Thursday, 27 February 2014

Sgt. Helmet Training Day (NES/ZX Spectrum)

You have to hand it to the Mojon Twins, those chaps turn out more ZX Spectrum games than Ocean did in the 80s. The Twins have some seriously durable code magic at work as their engines seem to lend themselves to whatever devious design they throw at them.

Sgt. Helmet Training Day is a fine example of them rising to a challenge, as from what I can understand (via Google translate) this game is a direct retaliation to the claims the Mojon Twins 'don't do run n' gun'. I must admit when I think back through their titles I can recall plenty of maze games and floaty platformers, so some of my assumptions still stand but I'll go into that later on.

Playing as a rookie in boot camp, your training requires you to face the ultimate live-fire exercise. You mission is to roam the level collecting the explosives to destroy an evil master computer whilst fending off bad guys with limited ammo - and trust me when I say its only the ammo that's limited as the enemies reproduce quicker than rabbits. This initially is frustrating as you'll deplete your reserves quickly, however after a couple of attempts you'll learn the best way to survive is speed - get in, grab the gear, and get the hell out of dodge before the four guys you just shot pop back to life.

I initially approached Sgt. Helmet Training Day like a typical Mojon maze game on the (aforementioned) assumptions that I could take my time and plod through the game carefully and slowly as normal. However, this is simply not the case in Sgt. Helmet, as in order to survive you must think fast and move even quicker. After a few attempts you'll become a seasoned veteran ready to run, gun and collect C4 like lightning. The game is short and tough to beat, but yet like the majority of Mojon releases it lacks replayability once mastered; I can't see myself devoting much more time to Sgt. Helmet, although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience whilst it lasted.

On the presentation side, the graphics are nice and simple - again, very typical of what we have come to expect from the studio, and this is no bad thing. The sprites are chunky, and enemies and obstacles are clearly presented. As the level progresses upwards the terrain does differ slightly and always makes you think about your plan of attack. The menu music is solid, yet due to memory constraints (the game supports both 48KB and 128KB models) there is no music in-game, so you'll have to make do with farty-sounding noises and bleeps instead.

In conclusion, the Mojon Twins have proved their point; they can indeed deliver an arcade style 'run n' gun' when they want to. This game won't have its name go down in history as the definitive shooter on the platform, but what it does it does very well indeed.

(Please note that since writing this article a port of the game has also been released on the NES, but this particular review was written specifically for the ZX Spectrum version).

Download the game here (from the Mojon Twins website).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).
3.5 out of 5