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Are you a shuriken or a shurican't?

Between 1983 and 1987, Durell Software produced a handful of games which could compete with the best their fellow 8-bit publishers had to offer. Largely remembered for the big-selling Falklands tie-in, Harrier Attack, Durell also tried their hand at more outlandish projects - such as the superbly named Fat Worm Blows A Sparky. In the middle of this mainstream weirdness was Saboteur's early stab at the stealth genre; though one which relied heavily on traditional arcade elements.

The player is cast as a pyjama clad ninja, who must infiltrate a business complex, make off with a data disk and then scarper in a chopper. Rather charmingly, this disk is a 5.25", so you're presumably stealing a copy of Granny's Garden for the BBC Micro.

Blocking the way to this primary school classic are a selection of guards, automated weapons, angry mutts and (on higher skill levels) strategically placed doors. Luckily, having studied hard at ninja camp, our sneaky fella has an array of nifty moves at his disposal. Security forces can be immobilised with a punch or flying kick, whilst dogs and ceiling-lasers tend to require some nimble dodging. Some careless person has also left a selection of weapons lying around, which it would be rude not to take advantage of. Where else will you get the chance to dispatch a persistent pooch with a hand grenade?

The building itself is a 2D, flip-screen maze, but one which can be learned relatively smoothly. This somewhat cuts down on Saboteur's replayability, as once the basic pathways are discovered only artificial blockages can prevent the player going where he pleases. Finding the correct position to climb a ladder can also get a bit fiddly when flustered. However, the sizeable sprites, catchy soundtrack (really!) and covert antics should be enough to steal away the hardest hearts.

8 / 10

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About the Author

Peter Parrish


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