on 26 December 2011
Ah memories! Who Shot Johnny Rock was one of my favorite arcade games as a kid - I used to spend countless hours on Sundays in the early 90's, feeding the machine 20p's even though I had long since finished the game and seen every ending (there are four, generated at random, depending on which suspect 'dunnit).
A few years later, my parents, by chance, found me a copy of the PC version in a dusty corner of a computer shop - I had no idea at the time there was a home conversion (no internet back then!) and I was thrilled to bits. I actually still have the disk to this day, sadly it operates on DOS and won't run on any modern computer without a lot of tinkering around and installing emulators, which use a huge amount of CPU space - I never really fancied risking 600 quids worth of PC just for Johnny Rock!
Now onto Digital Leisure (this version) I have one main gripe really: it doesn't work! Or at least not very well.
The problems can be divided into three categories:
Stiff and hard to use - the only thing you have to do in the game is move a cursor which you use to shoot baddies (in the Arcade you used a light gun - the game is basically like virtua cop or time crisis, exept real actors, playing the baddies, are your tagrets). But the cursor is so slow to move around and aim at your target its unbelievable - you are supposed to be able to use this game with a DVD player, but it's is nearly impossible to play with a DVD remote - you can just about get by using it in a PS2 with a controller - I've tried using the game with a PC, thinking the mouse would be a lot better, but it just crashes the computer.
Its worth mentioning that in all other versions of the game, you got 3 bullets per target on screen, so you could miss and fire again if you were quick - in this one, the ammo counter had been taken away and you only have one shot - miss once and that's it, you get your head blown off - and to make matters worse you have to be very precise about where you hit your target, or it won't register.
In other versions you also had to buy ammo from a shop, but not here because of what I've just mentioned - whats funny is, they couldn't even be bothered to remove the shop from the city map! But nothing happens when you click it.
The "Freezing" Problem -
Besause of bad design, there is an irritating freeze in the animation everytime a baddie pops up, and everytime you shoot him - you fire, he will cry out, the game will pause and then he will fall down about 3/5 seconds later - rinse and repeat. The problem is so bad Digital Leisure actually comment on it in the 2 page manual which comes with the game (it's snuck in under "Game Play" - bad game play more like!) They pass the problem off on current DVD technology not been able to cope with their game! And say there is nothing that can be done about it at this time, hmmmm really? Funny how my first PC which had less CPU space than most memory keys you can buy today, ran it perfectly - I think the problem is more likely due to the bad conversion - but you have to laugh, they tried!
Johnny Rock's Safe -
At the end of the game the player must open a safe to find out who 'dunnit - You find a 4 digit safe combination in Johnny Rock's mansion, from clues you have first collected from the 4 suspects, by visiting them and shooting all their henchmen. This involves a lot of memory power - each suspect gives you an object in the mansion (a statue or painting) as a clue, you then shoot that object in the mansion and this gives you a number of the safe combination (good idea to have a pen and paper handy!).
When you finally get to the last part of the game, opening the safe, no matter how many times you try to shoot in the combination it doesn't work and the safe blows up in your face. You think its you doing it wrong, have you remembered the numbers wrong or something? No it's another glitch! There's a small paragraph in the instructions saying they are aware of this problem, and again blaming it on DVD players! They give you another safe code "1-6-1-6" saying if you come across this problem, use this code instead of the one you have found in the game and you should be fine - "Should" being the operative word - it works, maybe 1 in 5 times, at random - if you find the safe still blowing up in your face, nothing you can do about it, turn off the game, better luck next time! Apart from anything else it kind of defeats the object of the game - collecting a load of clues to get a combination you know isn't going to work anyway!
I've really gone on here, so I will end the review with the disclaimer Digital Leisure have printed in the instructions:
"Although Digital Leisure Inc. believes this program performs the functions described in this guide, the program is provided "as is" without performance warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied, including but not limited, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The entire risk as to the quality and performance of this program is with you."
Is it just me or is that a load of legal mumbo jumbo translated into: "We knew this product had a ton of problems and we have still released it anyway. Now you have been stupid enough to buy it, got it home, and realised its rubbish, don't even think of complaining to us or returning it, you have no legal right to do so!" I think it is you know!