Friday, 26 May 2017

Binary Land (NES)

First, I should mention that I was sent a physical copy of this game as a gift, by patreon subscriber Matt Sephton. So thanks! Anyway, the thing with most maze games is that the maze itself isn't the main source of the challenge. It exists only as a confined place that you have to navigate round while avoiding enemies (and also ensuring that the enemies don't trick you into trapping you between them). The obvious reason for this is that a straight-up maze-solving videogame probably wouldn't be very fun, significantly less than solving mazes on paper, even. Still, the developers of Binary Land decided to have a shot at making a maze game about mazes, though they did it with a gimmick in mind that wouldn't have been possible on paper.

That gimmick is that the player controls two characters at the same time, with one of them having their horizontal controls reversed. They're each on opposing sides of a wall, which also has two different mazes at either side. The objective is to not only get the two penguin protagonists to the top of the screen, but they each have to occupy the spaces directly at each  side of a caged love heart at the top of the screen.

Obviously, there's various obstacles in their path, besides the difficulties you'll face in trying to get the two penguin lovers in just the right relative positions to end the stage. First off, there's spiders and their webs. You can kill the spiders and disperse their webs any time with your attack, though of course, you have to keep an eye on both sides of the screen all the time, as while one penguin is fighting off enemies, the other could be blindly walking into them. The webs are stationary, but if one of your penguins gets stuck in one, they're rendered totally immobile until the other comes over and gets them out.

Later on, more enemies appear, naturally. I've been able to get up to about stage fifteen or sixteen, and in that time, the spiders have been joined by birds, who can fly over the whole screen with no regard as to the walls, and, on contact, switch the positions of your characters. There's also little sentient fireballs, who slowly meander around the place, kill on contact, and unfairly, can't be killed.

Binary Land is a pretty good game, and as I said, it's fairly unique in that it's a maze game that's actually about solving mazes. It's also very cute, and one of those romance-themed games that were a thing in the mid-1980s and haven't really been since, so give it a try.

No comments:

Post a Comment