Thursday, May 28, 2009

Addams Family (Mega-Drive, 1992)

I've already written about the C64 version of The Addams Family, so why not take a look at the 16-bit version as well? It's quite a different game, so let's start with the similarities. This is still a platform-game, and you still play the part of Gomez who's on the look for his family that are scattered here and there in the gargantuan Addams residence.

Also, it still takes it's cues from the ancient Jet Set Willy, meaning that basically, as you roam around the screens, there's enemies galore that are moving in set patterns and which you must either avoid, or kill by either jumping on them, or shooting them - if you got the necessary power-up.

The major difference is that this is not a flick-screen affair, but a fully scrolling environment moving in all four directions. Also, the levels are completely different to the ones found in the 8-bit game. It pretty much is a different game altogether. Now, seeing as the good ol' C64 coped admirably well with conversions of such 16-bit classics such as Sleepwalker and Chuck Rock, I don't see why they couldn't do a proper conversion of this as well, but oh well, what can you do about it.

Like I mentioned before, basics apply here. You run around, jumping on platforms, jumping on enemies etc. There's also switches to activate, which in turn activate platforms, walls etc. The levels don't follow a linear pattern, meaning that you don't start in Level 1, proceed to Level 2 etc. Rather the game offers a more interactive environment, whereas you start outside the mansion and you pretty much choose where to go. A doorway leads to one level, another doorway to another etc. The levels feel more like different areas of one bigger landscape in that respect.

The atmosphere is special, what with such fairy-tale environments like the catacombs and the ice-world, and with a batch of decent tunes to accompany the action. I'd say it's a great game, if it wasn't for one major fault: it's hugely difficult and frustrating. Gee, I swear, in later levels the frustration-o-meter hits red as you die in the same spot, time and time and time again. Who would blame you if you played this with save states? I wouldn't.

This game is so difficult that even power-ups can be a nuisance, like when you get the shoes, with which you run faster and jump further. Cool, eh? Well, no, because apart from running faster, it feels as if you're sliding on ice, making those pixel perfect jumps nigh on impossible. I pretty much made a habit of avoiding this power-up as altogether.

So there you have it, the silly difficulty curve spoils this gaming experience. Bah.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Buggy Boy (C64, 1987)

This is a great game. No surprises there since this is generally considered one of the flagship C64 titles. Sadly, it's one of the classics that I missed back in the day. There were only so many games you could have, even if you were buying pirate copies. But having recently played it extensively thanks to the monthly Lemon-64 gaming compo, I can say that it fully deserves it's reputation.

On the surface, this is just another arcade racer. Usually, in arcade racers (especially the retro variety) you somehow run much faster than your on-screen opponents, so the focus is into avoiding other vehicles, all the while you try to stay in the circuit managing those nasty corners effectively. Buggy Boy takes a different approach, whereas you only encounter few and far between enemy-vehicles. Instead, you slalom your way across the circuit, ski-style, in-between poles that contain bonuses. In the meantime, the circuits are littered with obstacles: walls, rocks, bends etc. Some of them can "interact" with your vehicle. There is this certain type of rock for example that makes your buggy run on two wheels, or this mud-like thing which makes it jump. Others simply make you crash.

What basically happens is that the game tempts you into chasing bonuses (some of them quite surreal, like the football which you can kick with your buggy), before throwing a hazardous number of obstacles at you. It's a good idea to memorize the trickier parts of each circuit then, especially since some circuits require you to perform faultlessly and pick those time-bonuses in full. In that sense, the best strategy is to deal with one circuit at a time.

Now, I've heard some complaints about this game, that it's not fast enough. I think this is poppycock. The speed is just perfect for what the game offers. Any more fast and it would've been unplayable with so many obstacles scattered around. Besides, the thrill is there. And also, since when is speed all there is to an arcade racer? In my opinion, too much speed can make a game frustrating as hell, as in the case of, say, Outrun Europa. Instead, the reasonable speed, great action and grippy controls make Buggy Boy a winner.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dalek Attack longplay part 3 (C64, 1993)

And here's the final part of the Dalek Attack longplay, featuring the last three levels.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

World Rally (coin-op, 1993)

World Rally is a bit of a classic when it comes to coin-ops. It's a 1993 racing game by Gaelco, and it's one of those coin-ops which I wasted many a coin on. Basically this is an isometric-3D racer, whereas you must complete a given rally course within 60 seconds. Easier said than done. Sort of. You see, the good thing with World Rally is that it's a very uncomplicated game. The controls are dead simple, and you get the hang of it within a couple of plays. That's very important for a coin-op. It has to grab your attention fast.

From there on, the other important bit is for the game to maintain your interest. World Rally delivers. It's ridiculously addictive. It was ridiculously addictive in 1994 when I was throwing dime after dime on the machine, and it still is damn addictive when I emulate it on Mame-32 today.

With a bit of practice, you should be able to finish it with but a couple of credits, but with 12 courses, different conditions where the car behaves differently (tarmac, snow, soil etc), daytime and nighttime races, and so on, completing it with that one coin is a challenge you'll keep coming back to.

Arcade games by definition are somewhat shallow. How could it be any different when we're talking about games whose main purpose is to have you pay money ad-infinitum, merely for that extra few minutes of gameplay? World Rally isn't any different, and if you play it too much, too soon, you might grow to dislike it. But if you play it for, like, 10 minutes everyday, then it's the kind of game which you'll still like 10 years later (as in my case).