After John Twiddy (of Last Ninja fame) left System 3, he joined forces with Mev Dinc to start Vivid Image. They took on many interesting projects, such as working on C64GS console (making a cartridge file system that emulated a disk drive). They also released a few games such as Hammerfist, Time Machine and First Samurai.
First Samurai is an arcade platformer with a very smooth scrolling screen. It features an innovative energy system in which you lose your weapon once your energy drops below a certain point. After that you will have to fight your way through hordes of enemies using your fist only. Once you get collect enough hit points you get your weapon back.
The monsters come in a large variety from pesky bats to life-sucking frog-like creatures. They all have one thing in common though: they all are very annoying. This is OK since it adds a fair amount of challenge to the game, but the monsters re-spawn at a very fast rate, which can get quite annoying at times. But this is a minor complaint.
The level design is interesting. The fact that our hero can climb almost anything like a cockroach makes the game somewhat non-linear. How can a samurai climb 90-degree walls like that is beyond me though. There are a lot of things to explore, a lot of baddies to kill and a lot of traps to avoid.
The graphics are top-notch. The sprites are beautifully drawn and animated, the backgrounds are colourful and interesting. The intro music (by the great Wally Beben) is also very good. There is no in-game music, only sound effects which are above average.
All in all this is an enjoyable game, which reminds me of Shadow of the Beast, Turrican and even the Commander Keen series on the PC. Recommended.
|GRAPHICS - 8/10|
|Impressive, just like all other Vivid Image games.|
|SOUND - 7/10|
|Excellent intro music and appropriate sound effects.|
|PLAYABILITY - 8/10|
|A very playable arcade adventure game that can get frustrating at times.|
|OVERALL - 8/10|
|Our beloved C64 may be sleeping the big sleep, pushing up daisies, enjoying a vacation in underworld, crossing the final frontiers...but games like this are what make us remember it until the day we sleep the big sleep too.|