Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hudson Hawk (C64, 1991)

Remember the Bruce Willis movie "Hudson Hawk"? No? Can't say I blame you. Nobody seems to, seeing as it was a huge flop in general. It did spawn this noteworthy game though, released in 1991 by Ocean. Now, back then, Ocean had developed a reputation for producing worthwhile movie conversions. The problem is, following the big success of Batman The Movie and The Untouchables, Ocean's record seemed to get stuck in a groove, as far as movie conversions went. They featured the same formula again and again. That is, a bit of platform action, a bit of driving, a puzzle mini-game, some Op Wolf-style shooting etc.

Thankfully, Hudson Hawk escaped this treatment, going instead for a full-fledged platform game in the vein of Rick Dangerous. One notable difference with Rick is that the levels in Hawk are more horizontally structured, whereas the levels in Rick are more vertically orientated, but apart from that the comparisons are very apt.

The great thing with Hudson Hawk is how cinematic it is. There is a clear plot that is being followed, advanced by neat cut scenes, and the levels have their own unique character as Mr Hawk goes to various different locations to steal the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

The gameplay is also pretty good. This is not your bog standard platform fare. Every level features it's own little surprise, whether that is crates that have to be used in creative ways, elevators, spikes, slides, alarms that can be set off, machines to be deactivated, and so on. It's only at level three that the game seems to run out of breath, and settles for a rehash of what has been seen previously. Oh well. The controls could be a tad sharper, although I feel that they've been intentionally done like this, to compensate for what would otherwise be a very easy game.

My verdict: cool game, check it out.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

DJ Puff's Volcanic Capers (C64, 1992)

Right. And after another one year absence (oops!) I got the urge to post something..

Here's a platformer released by Codemasters in 1992, in the later stages of the C64's commercial life.

There's two things to note here. The first is that in the early nineties platformers were extremely popular, with Mario on the SNES and Sonic on the Mega Drive leading the charge. The other thing to notice is that Codemasters had a hit in 1991 with the cute platformer CJ's Elephant Antics, and so started releasing more games in exactly the same style (CJ in the USA, Stuntman Seymour). DJ Puff is also like that, a CJ clone in all but name.

What this all boils down to is that you're running around throughout the various levels (5 in total) shooting (not jumping on) enemies. The graphics are pretty good, colorful and well drawn. The music is also very good, catchy and jolly, the SID chip making us proud once again.

Imho the gameplay is not as hot as in the first CJ game. There's something about it which feels a bit off. It's a bit on the slow side, which can make you miscalculate your jumps every so often. The level layouts are not particularly inspired either. There's something about them which feels a bit un-smooth, they don't flow that good. Also, levels one and three are clearly superior to the much blander levels two and five. And let's not forget that often jumps into the unknown might not appeal to everybody.

That said it's not a bad little game and if you're into 8-bit platformers you should check it out. Just don't expect the stars. Oh, and one other thing, should you want to try the game out, get an original tape or disk image. The cracked versions all feature a bug in level 4 which makes it impossible to proceed to level 5.