Reviews Archive
  The Newzealand Story/Kiwi Kraze
  Master System

NES - A really good level of detail. The background is very respectable for the most part, with nice brickwork, and everything looking as it should, but can be a little inconsistent at times, with some areas going above the call of duty (such as including the window reflections, hanging reeds, and adding in additional clouds, etc), whilst others are missing prominent elements apparent in the arcade and Master System versions, such as archways, and fences.

The background elements themselves are generally well drawn and of a high standard, though the huts are noticeably weaker here in detail and shading, and the end of level opening portal is now just pure black with no background (unlike the Master System and arcade versions).

Lastly the overall graphics have been scaled down somewhat here, with some of the big wide open sections and background elements now much smaller than before (the huts in this version are half the size of the Master System and arcade versions, and the open areas with trees usually take up much less screen area).

Master System - The Master System's graphics stay much closer to the original arcade machine. There's much more going on with the background graphics here from one level to another in comparison to the NES, with more of an effort to put in all the small little details such as signs, huts, archways, and trees, these are also better drawn with proper shading, and look much closer to the arcade graphics. Overall its still missing a lot of features, but not as many as the NES version.

C64 - The level of detail here is surprisingly good. Whilst nowhere near the standards of the console versions it at least makes a proper attempt at re-creating the graphics and backgrounds of the original arcade game, managing to retain a lot of the important details, such as the aforementioned huts, trees, and sign posts.

Unfortunately the resolution is much lower here than in the console versions, the character and enemy sprites are a bit on the small side (these are possibly the worst drawn sprites out of all the versions bar Amstrad), and the levels are also a little bit zoomed out compared to the original arcade, but overall this is still a very respectable job.

Spectrum - This version is very minimalist, there's pretty much no background detail to speak of at all (there's not even any brickwork in the background, let alone signs or trees), and as such the levels looks pretty empty.

The character and enemy sprites on the other hand do look pretty good, and detailed, and the bosses are excellent in this regard too (check out the pic of the whale boss and compare it's size and quality to those of even the console versions)

Seeing as the background is such an important element of the graphics I would say that overall the detail is very poor.

Amstrad - Well, at least there's a background here, which would put it ahead of the Spectrum version if not for the fact that the character and enemy sprites are actually much worse here and are very blocky.

I think the detail is maybe on par with the Spectrum version (poor), though for different reasons.

  Winner Is: Master System

NES - The backgrounds are well coloured in a clean, clear and crisp fashion. Most of the elements are well done, the brickwork, sky and tree elements are all very good (though brickwork is a little pale), but every now and then you get the odd element here or there which looks noticeably low colour, such as the huts for instance (see screenshot 2)

Where it comes to the character, enemy sprites, and items though, these tend to be very basic in their colour use, often using shades of only one colour, and look very much inferior to their Master System counterparts.

Master System - This is a difficult one to decide here as the background colours look a bit over saturated (though the ones in the NES version looked a bit under saturated), and some of the sections here tend to look a little murky (the lion on the first stage blends in a bit too much with its background for instance). I would certainly say that the background colour choices are slightly less consistent than those in the NES version, which has cleaner, higher contrast environments.

Where is comes to the sprites and enemies though this absolutely puts the NES version to shame, many of them such as the flying guys with shades look really impressive, and are fairly close to their arcade counterparts.

I have trouble judging this section, but all said and done the SMS port does look closer to the arcade original.

C64 - Colour use in this version is alright, again its not anywhere near close to the two console versions but personally I think this is actually pretty nice, and is probably as good as can be expected when taking into account that this is an arcade port being converted to a system with a very small colour palette (only 16 colours total).

Spectrum - What can I really say about bright yellow monochrome? The colour here is quite simply bad, and basic.

Amstrad - Colour is garish and a little on the crude side, as such I wouldn't say that this version scores very highly in this area but is certainly much better than the Spectrum version.

  Winner Is: Master System

NES - Pretty good job overall.

Master System - Very good, I would say this version has the best, most close animation to the original arcade but to be honest there's very little between this and the NES version.

C64 - Good amount of frames and smoothness but lacking the character of the original (Tiki usually walks with his feet moving in a flip flop fashion, but here it's very regimented with small steps).

Spectrum - Not great but it does the job, I think there's less frames here than the Amstrad version but the added speed to the movement helps the animation to look better.

Amstrad - Quite poorly animated, the frames are there but it's very slow and really the character is too blocky to animate properly (drawing his legs in different positions in nigh on impossible with this level of blockiness).

  Winner Is: Master System

NES - Faultless scrolling

Master System - Faultless scrolling

C64 - Very good scrolling

Spectrum - The scrolling here is push screen, and so is certainly worse than the preceding versions, it's relatively fast though so it only has a small negative effect on gameplay (mostly when you're flying diagonally) but does make the game look uglier in motion. The scrolling is much smarter than in the Amstrad version as it will scroll once and stay in place when you move forwards or jump (more on this in the Amstrad section below).

Amstrad - The scrolling in this version is horrendous, it's push screen, choppy and very slow, you often jump causing the screen to slowly scroll upwards only to have it slowly scroll down again as you drop (this means that much of the time you have an up and down effect going on with the scrolling as you move).

In this case the scrolling is actually so bad that it seriously affects gameplay

  Winner Is: Draw between Master System and NES

NES - The music in this version is extremely high quality, it was composed by celebrated sound-smith Tim Follin (who also worked on Solstice and Silver Surfer's soundtracks as well as a lot of stuff for 8-bit micros). This is, I believe the only version with the full track, as the other versions are all abridged.

Master System - Very good job, though the main song is shorter than it was originally.

C64 - I don't think the Sid chip really suits the music to this game very well (it sounds a little overly synthetic here) but it still does a pretty good job overall.

Spectrum - Very good, great use of the 128's sound chip.

Amstrad - Exactly the same as the Spectrum (they use the same sound chip).

  Winner Is: NES
  Sound FX

NES - Really great, more distinctive sound effects.

Master System - Very good job on the sound effects here.

C64 - You can't have both music and sound effects, you have to choose between the two before you begin the game.

Spectrum - Not bad though nothing special.

Amstrad - The sound effects in this version are half alright, I guess they do the job. They generally sound similar to the Spectrum ones but in slightly lower quality.

  Winner Is: NES

The Newzealand Story is a platform game from the arcades which has you running about firing arrows and jumping over hazards. One of the great elements here is that you can commandeer different vehicles which allow you to fly, you can even hijack the bad guys' vehicles and push them off. The levels are massive and labyrinthine with virtually all of them containing a secret warp somewhere (the warps are found because they stop your shots in mid air, shoot them multiple times and they appear), searching and exploring the levels for warps is a very important aspect of the Newzealand Story experience.

NES - Not as fast as the Master System version which is a shame but seriously! what an amazing conversion! impressively nearly all of the arcade's warp points have been retained, it plays very accurately to the arcade original with most enemies and hazards in the correct places, the whale boss actually rushes forwards and eats you like it's supposed to (this feature is missing from all other 8-bit ports), you can glide by tapping jump (again another feature missing from all other ports), and you get a healthy amount of continues (not too many, not too few).

On the downside the levels are a little bit scaled down making some sections which used to feel out in the open less impressive, and unfortunately the accuracy does not extend to the flying platforms as their placing is usually wrong, and for all intents and purposes the different vehicles are just sprite swaps (originally the different vehicles had their own strengths and weaknesses) this factor can't really be held against the NES in this particular comparison though as all the 8-bit ports are guilty of this oversight. Lastly this is missing the EXTEND bubbles, which, when collected give you an extra life.

Master System - This version plays extremely well, it's faster paced than the NES title which has a positive effect on the gameplay, it controls well, and it plays very smoothly.

Unfortunately there are some problems though, the most crushing of which is the difficulty. In this version you get no continues at all and have to complete the entire game with only 3 lives and whatever you can pick up along the way! to be honest this pretty much makes the game impossible to complete unless you discover and utilise all of the games level warps, or you collect lives by spamming enemy kills.

The second issue is that this version has more problems with accuracy, and is certainly less accurate overall than the NES version. Some of the problems I've noticed here are that this version has more level warps missing, the wall mounted guns, and underwater enemies are often completely absent (leaving those areas empty of hazards), and one of my personal favourite sections is missing, as the whale boss no longer eats you anymore it just moves back and forth firing spike balls. Like the NES version this is also missing the EXTEND bubbles (even more of a shame here as with the low number of lives they're more needed than ever).

Computer Ports

All of the 8-bit computer versions are completely missing secret warps, they have none at all, zero, zilch, which removes one aspect of the gameplay, and can have the effect of making the level layouts seem a bit strange (there's loads of paths that used to lead to warps but now just end in a pointless dead end).

C64 - The gameplay here is very nice and smooth, the action is fast and for the most part the game plays well, however there are multiple issues that need to be addressed here as well.

In this version if the floating platform you are traveling on is shot you die (in every other version the platform bursts and you fall), this means that whilst flying your hit box is doubled, You cannot shoot spike balls coming towards you and instead have to jump them (this isn't too much of an issue thankfully), and lastly, and most importantly the jumping is actually pretty inaccurate, and at times can be extremely frustrating as the height you jump is seemingly random, and difficult to judge (sometimes a small press will jump you only a small amount off ground whilst at others you'll go double the height). I've actually had this particular version since my childhood and even after all these years there's still jumping sections where I will end up going around in circles multiple times, or jump too high and hit spikes above me.

Funnily enough this seems to be the only version where they remembered to include the letters to spell EXTEND.

Spectrum - The gameplay in this version is actually fairly good, it's not as smooth as I would've liked but the scrolling isn't so bad that it ruins the experience. Most of the time you feel like you have a good amount of control over Tiki (nowhere near the console versions though), and the game handles a lot of enemies and onscreen action without slowing down too much.

The boss battles in this version are actually very impressive as they retain more of their size than in the other ports (except the Amstrad version) whilst running at a pretty good speed (unlike the Amstrad version), another cool thing about them is that you can bring flying platforms with you to help you in the boss fights (just like in the arcade) which is an aspect missing from every other version but the terrible Amstrad version.

Amstrad - To be frank the gameplay of this version is bad, the whole thing moves quite slowly to begin with, but the choppy, badly implemented scrolling makes matters even worse. Due to the poor scrolling, much of the time here you'll be trying to dodge and shoot whilst having to suffer the screen slowly scrolling up, and down, back, and forth slowly (and whilst this is going on the controls become extremely unresponsive).

When there's a group of enemies on-screen the game also suffers from extreme slowdown, which when added to the already mentioned problems effectively makes you feel like you're playing through the whole game in slow motion.

The boss battles are appallingly bad as they run at a snails pace at all times, and you feel like you have virtually no control over the character at all it's so unresponsive during these sections.

Winner is: NES

NES - There's a picture of a map of New Zealand between levels

Master System - This is the only version with the intro of the leopard seal kidnapping the kiwi's (though it's cut down a bit), it has the map screen between levels, and also has a better quality ending.

C64- Awesome loading music

Spectrum - nothing particularly noteworthy

Amstrad - nothing particularly noteworthy

Winner is: Master System

The NES port was programmed by Software creations whilst Ocean handled all the computer ports, the game was released in North America under the title Kiwi Kraze.

The computer versions are all bordered and use "up" to jump instead of a button, these controls are actually better suited to the gameplay in this instance as you can fire repeatedly whilst you jump, as well as fly upwards whilst firing when on a moving platform without having to swap between buttons.

The Master System Version was only released as a PAL exclusive in Europe and Australia, and is 50hz only (on 60hz if you can manage to get it running the game and music plays too fast and there's glitchy artifacts appearing all over the screen).

Unfortunately in this instance the computer versions aren't really competitive as their graphics are much worse, whilst at the same time they don't really have anything to set themselves apart from the console versions in the gameplay department either, they are all also missing the secret warps entirely. So it's definitely between the two console versions.

The Master System edges it with the graphics as it has better backgrounds overall and much better sprites, however it loses out to the NES version in the sound department, and more importantly in gameplay too as it is much less accurate in comparison to the NES version and there's a lot of sacrifices due to this, because of these sacrifices the gameplay of the Master System version just doesn't feel as authentic as the NES game. I also feel that the Master System version giving you no continues is also quite damaging, as this makes completing the game a fairly impossible task for most people.

Where the computer versions are concerned the Amstrad version is pretty much abysmal in every respect, not only is it not a very good port in comparison to the other versions but it's simply a bad game (the other versions are all still playable despite their problems). The only thing it has going for it is that the backgrounds and colour are better than the Spectrum version, but that's hardly an noteworthy feat given the circumstances.

I think the C64 version has to win out in the 8-bit computer competition, mainly because it has proper backgrounds and plays quite smoothly. Although I'm going with the C64 version here I'd like to note that in my opinion the Spectrum version probably plays a little better (mainly due to the C64's issues with jumping), it's just brought down a lot by it's graphics.

  Overall winner is: NES
Atari ST
Atari VCS
Commodore 64
Master System
Mega Drive
Neo Geo
PC Engine
ZX Spectrum