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One of the best action/puzzle hybrids ever made for the Amiga, Hewson's Netherworld translates onto the PC screen quite well, with minor losses (the wonderful Amiga music is gone, for instance) but with all the addictive gameplay intact. The plot of this side-scroller is very unique: you are trapped in Netherworld (purgatory, in other words). With your spaceship, you have to make your way through ten different hostile levels by collecting enough diamonds under time limit to reach the exit.
Sounds simple enough, right? You'll soon realize that the game isn't as easy as it souds. For a start, there are various alien dangers: demons, acid-spitting monsters, and many more. In addition to a slew of hazards, there is an equally diverse variety of items you can pick up. These can either be beneficial (extra lives, extra points, demon banes and wall breakers), or detrimental (energy drains, loss of steering etc). As if that isn't enough challenge, you'll come across practically indestructible mines. These ballistic bunions have a tendency to hug the landscape, bounce up and down, or just follow you around like radioactive sheep (although it sounds much better on the Amiga than the annoying BLEET from PC speaker). On top of that, there's the fact that the diamonds aren't just located in 'obvious' corners and junctions. Instead, they are deviously located in the seemingly-impervious-brick-box or the small-area-of-the-screen-covered-in-mines. And if all that wasn't enough, you've also got an unbelievably tight time limit. Despite the possibility of collecting the odd hourglass to restore 30 seconds to the clock, or using the many teleports for swift transport around the level, the limit is tough with a capital, emboldened, italic, 72 point 'T'. I guarantee every level will end with you frantically searching for the last diamond while the final three seconds drain away.
Sheer adrenaline rush and addictive gameplay of Netherworld are more than enough to make up for the lackluster graphics, which is not as sharp as it could be. Strip away the strange sci-fi/fantasy plot, and you've got an addictive gem not unlike classic Boulderdash. Each level's layout and ingenious placement of diamonds, coupled with time limit, makes the game more of a puzzler than an action game, although reflexes are still crucial to success. Highly recommended, especially to anyone who enjoys *very difficult* arcade/puzzle challenge and is looking for something different from the norm.
Rob's review from when the game was at CW#3: "A strange demonic world action/puzzle game. Netherworld wasn't one of Hewson's biggest hits but is quite an interesting game. It's hard but if you get into it, it can become addicting. To get you started: On each of the ten levels you have to collect the diamonds that are scattered around the level. The clock is your opponent as well as the various demons and mines. Shooting the demon's bubbles reveals good and bad bonuses, so choose wisely what you pick up."
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