Saboteur II: Avenging Angel
|Saboteur II: Avenging Angel|
|Platform(s)||Amstrad CPC, MS-DOS, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum|
Saboteur II: Avenging Angel, also known as just Saboteur 2, is an action-adventure game created by Clive Townsend and released by Durell Software in 1987 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 platforms. It is a sequel to the 1985 video game Saboteur where the players control a sister of Ninja from the first game on a mission to avenge his death. Saboteur II was one of the first action-adventure games to feature a female protagonist and was well received by critics.
The game starts with a drop into the building from a hang glider. Then, while watching out for pumas and guards, the player has to search through the command center for boxes of supplies. Some of the boxes contain one of 14 pieces of punched tape, which on all but the first level must be collected and taken to the computer terminal. Once this has been achieved, the player must make their way to the bottom centre of the underground caves, and escape using the motorcycle which can be found there. In all, the site covers over 700 computer screens. There are nine missions of increasing difficulty level (codenamed Rin, Kyo, Toh, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai and Zen), each with more objectives (such as collecting more pieces of punched tape, or having to disable an electrified perimeter fence protecting the tunnel).
The game offers two subtle ways to assist the player. The loading screen shows the compound and a building in the background, which included a pixel dot representing each screen. There is also a hidden screen containing a glowing crate which if touched would reward the player with infinite energy. This screen is so well hidden it was missed off several maps printed in computer magazines of the time.
The player takes control of a female ninja named Nina (a sister of Ninja, the deceased hero of the original Saboteur), who must break into a dictator's high-security compound to alter the course of a nuclear ballistic missile and then escape. The enemy’s command centre and office complex is being built on top of a mountain filled with underground tunnels and caverns. An armoury building is on the top left of the mountain, a missile silo is on the top right, while the central top area is still being developed; there is only one way out of the mountain, which is the long entrance tunnel on the bottom left.
Development and release
Saboteur II was noted as one of the first games to feature a female protagonist. According to Luke Plunkett of Kotaku, "for a serious game released in 1987, that was kind of a big deal, especially since she wasn't a princess or cartoon character. She was a ninja." The game's designer Clive Townsend said it was a conscious decision: "I wanted something original, and it seemed quite different to most other games. It’s become acceptable now after Tomb Raider, but at the time it was a bit strange. Why shouldn’t ninja characters be female?" Nevertheless, the PC version features a male ninja on the cover. Townsend traced the character art for the game's loading screen from an erotic magazine. Saboteur II itself was supposed to be followed by the cancelled Saboteur 3D for the ZX Spectrum, which would feature isometric perspective graphics.
Despite the four released formats being very different in hardware and programming (the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC notwithstanding), the different versions all looked and played almost identically. Usually, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the Amstrad CPC, PC and Commodore 64 versions (colour clash being the giveaway for the ZX Spectrum version). The game was re-released by Hit-Pak in 1988 and by Encore in 1989. It was also released as a bonus with an issue of Zzap!64 in 1993.
Initial reviews of the game were positive. For instance, Phil South from Your Sinclair opined that the game was "a fine sequel, but possibly more important, it's a fine game in its own right. Saboteur was an original twist on an old platform riff, so that makes Sab II a double twist with a backflip and a lager chaser!" When the game was re-released in 1989, Your Sinclair's Marcus Berkmann wrote that "if it doesn't perhaps hold up too well now, it's still an entertaining enough chase-and-kick 'em up with the novelty of a female hero."
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