One thing the first Beach Head game had going for it was versatility. Within the same game, you played a whole host of different subgames, which I think lent to its longievity and funfactor and eventually led to its status as a classic. And thanks to an old friend of mine, who was a bit of a nut regarding millitary stuff, I was introduced to not the first game, but also the sequel, which is the game I actually can't believe hasn't got a review for it until now.
Taking cues from the first game, the second pits you in the role of the allies who, in four different subgames, go up against the dictator. The mission, should you choose to accept it, is going in with a group of soldiers, disable the enemy gun position and get those hostages out of there. To make matters more interesting, you can have a human friend -- or, if you're so inclined; a guy you don't like much -- take the role of the dictator and do their best to hamper your mission, winner takes all, including gloating rights. My friend loved this game, of course, so I guess it goes without saying that he won most of the time. And naturally, he took full advantage of those gloating rights.
I'm not going to hold that against the game, though, because Beach Head 2 is quite the marvel in its own right. Mostly because it's a relatively simple game, though the controls are, at least in some cases, complex enough to give it some strategic value. The four subgames are also completely different, and despite being broken up with a multiload -- which may or may not be a bit of a thorn in the side for tape users -- the game doesn't really feel slow or monotonous.
For instance, the first game puts you in control of a chopper, whose role it is to get paratroopers down on the ground and behind cover before an enemy gunner position turns them to shreds. Once all the troops have landed, you get to control them as they run from cover to cover, mostly through a fairly intiutive control system whose only complaint I can level is the whole cycling marker thing. Get close enough, however, and it becomes your task to get those enemies close enough to let loose a few grenades, and hopefully take out that gunner.
Moving on from there, you are suddenly placed in the same type of gunner position you destroyed earlier, tasked with clearing the way for the hostages as they shamble over enemy ground, constantly under attack from moving trapdoors with enemies laying out mines, a highrise wall with enemies throwing down... rocks, I think... and enemy vehicles wanting to either shoot him down or merely squash him. The third stage has you loading the chopper with the remaining hostages and flying them to safety under heavy enemy fire. Once that's done, only the duel between the allies' leader and the dictator remains.
It's been so long since I played this game on an original C64, so I don't remember if it had any kickass loading tunes or images. But a quick reintroduction with this game on an emulator was enough for me to remember how easy it is to pick up and play merely by a quick rundown of the control sceme, and, subsequently, the many, many defeats I had to endure with this game when I played it against a friend many years ago. Hell, even the computer managed to beat me in points. And since I didn't play as the dictator, I can't even yell "CURSES!" afterwards like a true villainous loon.
Downloads: Music, Speech, Advert
|GRAPHICS - 6/10|
|The graphics of this game really aren't all that impressive. The sprites are mostly made up of stick figures, the CHOPPA is small, ugly and pixelated, and backgrounds are simple and bare-bones. The animation, however, is usually smooth enough to rival an Epyx game, particularly in the first two sessions. The game also have a few real nice touches, like how the machine gun slowly tears up the ground with its bullets. Naturally, if you compare it to newer games, like Flimbo's Quest or the Creatures games, Beach Head 2 looks positively pedestrian, but let me again remind you of the actually quite good animation, and with that, you can take away this: the game does look a good deal better than the screenshots show.|
|SOUND - 9/10|
|I actually don't think this game had any music. The sound effects are pretty good, though, and more than that, Beach Head 2 has a lot of speech in the game. When shot, you can hear the soldiers either do a blood-curdling scream or (presumably) one of the other shout "MEDIIIIIC!" The villain has an appropriate cackle too, and in the ultimate showdown, will also make threats mid-fight about how you'll never take him down. And if you shoot the hostages you are supposed to rescue in the second part, he will say "Hey, don't shoot meeee" in a whiny tone. Top stuff.|
|PLAYABILITY - 8/10|
|A rather neat touch I found about the gunner section is that they're judged by direction and distance. It's not completely perfect, of course, but you'll have to take into account that turning the turrent while firing won't make a straight line. Rather, you'll see it move in more of a circular fashion. Also, if I had to pick a least favorite stage, the third one feels more like your typical Zaxxon stage, where altitude matters as you fly either above or below things like fences, walls or tank shots. Of course, "least favorite" in this case means "merely great", so don't read too much into that.|
|OVERALL - 9/10|
|In many ways, this is what I would call a "cinematic" game. (Even if that term would give Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw hives.) Beach Head 2 would actually make for a pretty good movie -- or... well, it could have, if not for the fact that it would have to go up against a whole shitload of wartime movies. They're simple games, but the connectivity between the various section has a logical progression to them, and the duel at the end feels like a satisfying conclusion to the random events leading up to this finish. As such, Beach Head 2 comes highly recommended. It's not a game you'll tire of very soon, much less if you play it with your friends.... or your enemies.|