Out of all the intellectual properties to turn into a side-scrolling beat-em-up, a British hard rock band is not the first thing to come to mind. Motörhead (1992, Virgin Interactive) was that very band to get their fists punching on the Amiga, and Lemmy's hellraising antics in the lead role proves to be a surprisingly good choice.
You play as Mr. Kilmister himself who stumbles into a crazy predicament halfway through a tour. You see, in this world many people don't like rock music and prefer the likes of rap, country or punk. These so-called music lovers have all conspired together to kidnap the members of Motörhead and its crew in a far-fetched plot to rid the world of rock. Thankfully, Lemmy was having a slash (a piss, not that other famous rocker) and missed all the commotion. With his connection to magic, demons and lethal guitar riffs, he sets out to free his bandmates, and have a few beers along the way.
The humour here is decidedly British. Censor-fearing American developers would in no way dare to create a game where alcohol is a power up and trashing a hotel in a drug-fuelled rage a mini-game. You can even call upon some scantily clad groupies to flirt with enemies as a distracting special. As you play, however, the colourful screens and funny animations subdue some of the more extreme traits. This is no sordid Viz licence after all.
Special weapons range from a flirtacious groupie to something from a Lovecraft novel.
Each level tasks Lemmy with defeatig a gang of fans who worship different music genres. We have rappers hailing from Rap City, country music folk in Nashville and a punk-ridden Scrapyard among three others giving a total of six levels in all. Each are commendably distict and true to their own theme. The cast of enemies all have a small bio in the manual which goes to show the level of detail the designers went through. The graphics are pretty decent too, with backgrounds fitting in the style of the locations nicely. For example, graffiti covers the walls of the urban city streets in the rap level while a Cathedral infested with goths in the fifth level is suitably, well, gothic.
At the end of each stage, one of your pals await for you to release them from bondage (assuming they want you to). Once free, the two of you hop onto a motorbike for a seemless bonus section. Here you can collect coins for points or beer for health while avoiding bugs who'll not doubt play havoc with the windscreen (and your high-score).
That's not the end of the bonuses though. Once each stage ends, a mini-game unique to that level can earn enough extra points to make you climb the leaderoard. These range from a Tapper-esque beer drinking contest, a mad dash to stop your groupies from hailing cabs and leaving as well a stealing sushi from fat people in a Karaokeville restaurant. A lot of them control rather jankily in an effort to up the difficulty but to be honest, if you were as wasted as Lemmy is portrayed as, I'd have difficulty toppling stone pillars on cultish hippies.
Variety and visuals are all well and good, but how does the game play? This is the Amiga after all, so joystick controls were never the best for games such as this, especially when you're used to punching buttons in the arcade. You move with the joystick (here mapped to the arrow keys), but if you hold down the fire button those directions will perform different moves such as jumping, punching and burping (beer does get gassy). It's a control scheme that had somehow became the norm for fighting games on home computers at the time and I still find it awkward. Thankfully, the programmers took this control scheme into consideration when designing Motörhead so it quickly feels more natural than you'd expect. Attacks aren't about nimble-fingered special moves but about attack at the right time. Lemmy can move pretty swiftly and can get out a jam faily easily with a double tap left or right.
There are times where you are required to jumb over pits in a couple of the levels but any frustration is eased by placing them at points where you can easily avoid them until it's calm enough to solely focus on it. Again, jumping is damn awkward - position yourself, hold fire, then press up to jump. - but you're never forced to do it in a pinch. I navigated chasms and spikes only after an enemy wave has been defeated, so I didn't get any unwanted hair-pulling trying to pull it off. Overall, I'd say it's a game designed around a lacklustre control method rather than forcing that method in to a game where it doesn't fit. And that's the way to do it.
Each stage ends with their own bonus level, and they ask you to do
some dodgy stuff. Like grabbing women or trashing hotel rooms.
You have several power-ups you can collect during the game. The most common items are coins which give you points and Motörhead talismen that increase your magic strength. Magic is represented by three vials on the bottom right and they can be upped to three levels. These talismen are key to performing special moves and summoning screen-clearing demons. If you have at least one vial, you can perform a magic guitar riff which unleashes a fireball projectile from your strings that's so powerful it knows you back a bit too. It's quite hard to pull off successfully but when you do it can cause quite a bit of damage.
Fill all three vials to their first level and you get the first tier of superweapon. This summons a scantily clad woman to distract your lustful opponents for a brief while, giving you a few free hits. The second level summons forth the Motörhead symbol to drain energy from your enemies. Being a weak-ass sorta bunch, this will kill the rappers and weaker enemies entirely. Save up to reach the third level and a giant demon unique to the stage will destroy eveyone on screen.
For the Amiga, this beat-em-up is actually pretty decent. It won't de-throne the likes of Double Dragon (at least all but the Amiga version) but it wll keep you entertained for a good hour or so. One of the better and light-hearted uses of a license for the system.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses FS-UAE to emulate the Amiga game. Text Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 58 Mb. Install Size: 152 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Motörhead is © Virgin Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me