Blood Money - DMA/Psygnosis

Blood Money (Amiga)
developed by DMA Design
published by Psygnosis 1989

reviewed by Herr Schatten

Some years before David Jones and his DMA Design team brought the last truly original game concept of the dying century (Lemmings) to the gamers community, they developed this classic shooter for Amiga and Atari ST. Both 16-bit versions are basically identical, but the Amiga version features some more colours and a slightly improved sound. The game got ported to the C64 later. Read my review of that version in the appropriate section of the xenocide files. (soon!)

Blood Money is the official follow-up to 'Menace', which was a very (VERY) poor shmup with ugly graphics and extremely crappy gameplay. Fortunately, Blood Money beats its predecessor in every aspect. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a very good game.

The gameplay has absolutely nothing to do with Menace. You control a little vehicle through four huge levels. When enemies are shot, they often drop coins, which you should collect before they fall from the screen. If you collect enough money, you can exchange it in shops, which appear frequently throughout the levels, for better weapons, speed ups, extra lives or health. The range of weapons offered is very basic: You can only get additional up and down missiles, a rear gun or some pretty useless bombs. The screen auto-scrolls horizontally most of the time, but sometimes goes up or down, too.

The graphics differ a lot in quality. While being beautifully crafted in some places (like the giant pincers or the astonishingly animated medusae), they look slightly 'amateurish' in others.

Musicwise, the game starts with a funky upbeat title track. Later, during the game, there's an excellent melancholic sounding track done by David Whittaker, but (and that's the bad news) there's only that single one. Yep, that's right. You hear the same tune during the whole game, which tends to be a bit repetitive. Before playing, you can choose between music and sfx. Why there is no mode combining both is beyond me.

Four levels seem to be not very much, but they tend to be VERY long. There's not much diversity in the graphics, so it can get a bit boring. Most enemies attack in rather uninspired formations, which is another point that knocks the game down. But the greatest flaw is the insane difficulty level. The game is HARD. It's so difficult it makes you want to throw your Amiga out of the window (hoping it might hit one of the programmers). Level one is almost unbeatable, but it gets even worse in later levels. An unforgiving hit detection helps spoiling the fun. You've got a little life meter, but it's almost useless, because every hit reduces it to zero. In opposition to the very nasty levels, the bosses are a mere joke. Getting hit by them is impossible unless you do it on purpose.

A very good thing is the mode in which two players can play simultanously. It's fun to steal the other one's hard earned money. But apart from that, the game is simply too hard and too uninspired to be enjoyable. Having beaten it makes me wish that I don't have to play it ever again. A good game shouldn't cause feelings like these, or should it? Blood Money must be one of the most overrated games of the entire 16-bit era.

However, if you like the general gameplay, check out the C64 version of Blood Money, which, surprisingly, is very good and well playable.

   This is where it all starts. Some easy formations to warm you up. Think I've seen those before in Gradius.

   As we proceed, the going gets tougher. To the left you can see two rotators. These things appear a lot in this level and it's pretty hard to catch the exact timing to get past them. They actually annoy the hell out of me.

   After the gradius-esque beginning, there's a nice little homage to R-Type here.


A boss from your basic boss cookbook. He keeps repeating the same pattern over and over and never comes close if you stay at the left side of the screen. But he's hard to hit if you don't have the spread shot.

Surprisingly, despite being easy to kill, he's the toughest boss in all the game. Dodge, shoot, dodge ...yawn.

   Level two is some kind of underwater wonderland. Those medusae are beautifully animated.

   This situation reminds me an awful lot of the second level of R-Type.

   I guess we could earn a lot of extra money if we just killed the owner of these pincers and started our very own business selling crab meat.


The unavoidable snake boss. And we have to fight three in a row. They move in different patterns but like their predecessor from level one, they never reach the left side of the screen.

Their bad breath is easy to dodge, so they are ridiculously easy to dispatch. By this time we start to realize that Blood money certainly has some problems in the boss department.

   Level three is an ice world. At first, it's nice to look at, but soon it gets pretty boring.

   Just had to show you this one. These aliens certainly do have a sense of humor.

   More snakes. Some baby dragons accompany them.

   A very silly looking boss thing with giger-esque jaws. It's absolutely impossible to get hit by his ridiculous attacks - unless you do it on purpose. First shoot the blisters on his back, then go for the rest.


Who would have guessed? The last level is all organic in design. There's a lot of eyballs around here. Some even attack you. Additionally, the regular gun turrets in this level look like strawberries.

'Mom, can I go outside and slaughter some aliens?'
'Yes, my dear, but beware of the evil strawberry.'

   What the hell are these ones supposed to be? In spots like these, the game obviously lacks style.

   Wait a sec. Suddenly, we're in hell. And there's some snakes, too. The creators of this game seem to be obsessed by reptiles or something.


What's this? Somebody left a brain lying around. Could it be one of those brains that escaped from Star Soldier?

No. It's the last boss. I can't even laugh about him. He's so pathetic. Just shoot the strange cannon-like extensions on his head...

...and he goes down, not looking too happy. After all the torture of playing this insanely difficult game to the very end, you are treated with a 'Congratulations' message and a very lame ending. Bah.

I must be really rose-tinted today, but I seem to remember getting loads of fun out of Menace and Blood Money back in the Amiga days - cue shattering of pink spectacles as the frustration floods back. Soon after I got Megadrive and japanese shmups like Thunderforce III just blew me away... Nice wee trip back to simpler days though Herr Schatten, cheers! - malc


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie