Here we are folks, another arcade conversion graces me with its presence. Karnov, released on to the coin-op scene in late 1987 drew very little in the way of heat, nor attention. Despite the fact that it had tons to offer with it's nine levels of increasing diffculty and hidden puzzles. Still It didn't stop Activision from buying the rights to convert it. Karnov was then released the following year and Activision went really heavy on the advertising including double inside cover adverts. Karnov is one game that went down pretty well with the mappers too. Activision were attempting to give this one a new lease of life for the 8 bit and 16 bit home computers. Many critics had mixed feelings of this one thinking that the arcade was odd enough. I am presented with the tape version of Karnov and the reel is pretty damn long so I brew up another pot of coffee and roll up my sleeves to prepare for another write up.
Is this a scene from an Evil Dead movie?
End of level 2 baddie
Karnov presents itself in the form of a horizontally scrolling platformer. And it's a pretty large one at that. Your mission is to get the lost treasure of Babylon. Sound simple enough? Think again! Because before you can even consider getting your hands on the lost treasure you have to get the pieces of the map that are scattered around Babylon. Each piece of the map is guarded by a demon that, natarally enough, must be destroyed. This is a typically Japanese plot but surprisingly enough It's based in midievil Russia. So we set Karnov off in his venture which isn't an easy one. Karnov has the amazing capability to breathe fire so he's not going out there bare knuckled. Power ups to enhance your fire breathing ability are there for the taking as well as boomerangs, speed ups, Icarus wings, and bonus "K"s to help obtain a well needed extra life. The enemies are tough, ranging from dagger wielding Arabs to Hydras!
The CPC version is a slightly above average conversion and it's only fair to say this. Loading from disc is fine but tape users will find themselves punching the nearest inanimate object. Once loaded, it's plesant enough to look at. Four colours used which make the sprites look very crisp and clear. Sound is limited to spot effects which effective, they may be, impressive, they ain't! All these things aside, Karnov is quite faithful to it's Arcade parent. Everything is all in the right place and works well but you know that something is definitely missing. And that something is Speed! Know I know that Karnov could use about a month of Steroids and Gym training but his sluggish movement is nothing short of riciculous! And this is what ruins it all, right there. Even fans of the arcade couldn't put up with it for too long. Never did understand why programmers go for graphics over speed. Pointless!
Tower toppling time, a difficult task!
Here lies the corpse of Karnov, lets tear open the carcass and find it's cause of death as far as the Amstrad Version is concerned. Well the lack of speed, to me would have been then poison to start it's downfall. It gets punched in the gut by it's criminal excuse for sound and given its faults that make it on par with the Spectrum version, which is what gave Karnov the final blow to the back of the neck, putting this one out of it's misery. Despite it's similarities to it's arcade parent, it's faults dress Karnov up as a wolf in sheeps clothing. Leaving us with another glorified blank tape. Activision hired out the Software Studios team to do the dirty work for them. Comes as no big shock really considering the mess they made of Super Hang On the previous year. It came out as part of Oceans "The In Crowd" compilation later on that year and as part of a compilation it's not too bad. Which is why the following rank is given.
THE END RESULT:
Well drawn, but sluggish graphics.
No music. Poor sound effects.
Potential for some very addictive gameplay...
... If only it wasn't so damn slow!
THE BOTTOM LINE: 62%