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Orc Attack – ZX Spectrum Review

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Orcs always seem to get a bad reputation, whether it’s in literature, film or indeed games, they’re always portrayed as evil, nasty and always looking to kill or eat someone. Maybe they just need a little bit of understanding, a sit down with a nice cuppa and yarn about their daily life. Maybe that would help? The bad news is, no it wouldn’t. How could I make such a misjudgment about these creatures? Always looking for the good in everyone, that’s my problem. I took on Orc Attack thinking that maybe the Orc kind found in this game would prove everyone one wrong but alas, they’re just too evil to take a day off from being fiends. Such a stereotype.

Ooh, am I meant to be scared? Well yes, it turns out I am. Argh!

Forward thinking Orcs?

I mean, there you are attending to your general castle duties (dusting turrets and the such, I would imagine) and out of the nowhere, you peer over the edge and see hundreds of Orc’s attacking (hence the name of the game, I suppose) out of nowhere without any kind of provocation. Evil, I tell you. Evil. Not only are they attacking with weapons but they’ve been clever enough to bring ladders with them too. You have to give them some credit for thinking outside the box here.

Other evil doers would probably try and climb by hand or rope but oh no, the Orcs, though stupid looking, are actually one (ladder) step ahead of the other evil creatures on the evil creature scale. Not that that helps you at all, in fact it’s quite inconvenient as it happens. I try to admire them for their creativity and forward thinking as it’s quite commendable, but it’s difficult when you get overrun with orcs trying to kill you with arrows.

Half a pound of tupenny rice, half a pound of treacle; swing your sword in his face – pop goes the…..erm, Orc.

Kill ’em all!

So, you’re on the receiving end of an attack – how on earth do you relieve yourself of this infestation? Luckily, your castle in Orc Attack does have some ammunition to hand. At each end of the castle you’ll find rocks that you can drop onto the upcoming Orcs and they squish with a nice green and red splash. Lovely. These can be dropped either down the ladders or onto the Orcs that a milling around the bottom of the castle. It’s a lot of fun catching them unaware. I mean there they are, walking around minding their own business (but thinking evil things no doubt) and then suddenly they feel a shadow encroaching above their head. By the time they arch their head backwards to see what’s incoming *splat!* Beautiful stuff.

Oi! Who gave you permission to put a ladder there? Oh, you’re Orcs and you don’t care. Prepare for war!

Should you be a little slow with these rocks and you’re faced with an orc who has managed to ascend all the way to the top, you can now get out your sword and swat away until they make that splat motion and scatter their bodies parts around a 30 yard radius. Should said Orc or any of his friends make it to the top unattended, then then precede to hack away at your castle with a chisel-like implement and you’ll soon see your turrents decay and leave you more vulnerable to attack from the arrows below. Leave them alone at the top of the ladder long enough and very bizarrely (and indeed very creepily) their head will split into two and fire out arrows at you. Odd and very chilling *shudders*.

Slow down, will you?

Enough talk about blood and splattering, as fun as it is – let’s talk about gameplay. Orc Attack has only three controls; left, right and fire, which is all you need really though it can serve slightly tricky. How, I hear you ask? Well, moving left and right is not as simple as other games. Moving in either direction will have your protagonist what seems like running in the direction pressed and will speed up depending on how long you hold it. Pressing the opposite direction will not halt him instantly but just lightly apply the brakes as it were. Getting him into exactly the right place will sometimes take some tinkering. This can be a little frustrating especially if you’re at the stage where you’re becoming overrun with Orcs. Argh!

Looks a bit hot down there, you’d better watch out, Orcs! Oh. Too late.

Controls aside, you’ll find your weapons at each end of the castle in Orc Attack. When the enemies are at the bottom, you’ll find there are rocks for you to collect and drop on them; as they they reach the top, the rock will turn into a sword which you can grab and start swiping and watch the blood fly.

Orcs! You’re fired! Literally.

Play for a few minutes and you may well find the Chalice of Doom, as I like to call it, waiting for you in your weapon space. What does the Chalice of Doom do? Well, should you be lucky enough to grab one, which can be difficult as it only stays there for a few seconds until it turns back into a sword so you have to be quick. Drop it to the floor and watch fire spread across the ground and engulf any ladder in its way and subsequently any poor Orc who’s stood on one. Well, I told them they weren’t allowed to put them there. No one to blame but themsleves.

If it’s not Orcs, it’s some weird wizard person floating skulls up towards me. Can you just let me get on with my cleaning?

Surely, just hoards of Orcs is enough? More enemies, you say?

Needless to say, once you have done away with the wave of orcs, it’s the end of the level; and after you’re shown an animated head count of the orcs you’ve destroyed, you get a ‘sub-level’, as it were. Complete the first level and you’re greeted with a wizard or possibly a witch (I can’t decide which. Or witch?) floating some evil looking skulls at you. Damn them. It’s another tricky job for you here as your sword is redundant and you are reliant on dropping rocks onto them. Should they make it to the top, they fly at you taking a life from you when they make contact. Ouch.

Other mysterious, random and creepy creatures greet you inbetween each level should you be lucky enough to battle your way through. Personally, I can only get to about level three these days so can only tell you about two of them. Back in the day, I’m sure I saw a lot more of these extra enemies that you have to take on but you’ll have to excuse my lack of skill at this moment in time (or indeed, play it yourself and see how far you can get!).

You get rid of the Orcs, then the wizard/witch guy and now I’m faced with what looks like a Bee Gees tribute act. Ha! Why are you firing lightning at me? Was only joking about the Bee Gees bit.

Ah, Orc memories…

When I think about it, Orc Attack was a pretty much ever present in my very early gaming days, but one I forgot about for a very long time. Playing it again recently made me remember how much I enjoyed it. It will never make a Top Ten or Top Twenty of many Speccy fan’s games list, but that’s not really important. What we have here is a game that, though sometimes frustrating (those controls really do take some getting used to) is ultimately fun to play; with the added extra of gore to adding to the appeal.

Orc Attack is definitely a challenge but challenges are good, right? Besides, if you’re not very good at it, at least you enjoy watching the Orcs go ‘Pop!’ if nothing else. Yes, sound is a little limited and the Orcs bear a passing resemblence to Andy Capp but why should that matter? Now go get those rocks, start dropping them and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Chalice of Doom. Of Doooooooom!! Muhahahahahaha!

Score: 7/10

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