=3. ARNIE 2 (89%, issue 32)

Arnie 2 is almost universally hated in the murky world of the Commodore 64 forum (“unplayable garbage” and “a great cure for insomnia”, to pick a couple of posts at random), so it was quite a surprise when we were compiling the Best Budget list to see it appear so highly – and above the original.

arnie2review

This was the last month before Commodore Format‘s rebrand, but the changes had been dripping in for some months. Note the colour backgrounds, which were a rare thing at launch.

To contextualise, Arnie 2 appeared in mid 1993 and was one of the last batch of commercial games to make it into the shops. Commodore Format was running out of new software to talk about, so its appearance on the cover was not surprising but definitely wouldn’t have happened even 18 months earlier. Was it possible, we wondered, that in attempting to generate excitement around the C64 CF was a little generous to this Zeppelin £3.99-er? We loaded it up to see.

IT’S MORE OF THE SAME 

First things first. The storyline and general gist are exactly the same as in the original Arnie, so if you wanna read about that you can get the goss here. What we’ve got this time around is more of the same but with bells on: more bombs, more enemies, and an extra mission.

BUT DIFFERENT

Arnie, as you’ll have read in our first piece, was the legendary Chris Butler’s attempt at a remake of Commando. This sequel is absolutely nothing to do with him, though, and was coded in-house by David Sowerby. He was behind a string of Zeppelin games in the early ’90s, some of which – Carnage and the top-rated Sleepwalker – were not too shabby. This, though, rather smacks of “can you have a play of Arnie and make some more?”. The original was Chris Butler’s labour of love. This is a sequel pushed out to make a few quid before the C64 died off.

Commodore_Format_PowerPack_31_1993-04

This demo from CF31 accidentally gave away the game in its entirety for free if you knew what you were doing.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT?

It isn’t actually as bad as the internet would have you believeThe graphics are nicer than the original, we’d say, though as you’ll see from our video there are some comically disproportionate sprites (men as big as huts, etc). And you can switch weapons this time around, instead of just being stuck with whatever you’ve picked up. But the collision detection is poor to the point of unacceptable, and many players will throw down their joystick in frustration before sampling the increased playing area and extra mission. Unless…

THE INFAMOUS ‘CHEAT’, AND A COMEDY POWER PACK MOMENT 

At the start of the full game, a glitch means it’s possible to sneak under a piece of wire and reach level 2 very quickly. This oversight also works in the demo on Power Pack 32 and bypasses the blocks on accessing the rest of the game. It’s all there. You can get to the finish and even see the ending screen this way. In effect, CF had accidentally given away most of the game for free – although most casual gamers would never have known.

SUMMING UP

It’s not a bad game, but it’s not an 89%-er and certainly not worthy of the front cover. It is understandable that CF wanted to keep a buzz around the C64, something which was getting more and more difficult. That said, Commodore Format was still somewhere kids went to find out which games were worthy of their pocket money. You can’t just give a mediocre title a decent score because you want it to be good. It’s a bit of a misfire, in all – from Zeppelin and CFCommodore Force‘ 57% is much nearer the mark. Stick with the original. CF

CF SAID: “Not devastatingly different, but enough to make it worth buying even if you’ve got the original.”

WE SAY: The collision detection spoils everything, and it really should have resulted in a way harsher final score. 


With thanks to Frank Gasking. Read about his search for the lost C64 games here.

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