Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bobby Bearing longplay part 4 (C64, 1986)

It seems that I've left this incomplete. Here is Bobby Bearing walkthrough number four.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quick Review: Batty (C64, 1987)

Breakout games were extremely popular for a brief period during the late 80's (roughly 1987 to 1989), yet they all originate from much earlier, namely Breakout, which was released way back in 1976, and in turn was influenced by the grandfather of all computer games, Pong. All the classic C64 Breakout games come from this period in the late 80's (Arkanoid, Krakout, TRAZ, Batty), while we've rarely heard from Breakout-land ever since (although it seems to have staged a comeback in the indie PC-gaming scene lately). The concept is extremely simple: you control a bat at the bottom of the screen, with which you must fend off a ball, which bounces around, destroying blocks.

For my money, Batty is the second best Breakout-type game on the C64 (after Krakout). While it has the fatal flaw of most Breakout games, namely that the ball gets too fast too soon (resulting in a frantic but also impossible gaming experience), apart from that it's a classy game. The graphics are colourful and vibrant (including cute enemies which shoot at you and momentarily stun you), the sound is appropriate, the controls responsive, and the ball movement has believable physics. But there's also a bonus, a simultaneous two-player option. To be honest, that's Batty's real trump-card. Without that, it would be just another Breakout game, OK, but not exceptional. With it, it's a good game.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Knight 'n' Grail (C64, 2009)

OK, technically this isn't a retro game, rather a new game for a retro system. Now, I don't mean to be hard on people who keep on making new games for systems like the C64 (their efforts are much appreciated) but seeing as this is not a business anymore and purely a hobby, most of these new games are pretty basic, and wouldn't even qualify for budget titles back in the day. Nevertheless, every now and then a game comes along, which is up there with the best of them. We've had It's Magic 2, Newcomer, Zoomania, and now we have Knight 'n' Grail.

I don't think there's any need going over the specifics of the plot. Knight 'n' Grail is an arcade-adventure (an exploration shooter if you like), whereas you play the part of a knight getting along some quest in a castle. You find new swords, new armours, and new power-ups as you progress, each with different abilities. These items can be either accessed by pressing the space bar, which brings up the inventory system (along with a map), or by using the F1 and F3 keys.

The settings of the game might remind you of something along the lines of Ghosts 'n Goblins, though the actual gameplay and atmosphere resembles more of something like the caverns in Shadow Of The Beast. Also, the way you use your firepower (each sword has a different direction of shooting) reminds of Creatures (which also used the same method).

But enough with the past. What sets Knight 'n' Grail apart is it's mesmerizing atmosphere. If you isolate any of the game's elements, they don't seem so special by themselves. The graphics are very good, but not extraordinary. The music is lovely and adds a lot to the haunting atmosphere, but it's a bit simple. The gameplay is fun, but nothing we haven't seen before. But here's what happens, somehow, when these elements get combined, they form a magnificent game, with an unrivaled magical atmosphere, whose only fault I can think of is that it's a bit short and easy. Check it out.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quick Review: Mickey Mouse (Game & Watch, 1981)

And now, for something completely different: a Game & Watch. Remember these? Some of the cool kids in school had them. They were a series of, pretty basic, handheld electronic games produced by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. And when I say basic, I do mean basic. Effectively these games are simple reflex tests. Nevertheless, for one reason or another, they do have a certain charm. Besides, take a look at the Nintendo DS. Doesn't the layout look extremely similar to a multi-screen Game and Watch?

Mickey Mouse is one of the earliest Game and Watches, dating from 1981, so the gameplay is pretty basic, even for G&W standards. Basically you play Mickey, as he's trying to catch eggs coming from four directions, having four buttons at your disposal, each button for each direction. And that's it. Like I said, pretty basic stuff. I can't really rate such a game high, but I can't deny it has that certain retro charm. Btw, true story, my girlfriend had this as an original and she kicked my ass on it when we tried it recently. Fascinating, huh?