Joust comes home: Lancer and Clash for the color computer. (evaluation) Owen W. Linzmayer.
I've always loved arcade games in which two people can play simultaneously. Rather than simply competing against computer-driven opponents, you must contend with yet another variable: the other player. Arcade owners enjoy the larger profits that two-player games invariably generate. Some of my past favorites have been Rip-Off, Eliminator, and Space War.
In recent months, two-player games have become much more sophisticated and complex. William's Joust, one of the most popular of this new breed, has finally reached the home front in the form of Lancer for the TRS-80 Color Computer and Clash for the Model I/III. Joust
Manufactured under the Williams name, Joust has proven to be one of the most popular arcade titles of 1983. It continues to rank high on the earnings chart published by Play Meter magazine, the coin-op industry bible.
In Joust, you are represented by a knight riding upon a mythological flying bird. Using a bi-directional joystick and a "flap" button, you must fly around the screen and unseat enemy riders. To knock a knight off his mount successfully, the lance that you wield must be higher than his when your two birds make contact.
When you play with a human opponent, you are confronted with more complex and intriguing waves of enemies and you must make additional strategy decisions. Most important, you must decide whether to compete or cooperate. Lancer
With an enviable reputation for producing quality coin-op adaptations, Spectral Associates has recently introduced Lancer by Rick LaMont. Designed for use on a 32K TRS-80 Color Computer, Lancer does such a good job of emulating Joust that I find it difficult to believe that I don't have to drop in a quarter after every play.
After you load the copy-protected program, the entire screen turns either blue or red. You press the reset button on the back of the Color Computer until the screen is red to ensure that the colors are correct during game play. The program then asks you how many people will play, their names, and the difficulty level (0-15) at which they want to play.
The game screen looks very much like that of Jourst (see photos). All of the ledges and portals are located in the same positions, and the score is displayed at the bottom. Your mount sparkles as if materializing whenever it enters the playfield. If after five seconds you do not press a control, it solidifies, and your state of immunity is over. Lancer plays best with Atari switch-type controllers rather than the Tandy potentiometer joysticks.
The enemy riders are silver and ride on blue buzzards. Since both of the players' knights are red and aren't distinguishable, you must carefully keep track of your own position on the screen to avoid confusion and conflict. The hi-res graphics are top-notch -- right up there with Data-Soft's Zaxxon and Intracolor's Robottack. There is a myriad of colors in the painstakingly detailed graphic characters. The components in Lancer mimic the actions of those found in Joust almost to a tee; the wings flap, the eggs bounce, and the necks of the birds bob back and forth as they fly across the screen.
The game is broken into waves, each with its own special objective.
On the energy waves, you must race around the screen and pick up all the eggs before they hatch. Team waves require you to cooperate with your partner if you wish to collect a bonus. On the eighth wave you must avoid the deadly "invincible" dragon. Every wave in Joust has an equivalent in Lancer--you don't miss out on a thing.
The best word to describe the sound effects of Lancer is spartan. Luckily, the exciting game play and excellent graphics make up for the lack of first-rate audio effects. The one other thing I find fault with is the sluggishness of the controls. Lancer doesn't give you that perfectly smooth, fluid movement found in other games. Part of the problem probably lies with the slow 6809 microprocessor inside the Color Computer, but i am convinced that the game could function quicker and more efficiently. At times it feels as if you are playing in an atmosphere with high gravity. With practice, though, you can perform graceful landings and aerobatics just as you do in Joust.
Lancer stands among the top Color Computer games of the year. If Oscars were awarded to computer programs, I would nominate Lancer without a second thought. I recommend that you go out and play a game of Joust. If you like it, purchase a copy of Lancer.
You won't be disappointed. Clash
Just because the TRS-80 Models I and III produce only lo-res, monochrome graphics doesn't mean that software houses can't create great game programs for these systems. And don't be misled into believing that TRS-80 games are less fun to play than their Color Computer counterparts. Clash, another Joust adaption, attests to this.
Written by Bill Dunlevy, Clash borrows heavily from Joust, but does not attempt to pass itself off as a clone of the coin-op game. The basic concept is the same: you ride upon a flying bird and must defeat enemy creatures by colliding with them. But Clash turns some very interesting twists that make it different from any other game available. Instead of always going head-to-head against a human opponent, you must also combat eerie creatures such as cave spiders and bats. And don't forget to be on the lookout for spikes that drop from the cavern ceilings when you least expect it.
Before the action begins, you select the difficulty level you wish (1-4). Each level consists of five separate waves, and by choosing a higher starting level you can skip the easier rounds. During each wave you are challenged in a different way. Sometimes you must simply unseat enemy riders, while at other times you must scoop up valuable gems (eggs) before they turn into dangerous spiders.
When compared to other arcade games for the TRS-80, Clash looks very good. The excellent animation of the characters is what sets it apart from the rest of the pack. The sound effects are also commendable. If you have the disk version of Clash and you connect the AUX jack to an amp/speaker, you are treated to voice effects in addition to the audio. The speech is very crisp and recognizable.
The game plays very well. The players' mounts move rapidly and seem to be quite responsive to either form of control. Whereas Lancer has a slow moving feel to it, Clash bustles along at a rapid pace. Even when there is a large number of objects on the screen simultaneously, everything flows smoothly, and the animation rarely appears to flicker.
Clash has both one- and two-player modes and can be played with either a joystick or the keyboard. Unlike many other ames that cramp both players at the keyboard, the key controls in Clash are spaced well for two people. The keyboard is also used to advance the menu, select number of players, pause/continue the game, enter high scores, and choose a starting difficulty level.
Both the cassette and disk versions have daily and all-time high score charts. If you qualify for either, you can input up to 19 characters to accompany your score. The all-time high scores are saved immediately to disk as a permanent record. Users of cassette versions can save and load scores using a tape recorder.
TRS-80 owners need not sulk as long as exciting arcade games such as Clash are on the market. While not as visually appealing as Lancer, Clash incorporates all of the qualities of the coin-op game into a neat package that costs less than $25. Heck, that's only half as much as I pump into Joust in a week.
Products: Lancer (computer program)
Clash (computer program)