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Diamond Fighter IV
(Master Creating)


"It's Independence Day meets Rambo II"

You and your fellow soldiers are walking through the jungle in Vietnam, one by one they start to fall like flies. Sooner or later it's only you and your brother left. You're running out of food and the odds don't look good. But somehow you and your friend have to survive. You need to get to the ammo so you can launch an attack against the aliens. In the end, you're the only survivor of your troop. You pick up your weapons and scale back to America, where you prepare a final assault against the green monsters who have taken over the U.S. and left in ruins. The aliens will pay for their twisted tyranny. The only thing you know is that these intergalactic fools have only one weakness: diamonds. This is where you will gain the advantage...

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
(Very Good)
Master Creating takes an unorthodox practice in QB by switching the game between two different resolutions. The stage select screen is in 320*200 and the stages take place in a much higher resolution. While this shows how effective Master Creating's repetoire is in terms of programming games, it would have been nice if the game maintained the high-resolution mode. Comparing the beautifully rendered stages to the underdetailed map takes away from the overall feel this game tries to deliver. (So don't get all wrapped up that the screenshot above isn't that detailed... truth is the rest of the game's resolution is so high that we couldn't get a screenshot of the game in action!)

While playing the game's stages, the graphics are pretty standard as far as QB games go. While there's hi-resolution, flicker-free graphics, there's nothing really radical going on in terms of graphic design. Kinda tileish though, and because the same graphic tiles are used in the game all the stages start looking the same and it gets a little dull on the eyes. It's nice to see that Master Creating does maintain the high graphics standard they initially set with Shadow of Power within the game levels themselves. All that considered, I was going to give this game the three-point rating it deserved and be done with it.

But just when I was ready to give this game its graphics points, I saw the game's ending. I'm not sure what else to say about the ending of this game other than it takes the graphics of this game to a new level and completely makes up for the poorly drawn map screen. Nice job, Master Creating. As for what I'm talking about, you'll just have to beat the game yourself and see just what I mean when I talk about the graphics.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
(Very Good)
Diamond Fighter IV comes with an impressive assortment of arcade-style sound effects, which seems to be such a departure from conventional puzzle games. In fact, just by the look and sounds made by DF4, the game comes across more as a German Duke Nukem than a thinking man's game!

But once you take all these premonitions aside, you'll soon find that Diamond Fighter IV's sound effects go very strong with the game. A lot of the characters in the game speak German, which really seem to give this game an instant sense of nostalgia. Add some flamethrower soundeffects and some explosion sounds and the sampling is nearly perfect. A couple of sound effects are ear-piercing though, like the sound you make when you capture diamonds.

Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vvv
What puzzle games remind me best of Diamond Fighter IV? The Adventures of Lolo series for the NES come to mind, since DF4 has a similar birds-eye view setup. In each stage, your mission is to gather a certain number of diamonds before time runs out. But pitfalls, stand-still aliens, and inpenetrable barriers can get in your way.

This is where Joe Johnsen's fancy supply of weapons comes in handy! The key to besting DF4 is knowing what sequence to pick up each level's keycards and weapons, and knowing when to use them. And most of the time you have to do this while beating the clock. Assuming the aliens don't beat you.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
It's not that Diamond Fighter IV's story developed throughout the game, or even that the story has explained in a graphic intro. In fact, the only mention of Diamond Fighter's plot is nestled atop the Readme file that accompanies the zip.

But Diamond Fighter IV has one of those stories that seem to blend so well with the overall ambiance of the game. Once the levels do get a little more frustrating, you start to feel Joe Johnsen's pain. You start to remember about the "communistic aliens" who've killed your brother. And then you demand payback. I guess I'm giving Diamond Fighter IV the first three stars because it actually has a story that pulls you in.

Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
Average. The first time you play this game you play nearly fifty puzzle game stages. After you're finally done, you probably wouldn't want to go through those stages again unless you want to try the game on Impossible mode or you want to see if you can get a higher score. However, since Diamond Fighter IV is a puzzle game, it's probably best to leave it for a while when you beat it to give your mind an opportunity to forget how to solve some of the more challenging states before you play the game again.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
Master Creating seems to have a reputation for making difficult games, so when they decide to make a puzzle game, a genre that feeds upon challenge, Diamond Fighter IV was certainly no exception. The documents claim that the game gets harder as you towards the western states, but in actuality I found the harder levels to lie in the center parts of the US.

While each of the game's many levels are only made up one screen, the challenge is compact and the layout of each world is relatively complex. You see all the keycards and diamonds you have to capture on the screen, but you really do have to use some brain power to know where and when to gather the diamonds and weapons you need to solve the level and return to your spaceship. This becomes especially obvious in the "Impossible" difficulty level where you're only given enough seconds in each level to quickly stash the diamonds in the right order and exit the stage before it's too late.

The good news is, despite the fact that this game can get frustrating, you have unlimited lives and a save feature. Also, if a particular level annoys you too much, you can always beat in "Easy" mode and backtrack to Impossible mode. So although "Impossible" mode does seem impossible at times, at least you always have a back door.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
This is what you'd come to expect from one of the most challenging game-makers in the business. If you expect to have fun by waltzing through "Impossible" mode, think again. The split-second timing and precision you need to beat the game's harder levels (especially Missouri) is incredible, since you're always having to challenge holes, aliens, and a stringent timer simultaneously. It's so frustrating because sometimes you know how to solve the level, but the minute amount of time you have always seems to leave you five seconds short.

However, unlike the hundreds of Shadow of Power fans, I think this puzzle game is Master Creating's best effort. The communistic aliens taking over the U.S. plotline blends very well with the Die-Hard style hero, Joe Johnsen. Again, the graphics are a lot better when the game's in action, and the mixture of weapons and logical thinking give Diamond Fighter IV a sense of originality and dimension. And while the fun is more average than SoP, Diamond Fighter IV has the things that make a game special.

Players 1 player Genre: Puzzle Game
Rating To solve: 3-12 hours Final Rating: 23/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
wTo play Diamond Fighter IV, run "DF4.EXE" and choose a directory where you want to store Diamond Fighter IV. Enter that directory and run "DF4.BAT".

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