Blackthorne - the 2-D scrolling shooter that doesn't really scroll. That simple sentence is the most complete and accurate description I can come up with today. Looking back several years I can only ask myself: why did we love this game so much? Because we didn't know any better? Probably so. But then again, nothing can change the beautiful memories and give back the countless hours we spent in front of the small, low-quality 14" monitor playing what we thought was the greatest game ever made. Does this sound unfamiliar to you? Probably, if you have never experienced it.
In this action/adventure game you, Kyle Blackthorne, will venture through 17 levels full of monsters, receiving little help, trying to kill the evil Sarlac and free your homeland. How original. It's just fair to say that this game is part action, part adventure and part frustration. The graphics and sound will not blow you away (although thanks to the slow response times most enemies will), but they are good and greatly help to set the mood. Thanks to the non-scrolling nature of this scrolling shooter, it gets frustrating when you have to go 3 screens up, 2 right, 2 down and then find your way back but you soon get used to it. You can't save your game, but instead are given a code at the beginning of each level. If you die one jump away from the next level you will be 3 times more careful the next time, believe me.
The game requires a little thinking, but nothing to worry about (I remember we didn't find it very hard, and we are 3 guys with the collective intelligence of a dog without a head). You start with a really bad shotgun (which gets upgraded later) and nothing else. You'll need to climb ladders, run, hide in the shadows, find bombs to blow things, find keys to stop a laser fields or activate a bridge, look for hidden passages, and engage in long one-on-one gunfights. Talk to the good guys and sometimes they'll give you a Heal Potion or a bomb. Sometimes you NEED to talk to them to get a key, but it's safe to shoot them after that.
Most of the enemies will not outsmart you, but most likely will outpower you, especially later in the game. They shoot much faster and hide much sooner and it's very hard to kill them without taking a shot or two.
If you like side-scrolling shooters with adventure elements or just want an action game where you set your own pace - pick Blackthorne and take your time exploring the nice worlds it creates. If you're just looking for a cool game to play - this one's definitely for you.