Monday, May 21, 2012

Into The Eagle's Nest (C64, 1987)

If you grew up in the 80's, you probably remember Gauntlet. For those who don't, the simplest way to describe it would be: an overhead maze shooter. In other words the action takes place in a maze, viewed from an overhead perspective, and it involves shooting, along with the odd puzzle. It was a big success and - unsurprisingly - it spawned a lot of variants. Some of them were good (the Druid trilogy) and some of them were not so good (Dandy). Thankfully, Into The Eagles Nest is one of the better ones.

The action takes place in in four different floors of a WWII German castle. You access these by using the lift, but in order to use the lift you must first find the lift-pass. Some searching is in order then. Your mission is to free the three prisoners that are located in the basement, first and second floors, and then blow up the castle. In order to blow up the castle you need to set the four detonators, one in each floor. An awful lot of searching is in order then. And it's not easy. For starters, ammunition is limited. There are supplies in the castle, but not excessively so. So don't waste your ammo. Furthermore, the place is crawling with German soldiers. You can take a lot of hits, and there are medical supplies here and there, but things are far from effortless. And finally, there's the maze. While not labyrinthine, you won't get far without a map.

All in all, that's good stuff. Almost. There's two faults which - annoyingly - spoil what could have been an exquisite gaming experience. Firstly, the scrolling isn't that good. Instead of the screen moving seamlessly, it works so that first you reach the limits of it, and then it moves abruptly to the next section. Not so easy on the eyes. Secondly, the game structure is a bit rigid. You start with the ground level, find the lift pass, proceed to one of the other floors, find the prisoner, escort the prisoner to the exit in the ground level, find the lift pass again, proceed to one of the other floors.. See what I mean? You have to go through the ground level every time you rescue one of the prisoners. That's just bad game design.

Despite these flaws, the game is quite good. So check it out.



Anonymous said...

jeroen greets Roger

rogerjowett said...

how come a machine that has hardware scrolling or a blitter still looses one third of the screen when they port code from the speccy!