Saturday, 6 September 2014

Net Yaroze Round-Up Volume 4!

Sam the Boulderman (James Hobden, 1998)
Like Rocks n Gems, Sam the Boulderman is a Boulderdash clone, though it has a slightly different take on the concept. Rather than RnG's big, sprawling stages full of enemies, Sam's stages are all single screen, and as far as I can tell, enemy-free. This means it's entirely puzzle-based, with none of the nerve-wracking chases of the more well known game. It plays alright, though movement does feel a little jerky, and the presentation is pretty shoddy. The graphics are grubby-looking, and the music and sound effects are the same as those used in Clone (though whether this is stealing or just the use of some common Yaroze sound library is beyond my knowledge). Still worth a look, though.

Blitter Boy in Monster Mall (Chris Chadwick, 1998)
This game was critically acclaimed when it came out, winning competitions and awards and the like, and comments I've seen online often name it as one of peoples' favourite Yaroze games, but I really don't like it at all. It's a semi-Robotron-esque game, without the twin-stick shooting in which the player must go about stages shooting ghosts and UFOs while rescuing babies and taking them to the centre of the screen to be beamed away. It can't be denied that it's competently put together and the graphics are incredibly slick, looking like it could be a commercially released Amiga game from only a few years earlier. The biggest problem Blitter Boy has, though, is the sound effects: there's always something making some kind of loud, shrill noise, and worst of all are the babies you're tasked with rescuing. Getting hit by one of the player's stray bullets or coming into contact with any of the enemies makes the babies stop what they're doing and cry, loudly. The constant, awful noise made this game unplayable for me for more than a few minutes.

The Incredible Coneman (Lars Barstad, Per Ivar Pedersen, Rune Solberg, Jostein Trondal, Frode Kristensen, Bjorn Ullevoldaeter, 1998)
The Incredible Coneman is a 3D Pac-Man clone. The player controls Coneman, a kind of robot/tank thing round various mazes, collecting pyramids and stars and avoiding ghosts. The face buttons can be used to move the camera, a function which seemingly has no restraints, allowing the player to zoom out until the entire map is just a tiny dot on the screen. The most distinguishing feature of the game is its sound: the music is a short, mellow, almost hypnotic beat, and the game plays a nice little saxophone doot-doot-doo when the player loses a life. TIC isn't essential playing, but it's not terrible either, and it does have some charm.

Arena (Tom Madams, ????)
A pretty impressive 3D shooting game, starring a mech that looks similar in design to the one from the Amiga game Walker. The player controls the mech, goes about a maze shooting enemies and turrets. It's really hard, so much so that I couldn't even get past the first stage, but I like Arena. The mech's fun to control, the enemíes are satisfying to shoot and destroy, and the graphics are easily some of the best I've seen in a Yaroze game. It's full, texture-mapped 3D, and it looks like it wouldn't be too out of place on the 3D0 or one of those other forgotten consoles of the early 32-bit era (something I say here totally as a compliment).

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