C64 Review of Shackled from Issue 40

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Kein is not a happy man. Seven of his best friends have been captured, and are being held in a maximum security prison. His mission: to rescue and lead them back to safety.

The game begins with the armour-clad Kein standing on the first level of the prison. As he travels through the maze of corridors he comes across barred prison doors, opened simply by blasting them. Behind these are either one of his friends, a guard, or (usually) an empty cell. On discovering one of his friends, Kein gains a weapon, displayed as an icon and used as desired. These include grenades, shuriken stars, disks, shock waves, boomerangs, cushion balls, and fireballs.

Sword, axe, and spear-wielding guards reduce Kein's energy on contact. Bonus items are available throughout the dungeons, including coins to boost energy, keys, rings that increase shot speed, necklaces (speed up movement), and diamonds that kill all adversaries on-screen. Treasure chests, barrels, lamps, and crowns are all discovered for points.

Once all of the cells have been searched on a level, Kein must collect the correct key, and lead his freed companions to the exit. The next level is then entered and Kein continues his quest until either his energy runs out, or he has liberated all of his companions.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Luke

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Paul Glancey
Though it's nothing more than a variation on the Gauntlet theme, Shackled's game design does have its good points. Ahh... if only the same could be said of the game's implementation, which, to say the least, is unimpressive. The graphics seem to have been designed by someone with no eye for art, this being particularly true of the sprites which are chunky, glitching splodges of pale pixels frequently resembling nothing in particular. Sound is similarly unlovable, consisting of a gloomy and repetitive music which only the volume knob can tame. Aesthetics aside, I could complain about the prisoner following routine which takes as its guide the player's joystick movements, often resulting in prisoners getting stuck on corners and in doorways or even off-screen. In fact, annoyance with this 'feature' is about the only threat to the player's progress, as I was overcome with indifference halfway through my first game, during which I reached level 10 almost unscathed. Not a game to sell your boiled egg collection for.
Gordon Houghton
Yeah!!! This is what we want! OK, I'm only joking - I don't really want this at all. Personally, if it was a choice between playing this game half a dozen times and eating my own bile, the green stuff would win hands down every time. It's not really the multiload that puts me off - nor is it the poor instructions, an annoying tune, the wooden sprites on casters, the multiple bugs or the boring backdrops; what really irks is the terminally dull gameplay. The action is neither difficult nor hectic, and the little enjoyment you glean from the first live minutes rapidly turns into chronic tedium. The arcade original is nothing to write home about, and this is simply a bad attempt at a bad game. If you see it on your local software shelf, tell it in no uncertain terms to go away.
Poor multiload, terrible instructions, weak use of joystick and several bugs are only rescued by the two-player option.

Flickery scrolling, badly animated and ill-defined sprites set across plain and repetitive back-drops.

Inept dirge and no sound effects.

The first game lasts far too long, with unintelligent opponents and dull action rubbing it in.

One game's enough.

A horrible conversion of an obscure and unattractive arcade game.