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Raven: The Yoyo Commando (Beta Two)
(V Games)


"The most platform action you can smash into QB"

General Dorfulglagg and his army of alien slugs have invaded Earth, and they're not here to conquer our cities and torment our people. Apparently color is the weapon used by the slug people to battle their enemies. Now they're trying to suck the Earth dry of all it's color, reducing our planet to a 16-color nightmare!

Because the military is ill-prepared for such a strange enemy, the president has enlisted Dr. Meccanic and you to infiltrate all of Dorfulglagg's alien base, Raven Island. Battle through ten levels and discover the weapons that you need to crush the minions of the alien slug army.

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Raven: The Yoyo Commando has six levels, and they all look very different. There is also a lot of animation within the game. Some levels look prettier than others... the Factory Frenzy stage is beautifully rendered while the Sky Meadow stage looks like it still needs a touch-up or two.

Raven really is a tileish game though, with occasional moments within the levels that break the bounds of conventional QB tiled games. For example, the Jungle stage has vines that swing back and forth and hardly seem tileish. There are many other surprises that await those who have the skill to see everything the game has to offer as well.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Good. Raven: The Yoyo Commando is the only QB game to my knowledge to be PC speaker, Sound Blaster, and synthesizer compatible. The sound setup file included with the game is incredibly easy to use and you'll be able to get the best sound you can based on your own computer's performance, even if you don't have a sound card and you only have PC speakers. There's even a silence mode so you can play without any sound (though having no sound really takes away from this game.)

If you use PC speakers, Raven: The Yoyo Commando comes with no music. The compensation is a flurry of arcade-style sound effects, reminiscent of the blips and bleeps old-school Apogee games. Each weapon and enemy comes with their own PC speaker effects.

If you instead use the Sound Blaster mode instead, the game has some great original electric guitar music from Vance Velez. The only thing missing from this particular mode though is a bevy of SB sound effects like those heard in PC Speaker mode. 

Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vvvv
(Very Good)
This game really brings me back to the latter part of the NES days, when platform titles were really getting complicated and there were a lot of moves for each character. What I like a lot about this game is that the gameplay is different from stage to stage. There are skills and timing unique to getting across the stages that make the experience unique. What I don't like about this game is the shoddy control and tile-to-tile movement that the platform hero Raven has.

At first glance, Raven: The Yoyo Commando may seem to be a simple game where you have just one weapon and you shoot things down. But there's actually a lot more depth to the game as you proceed. Each level has to be re-visited through a stage select feature for weapons and secrets that you have missed or lacked access to. Then, there are plenty of enemies and bosses to keep the action in check.

One thing to be wary about is the game's controls, which do take quite a few moments to get used to. In playing Raven, there had to be some sort of balance with all the crazy moves Raven had to utilize and the buttons available on the keyboard. At certain times, the control is brilliant, but at other times it isn't good at all. But for all the different things Raven can do in this game (usually QB platformers stick to characters that do nothing but run and jump), this game still deserves a very good Gameplay score.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Good)
The game's story is explained in the Instruction Manual, accessed by pressing F1 while you're playing the game. There's also a teaser ending, which helps add a sense of completeness to this demo.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
(Very Good)
For a demo, Raven: The Yoyo Commando is very long! Hours of gameplay are recommended unless you've kept up your 2d platformer skills. Yet, the game offers such replay value because of all the different things that happen to Raven within the game.

Raven's all about the level design. Depending on the stage you'll see Raven swing, jump, skate, and all sorts of other things that usually aren't seen at one time in a QB platformer. And the enemies are equally mischevous.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
By the request of beta testers and members of the QB community alike, challenge took a major plunge between Raven Beta 1.01 and Raven Beta Two. The decision to deliberately lose points in this category was one probably made by V Games, when Vance realized that Level one of the game was too hard and the controls were too unfriendly. By adding a "diagonal" jump movement, V Games has made the challenge level a little more tolerable. Also, power-ups now reappear when Raven dies, so you don't need to be a "perfectionist" like the first beta in Raven requires you to be.

The third and last action V Games took to lower the challenge from it's perfect rating is making the bosses of the game a little weaker and a lot less complicated. For example, in Beta 1.01 the first stage boss used to have three attack patterns and 24 hitpoints. Now, the same boss in Beta Two has only two attack patterns and 16 hitpoints.

However, the game wasn't toned down so much that the challenge of Raven was lost entirely. You'll still have to handle some classic platform timing, and bosses will still take some skill to tame. It just isn't "Mission: Impossible"-level in terms of challenge anymore.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Depending on how you like your poison, Raven Beta Two could have either been an improvement from the first version or it could have been a little worse. If you weren't able to see the levels before because the game was too hard, then the refined controls of Raven should give you that sense of fairness that you were looking for. On the other hand, if you liked the Gung-ho attitude of Beta 1.01 that literally pushed your platforming skills to the limit, you may not be so excited about the decision to make the game easier.

Raven: The Yoyo Commando is still fun though. There's just a different way that's it fun. Since you no longer have to worry too much about life maintenance, you can be pulled into the game a little bit and experience what it's all about. And Solstice City, the one new game level featured in the Beta two update, is still available for those who need some of that old-school rush.

Players 1 player Genre: Platform Game
Rating To solve: 3-5 hours Final Rating: 24/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
wAfter unzipping the file, run "SETUP.EXE" to set up your game's sound settings.
wAfter sound setup is complete, run "RAVEN.BAT".

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