Monday, 23 January 2012

Lock n Chase (Game Boy)

The story of me and Lock n Chase is a short, pointless and boring one. This summer, while I was subjected to only a mobile broadband dongle with very limited bandwidth, I noticed somewhere that the entire ROMset for the Atari 2600 took up only 5MB. Seeing this as good value for bandwidth, I downloaded it, and put it onto my GP2X to play while watching repeats of Everybody Hates Chris and 60s Batman.
Overwhelmed by the huge list of games, I started playing the familiar games I played on a real 2600 in times long past (Carnival, Stampede, Othello), then games with interesting titles (Aquaventure, Cosmic Ark) and also, games that I remember seeing advertised in the old (as in pre-dating my birth) Marvel and DC comics I used to buy from the book stall on the market in my teenage years. Lock n Chase was one of those games.
But I'm not writing about the Atari 2600 version, or the arcade game of which it was a port. Today I'm writing about the much later Game Boy port.
It's pretty fun. It's a Pacman clone, as was the fashion at the time, themed around a bank robber being chased by cops. The characters all look like the chicken nugget people that McDonalds had among their many mascots a long time ago (I specifically remember during the 1992 Olympics, Happy Meals came with little plastic nugget-men, each one engaged in a different sport, not letting their lack of limbs stand in the way of their ambitions), and are all wearing hats. The cops are wearing the kind of hats you see cops wearing in old gangster movies, and the player is wearing the kind of hat you see gangsters wearing in old gangster movies.
You waddle around the mazes avoiding cops and collecting round things (which I think we can assume are coins). As usual, collect all the coins and you go the the next stage. There's also moneybags and diamonds, that will periodically appear for a short time every now and then. The moneybags freeze the cops in place for a few seconds, and the diamonds let you chase them for a short time, like the power pills in Pacman.
I should probably go into what makes Lock n Chase its own game, and not just a reskinned Pacman clone. The original gimmick in the arcade version was that there were doors place all over the stages that the player can shut behind them, cutting off any persuing cops (but also possibly creating a dead end for the careless player to be chased down). This feature survives into the Game Boy port, which also gradually adds more gimmicks as the game goes on. The first to appear is kind of the opposite of the original: doors that are closed by default and can be opened for a few seconds by the player walking into them.
I won't spoil any of the other features for you (plus i can't get very far into the game, and have only seen a couple more anyway, but shhh.).
The GB Lock n Chase is a pretty fun game, and even better than the original version. It is also, by extension, better than the PSP version, which is a download over 100MB large from the PSN store, despite just being a ROM of the arcade version packaged with an emulator. THat doesn't even automatically save high scores. Tsk.

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