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Aaargh! There's a giant monster coming to smash our village in search of those huge slices of pizza and fruit we've hidden...
Most games put you in the role of the good guy, charging you with protecting the world, saving the princess or other such honorable deeds. Few are the games that encourage you to indulge your most homicidal and dark urges! It's a shame because given the chance to swap sides most games relish the opportunity. Just look at Dungeon Keeper I and II. That wasn't really a great strategy game, the combat was pretty dismal and the actual missions felt like a tutorial right up to the final levels and yet it's a game many players look back on with great fondness. The reason for this can only be that for once you got to cause some mayhem and destruction just for the sheer hell of it.
Rampage of course was great fun; I don't know a single gamer that doesn't rate it as a good game. In my youth I inserted many a shiny coin into the arcade version and snapped it up when it appeared for the home computer. I still waste the odd lunchtime punching my monstrous colleagues off buildings. Like Rampage, Aaargh offers you the chance to smash things up, eat people and generally act like a giant monster. There aren't many games around to sate that urge, Rampage is an obvious example, Movie Monsters on the C64 was another and the excellent War of the Monsters on the PS2 is the most recent example I've come across. All of those games are a lot of fun and Aaargh is too.
Aaargh offers a sort of 3d landscape that you can move around, allowing you to go into the screen as well as out rather than climb up and down as in Rampage. The aim of the game is to destroy all the buildings which allow you to progress to the next level. You have a choice of two monsters, a giant ogre and a giant lizard. Both of them seem to be identical in terms of abilities so the choice is purely aesthetic. Both can punch in all directions including up and down and can also breathe fire, though this seems to take a little while to recharge. As you smash buildings terrified villagers will pour out and scatter around the screen. Punching them allows you to snatch them up and eat them; you can also find food and monster eggs inside the buildings. Eating anything boosts your health which is never a bad thing. I liked the way some levels feature giant statues of one or other of the monsters, perhaps in an attempt to placate them which evidently hasn't worked.
Whereas Rampage was pretty easy, Aaargh is not! The most deadly enemy you'll face is the catapult. This flings rocks at you who can cause major damage and unless you deal with it pretty promptly you won't last long. Rather annoyingly you'll struggle to line yourself up exactly to get your punch in and the thing moves around quite a lot making killing it quite difficult. Once it's dealt with though you are fairly free to obliterate the villages in peace. Flying things that may well be hornets or giant bees attack you, as do something that looks like a fire-crapping seagull but they are no match for a good burst of flame. You can play two player which is quite fun for a while but no match for Rampage if truth be told. It's worth playing 2 players even if you're on your own as it will give you a better chance as the enemies will split their attacks between the two monsters and there doesn't seem to be any extra attackers.
How to rate this game? Well in terms of looks it looks its age but everything is clear and not too heavy on the eye. The PC speaker sounds are irritating but once you actually get into the game they are quite infrequent so it isn't the end of the world. It's a challenging game, even seasoned city stumpers will struggle to progress but for a coffee break bash it's quite fun. It's worth a play especially if you like the genre and whilst it won't be replacing Rampage on my hard drive it's fun to see how far you can get. One last point, the game allows you three methods of control; Keyboard, Joystick or Mouse. I was quite surprised to see the mouse option and after trying out the keyboard option first I quickly found the mouse to be much more intuitive once you've got the hang of it.
Though it might be possible to play on DOSBox I had no joy and had to run it in pure DOS, where it ran perfectly (Win98).