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From: beeper@vibraphone.lirpa.com (Beeper McChumley)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga.reviews
Followup-To: comp.sys.amiga.games
Date: 1 Apr 1993 05:10:38 GMT
Organization: The Amiga Online Review Column - ed. Daniel Barrett
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Keywords: game, arcade, bloodbath, commercial




	BLAZEMONGER is an extremely fast, highly violent action/arcade
game.  Features include multiple virtual joysticks, 18-dimensional
hyperparallax scrolling, 160-decibel digitized sound effects, and live
dynamite.  WARNING:  some graphic scenes may be too upsetting for casual
users, or even for experienced axe murderers.


	Address:	666 Satan Speedway
			Chickenmilk, WI

	Telephone:	(900) EAT-DEATH   [$195.00 per minute]
	FAX:		Get REAL!  Fax machines are for WIMPS.

	E-mail:		BLAZEMONGER@blazemonger.blazemonger.blazemonger.bm


	$9.95 (US dollars).  To quote the outside packaging, "REAL software
doesn't have to be EXPENSIVE; and with BLAZEMONGER, you PAY FOR IT LATER!!
(Heh heh.)"  Most stores sell it for full list price because it's so cheap.


	Despite the (widely advertised) fact that BLAZEMONGER breaks every
known rule of "correct" Amiga programming, the game runs properly on all
Amiga models under all versions of the operating system.  The literature
claims that BLAZEMONGER can run on other brands of computers, and even on
other household appliances, but we didn't test this out.


	This game has the heaviest multi-level copy protection scheme that
I've ever seen, even in my dreams!  It was obviously devised by a sick mind,
and is a little difficult to describe, since I'm still not completely sure
what it is.  But I'll try.

	The master disk has a non-standard format which cannot be read by
DiskCopy nor any of the existing hardware or software copiers.  Believe me,
we tried!  My dealer and I used every copying mechanism he had in the store,
and all that we accomplished was to melt several disk drives and an Amiga
4000.  (He was NOT pleased.)

	The next level is a "look up the word in the manual" scheme which,
considering the effectiveness of the disk-based protection, seems
unnecessary.  But the manual lookup is pretty well integrated into the game,
and you quickly get used to typing the 255-letter keywords as needed.  (The
manual, BTW, is the largest I've ever seen for *any* computer application,
let alone a game!  It's HUGE!  Have you ever seen the complete set of DEC
VMS manuals?  This is bigger!!!)

	The next level is where things start getting weird.  After the game
boots from the master floppy (this takes about 0.00001 nanoseconds), you
must remove the disk from the drive and -- I'm serious here -- plug it into
the parallel port!  Yes, you plug the DISK into the PORT.  In this way, the
disk acts as a "dongle" to insure that you can't use the disk in a second
Amiga while you are playing on the first.

	The remaining 9 or 10 levels of protection get progressively tougher
and stranger.  Frankly, I don't really know how to describe them.  One of
them looks like a big, black, sticky, rubber blob that covers the entire
monitor, and yet somehow allows the graphics to show through without any
interference.  Another is a small box of yellow dust (spores, perhaps?) that
must be sprinkled around your room before you boot the game for the first
time.  (This only needs to be done once, unless you move your computer to
another room.  The company will send you more dust free of charge.)  A third
mechanism consists of two large iron "walls" or "monoliths" with hundreds of
steel spikes sticking out.  While you are playing, these monoliths must be
standing on both sides of you.  Now, they don't appear to DO anything... and
they aren't CONNECTED to anything... but still I get the creepy feeling that
they are built to SLAM together, with me in the middle, if I try something
illegal.  Needless to say, I have *not* tried copying the game with these
babies installed.  (However, the game won't boot without them.)

	I know this all sounds pretty strange, but it's not really that
inconvenient when you consider how much fun the game is!  After a while, you
don't even notice the protection any more.  Some of my less patient friends
have purchased a second Amiga just for running BLAZEMONGER so they don't
have to do the "protection ritual" all the time.

	Just for fun, I gave the program to some of my super-hacker friends
to see if they could break the copy protection.  Their confident smiles soon
turned to frowns of frustration, and then screams of agony, as they
attempted to get past the various deadly mechanisms.  Nobody was successful,
and one of them had to spend a few weeks in a mental hospital!  Personally,
I think that BLAZEMONGER INCORPORATED could invent a whole new computer game
whose object is to crack this bizarre and twisted puzzle! :-)


	After reading about BLAZEMONGER for years in comp.sys.amiga.advocacy,
I finally decided to check it out!  I was surprised at how inexpensive it is!
I managed to get the last copy on my dealer's shelf.  After doing the whole
copy protection ritual, I popped the disk into my A500 and booted up!

	Folks, the opening animation is AWESOME.  I don't think I've ever
seen a more terrifying use of a pair of tweezers anywhere.  Even if you
never play the game, you MUST check out this intro.

	Once the game begins, BLAZEMONGER quickly takes off.  The arcade
action is fast and furious as thousands of deadly enemy menaces divebomb
you.  The game takes place on a series of dungeons and worlds, each one with
an unknown number of levels (rumored to be up in the hundreds of
thousands).  It's unbelievable how much stuff they packed onto a single disk!

	You can make your "hero" character male, female, or one of several
thousand different alien races and sexes.  The character generator is very
sophisticated, and can "roll up" your character entirely automatically (the
fastest method), or you can do it manually, or a combination.  All the usual
features are there:  height, weight, strength, intelligence, armor class,
hit points, etc.  But there are also some unusual ones:  blood type,
preferred musical instrument, hat size, number of fish, etc., and some of
these come in VERY handy in the later levels of play, so choose carefully!!
I had to quit my most successful game and start over because I didn't equip
my hero with enough bowling balls.

	Joystick control is phenomenal.  Kudos to the programmers at B. INC.
for the incredibly smooth and realistic handling.  In fact, I had the eerie
feeling several times that the *hero* was controlling the *joystick*, and
not the other way around.  Weird.

	So, how is the gameplay?  In a word:  HARD!  This is *not* a game
for beginners, or even for intermediate players.  This game will give even
the most advanced game gods plenty of trouble.  Despite several weeks of
non-stop playing, I have been unable to raise my score above "3".  This is
partly because of BLAZEMONGER's difficult scoring system which deducts
points from your score whenever you mess up, or sometimes even at random (I
think -- but it's hard to be sure, because there is so much going on).  But
even if the scoring were different, the playing itself is nearly
impossible.  I don't want to pat myself on the back, but I finished
"Turrican" in 20 minutes, "Shadow of the Beast" in 18 minutes, and "Battle
Squadron" in a record-breaking 655 seconds.  But BLAZEMONGER is in a league
by itself -- I just can't beat it!  I can barely get to the second level!!

	Even so, the difficult gameplay has not prevented me from enjoying
the game.  The scenery, when there is any time to look, is beautifully drawn.
It looks like every screen was raytraced in 36-bit color and then
hand-edited for detail... and at 5000 frames per second, that is a
*tremendous* number of screens!!!  (How the @%*&$! did they get it ALL ON ONE


	As I said above, BLAZEMONGER comes with a gigantic manual.  In it,
you'll find every piece of information you'll ever want to know about the
game (except cheats, of course!).  It also includes a history of the game
and the company, lists of recommended music to play during the game, maps of
many other Amiga games (!!), tables of logarithms in several bases, several
hundred recipes, the complete Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (part of
the copy protection mechanism), printouts of all source code and
documentation from the first 800 Fish Disks, several thousand pages of legal
disclaimers, and much, much more.  I can't believe that you get so much
information when the game itself costs only $9.95!!  The paper itself is
worth more than that; I don't understand how BLAZEMONGER INCORPORATED makes
any money.

	BTW, I think it's a little ridiculous that BLAZEMONGER INCORPORATED
recommends that you read the entire manual before playing the game.
Realistically speaking, I'd be decomposing in my grave long before I'd even
finished the first volume.  Hell, I don't even know what is *in* most of the
manual because the freakin' Table Of Contents is slighly longer than an
average encyclopedia!

	Personally, I'd like to see BLAZEMONGER's documentation come on
CD-ROM, since it's so huge.  Building an extra wing onto my house to store
the manual was feasible, but only because I work in construction.  Some
users might not have the patience for this.  A ten-meter-high stack of CD-ROM
discs would be much more convenient.


	BLAZEMONGER's graphics are the most obviously stunning part of the
game.  Like the TV ads say:  no other Amiga game even comes close.  I tried
playing "Shadow of the Beast III" after a game of BLAZEMONGER, and SOBIII
looked so pathetic that I tossed it into the trash.

	The copy protection is annoying at first, but it's not so bad once
you get used to it.  (Those monoliths still give me the creeps, though!!)

	My only real complaint is the packaging does not adequately describe
the EXTREME level of violence and gore in the game.  Although the box is
shaped like a plastic explosive wrapped around a lit stick of dynamite, I
don't think that's enough of a deterrent for innocent little kids.  Also, the
screen shots on the box are relatively "tame" compared to most of the game.
There is a brief warning on the box, but it says only that the game is "not
for the squeamish."  I think they should change it to:  "not for the
squeamish who don't enjoy seeing human heads forcefully pressed through a
meat grinder and served to carnivorous, belching slime-beings that looks like
piles of flaming tyrannosaurus excrement."


	There is NO comparison.


	[Minor spoiler]

	I thought I had found a bug on level 3.  Every time I pressed the
elevator button and the giant spyrochetes jumped out, the game appeared to
"freeze", and nothing I did had any effect.  A quick call to BLAZEMONGER
"Customer Service" cleared up the problem -- my hero had been breathed on by
an invisible ice monster, which froze him (and all of the surrounding
countryside!) solidly in place.  In later games, I learned how to avoid the
ice monster, so the problem went away.


	My experiences with BLAZEMONGER's "Customer Service" department
have been mixed.  Although they answered my question (above) with
great efficiency, they also claimed that I owed them several hundred dollars
in "protection money" for continued support.  When I protested, they sent
a representative to my home to "discuss" the matter, and this helped me
to understand why regular, monthly payments to the "Customer Service"
department were a good idea.

	Out of curiosity, I asked the "Customer Service" department why
their name is always written inside of double quotes.  They said it was
for "legal reasons" but would not elaborate.  And charged me another ten


	The disk media and all accessories are warranted for the first two
thousand games of BLAZEMONGER.  This might sound like a lot, but it really
isn't, since it's normal to lose several hundred games of BLAZEMONGER before
you can even plug in the joystick.  But everything has worked reliably for
me so far.


	There is no other game like BLAZEMONGER, and there is no other
experience like playing it!!  I've seen various games that call themselves
"Blazemonger-killers" [sic], but none of them compare to the awesome
spectacle of the real thing.  It's a game that inspires intense loyalty in
its fans, too.  Even as I lie here in my hospital bed, waiting for the burns
and lesions to heal, I am eagerly awaiting my next session with the Ultimate
Game.  And NEXT time, I'll remember to jump BEFORE the napalm hits the beef


	I hereby transfer the copyright of this review to Daniel J. Barrett,
current moderator of comp.sys.amiga.reviews, because he is such a swell

	Copyright 1993 by Daniel J. Barrett.  All rights reserved.  This
	article may be freely distributed as long as it is distributed in its
	entirety.  It may not be included in any publication without the
	written permission of the copyright holder.

Respectfully submitted,
Beeper McChumley
1 Prosio Fall Road
West Chester, MA 11111


   Daniel Barrett, Moderator, comp.sys.amiga.reviews
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