This is Zatanna in the style of Elvgren. Actually half the picture is from an Elvgren original, than altered and redrawn by French artist Cedric Poulat. It is great stuff all around. Find more from Poulat at his DeviantArt.
Dubbed as the “game without music,” Switchblade II for Lynx confused many Lynx owners in the U.S. for several reasons. To start with, what was this game even a sequel of? There was no Switchblade I for Lynx, or any other system for that matter (at least in the states).
It didn’t take until many years later that I did my homework and discovered that this game, as well as the prequel, first appeared on the Amiga computer in England. It was made by Gremlin Software. While the original game took on a more 80′s-esque horror-comedy tone (like Ghosts and Goblins, Karnov, or Toki), the sequel had a more serious tone, perhaps on par with Ninja Gaiden or Bionic Commando.
Switchblade II for the Amiga was considered one of the first “console” style video games on the computer (i.e. action run n gun). It was akin to other games like Turrican. It set the stage for other action games on the PC like Mega Man X (some of us might remember the special controller the latter game came with).
It is no secret that many years ago, many computer games simply lacked music. Switchblade II was no exception. Since the Lynx version was based on the PC version, it too lacked music. So while it is a shame that there isn’t much music in the game, at least it wasn’t solely laziness that led to its absence. In all fairness, however, there are actually 3 pretty good music tunes in the game (which puts it ahead of classic-status Lynx titles like Blue Lightning and Turbo Sub). As such, the reputation of being the “game without music” is a bit of a misnomer. At least we are not left with a “Footloose” situation where music is considered a disgrace!
The game is mostly faithful to the Amiga version, but it isn’t a perfect rendition. The original had a few more different enemies and the level designs are different. The Amiga version was also somewhat more non-linear. It would have been cool if instead of opting for a “faithful translation,” Atari could have instead went “above and beyond” the call of duty by adding music, extras, and 4-megs. What we are left with is a slightly above average run and gun romp.
All things considered, this game is a winner on the Lynx. While many games focused on showcasing the Lynx’s super advanced capabilities such as scaling and rotation, this game remains one of the few sidescrolling action/platformers (along with Rygar, Toki, Ninja Gaiden, Gordo 106, etc). Like Toki, it moves at a slower pace than its Contra or Mega Man brethren. The game is fairly lengthy with about 25 stages and 7 different graphic sets including but not limited to a facility, cavern, waterfall, volcano, and a harbor. You start out with just a switchblade (which is short range but very powerful). There are many unique powerups that you can buy with coins that the enemies drop upon defeat. The weapons vary from laser shots, shurikens, heat seekers, and a large dragon that hovers in the air. You can also get half/full health, hints, limited invincibility and ammo. It is a fairly complex little game when compared to what was on the Gameboy at the time. There is always a neat boss to fight at the end of each stage as well (such as Metal Slug style mechanized tanks and flying machines). The game poses a medium challenge, and beginners may be well-advised to save money for free lives rather than weapons (since you lose weapons upon death). There are no continues, but again, free lives can be purchased as well as found in secret walls.
Storyline: The game has a neat anime feel and stars a super-powered hero named Hiro with a cybernetic arm (like Mega Man). He defeated an arch-nemesis named Havok 200 years ago and was awarded immortality so he could await the arch villain Havok’s next return. It’s basic storyline stuff, but that is usually preferred in action games since dialogue boxes tend to slow things down (remember Contra Hard Corps on Genesis or Mega Man X on SNES?).
Box art: I rather enjoy the anime-esque art, although the colors are somewhat pale. It is a front-view “strike a pose” portrait shot, which I generally do not prefer to perspective or candid shots. The odd-looking buildings are interesting, and remind me of the moon-city background in the Atari 5200 version of Moon Patrol.