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Handkerchief (PC)
MSRP: $19.99
Number of Players: 1 (Network multiplayer option available)
Developer: Opus Corp/ASK
Publisher: XSIV Games

Rating:
***
out of
*****

"You are Jacob Streiker, and you're getting mighty fed up with things. A vicious cartel of mutant mechanistic animals controls your country. Your neighbors seem to be like lemmings, scrambling over each other to kill themselves. Armed rebellion is your only chance. In Handkerchief, find out what happens when lemmings fight with weapons!"

When I originally saw the screenshots for Handkerchief, I had no idea what to expect. The smallish characters and game's description (see above) led me to believe that the game was something akin to Worms Armageddon. When I received a copy of the game, I found that it's nothing like Worms at all. It's actually a bizarre side-scrolling action game.

You are, as Jacob Streiker, seeking revenge against those that evicted you rather forcefully from your home. (Actually, they blew it up and left you with nothing to do but get them back.) You begin your mission with nothing but a smallish handgun. Various power-ups are distributed via vending machines. As you kill enemies, they drop coins that you can use to purchase health (glucose), weapons and bombs. One type of bomb is the "turncoat bomb," that enables you to use an enemy's weapon for a while, as they follow you around the screen.

The graphics are relatively modest. You can run the game in full-screen mode or in a window without any noticeable change in the game's performance. It's safe to say that the game doesn't put a lot of strain on your computer's graphics hardware. The game is completely 2D and is reminiscent of many old 16-bit shooters I used to play on the Amiga in the early 1990's. That's not to say the graphics are bad. They have a retro-simplistic look that's kind of refreshing in this day and age of 3D games.

The soundtrack is a strange, funky bit of music that's accentuated with the squeaky voices of the game's characters. The explosions and weapons are all given the appropriate sound effects, but everything else has a distinct cartoony flavor that lends a lot of silliness to the goings-on in the game. (Any game that puts you up against robots, disgruntled army men and goldfish that shoot at you definitely has a lot of silliness going on.)

It's hard to fault a game as weird as Handkerchief for too much, especially when you understand what the game is striving for. The game is attempting to bring an action packed game to users hungering for a well-executed action game that doesn't get overly complicated. PC games have a tendency to follow one of two routes: a) be overly complicated and require expensive cutting-edge hardware or b) be poorly programmed and ready for the cut-out bins within a month of release. Handkerchief avoids that trap by being a modestly priced action game that is glitch-free and delivers a good chunk of fun in the process.

Tested on: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 32X CD-ROM drive, Best Data Voodoo 2 12 MB accelerator, Saitek X6-32M gamepad, Logitech MouseMan mouse, and Windows 98.

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