Saturday, May 25, 2024

Developer: Special Fx Software Publisher: Ocean Release: 07/91 Genre: Action

I don’t hate licensed video games just because. I hate them for a variety of reasons. One, because they are usually awful and a waste of your hard earned money. Another is that you can tell when the game in question is a quick cash in made as cheaply as possible to maximize profit. But most of all I hate them because they waste a good license. You cannot tell me that Predator would not make for an awesome action game with a competent team behind it instead of the mess we got instead. The Untouchables is a game that is big on ideas and variety but lacks the polish to tie it all together.

I will give Ocean credit they certainly go for it with this one. The Untouchables more or less follows the plot of the movie in which Elliot Ness and his associates aim to stop Al Capone and his bootlegging operations in the 1930s. Scenes from the movie are the inspiration for levels in the game and it switches between many play styles. The Untouchables was originally released for the Commodore 64 and other European PCs in 1989. The NES game makes many changes that make the game worse like limiting ammo and making the overall game harder. The original release was great, this one not so much.

the Untouchables 002 the Untouchables 003 the Untouchables 004

Nearly every stage in the Untouchables is its own unique minigame. The Streets and Alleyway are a third person cover shooter in which you must kill a set number of enemies in each segment before time runs out. Ness and his crew can only fire two shots before they return to cover and reload. This is an interesting mechanic but one that has problems. These sections feel like they were designed to use the NES Zapper but you are stuck with the controller. The targets duck behind cover after a second and the targeting reticule is very slow. The timer for each segment is very tight and it feels like blind luck if you succeed. The Alleyway is especially vicious as it has eight segments in total. It is a shame these parts barely work as they look stylish but will frustrate the hell out of you.

The Warehouse is the only side scrolling action level. Here you must collect pieces of evidence by killing specific enemies with grey hats. These bad guys actively avoid you which would normally be cool and fun. Here however the awful controls make this a chore. The jumping feels off and unfortunately you spend a lot of time doing just that as you try desperately to keep pace with the enemies. If you run out of your limited ammo you must waste precious time finding more and then hopefully catching up to the grey hats once again. Honestly this stage is more annoying than anything but thankfully it can be mercifully short.

The Border Raid is possibly the most frustrating. The mob has placed their trucks in the road to use as cover while they attack your squad. Your goal is to shoot the bottles of alcohol as evidence of their misdeeds. Here you roll side to side to move about the field very slowly to find the bottles, all the while the mob respawn and take pot shots you cannot dodge. Once again it feels like this was designed for a light gun as you move slowly and your targeting cursor is even worse. Beating the clock before you die comes down to luck with this one. I see what they were going for and it is a cool set piece. But the execution is lacking.

The Railway Station is a top down level in which you must protect a baby carriage as you guide it through the station. You can only push it from the side and touching any obstacle or enemy will cause rapid damage and death. This one suffers in its design. You can only see a limited distance ahead and it is far too easy to get caught in the environment and die. This is a long level and it is repetitive. Memorizing the map should be fun but instead it is tedious. Too bad it is not fun.

The last two levels are a shootout. To free the hostage you have a single shot and must shoot the thug’s hat off. The game lets you practice if need be with good reason; if you miss you must complete the previous level all over again which is stupid. The finale pits you in a one on one battle against Capone’s henchman. You have only have six shots with no opportunity to earn more. You can only miss once and still succeed. Each shot drives him closer to the edge of the building and I will admit it is tense. Compared to the other stages it has the least problems and is easy if you are patient. I suppose if you have the fortitude to make it this far the game owes you that much.

In Closing

They almost had something with the Untouchables. I appreciate the variety in gameplay styles and even enjoy some of them. But in between those moments are mountains of frustrations that ruin the overall fun. Even a few small tweaks here and there would have made this a tolerable game. If they had simply ported over the Commodore 64 game with no changes this would have been excellent. Instead we are left with a mess that further reinforces the stereotype that licensed video games are bad.

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles