Posts Tagged ‘Amiga Longplay’

Puzzling, one disk wonders on the Amiga

July 13, 2011

Puzzling, one disk wonders on the Amiga

“You need the blue key… Hmmm, you don’t say. Is that the same blue key I just used in that blue door which didn’t allow me to pick up the other blue key for this door…”

One disk wonders is a selection of my favourite puzzle and maze games that I used to love playing on my Amiga, specifically on rainy afternoons when there was either nothing good on the TV or, for some magical reason, I needed a more thought-provoking and challenging game to play.

These games were always first to come out of the box, and have seen many hours of game play, even though I still haven’t completed at least 3 of them. All one disk games they were quick to load and difficult to play, the game play and graphics for each varied in style and quality but they all required quick wits, concentration and a minor amount of mental agility. Some of them you’ll need to play without music, after a while anyway, and some of them you’ll be wanting to launch through the window out into the road, as one silly mistake can cost you the game. Still, I always came back to them again and again, some might say it was stubbornness; I like to think it was just great game play.

In no particular order, some puzzle and maze favourites for the Amiga 500, the games I couldn’t give up on, and still hope one day, to complete.

Chips Challenge

Release year: 1990 Publisher: US Gold Music: David Whittaker Design: Chuck Sommerville

In Chips Challenge you take on the role of Chip, our nerdy hero who is trying to impress Melinda and get into the Bit Busters club and um, ‘integrate technologies’ with her (words on the advert, not mine). The game is a vast and spread over 144 levels of varying difficulty, enemies, traps and pitfalls try to prevent you from reaching your goal at every turn. Using your wits and cunning you must navigate Chip safely to each level exit, solving puzzles along the way.  Along the way you’ll use objects such as handy keys (blue, yellow, green and red) as well as shields to protect you from fire and water, boots to help you navigate ice, and a magnet to help you move about on what I’ve always thought was a demented escalator.

Chips Challenge is a great top down puzzle and maze game. Most memories of this game start with the musical score by David Whittaker (Alfred Chicken, Bubble Bobble, Kid Gloves) which, although lively and quite funky at first, does nothing to help your concentration when playing, especially on a tough level. The music however does add great pace to the game and almost causes that extra level of panic as you race against the clock to solve each level. Some of the levels in this are painful to play, the maze level called ‘Brushfire’, which is quite early on in the game, always gave me a headache.

The replay value on this game is second to none and the levels are very well designed and thought out with some really challenging levels. The game eases you into it gently and by the time you get the hang of it you feel that drive to keep playing, completing level after level until you realise its 2am. The level code feature (as opposed to saving) lets you put this down and return to it later, one of the many reasons why this game works so well, its fun to play, a challenge to complete and a classic puzzler.

Puffy’s Saga

Release year: 1989 Publisher: Ubi soft Graphics and Sound effects: Fabrice Visserot

I love the title screen, I love the characters and I love the enemy sprites in this game, the dragon is also pretty awesome. My most fond memories of Puffy’s Saga are from its aesthetically pleasing look, more than likely thanks to a certain Fabrice Visserot (Flashback). The game itself is very hit and miss, the ‘Gauntlet‘ style game play is fun and the first few levels tend to be very simple and easy to complete (as with Chips Challenge) however, what you get after this first few levels is a maze of confusion and frustrating game play, leading to small amounts of crying and chucking of the game across the room.

The game follows the usual good versus evil storyline, an evil wizard has turned two star crossed lovers into yellow balls and sent them to the depths of a dungeon maze, in order to break the spell our heroes must find their way out by completing each level, and restore themselves to their human form. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not really simple at all, by that I mean I’ve not beaten it, but I want to, this reason and only this reason brings me back to Puffy’s Saga each time. I do love the characters and design of the enemies, a little fine tweaking and not so much madness this could have been a half decent game.

A good puzzle game should be challenging, but not impossible, Puffy’s Saga is the Yolanda (shudder) of the puzzle gaming world, in that you get the feeling it was developed to be impossible and/or boring at points. However, I can’t help myself with this game and I must finish it!

I’d consider Chips Challenge a reasonably succesful game, in terms of popularity and critical acclaim, as well as being one of the more memorable and classic games of this genre. Puffy’s Saga I think belongs at the other end of this spectrum, however, both remain as appealing and playable to me today as they were in the early 90’s. Short of doing a top 5, there were 3 other games that for me sat between these two games in term of popularity, great gameplay and quality. I still have fond memories of the following 3 games, although I didn’t play them half as much as the two above, in fact, although I own them all for my Amiga I believe I originally played 1 of them on an old Acorn computer in Secondary School.

Pac-Mania (1989) The one game I may have played in break times at school (alongside ‘Moonquake’ a Bomberman clone), was a great looking update to the original Pac-Man, with a nifty 3D isometric look. A decent arcade conversion this game is brilliantly presented and fun to play, with some great level design and colourful graphics. The added bonus for me with Pac-Mania was that it actually held my interest, I’m pretty terrible at the original but I felt I could get into this one more and wanted to return to it to try again each time.

Magic Serpent (1991) Was a fast and frustratingly difficult maze game set within a relatively simple scenario. The general idea was you navigated the maze (starting off as a small serpent) and collected fruit, which in turn made your serpent grow in length, the longer you got the more difficult it was to complete the level without running into yourself and dying. Certain other bonuses throughout the maze allowed for more points, time or to reduce the length of your tail. The idea was to collect everything avoiding any collisions with yourself. Taking a wrong turn would, most of the time, result in game over! Magic Serpent is a pretty fun and entertaining addition to the genre, with some pretty memorable intro music and a wonderful selection of sound effects.

Supaplex (1991) I’m still not even sure how to pronounce it, was a great game as well as a variant on the brilliant Boulderdash. I was fascinated by the level design, the bad guys and the graphics, which, compared to other games aren’t great. however these are all superseded by the superior playability and gameplay, which in itself was on Chips Challenge scale of size and difficulty. Another one I have yet to complete but I always enjoy playing and exploring, it is rewarding to plough your way through the levels as well as having the handy bonus of being able to save your progress.

If any of the names Magic Serpent, Supaplex, and Pac-Mania ring any bells, specifically the first 2, I’d love to hear your opinion on these games. I loved them, but I don’t remember anyone else ever owning them let alone playing them back in the day.

Check out links and videos below if you want to find out some more about these games!

Supaplex game information and review in Amiga Action 26 (Nov 1991)

Magic Serpent game information, seems to be an absence of reviews on this one so here is a link to its page on Hall of Light 

Pac-Mania game information and review in Amiga Computing Vol 1 No 9 (Feb 1989) 

Puffy’s Saga game information and review in Amiga Format 8 (March 1990)

Chips Challenge game information and review in Amiga Action 17 (Feb 1991)

Check out the Chips Challenge intro and first level below, the first level of Supaplex, some gameplay fromMagic Serpent and Amiga Longplay for Pac-Mania.

Chips Challenge

Magic Serpent

Pac-Mania

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Stop making an egghibit of yourself… Treasure Island Dizzy

February 3, 2011

Treasure Island Dizzy

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Year: 1989

Publisher: Codemasters

Disks: 1

Music: Allister Brimble

Ah Treasure Island Dizzy, eggcellent game, you might even say… eggquisite? Ahem. I could crack plenty of those yolks but I eggpect I would lose those few loyal readers I have, and fear they would be poached from me to another blog. Right, all out of my system. Previously I reviewed Spellbound Dizzy, a game I actually don’t like that much, however I thought I’d take a look at the first Dizzy game I ever played, and made me into a long-term fan of the series. Treasure Island Dizzy was the first of the series to appear on the Amiga, but certainly not the worst by a long shot.

The graphics are cute and colourful (as expected) and by todays standards I could probably whip up similar looking sprites and backgrounds in Paint. However, this is one ofAlways good to be on top of things... the first things that attracted me to the game. The game starts with Dizzy trapped on an island, his only means of escape is to solve the usual array of puzzles as well as collect 30 gold coins to secure his passage off the island and to freedom. A simple scenario. The graphics are well drawn and look polished, despite the simple look of the backgrounds and characters. The puzzles are generally simple and follow a logical course, although can be frustrating at points if you leave certain items behind and have to move back and forth to get them.

The gameplay is challenging, not only do you have to solve all the puzzles, as well as collect all the coins, the challenge is more so as you have to complete the game with the single life you are granted at the start. No continues here and mistakes can be pretty deadly.

Snorkel, a valuable piece of kit...

However, because of this, there is pure satisfaction when completing this game as it is more than a trial at times. In this gamers opinion, the only downfall of this title is the music (let’s be honest, Dizzy games never really hit the mark with effective music? – begin debate…?)

The music was composed by Allister Brimble, who had worked on many other popular Amiga games including Alien Breed (1991) Mortal Kombat (1993) and Superfrog (1993), which all make great use of atmospheric and dramatic scores to bring the games to life, which is odd in this instance as I feel the music comes across as extremely (see – no egg joke) repetitive and just a little irritating in Treasure Island Dizzy. He also composed the music for other Dizzy titles such as Fantasy World Dizzy (1991) and Spellbound Dizzy (1992).

This is a gem of a game with some great and interesting puzzles, nasty traps and one particular nod to one of my all time favourite movies. Pleasant graphics and fun game play this isThis guy will take you for everything you've got, git...

by no means the best or greatest of Dizzy games on the Amiga but is certainly a classic and a great introduction to the series. The single life makes it a challenge and if you don’t like the music, turn it off! Simple.

One of the elements to Treasure Island Dizzy which can make the game very entertaining is the cheat codes (listed below), usually employed when I’ve forgotten a really obvious puzzle and then attempt to crash the game by taking Dizzy to areas of the game the developers didn’t intend you to go to.

Enter one of the following codes during game play to activate the corresponding cheat function.

Effect and  Code

Flight mode – icanfly 

Invincibility – eggsonlegs

High jumps – eggonaspring

Magazine Reviews:

Zero 5 Magazine (March 1990) gave Treasure Island Dizzy 78%

Amiga Longplay: Treasure Island Dizzy

Please go to the Yolkfolk.com for all your Dizzy needs and wants.

Treasure Island Dizzy has appeared in many other conversions, notably on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS,  NES and the ZX Spectrum.

The Secret of Monkey Island

November 8, 2009

The Secret of Monkey Island

  

Developer: Lucasfilm Games

Design: Ron Gilbert

Genre: Point n’ Click Adventure

Release date: 1990

 

“My name is Guybrush Threepwood, prepare to die! The immortal words of Guybrush Drinkwater, um, Thrinkwood, eh, never mind. Squinky, just call him Squinky.” 

This is probably one of the hardest reviews I’ve written on my blog. This game has so many fond memories attached to it I could waffle on for days. I believe that Ron Gilbert is the best thing to have happened to point n’ click adventures in the entire history of the genre. He designed and created a game I still enjoy playing through again and again, even 20 years later. It is hard to express how much I love this game, (without resorting to interpretive dance or something) and unfortunately can never do it justice. However below are just some of my thoughts and feelings on what I think is a classic game, first played on my Amiga in the early 90’s, eagerly swapping 4 disks over and over, and pretty much the same game still being played on my PC, through Steam. My original big boxed version for the Amiga sits proudly on my shelf o’ gaming as I write.

The Secret of Monkey Island can be seen as one of the greatest point and click adventures of its time, and possibly of all time (begin debate) It remains in the hearts and minds of all dedicated adventurers since the beginning of the classic pirate series from Lucas Arts, and more specifically Ron Gilbert, master of dialogue and design behind The Secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush’s adventures continue to this day, with some of the original team returning for the Tales of Monkey Island from Telltale Games. The Secret of Monkey Island is an adventure game that utilizes the command verb-based system SCUMM (Script Creation Utility of Maniac Mansion), the kind of point and click interface first introduced in Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The technology was used in all subsequent Lucas Arts adventure games, with the exception of Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island. The branching dialogue system allows you to talk to characters in different ways without fearing a wrong choice, (if this was the not the case Guybrush’s’ further adventures could see him working down at the local fire station) after declaring to the pirate captains “I wanna be a fireman”. The game play itself revolves around inventory-based puzzles to solve. Items are picked up and saved in the players’ inventory until needed; they can be used with each other or with an object, place or character within the game.

Guybrush is the wannabe pirate hero of the adventure, our pony tailed protagonist doesn’t realise that his arrival on Melee Island couldn’t have come at a worse time as its inhabitants are being terrorised by the fearsome ghost pirate Le Chuck. To begin his dream of adventure on the high seas, drinking grog, swordplay, thievery, and eh, treasure huntery, Guybrush must seek the three grog swilling, foul-mouthed pirate captains who reside in the SCUMM bar, aptly named for the games interface system explained above. Guybrush must complete the three trials given to him by the pirate captains to succeed in becoming a pirate. With cracking dialogue, cut scenes and some very funny moments Guybrush’s adventure goes from wannabe pirate to captaining his own ship and crew in order to find his way to Monkey Island and rescue the woman he loves from the evil clutches of the ghost pirate Le Chuck!

Along the way Guybrush meets many other great characters; including Captain Smirk who trains Guybrush, used ship salesman Stan (this character also returns many times in other Monkey Island games, and excels in the second game as a used coffin salesman), Otis the prisoner, and most significantly, the love of his life, Governor Elaine Marley, who Guybrush meets whilst attempting to steal the idol of many hands (only because it belongs in a museum you understand…). However, Elaines ex, or Le Chuck as we like to call him decides to kidnap her and take her with his ghostly crew to the fabled Monkey Island. Le Chuck has been Guybrush’s nemesis throughout the Monkey Island series and is a great character, with plenty more villainous potential to return in further games, whether is be as ghost, zombie or human!

One of the most memorable of the three trials (for its longevity) is to defeat the island’s sword master Carla, an expert in the art of sword play and insults. A notable contributor to this very clever and funny part of the game was author Orson Scott Card. Orson wrote the insults and answers that the player has to collect by fighting stinking and bloodthirsty pirates on the road, and to  use the insults and answers collected to defeat the sword masters own unique brand of verbal abuse. This is also one of my personal favourites in the game, and even though I know when I have just enough replies to defeat the swordmaster, I will continue to fight and collect more. Other favourite parts of the game include the relatively short second part on the voyage to Monkey Island itself, the ‘self contained pirate sitcom’, whereby the mutinous crew reduce Guybrush to the highest and lowest rank on his own ship.

Gilberts dialogue throughout is funny and timeless, allowing new gamers who have not had the  pleasure of the Monkey Island experience before to appreciate the superior humour and the great characters in a new light, rather than focus on the outdated graphics and linear story line. However, with the recent release of the special editions on PC the graphics have been greatly improved with some fantastic character designs and background artwork, I highly recommend The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition as it looks great but has lost none of the originals great game play, humour and charm. 

A brilliant game and still one of my all time favorites, it all culminates into a timeless game with humour and characters that stick in the mind to this day, playable and simply one of Lucas Arts, (or more accurately Ron Gilberts) greatest point and click adventures, nothing yet in my opinion has beaten sword fight insults and the pirate ghost ship shuffle. For similar experiences in humour and game play see other classics like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Monkey Island sequels Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island tried to sustain the template set out by Ron Gilbert but are missing the subtle humour and charm of the first two games, and I think whole heartedly that Monkey Island 2: Le Chucks Revenge is a superior sequel, with an ending that can only be explained, or concluded (if he chooses), by Ron Gilbert. 

 

Monkey Island related business below… (Monkey Business)

Learn more about Ron Gilbert at his website Grumpy Gamer

Old but still interesting interview with Ron Gilbert over at The World of Monkey Island in 2007, plus includes plenty of other awesome Monkey Island info.

Amiga Power 2 (June 1991) review of The Secret of Monkey Island gave the game 90%

Amiga Format 23 (June 1991) review, gave it 92%

Having trouble wondering what the red herring is for? Not sure what to do with the cotton swab, eager to get a-head in navigating? Then check out the Amiga Longplay of The Secret of Monkey Island on Youtube below!