By Stern (Licensed from Taito)

Cliff Hanger Pic 1

  • Although Dragon's Lair was the first commercial (and most popular) laser release in the United States, it is Cliff Hanger in my opinion that is the best interactive cartoon fantasy. It features great animation, a fine Japanese sense of humor, and a good drawing style. Cliff Hanger was based on a popular series of animation films featuring Lupin the third, and was a monster coin-op hit in Japan. The plotline is, if anything, more complicated than Dragon's Lair, but basically deals with a young underdog hero named Cliff and his rather bumbling attempts to free his girlfriend Clarissa from the evil Count Drago.

    Cliff Hanger Pic 2

  • Cliff Hanger features a hint mode that can be seen on most machines (the option is operator-selectable). A hint at the bottom of the screen will tell you when to press the joystick or action buttons. If you don't complete the action correctly, a screen will tell you what you should have done. Then, a scene of Cliff swinging from a noose appears (get it -- Cliff Hanger?), to let you know that you've lost one of your three lives. Occassionally, the game will tell you what to do through dialogue. In one scene, Cliff's car is chasing the bad guys when a voice yells, "Turn right!". Although the car does take a right turn on the screen, from the player's point of view the car is moving up the screen, so the joystick must be pushed up to complete the action. The clues and prompts may appear to give the game away too quickly for the kind of player who figured out Dragon's Lair in a week, but you WILL need to rely on the clues as most of the moves aren't as intuitive as in Dragon's Lair.

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  • An interesting argument could be made even more debatable with the introduction of Cliff Hanger, since it uses Japanese animation (Dragon's Lair uses American animation). As with everything else, there are debates as to who does it better, Japan or the United States. Your personal taste for animation style will probably determine which game you prefer. Considering that Japanese anime was not nearly as popular in the early 1980s as it is now, it's no surprise that Cliff Hanger only received modest attention in American arcades.

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  • Original Cliff Hanger versions featured a scene showing Lupin "swinging from the gallows" (in other words, being hanged) after each death. However, due to its strong nature, a mod chip later became available to censor the particular scene.

  • Cliff Hanger is tailor made for translation to the modern CD consoles and computers, but sadly it has yet to receive the home treatment.

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