Thursday, 23 December 2010

Commodore Amiga - Yo! Joe!

Commodore Amiga
Yo! Joe!

Y'know, some things I'll never understand. The popularity of retro gaming, for instance. No, I understand why retro gaming is popular, but there's certain games I've either never played or never understood the hype behind them. Take Head Over Heels, for instance, or the original Batman game. I've just never got into them as much as apparently most people did.

Then there's the games that I really liked that no-one ever mentions. In all my time of retro-gaming, I haven't heard a single mention of Yo! Joe! for the Amiga, except by myself, and I don't know why. Me and several other of my friends loved the game, having originally been hooked on a playable demo of the first half of the first level... and that's not as bad as it sounds because the levels were HUGE.

Basically, then... you, with or without a friend, must make your way through some big levels of various designs, beating things up along the way. Animation is wonderfully smooth, the graphics are highly detailed, and the controls are simple and easy to learn.

The reason you're in this situation isn't abundantly clear. All you can tell is some evil magic circle wants to cause Joe and Nat (the playable characters) pain and suffering, and so make you fight your way through their domain. Well, it's easy enough to just say "Whatever" to the plot, it could be about being pulled up for not scooping the poop for all I care, as long as the main game mechanic remains as it is, because this is one enjoyable experience from beginning to end.

It wasn't particularly difficult, but you did need to exercise a little brain power here and there and choose when to back off a bit. Attempting to simply plough forward was just a little too dumb and would cause you to die fairly readily. Ducking and weaving a bit delivered far better results.

Magazine reviews were mixed, public opinion was and still is mixed. I would be very interested to know what other people think about this game, so please post your comments below. If you haven't played before I'd say it's worth hunting down for a quick blast.

TI99/4A - Munch Man

Munch Man

Pac Man has been cloned in many different ways. It’s often said, however, that despite all the different versions, the original remains the best and nothing’s going to top it. One thing’s for sure, the new “DX” version of Pac Man certainly doesn't.

Anyway, that’s a whole different article and story and in no way helps set the scene for Munch Man. Munch Man was the TI99/4A’s version of Pac Man, and is, in my humble opinion, just as good as the famed game, although in quite a different graphical style.

First off, gone are the dark backgrounds of most games of this genre, and in comes a bright white background. Gone are the dots to eat, instead you have to make a chain round the maze (until later, anyway). You still have your power pills, though they're shaped like Texas Instruments logos. The ghosts are replaced by "Hoonos", baddies that come in a variety of shapes and speeds.

Graphics are colourful, and the animation is simplistic yet effective. The sound effects are marvellous, especially the satisfying "crunch" as you eat one of the Hoonos. As far as gameplay goes, it's no more complicated than Pacman, but just as fun. The speed of the game starts off alright, but increases steadily to a stern test of nerve, especially when you reach the last couple of levels in the loop... rather than having your visible maze and filling it with chains, now the walls are invisible, but paths are marked by tiny TI logos that you must eat. Unfortunately, as you eat these logos, you take away your map, leaving you reliant on your memory as to where the paths are.

Let me be honest... if you're a Billy Mitchell type who can deliver a perfect high score on PacMan, you're NOT going to find this overly challenging. However, a regular everyday joe like most of us will find Munch Man a refreshing and fun alternative to everyone's favourite yellow ball. The further you get, the faster the game is, so the challenge is constantly increasing.

One last thing... the game contains one of the earliest known "Cheat" modes. At the start screen, before the title animation begins, if you hold the Shift button and type "838", you can select what level you want to start on and how many lives you have.

Thanks to emulation, you can get hold of this game to play within moments, which I've tried, but I have to be honest... I still prefer the real thing every time.