Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Fire Trap (Arcade)

The wikipedia page for 1982's crazy climber says that that game might be the only arcade game that's not a twin-stick shooter two use two joysticks and no buttons. That's definitely wrong, though, as Fire Trap is another game with that control system. Although, to be fair to whoever wrote the Crazy Climber wiki page, Fire Trap is essentially an update of that game with really nice graphics.

And those graphics are really nice. You scale lovingly-rendered isometric highrises, rescuing people and putting out fires, and when you have a second or two spare, you can take in some gorgeous views of the surrounding cityscape. And while it was typical for city-set arcade games of the 1980s to take their visual cues from the likes of The Warriors or Terrifying Girls High School, Fire Trap emulates a more optimistic, luxurious view of the decade of decadence: rather than climbing graffiti-covered tenement estates, you're climbing luxurious condos in the sun. The second stage is a particularly proud example of eighties excess, being set on a building constructed of pink concrete, with occasional swimming pools and sun decks. On a sidenote of probably-unintentional satire, you could say that the most eighties element of the game is that you get more points for finding a sack of money than you do for rescuing a trapped human.

Anyway, I have some bad news: although the game is really really nice to look at, it's not so nice to play. It's not only incredibly hard, but frequently feels unfair, and even mean-spirited. It has that same "evil fire" that almost every other fire-fighting game seems to have (in fact, it might even be the first appearance of the phenomenon), and the flames will shooting homing orbs of fire at you as you're climbing around. Not only that, but once you near the top of the building, a huge hovering, invincible fireball will start floating around, faster than you can possibly avoid it, meaning you just have to hope that it doesn't crash into you as you climb the last few windows to the top. In case you're wondering about the controls, up and down on each stick move the respective hands of your character in the pushed direction, pushing left or right on either stick moes you sideways, and pushing the sticks in towards each other shoots upwards. Obviously, I was emulating, and while you might think the most logical setup for these controls would be the two analogue sticks of an XBox 360 controller, but I actually found this to be slightly less responsive and immediate as I'd like, so I figured out a scheme utilising the d-pad and ABXY buttons of a USB Saturn pad, as well as mapping the shot command to the right shoulder button. This allowed for much quicker movement, and just felt a lot nicer, especially when building up the right rhythm for speedy ascension. (Were the last few sentences a bit pointless and self-indulgent? Maybe.)

Anyway, yeah; Fire Trap is a beautiful game, but you'll save yourself a lot of stress by just going and looking up a longplay video of it on youtube.

1 comment:

  1. I really wish this game was good because it is gorgeous