Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Net Yaroze Round-Up Volume 2!

Decaying Orbit (Scott Cartier, David Dewitt, 1999)
This was a game I loved back when Yaroze games were being given away with magazine demo discs. In it,
the player controls a tiny spaceship, flying from planet to planet, shooting enemy turrets and activating beacons. The interesting part, however, is the psuedo-realistic physics engine. Every planet has gravity, and not only will larger planets try to pull your ship into orbit, but you can also "slingshot" around planets to travel at super-high speeds. Unfortunately, the game doesn't really want to put up with these kinds of shenanigans, and travelling at extreme velocities will usually result in either flying off the map or smashing violently into a planet. There is, however, an edit mode, allowing players to create their own maps, and play with the engine to their heart's content.

Hover Racing (Tomukazu Sato, 1997)
People talk a lot about Terra Incognita being a yaroze game of particularly high production values, and though it's not very well known, Hover Racing is another one that with a bit of polish could at least pass for a Simple 1500 Series game. In essence, it's a blatant F-Zero knock-off, with low-poly hovering vehicles
speeding around floating racetracks. It's of a high quality, and there's lots of tracks, but it is brutally hard, both by design and by virtue of its bizarre controls. Left and right on the d-pad are used to go left and right on the track, to avoid walls and the like, but to actually turn corners requires an unusual combination of shoulder buttons: to turn left, the player must hold L2 and R1 together (and vice versa). If you have the patience to learn it, it'd probably be very satisfying to play.

Bouncer 2 (Scott Evans, 1998)
It's an Arkanoid clone with a gimmick! A pretty interesting gimmick at that: instead of a ball and a bat, the player controls a small see-saw, with two men bouncing on it taking the place the place of the ball. Although
the gimmick is interesting, unfortunately, it doesn't save the game. The problem the game has is that the stages are enormous, and it feels like it takes forever to get through them. It's a shame really, as I do enjoy a good Arkanoid clone.

Clone (Stuart Ashley, 1997)
A first person shooter that places the player in dark, gloomy mazes inhabited by strange zombie-like monsters with transparent skin and targets on their chests. It's definitely atmospheric, and there's a simple charm to the way it plays. There's nothing particularly wrong with the game, it's just that all the stages look
the same and there's only one kind of enemy, so it struggles to hold my attention for long. But still, it is a little bit charming too, and despite the primitive visuals, it does manage to maintain a sliver of tension and atmosphere.

Psychon (Ben James, 1998)
A top-down shooter that's obviously heavily inspired by the Alien Breed series on the Amiga. The player controls a space marine-looking guy around a dirty, cramped spaceship/futuristic slum/place, shooting everyone one they meet and collecting bullets, keys and healing items. There's also four glowing things that need to be found and switched off on each stage before the exit will open. The game looks great, in a grimy, British sci-fi kind of way, and it plays pretty well too, though it's a lot harder than I remember it being.
Psychon's another one that was a favourite back in the days of yore, especially thanks to it having a 2-player co-op mode.

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