Review a bad game day presents…
Design: Steve Bak
Genre: Platformer – Single Screen
Today is review a bad game day, a day I’ve been dreading. Mainly because I’m not only bad at reviews of good games, I’m even worse at writing reviews of bad games! Confused? Then we’re off to a good start. I had a few choices for this review, all on the Amiga, Rise of the Robots (1994) for one, a game called Graffiti Man (1987), and Battletoads (1992), another disappointing arcade conversion for the Amiga.
However, the game that stuck in the back of my mind was Yolanda (1990), no matter how many bad games I started to remember playing this one always seemed to be at the top of that list. You play as Yolanda, the mortal daughter of Hercules, cursed by a jealous Hera because of her beauty, the only way to lift the curse (any man Yolanda falls in love with will die) is to repeat the 12 tasks of Hercules. To be honest on the box this sounds like a pretty neat idea for a game.
The game play is platform based on a single screen, and as soon as it starts it looks like it could be quite an enjoyable game; platforms in place, check, enemies present, check, protagonist standing heroically, check. However, a few seconds after the level starts the platform beneath you either gives way or bursts into flames. Um, right… try again? Sure, why not. Level re-starts… hey wait… this isn’t the same lev….. Poompf. Arrrgghhh!!! (Ed – expletive replaced with generic sound of frustration). This is pretty much a summary of how most of the game will go for any player, novice or pro. You have to learn quickly that you only have a few meager seconds to move off of the platform you start on otherwise you will instantly perish in fiery style.
However, once you’ve mastered the initial ‘avoid fiery death’ you have the rest of the level to deal with. The objective for each level is simple (although I’m still not sure how any of it relates to the 12 tasks of Hercules), you must reach the exit door, which initially appears as a creature of some kind and then changes to a door once you’re on the move. The phrase easier said than done has never been more relevant in this game. Two main reasons are the poor controls (once you’ve jumped you cannot maneuver or change direction) as well as the terrible collision detection. Once you’re hit by an enemy you will die instantly, and the level re-starts, but as mentioned before, it is not always the same level.
The two problems above don’t even come close to the major issue this game has, which drops the playability down into a minus score. If you’re lucky enough to time a jump properly, and avoid any enemies, you may still not make it. Without any clues to guide you, platforms will disappear or burst into flames as soon as you land on them, leading to certain death. (Ed – meh, more like instant death ‘every’ time). Each level is like this. You have to memorize and learn the traps and pitfalls of each level, some of which can be completed but most (if not all) seem virtually impossible due to their randomness.
Sometimes there is a fine line between a game being difficult, and a game being unplayable. I believe the controls and buggy game play of Yolanda land it squarely in the latter. Every level needs to be learned, every jump timed perfectly, every platform memorized. However, even if you do all this some levels are just impossible to complete, alongside the random level select it makes the game very hard to play and very very frustrating.
When I first played this (budget version, £7.99) I really looked forward to it, the blurb and the box art sold the game to me, even the title screen and music I remember fondly. The title screen artwork and the music remind me a lot of The Great Giana Sisters, which I really like. The graphics aren’t so bad either, however, none of these elements can make up for the fact the game is terrible. I personally don’t think it went through enough, if any, play testing, otherwise I think they would have gone back to it and created a half decent platformer. For a commercially released game it feels poorly made and unfinished, I’m surprised it received reviews of above 20% back in the day.
Thanks for reading this review, take a peek at some of the links below for more information on Yolanda! Given some of the original retail prices for this game I’m glad I paid the £7.99 rather than the £24.99.
Lemon Amiga page for Yolanda, game info and screen shots.
Review of Yolanda from Amiga Action 12 (Sep 1990)
Game Rating: 70%
Review of Yolanda from Amiga Format 15 (Oct 1990)
Game Rating: 49%
Review of Yolanda from The One for Amiga Games 38 (Nov 1991)
Game Rating: 4/5
Yolanda game play (only if you really want to)