Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 9 / SEPTEMBER 1983 / PAGE 86

Apple adventure and arcade action. (evaluation) Stephen Arrants.


From Infocom, creators of Zork I, II and III, Deadline, and Starcross, comes one of the most exciting games I have seen for the Apple. Suspended, written by science fiction author Michael Berlyn, is set far in the future on a planet run by computers. Apparently, the rulers of this planet don't trust their machines, because a lottery has selected you to be the guardian of the entire system.

Something has gone wrong, however. Systems are crashing and thousands are dying. You are awakened from Cryogenic suspension to direct the repairs. Six robots are at your command. Each has different attributes: Sensa can detect energy waves and fields, but she isn't good at manipulating the environment. Auda can hear, but she's blind. Iris, confined to the control center, can see. Waldo has different appendages to pick up and move objects, but he is a bit thick. Whiz can interface with the information banks of the main computer. The last robot is Poet, a speaker in rhymes and riddles. Unfortunately for you, he seems to have a problem with his ROM--you can't always understand what he says.

The robots can be directed singly or in groups. You must learn how to direct them efficiently to achieve the smallest number of casualties. Parts must be replaced and machinery repaired--quickly. If the system isn't set right after a given number of turns, humans from the surface storm the cryogenic chamber and disconnect you.

All this would be easy, were it not for the fact that the previous guardian was unbalanced. He destroyed equipment, disabled a seventh robot, and left defective parts in the complex.

Because this is a text adventure, Infocom includes a map of the complex with plastic stick-ons representing the different robots. Without this map, play would be very difficult.

Suspended has four levels of play--normal, advanced, configure, and impossible. The advanced level begins with one of the six robots disabled and at a later stage of the game.

The configure level allows you to set up the game the way you want.

You can decide where the robots will begin, how long it will be until a system fails, how long until the humans come for vengeance, and other factors. Winning at the impossible level guarantees a free trip to the planet at Infocom's expense.

A hallmark of Infocom games is the extensive vocabulary used. It is almost as if you are conversing with a human rather than a computer.

The first time I played Suspended it took me about an hour to get used to its format. By 3:00 a.m., I was hooked.

Suspended is intelligent, satisfying, addictive, and a break from the usual computer games. Infocom has set a new standard for text adventures that will be tough to beat. Pentapus

Created in the classic style of arcade games, Pentapus is a unique fusion of arcade effects and illusions which places it far beyond most of the games available for the Apple.

You are on a mission of vital importance. The galaxy has been rendered uninhabitable by Armageddon-like battles. After searching other galaxies, man has learned that only the Milky Way galaxy can sustain human life. Unfortunately, mutants have taken over, led by the evil and powerful Pentapus. To regain human domination, you must control the five remaining stargates. Pentapus is a tough adversary, however. Wave after wave of mutants defend their newly won territory.

There are four levels of play, K, 1, 2, and 3. The K level is for youngsters. Movement is extremely slow at this level; perhaps too slow for experienced kids. Play becomes faster and more furious at higher levels. Moving the joystick causes the stargate (the bomb sight) to move across the screen. The stargate can be scrolled off screen right or left and made to reappear on the other side. One button fires bombs, while the other temporarily shrinks the stargate, making it a smaller target.

Four waves of aliens attack you: the Drangels, C-Aliens, Eagulls, and the loathsome Nagas. The Nagas have a tendency to turn into Drangels at the worst possible moment. Destroy these attackers and you are up against Pentapus. Beating this creature is not as difficult as you might think. Eliminate his fleet of Whirrs, and Pentapus is defenseless. Hit him squarely between the eyes and he's a dead alien. The universe is reclaimed by defeating Pentapus three times.

Pentapus includes a pause feature, useful if you want to make a trip to the fridge or answer the telephone. High scores can be saved and written to the disk.

Great sound and graphics combined with interesting twists to the arcade format make Pentapus an exciting game--one that will be played over and over. Old Ironsides

this game is an interesting twist on sea-based games. Usually, they involve submarines, bombers, helicopters, and other pieces of modern technology. Coming from, of all places, Xerox, Old Ironsides is a one- or two-person battle game featuring old, three-masted ships fighting it out with cannons. The graphics are superb, adding to the enjoyment of the game.

The ships battle on the high seas, fighting not only each other, but winds and currents. Figuring out how to use the wind to your advantage is a factor in winning this game. Like their real-life counterparts, the ships are slow to respond and maneuver. When in range, they can fire up to six cannons at each other. A direct hit can destroy masts, thus reducing the ability to maneuver. A brave commander can ram his enemy and fire his cannons to cause maximum damage. If you hit the enemy's powder magazines, however, both ships are destroyed.

As on any sea, fog is a danger. Strangely, it is only present off-screen. A compass helps you get back on-screen. If you stay in the fog too long, you are lost, and doomed to float forever. This is the hardest part of the game. Fog on-screen would be an improvement. The documentation is comprehensive, in the form of a parchment booklet. It includes a log book for recording your own famous naval encounters.

A mixture of arcade and strategy game features, Old Ironsides could be used in schools as a supplement to a history course. The Caverns Of Freitag

Waiting inside a cave on the Enchanted Isles is Freitag, a particularly loathsome dragon. It seems that all Freitag does is wait for some poor fool to stumble into the cave and become the next entree.

Getting to the cave is no easy trek. You must battle creatures, both real and imaginary along the way. True to the sword-and-sorcery fantasy role-playing genre, you start off as a poor but worthy serf and attempt to rid the land of an evil scourge.

A sword and bow are your only weapons, along with a spell, the Charm of Sir Robin. Sir Robin, it seems, had a fondness for birds. Invoking the spell turns you into a bird, allowing you to run twice as fast as a pursuing monster. Unfortunately, using the spell tires you out, so you must stop and rest.

The monsters are almost limitless. There are moths, serpents, bats, invisoids, evil wizards, and mimics. At some points of the game, a large group of monsters queues up, a new one replacing the monster you have just hacked to death. Since this game does not have a pause feature, you must keep fighting without a rest.

Moves are forced in this game. Although you can set the time used in each move, be quick--the monsters won't wait for a decision. Move or die. Even though I don't really like "quest" games, The Caverns of Freitag is good fun. The fact that play can't be stopped adds to the enjoyment. Just when you think you have won the game, there is another surprise waiting. I won't reveal it here, except to say that killing Freitag is the least of your worries. Remember--he has many friends! Good graphics, a quick pace, and some twists on an old theme make The Caverns of Freitag a good successor to Muse's Castle Wolfenstein. A.E.

We buy from the Japanese autos, stereos, televisions, VCRs, printers, and now A.E., an arcade game for the Apple.

Jun Wada and Makoto Horai, two programmers from Japan, have come up with one of the best games of the year. A large, multinational corporation has created pollution control robots which suck up all the foul gases in our air. Unfortunately, a few bad models slipped through quality control. These creatures strafe and attack almost anything. Your mission is to destroy all of the mechanical misfits.

Looking like stingrays, the A.E. attack in a formation of six. One of the greatest effects of this game is the 3-D screens. Watching a flock of A.E. swoop across the sky, behind and in front of scenery takes your breath away. Each of the eight playing screens takes place on a planet farther from Earth as you drive the evil ones closer to the edge of our solar system. Each screen is progressively faster and more difficult to complete.

The A.E. are sneaky. Sometimes they attach in a straight line formation of six, sometimes they split off into smaller groups. Winning a screen involves destroying three waves of A.E.

Play is by joystick, although firing and detonating the missiles will take some getting used to. Push the trigger to fire a missile, and keep the button pressed. When you think an A.E. is in range, let up on the button to detonate the missile. This allows for long range destruction. Detonating a missile at the beginning of an A.E. attack wave can result in destroying the whole wave with just one missile.

The graphics are superb. There is no jerkiness or jumping about. Everything moves smoothly.

A.E. is addictive. It is also a game that requires excellent timing and dedication to the arcade spirit. Games clods and other less zealous players will probably find the action frustrating. A split-second can make the difference between destroying an A.E. or becoming its dinner. Spectre

Take the mobile police of Tron, add a dash of Pac-Man, mix in some 3-D views a la Wayout, and you have Spectre.

Though not the most exciting game to come from DataMost, Spectre offers some good excitement.

You are on a disabled space station, marooned in the outer reaches of the solar system. Help is on the way, but aliens have invaded the station, and it is up to you to force them out. As you travel down the corridors of the station, dodging the alien Questers, you are reminded a bit of Pac-Man being chased by his enemies. Step into an energy beam and turn the tables on the aliens. It then becomes their turn to run away!

One interesting twist is that about five seconds into the first level of the game, the walls of the maze disappear. Transport chambers are available, letting you jump to the place at which you started. You are out of danger for a short period, but don't slack off--the Questers are quick and deadly!

This is not the most exciting game on the market, but it is seductive. It looks so easy, so simple, that you are tempted to play it "just one more time" and beat your score. Isn't that one reason we play these games? Maze Craze

Tired of playing Pac-Man for the millionth time? Have you gone through the mazes so many times that you could run them in your sleep while tied to an arcade console?

Get ready for some new maze action. Data Trek's Maze Craze Construction Set will please the most hardcore Pac-fanatic as well as the occasional player.

Instead of giving you a set number of mazes and patterns which can be memorized after repeated play, the Maze Craze Construction Set lets you construct your own mazes. That in itself would be enough for me to recommend this game. But Data Trek goes a bit further. You can also create and modify game players, monsters, and all their attributes. Choose the speed of a player, its intelligence and sensitivity, and do the same for monsters. The possibilities are l imitless. You have so many choices that you will be hard pressed to repeat a single, complete game.

On booting the disk, you are presented with a menu detailing the various options available. I suggest configuring the disk for either keyboard or joysticks and then playing some of the sample games included. When you tire of those, create some of your own.

Ten mazes are provided. Pick one and enter the Edit mode. By using the joysticks you can designate the starting point for a player, where to locate tunnels for quick escape, and where you want the bonus dots. In each maze there can be a total of four energizers, placed wherever you want. After editing a maze, lay out the dots to complete the maze.

Creating characters is a bit more difficult. Be sure to study the examples in the sample programs.

The next step is the Game Editor. This feature allows you to string together several mazes and characters to form a complete game. Your game does not have to be entirely your own creation; you may pick some of the samples to use along with your own. Finally, the Game Intelligence level allows you to change the monster and bonus intelligence, control collision detection, and set the skill level of the game.

After creating your own games, save them on a formatted disk for later play or editing.

How do these games play? And how do they compare with other maze games? On the whole, play is very good. The player figure is quick to respond, and the animation is smooth and clean. There is none of the jerkiness or jumping associated with some other maze games.

This set of games is different. I like defining the situation and rules of play. We have had this game at Creative for a little less than a month, and I have already filled up one disk with games of my own design.

If you know a dedicated maze player, this is the perfect gift. And if that player has beaten you time and time again, Maze Craze Construction Set by Eric Hammond is the perfect revenge. Lancaster

Strange, bubble blowing bugs threaten Earth with destruction. Only you and your Apple stand between them and total annihilation.

To attack, shoot the bubbles to release the larvae within. These critters are immune to your weapon, but wihtin seconds they turn into vulnerable yet deadly insects. The bubbles don't explode on the first few shots, they are just knocked upward.

Points are earned by destroying the insects and by using your pincers to bounce the bubbles on corresponding colored bars at the bottom of the screen. This isn't as easy as it sounds. The bubbles are slippery and seem to fight your attempt to clamp onto them. There is also the possibility that the bubble will explode and release larvae.

there are six levels of play, each more difficult than the last. If the attack gets too intense, drop one of your three Smartbombs. Smartbombs destroy everything except larvae and your ship. Play is either joystick or keyboard controlled, and both can be used interchangeably. High scores can be saved to disk, and a pause feature is included.

This is not the most exciting game to come along, but the graphics, audio, and execution are first rate. Lancaster looks and plays like a real arcade game, providng much of the excitement of a coin-op.

Products: Suspended (video game)
Pentapus (video game)
Old Ironsides (video game)
Caverns of Freitag (video game)
A.E. (video game)
Spectre (video game)
Maze Craze Construction Set (video game)
Lancaster (video game)