Saturday, March 06, 2021

Frenetic



Cor Blimey!

Those with a good memory may remember seeing Frenetic here on AtariCrypt about five years ago but my review was, ahem, less than favourable. If I remember correctly, the graphics were nice and I thought the gameplay was well-balanced yet I oddly rated it as nothing more than a cheap & nasty Amiga port. Well, that was a long time ago and I figured that I needed to revisit Core's vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up. Let's see if I was wrong...

Frenetic transports us slap-bang into the 23rd Century with soulless scientists still debating over the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Well, as often happens in the world of sci-fi gaming, life on Earth is under attack and this time it's by pesky aliens from a planet called "Mozone". Hmm, anyhow it's our duty to head into the unknown to pave way for the safe travel of earth's vessels and help prevent the extinction of humanity. Sounds like fun?


Giant trees and rocks throughout level one and it's pretty much green throughout!


Big levels, Big Guns and Big Monsters. Gameplay?

There are eight ginormous levels stuffed with hundreds of aliens out for human blood. Some will stroll into your line of fire whereas others swirl majestically onto the screen so bang on the fire button and kill as many as possible. Power-ups are available along the way to upgrade your ship's firepower and can also bless that with different types of upgrades: improved forward firepower, speed, side-armaments, shields, etc. Sadly, the pickups areas are few, so I was often left vulnerable and underpowered after losing a life. Yes, all power-ups are gone after dying.

Hang on a moment, do you have a friend? Well, there is an option for two-players which is brilliant and certainly comes in handy on those harder levels. Sadly, I have no friends... Sniff... boohoo...

Finally, each stage has the expected end of level boss and they are huge beasts. When I say huge I really do mean it. They will take lots of time and firepower to defeat, but most aren't really that difficult unless you have previously lost your power-ups. Then you can expect the battle to last a long time... a very long time!


Later levels might look funky but the gameplay remains exactly the same!


Aesthetics

The backgrounds are generally excellent on most levels, especially the first using tons of colour with artwork that I liked. The enemies move spritely using different patterns and the bosses are ginormous creatures taking up most of the screen. Sadly, the scrolling isn't great and the ST has many vertically-scrolling shooters that move much better than they do here. The graphics look better in these screenshots compared to when actually playing.

Music is by Martin Walker and is great, I love it!! Not only that, but it works well alongside the sound effects too I thought. Sadly, that same tune plays throughout which is incredibly disappointing and a massive shame because Martin's one-track is quite excellent. I know I would have enjoyed listening to more from him...


Some of the bosses are great and some are... rather rubbish!


The CryptO'pinion?

Well, it looks like I wasn't wrong after all? At best, this is an average shoot 'em up but, if you can find a friend then it will be a little more bearable. Well, for a few games anyhow. Frenetic needed more progression, more power-ups, more pizzazz. It's boring. So boot up something like Xenon, Wings Of Death, SWIV or Flying Shark.

What I liked: the first couple of levels have well-balanced gameplay and I even reached the third stage - without cheating believe it or not! However, the best feature of all is the two-player mode which is fantastic and certainly helps to (partially) compensate for the things I am now about to moan about.

What I didn't like: the power-ups are desperately needed to defeat the bosses but these are lost after losing a life and new pick-ups are very scarce. Each level is a long slog without variety, excitement or progression and the repetative tune becomes irritating. Basically, I'm getting a nasty whiff of a cheap Amiga port.

Reading this back, I feel that I'm being too harsh or perhaps I'm in a bad mood today? Okay, am I wrong? Is this a great shoot 'em up and I'm talking rubbish? Let me know what you guys think in the comments below.


Rob & Lee, coder and artist for Frenetic. Gee whiz thanks, guys. A lame ending screen too!

1 comment:

  1. I think you're pretty much spot on with this, and to a degree, your previous review (I've not played it since the 90's so right now I'm going with your first review, but i'll give it another go sometime soon). It was a pretty poor conversion to the ST, and imo not a great shmup on either formats.

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