By Owen W. Linzmayer
and David H. Ahl
In the arcades, Stern's Berzerk game has a large following. When Atari released their home VCS version of Berzerk back in August, the demand for the game almost cleared the shelves. Not surprisingly, Color Computer owners also want to enjoy the thrill of Berzerk--luckily, there is Berserk from Mark Data Products.
In Berserk, you play a human trapped in a maze complex. Killer robots have been unleashed to see that you do not escape. You must destroy robots by shooting at them, but no matter how many you kill, you can never escape. Coming into contact with either the electrified walls or the robots is deadly. If you wait in a room too long, a smiling Evil Orville chases you out or kills you.
Berserk plays just like the arcade version, only a little bit slower--even though it is written in machine language. One or two players may compete, alternating turns. You use the joystick to move your man through the maze. If you press the fire button, you stop and shoot in the direction that you were moving.
There is no on-screen scoring, nor any indication as to the number of men remaining. When you lose a man, the computer switches to a lo-res screen that shows you this information.
The colorful hi-res graphics of Berserk surpass even those of the original arcade game. The movement of the player is very smooth; it actually looks like a real human running. The animation of the robots is equally impressive.
Berserk has nice sound effects that enhance game play. One thing I have found that detracts from the game is the fact that many rooms repeat themselves. In the coin-op version, each room is created randomly whereas in Berserk the rooms seem to be in memory. This leads to rather repetitious playing.
Aside from this small fault, I found Berserk a very enjoyable game.--OWL
Atari struck it rich last year when they introduced the coin-op video game Centipede. It was, for the most part, a high-speed shoot 'em up with cute graphics that appealed to men and women alike. Not surprisingly, the arcade Centipede was soon followed by home computer versions. Caterpillar, from Aardvark Software is one of the best adaptations of the original arcade game.
Caterpillar is a fast paced game written in machine language. It supports only one player using the right joystick. In the game, you have three shooters with which you must destroy an onslaught of attacking insects.
Your base is situated at the bottom of a mushroom patch. A large caterpillar starts off at the top of the patch. Each time a segment runs into a mushroom, it drops down a level and reverses direction. Shooting a caterpillar segment turns it into a mushroom and causes the creature to split in two.
In addition to the caterpillars; spiders, fleas, and scorpions also infest the mushroom patch. If your shooter collides with any insect, it is destroyed.
Caterpillar plays very much like Centipede, with a few exceptions. Your shooter is over-responsive to the joystick controls. Simply pressing the joystick to the left causes your shooter to jump almost instantaneously all the way to the left side of the screen. Scoring in Caterpillar is almost identical to that in Centipede.
The graphics in Caterpillar are hi-res, although they really don't look it. There are many colors and shapes, but unfortunately they appear very blocky. The screen colors don't change after every wave of insects as they do in Centipede, but that doesn't affect game play. The movement of the caterpillar and other insects is very smooth; there is no flicker at all.
Caterpillar produces sound effects only when something is destroyed. Since it has been determined that almost 50% of the appeal of an arcade game is the audio effects, Caterpillar falls sort in this area. Although it lacks enticing sound effects, the game does offer a great challenge. It is very difficult to score over 20,000 points, and almost impossible to master the game.
I recommend Caterpillar to anyone who is more interested in game play than exciting graphics and sound effects.--OWL
Wait a minute, didn't I just review this? Yes, and no. Katerpillar is pronounced the same as Caterpillar and they are both TRS-80 Color Computer adaptations of Centipede. The difference between the two programs is easy to explain. Caterpillar plays much more like the arcade game, and Katerpillar offers nicer graphics and more pleasing sound effects.
Since Katerpillar is modeled after Centipede, its description is similar to that of Caterpillar. Rather than rehash the basic information, let's discuss the program itself. After EXECuting Katerpillar, you are presented with a very professional banner page. After the program displays the scoring table, you play the game.
I can find only two faults with Katerpillar. Sometimes the centipedes don't drop down as they are supposed to; they get caught in an endless loop until you shoot away one of the mushrooms upon which they continue to bounce. The other thing I didn't like about Katerpillar is that your shooter can move up and down only within two horizontal rows. This severely limits your movement and makes the game far two difficult.
If you enjoy Centipede, but like pretty colors and flashy programming, Katerpillar is better than Caterpillar. Unfortunately there is no program available that combines the playability of one with the professionalism of the other. -OWL
Surprise! Surprise! Another version of Pac-Man. No attempt has been made to disguise the fact that Ghost Gobbler is an imitation of Pac-Man. The instructions tell us that "you must gobble all of the food dots while avoiding the ghosts. There are four 'energizer' dots which will make the ghosts turn blue and become scared. The ghosts remain scared for a variable period of time (depending on which board you are currently on) and, then they will blink for two seconds and return to their normal color. While the ghosts are scared, blinking or just after they have returned to normal color, you may eat them for 200, 400, 800, or 1600 points respectively."
Bonus shapes (plum, cherries, mushroom, happy face, etc.) appear just below the center prison twice during each board. These shapes are worth bonus points (100 points on board one increasing to 5000 points on boards 17 or over). There are sixteen skill levels and, as the skill level increases, several things happen: your gobbler slows down, the ghosts follow the gobbler more closely, and the scared ghosts run away more cleverly.
At the center bottom of the field is a teleportation spot which immediately transports your gobbler to the upper center of the screen. The ghosts cannot follow you through the teleporter which works only one way. Several players found this very confusing during play of the game because, having cleared the top of the screen they were attempting to clear the bottom and did not wish to be teleported away from the area they were clearing.
You start with five gobblers and the number remaining is displayed in the upper left corner of the screen. Five additional gobblers may be awarded during the play of the game for each 10,000 points accumulated.
In summary, the game is a good imitation of Pac-Man. It, like the other TRS-80 Color Computer Games, suffers from the horrible imprecision of the Color Computer joystick. Nevertheless, if you enjoy Pac-Man, chances are you'll like Ghost Gobbler too.--DHA