Game Review: Kane (Commodore 16 and Plus/4, Mastertronic)

Kane, Commodore 16 and Plus/4, Mastertronic - 2C0096
  • 6/10
    Score - 6/10


Kane was always going to be a cut down version compared to the Commodore 64 version, in order to fit the game into 16K.  However, the two levels that are here are reasonably playable, with some nice use of colour and graphics, and compared to the similarly cut down BBC Micro version is much better in its execution.  It is a competent effort and shows that care and attention was put in.

User Review
4.5/10 (1 vote)

The original Commodore 64 version of Kane did have some Wild West action across four levels, with the horse riding in between shooting down the birds and a shoot-out with the outlaws in the town.  Although this was often difficult, the challenge was good fun.  Realistically fitting all four stages into 16K of memory would have either required a multi load or a cut down single load version, and Mastertronic went for the latter.  It would have been nice to have a dedicated Plus/4 only (or C16 with 64K RAM expanded) version with all four stages intact – maybe they could have put that on the B-side and the Commodore 16 one on the A-side.  So, in effect, like the BBC Micro version, you have the two levels.

Shooting For a Birdie

After a really basic title screen where the game’s name is spelt out with a character looking like a bullet, the game commences.  You will need to use the bow and arrow to shoot down the birds -and as many as you can to exchange them for peace tokens to allow you to enter the town.  The key here is to effectively try to shoot a bird close to the top of the screen and you may be able to bring down a second bird lower down with some good timing.

Graphically, this does look the part – well defined hills and a stream, with the birds flying across in the foreground with some reasonable animation on the birds.  You do find you will need to stay right side with your crosshair and to shoot upwards as this seems to be the best way to get the birds.  You also cannot shoot another arrow until the existing one has either left the screen or hit the bird, so patience is a key, and you need to decide sometimes which bird to take down.  Killing five birds gives you one token, killing ten gets you two and so on.  Wasting arrows is not advised here as running out of those exits the level, so have your wits about you.

Dirty Old Town

Once you have run out of arrows or enough birdies have headed home, and provided you have one token, you are off into the town to face the outlaws in a shoot-out.  You need to move quickly to target the outlaws and kill them with your gun, with a reload happening when you move off either side of the screen.  The graphics here again are drawn fine, with the pseudo 3D effect of the town view looking good, and the outlaws peering out from doors or windows of the buildings in the town.  The crosshair is nice and easy to see and does feel reasonably accurate.

The second stage though can be quite difficult, with outlaws shooting you too quickly at times without a chance to respond.  It would have been helpful to have the bullets showing their final trail at the bottom of the screen so you could easily see where they are firing to and if you are going to be hit.  Before you know it, you are losing peace tokens at a regular rate and returning to the title screen to have another go of the game.  I do think tweaks could have been made on the difficulty level, but I suppose they did not want to make the game too easy either.

Kane and Able

The crosshair on both levels does work well and is responsive to the joystick movements.  The arrow may shoot a little slowly at first, but once you get used to the speed, you can time the arrows to be fired at the birds with good results, and that does up the score nicely when you are able to.  The shoot out can really be a case of run and shoot rather than stop at the same place, so timing your run to get to the screen edges to reload is essential.  The sound effects are a little weedy to be honest and it would have definitely improved things had a tune played somewhere.

Final Thoughts

Considering that Kane was squeezed into the 16K available for the Commodore 16, it is a competent effort. The two levels on show do at least give you a good flavour of the original Commodore 64 version, and unlike the BBC version has proper joystick controls which are responsive, and a much better utilisation of the colour palette to draw the screens – an example being the background sky being three shades of blue.  Whilst not the greatest Mastertronic game by some way for this system, it does at least have a good playable challenge which should offer a good few hours of entertainment.

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You know what we think but why not share your thoughts on this game! Let us know what you think of it in the comments below, or add your own score using the slider in the summary box at the top of the review!

1 Comment

  1. It’s okay… It lacks the two horse levels found on other versions. Shooting the birds is a little ponderous, and I found the town level quite tough too. It gets repetitively dull quite quickly, but the graphics are quite nice. It’s ok for a quick hi-score game. Not one I really return to though.

    4.5/10 from me.

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