Friday, 14 August 2015

Robbeary (Amiga)

I recently had a minor revelation regarding this game: for years, I'd assumed the title was pronounced like "Robb-ear-y", which is meaningless and makes no sense, but the player's character is a teddy bar, so obviously, it's meant to be "Rob-bear-y", which is still pretty stupid, but at least makes a little sense. Anyway, it's a single screen platformer about collecting stuff and scoring points.

Yeah, your bear goes around these pretty simply laid out stages and collects every giants fruit they contain before going on to the next stage. Obviously, there's also a bunch of enemies running around trying to stop you, and one touch from them kills you. Unusually, and more typical of "collect everything" maze games than platformers, you have no reliable means of defence against the enemies. Other than randomly appearing power ups that turn them into points items, all you can do is try your best to avoid them. To make this even harder, there's a timer, and when it runs out, all the enemies go into cocoons and hatch out twice as fast as they were before. If you take too long finishing a stage, this can even happen more than once!

Not only are the items that appear random, but so are the movements of the enemies: they just randomly walk back and forth, sometimes stopping for a second or walking off the edge of platforms. These things make the game not only hard, but dependent almost entirely on luck. You can't form  a strategy to make sure you get a power up in the nick of time, because you don't know when or where the power ups will appear, and you can't learn the enemy patterns to work out the best way around them because the enemies don't have any patterns. It's only when one of the random items (a green key, not to be confused with the gold key that appears at the end of the stage or the silver key which apparently does nothing at all) opened a door to a bonus stage that I realised that there's a chance that the developer had misinterpreted Bubble Bobble's elaborate system of secret items, room and stages as being random and tried to copy it.

Now I know that there have been a few games covered on this very blog where I've said that randomness has ruined them, but I should clarify that randomness isn't an inherently bad thing. Some of my favourite games use a lot of it: Shiren the Wanderer, One-Way Heroics and Minecraft being but three. But you'll notice that none of those games are arcade (or arcade-style) score-based action http://games.In games like this, scoring and progress should always be as close as possible to 100% about skill, knowledge and understanding of the game mechanics on the part of the player, and random elements totally ruin that.

Though it holds a little bit of nostalgia value for me (it was in a huge box of pirated games that came with the pre-owned Amiga I got for Christmas as a kid one year), I definitey can't recommend that you bother playing Robbeary.

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