Atari ST version.

Now we get to the more advanced versions, if you cannot consider the DOS version as such. The ATARI ST and AMIGA versions are visually very much alike, with only a couple of notable differences. But, let's start with looking at what's different compared to the versions we've seen prior to this.

Although the Tandy mode in the DOS version could be called a step above the 8-bit ATARI and C64 versions, it's still miles behind the 16-bit ATARI and AMIGA. The level of detail and shading in the background graphics and characters is absolutely staggering here, as is the attention to detail in animations. The only thing that the DOS version had more interesting was the info panel, which again has more text than graphics here - only the idols are shown as a row of little red icons instead of text. My only problem with the 16-bit graphics is the way your movements are so clearly animated to have a certain amount of frames, so you know exactly how long each movement is going to take to animate, so it doesn't feel quite as organic as the 8-bit original in that sense.

In-game screenshots from the Commodore Amiga version.

The differences between ST and AMIGA versions are minuscule in screenshots, since the only real difference you can see here is the constantly black border and constantly light grey floor colour. But there is something a bit off in the AMIGA version's flow of animations compared to the ST version, which I can't really put to words, so you will have to look it up in the video provided in the Overall section. Still, it's not something you notice unless you've been playing the game for a few days, so I can't bothered enough to give one version preference over the other.

In-game screenshots from the Arcadia version.

If the ATARI ST and AMIGA versions felt like huge visual upgrades to the originals, the Amiga-powered ARCADIA version is another leap in enhancements. You now have some of the backgrounds animated, more ornaments added to some rooms, differently coloured enemies, much more grandiose idols and even different floor materials. And of course, then you also get Akuma himself, as if everything else wasn't enough of an upgrade.

Even though I confess to having a soft spot for the C64 version's graphics, since I grew up with that, there is no point denying that there are better looking versions out there. The 16-bits are certainly in a league of their own, not to mention the Arcadia version, but even the DOS version in Tandy mode beats all the 8-bits in overall presentation. The AMSTRAD version is quite good, but of all possible things, let down by its uncomfortable font and a lack of any hi-res details, which is pretty much what the ATARI 8-BIT version is, only with correct colours. Still, they're both much better than the SPECTRUM version, which only has nice looking monochrome ninja sprites going on for its benefit. The CGA mode in the DOS version fall somewhere between the CPC and SPECTRUM version, simply due to its lack
of colour.




You can basically divide all the versions of Ninja (Mission) in three groups. First off, the original C64 and ATARI 400/800 versions, which have the same original soundtrack by Rob Hubbard. Second group has the AMSTRAD, SPECTRUM and DOS versions, which are lumped together for having no music at all, and scarce sound effects. The third group has the ATARI ST, AMIGA and ARCADIA versions, all of which follow the original soundtrack, structurally.

The original Rob Hubbard soundtrack is rather iconic, and gives all the Exploding Fists and International Karates a run for their money. The main theme tune is very oriental and builds a mesmerizing melody around a single chord. This is played whenever there's nothing else happening on the screen, and you are able to walk peacefully. Whenever you come into a room with an alive enemy, you hear a gong first, and then you are likely to hear some faint random flute melody in the background as you beat your enemies to pulp. After defeating your enemy, the main melody kicks back in. If you die, though, the faint flute melody stays as a reminder of relative peace on Earth despite your having failed. The C64 version has a slight advantage over the ATARI version due to the SID chip's capabilities, but because this is also a matter of opinion in this case, I'm giving the two versions an equal spot.

Although the second group has no music, the quality of sound effects should probably be taken into consideration. The DOS version has only random brummy noises from the beeper (even in Tandy mode), the SPECTRUM version has a couple of different beepy noises for entering a room and beating the crap out of everybody, and the AMSTRAD version has the most sophisticated and varied effects of this lot, since it has the advantage of an actual sound chip. But I'd say the SPECTRUM and DOS versions are on the same level with each other.

Of the three 16-bit versions, the ATARI ST was the first one to get made, and you can hear it in the relative lack of effort in the AMIGA port. However, while the ATARI ST version only has the same amount of tunes as the 8-bit ATARI and C64 version, the AMIGA version has an exclusive intro tune. It's not good, but it's exclusive. The main in-game tune is not particularly uplifting either, unlike the ST version with its more upbeat tempo and the inclusion of percussive elements. The flute-like melodies in the fighting bits are a bit more structured and harmonized than their counterparts on the 8-bits... but the
AMIGA version doesn't have them, because the swishing and smashing takes all the room for sound. The ARCADIA version is like a supercharged version of the AMIGA version, now with ninja screams and death moans sampled for sound effects, as well as punches and kicks crushing and katanas clinging and swishing with more eloquence. The music is barely less uninteresting, but it's just a bit nicer to listen to in the background than the droning AMIGA music. Still, I'll take the ST soundtrack any day over either of the Amiga versions in this case.




Because Ninja/Ninja Mission is a game you can complete in 5 minutes with good luck, there's not much of incentive to compare this game with gameplay as the primary focus. If anything, this is an experience of senses rather than action. From that point of view, it would be fairly easy to announce the ATARI ST version the most optimal version around, but we still need to go through the old mathematical nonsense.

1. ARCADIA: Playability 7, Graphics 7, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 19
2. ATARI ST: Playability 3, Graphics 6, Sounds 6 = TOTAL 15
3. COMMODORE 64: Playability 6, Graphics 4, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 13
3. ATARI 8-BIT: Playability 6, Graphics 4, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 13
4. COMMODORE AMIGA: Playability 2, Graphics 6, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 12
5. DOS TANDY: Playability 5, Graphics 5, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 11
6. AMSTRAD CPC: Playability 4, Graphics 3, Sounds 2 = TOTAL 9
7. DOS CGA: Playability 5, Graphics 2, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 8
8. ZX SPECTRUM: Playability 1, Graphics 1, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 3

If this seems harsh in any way, you only need to try to play all the versions yourself to find out exactly why the order is the way it is, and I cannot emphasize enough the utter lack of overall quality in the Spectrum version. If you need further proof of the above scores, but are not that bothered to try the versions out yourself, here's a compiled video accompaniment to suit that purpose, at least to some extent.

That's it for now, see you next time with more Mastertronic material! Stay healthy and keep on retrogaming!

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