Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Spark Man (Arcade)

Spark Man is a Rolling Thunder-esque walking shooter from South Korea, with a few of its own eccentricities, both mechanically and aesthetically.

It begins before a coin is even inserted, with the title screen depicting the hand of god bestowing electric life unto an androgynous cyborg. Androgynous apparently being a very apt word in this case, as between coin insertion and the start of the first stage, the player is treated to a profile of the game's protagonist, including their country of origin (Republic of Korea), date of birth (1994, which along with the given age of 16 sets the game in 2010/11), parents (Electroman and Fire Lady) and then sex, for which both male and female symbols are listed. Does Spark Man identify him/herself as being somewhere on a gender spectrum, rather than a binary male or female? Amazingly progressive for a game from 1989!

Most of the game doesn't do anything particularly exciting or innovative, having the player saunter from left to right shooting awkward-looking guys dressed in red (with the odd guy in green and every now and then, a panther or two), occasionally picking up a temporary weapon power up (which last for far too short a time).
There are a few interesting ideas in there, though. Roughly once a stage, a (somewhat stupid-looking) flying platform, allowing the player to fly around the screen dropping bombs on enemies. The bosses have another nice little quirk: they're all (as far as I've seen) giant robots (including what I assume is an unlicenced cameo from a Star Wars AT-ST), and rather than having health bars, they have visible crew members on board, a certain number of whom must be shot before the robot dies.

"Somewhat stupid-looking" is a phrase that can be used to describe a lot of things about Spark Man. The enemies and protagonist have an awkward, uncomfortable way of standing and walking, the flying platform, and the way Sparky sits on it look bizarre, and the stages, apparently set in America and the USSR both look like they were drawn by someone who had only the flimsiest knowledge of the countries. I'm not saying any of the art in the game is bad or poorly-drawn, there's just some kind of vague offness about how it all looks.

For all it's faults, Spark Man isn't a terrible game, if you're curious, there's no reason not to check it out, but if you don't you're definately not missing out on a classic or anything.

1 comment:

  1. OOooooooooo. Nice one. Looks like good Galaxy Oddity fodder.