Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 38 / JULY 1983 / PAGE 124

Claim Jumper For Atari

Fred Pinho

Synapse Software has produced a number of high-quality game packages in the past. In Claim Jumper, the company has done nothing to damage that reputation. Claim Jumper is basically a combination shoot-′em-up and strategy game for one or two players. I found it fascinating.

Two cowboys (brown and pink) are controlled b shoot-'em-up and strategy game for on or two players. I found it fascinating. Two cowboys (brown and pink) are controlled by the players using joysticks. The cowboys act out their lives on a playfield consisting of: (a) two banks (one for each player); appear. The object is to pick up the nugget, take it to the assay office, and exchange it for cash. The cash must then be taken and deposited in your bank "to buy a house" (ten bills are needed). House buying is completely immaterial to the game. The object is solely to collect the ten bills.

While this all sounds easy, it can be frustratingly difficult. While performing these functions, you must also dodge your opponent's bullets while avoiding numerous obstacles. Although diagonal movement is the fastest, the cowboys can shoot only when moving horizontally or vertically.

The animation of the cowboys is relatively crude, but this in no way detracts from the game. If you shoot your opponent, his hat comes off and he drops whatever he is carrying (gold or money). He is then transported to one of the two hospitals (chosen by moving the joystick left or right). While in the hospital, he cannot shoot. After a very brief stay, however, he recovers completely and can re-enter the fray.

How They Get Your Treasure

The real fun in the game, and much of the strategy, involves the obstacles. Specifically, watch out for the notorious snakes and tumbleweeds. Shortly after the game starts, these objects start to appear. The pink snakes chase the brown cowboy while the brown tumbleweeds stalk the pink cowpoke. If you touch the opposite creature, you will be paralyzed for two seconds and drop whatever you are carrying. This allows your opponent to steal your treasure. After the two seconds are up, you're fit and ready to go as before. Mercifully, you will have a brief period of immunity which will allow you to move away from your pursuing tormentors. The creature graphics are very well done.

How can you fight off these unpleasant intrusions? One way is to shoot things. Plugging them with your trusty "shootin' ahrn" will turn the creature into the opposite type, which then promptly goes off after your opponent. y "shootin' ahrn" will turn the creatureinto the opposite type, whic then promptly goes off after your opponent. However, there is a second tactic which adds considerably to the game. Thisinvolves dropping seeds or eggs. To do so, you must smbleweed. Conversely, the pink cowboy can drop snake eggs. If a tumbleweed hits the egg, it turns into a snake. A maximum of six eggs and six seeds can be on the screen at any one time. If you drop a seventh seed or egg, the oldest one disappears.

As you can imagine, Claim Jumper gets quite hectic. In addition to pursuing the gold, shooting creatures and your opponent, and dropping eggs/ seeds, the cowboy must also avoid other obstacles. If the brown cowboy touches anything pink or a cactus, he experiences the two-second freeze. Pink obstacles include a pink house, the pink bank, one of the playfield borders and, of course, snake eggs. The opposite is true for the pink cowboy.

It's more difficult to explain this game than to play it. The nuances of the game are easily learned, and built-in prompts help during play. When you pick up the gold, a flashing arrow indicates where to deposit it in the assay office. Similarly, once you get the money, another arrow indicates the correct bank.

Cowboys, cacti, snakes, Western buildings, and drifting tumbleweeds set the scene for Claim Jumper.

Option Menus

There are also two option menus for game variations. The first features the normal game and two options: Buy Bullets and Head Start. In Buy Bullets, you no longer have an unlimited supply of bullets. You start with ten. When you run out, you must take money to the bullet store to buy ten more. Head Start allows you to start with five bills already in the bank.

The second menu allows you to select either the normal game or a single-player game with two levels of difficulty. In the single-player game, you must destroy all the snakes and tumbleweeds before you are paralyzed for the third (and last) time. The problem is that you start with no bullets and thus must buy some with your gold. Again, you can buy only ten bullets at a time.

Although I have high praise for this game, I do have one gripe involving the scoring system. The winner is the first player to reach 25,000 points. You score 100 points for each snake or tumbleweed that you convert. But the first player to reach ten bills then gets 20,000 points! Somehow it doesn't seem fair. Here you are in a close battle with each player at about 6000 points and nine bills. Then your opponent gets one more bill, and you lose 26,000 to 6000! The final score does not reflect the intensity and closeness of such a contest. There is an option to continue the game until 50,000 which does help somewhat. A better way might be to receive a given number of points for each bill deposited until the winner reaches the target score.

Claim Jumper
Synapse Software
5327 Jacuzzi St.
Suite 1
Richmond, CA 94804
Requires 16K RAM