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Review: Capital Punishment from PXL Computers/ClickBOOM
By: Jason Compton
1996 saw a lot of unlikely things for the Amiga.
It seemed unlikely that Escom would go bankrupt after what seemed to be a
good start to 1995, it seemed unlikely that VIScorp would suddenly show up
and want to buy the Amiga (and unlikely that they would succeed, but that's
another story), it seemed unlikely that we'd see so many new initiatives to
bring the Amiga into the next century.
It was also pretty unlikely that one of the most talked-about Amiga games
of the year would come from Canada, but there you have it.
Capital Punishment was the toast of the European magazines, who couldn't
talk enough about it. And despite some delays, CP was indeed released at
the end of the year, with basically everything it promised.
For those of you who have somehow missed it, Capital Punishment is a
beat-em-up of the two-player, 2D variety. What it lacks in player variety
(only four "human" warriors at your disposal) it makes up for in quality,
compatibility, and gameplay.
Capital Punishment ships on 7 disks and requires an AGA machine with a hard
drive--and 2+ megs of Fast RAM are highly recommended. It will function
properly on all processors, including 060s.
Getting Ready for Punishment
Installing the game is a bit more of a chore than I expected--for reasons
not quite explained, you need to either have a registered copy of LHA, or
copy the included LHA keyfile into your L: hard drive directory. This is
frustrating since unless you see the little yellow sticker on the box
telling you to do so, you might not do it, which will get you a hung
The game is fairly simple to set up beyond that, with an option for
Parental Lock which disables some of the more objectionable points of the
game. You should take the game up on its offer to create a bootdisk, since
the game demands so much Chip ram that you can more or less forget about
trying to start it from Workbench. Such is life.
However, be careful what name the disk uses when you install to the hard
drive--be sure it's not an assigned alias but a true partition name. I had
to manually rename the reference to "work:", since the partiiton in
question is actually "hd1:" in my setup. This was a careless oversight on
their part, but not a major obstacle.
Go ahead. Try to play the computer right away after setting up the game.
I bet you're dead within 30 seconds.
Capital Punishment is damn hard in one-player mode, no matter how you slice
it. It's full of options to make your demise more interesting, however.
Each combat screen comes with its own set of traps--spiked walls, electric
shocks, and big meathooks, to name just a few. You're welcome to disable
these, as they can often lead to an earlier death than usual--but sometimes
they're your only hope of beating the computer.
CP is the first game I've seen with as many play options for measuring
damage. Not only is there the concept of body and head stamina, but you
can play in traditional Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat energy mode (a set
amount of energy is given to each player, which is reduced by absorbing
blows), tug-of-war mode (energy is relative to the beating you've taken and
dished out, and a blend of the two.
There are a variety of ways to tackle the game--as an epic, where you are
on a quest to defeat an evil wizard, as a tournament or league, or as a
straight one-on-one test of skills. Depending on the mode you pick, up to
four humans can be in on the action, taking the joypads when their number
Recommendation: Get good at the game playing against a friend. The
computer is merciless, and you'll be quite frustrated at first. It doesn't
help that the instructions don't explicitly tell you the moves available to
each player. I also recommend playing the computer in a non-epic game, so
that it will use a human combatant as opposed to the alien menaces you meet
in Epic mode.
Capital Punishment has features I haven't seen in Amiga beat-em-ups to
date--exceptional artwork, realtime lightsourcing, fast-paced but not
disorienting action, and a wealth of play options. It also plays
exceptionally quickly from the HD, and the music, speech, and sound effects
are outstanding for creating atmosphere. And the AI is among the most
effective and brutal I've ever seen--there will be no Mortal Kombat-style
"Keep doing flying kicks" victories here.
CP makes full and good use of CD32 gamepads, and I strongly recommend that
you pick a couple of them up if you're going to play any serious CP.
Single-button joysticks and the keyboard may also be used.
A word about the game's copy protection--it looks as though it was
something of a last-minute addition, as it comes as a small slip of paper
with a number of colored designs with codes below them. You match the
screen prompt to the tiny (easy to lose) piece of paper. It's not horribly
obstructive, but I lost my Worms codebook for a few months, and that was a
significantly larger document than this. My advice is to keep your CP box
(it's good looking anyway) and keep the slip inside it at all times.
Demona, the female warrior, has been a source of controversy since the
first CP demos of late 1995 and early 1996. She's your typical female RPG
figure, wearing exceptionally comfortable "basically topless" leather. She
remembered to pack a whip when she went to the sewers, but forgot a bra.
Alexander Petrovic, the game's producer, and I had a number of discussions
about the game over the past year, and he was pretty dead-set against
removing her (or at least, her more visible features) from the game, and I
agreed that there was nothing to get upset about, basically, but that was
before I actually saw her implemented in the game as anything other than a
non-functional character selection option.
In the game, she's got a few crass poses that take the character from being
a mildly amusing tip of the hat to silly depictions of women in fantasy
settings to an embarrassment, and the spelling here is intentional. I'm
not advocating you use the parental lock, but in the end Demona is a
juvenile low point in an otherwise excellent game.
It's impressive enough that CP works effortlessly, beyond the necessary
boot disk, on just about any AGA Amiga configuration out there. The game
is in PAL despite its North American origins, but by now we're all used to
PAL flicker over here.
CP is a masterpiece of a 2D fighting game, with unsurpassed gameplay and
graphics better than my previous nomination for "most attractive
beat-em-up", Elfmania. Its level of difficulty ensures you won't be done
with it in a matter of days. I'm toasting Capital Punishment's success,
and looking forward to more from ClickBOOM.
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