THE SOFTWARE DUDE
by Jason Cockroft
THE SOFTWARE DUDE
by Jason Cockroft
Last Wednesday when I was grabbing my weekly burger at Ralphies, I was just downing my 3rd Mc Ralph when I looked up and noticed the cutest little pumpkin I ever saw. Quickly wiping my face, I asked her to grab a seat. She said fine, as long as I didn't use my sleeve again. Anyways we got yapping and the next thing I knew I was picking her up at 8:00 pm Saturday in my Stratochief.
By the time Saturday rolled around, I ran out and bought a brand new pair of shades. I had the evening all planned out. First it was Ralph burgers and then off to Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in Beach Blanket Bingo. What an evening.
When I took a good look at that address Saturday afternoon it somehow seemed suspiciously familiar. Anyways I rolled on over there at 8:30 and suddenly realized I was somehow setup. There was no question about it; the gated driveway, the black Maseratti, the elegant Greek styled house,... this was the home of the Raving Reviewer.
It was time to take evasive action! I wheeled my four-door right out of there. I quickly tromped over to the corner store to get my usual weapons: chips, greasy munchies, and sorted carbonated refreshments. I then went home to pick up my personally modified, recircuited, J-stick. Finally, I threw on my usual video combat shirt and grabbed an armful of my homecooked garlic bread as I went out the door.
When I rolled into T.R.R.'s (The Raving Reviewer) estate, the gateman and the doorman looked at me in their usual disgusted manner. I sneered. They let me in. As I sat there in the waiting room I wondered what was going through T.R.R.'s head. Was I so special that he would get some innocent sweet pumpkin to induce me into his house? I sat and grinned.
In time the Raving Reviewer appeared. He stood at the top of the spiral staircase with that ripening pumpkin by his side. We quickly stepped into his parlor and pulled out the good ol' ATARI. T.R.R. plugged in two J-Sticks and then to my surprise he turned to introduce me to the European Video Champ, Miss "Quick Game" DeWow. Some pumpkin! Somehow I felt them both looking down at me. I plugged in my JStick.
We immediately decided to have a little competition, a sort of world championship you could say. Anyways, we decided on two big new pieces of software labeled "Encounter" and Dimension X." We each got fifteen minutes to get used to the new games.
I first played Dimension X. The first thing that struck me about this piece of software was its great 3D scrolling graphics. Your basic viewing screen shows a grid shaped desert floor with mountains or a city in the background. You see the wild part of this game is that the floor of the desert actually moves. Each little rectangle that you see in the picture, represents say, a 5 by 3 ft. section of ground. When you start building speed or change direction, these grids go whipping past to form a most realistic and fascinating pattern. For this reason alone I would recommend this game to anyone.
The basic set up of the game is a cross between Star Raiders and the arcade classic Battle Zone. The primary goal as in Star Raiders, is to protect your home base. Of course you have all the necessary equipment to do the job, including Communication Window, Desert map, range indicator (for enemy tanks), shields and a fuel gauge. There are two basic flying speeds of hyper and booster classification. Anyway, you go from sector to sector blowing away all enemy tanks which must be destroyed before leaving. As one can imagine the game develops some interesting strategies.
The actual combat between other tanks, that takes place in the desert sectors, is somewhat similar to those of both Star Raiders and Battle Zone. Although the battle takes place on flat ground like that of Battle Zone, the movement of the enemy tank is much similar to that of the fast moving space ships of Star Raiders.
Yet the real treat I found in this game is the great sequence you must go though in order transfer from sector to sector. A quick physical description of this sequence would be that you have to "fly" your tank through a tunnel in the surrounding mountains and avoid all of the horizontally placed gates. Yet with a masterful use of both sound and graphics, this sequence turns into a wonderous eerie experience. Unfortunately I could only allow my self seven and half minutes on this game and then I was on to the next.
The second game I played was Encounter. The game was basically a remake of Battle Zone except for a few great modifications. In this game, you are destroying diamond shaped spaceships that appear out of thinly formed envelopes. The best modification made to this game is the fast moving graphics. Although this game does not have the great graphic display of Dimension X, the control one has over the movement of your spaceship, (tank), is superior in Encounter.
The other major modification to this game I noticed was the asteroid belt you must fly through in order to advance to the next level. In this scenario you must quickly guide your ship through a dense asteroid belt.
I found both of these games most competitive as they seem to possess the lasting quality all great games. In a quick comparison 1 found Encounter to have a better playibility than Dimension X, although Dimension X had better graphics. I would recommend these games to anyone and make it "must" for any of you Battle Zone fans out there.
At any rate we decided on Dimension X first. We flipped for position and I ended up starting first. My reflexes were, as always, in top form as I started to blow away the alien tanks. I locked my eyes into an endless glaze as I sat for 5.... 10.... 15 minutes, blasting my way from sector to sector. As time ticked on, I sensed a growing uneasiness in Miss "Quick Game." My game began to improve. T.R.R. remained restrained as usual. By the time the twentieth minute rolled around I was set in for a good long battle, yet suddenly I couldn't shake a madening alien tank. I glanced up at my plug-in to find my J-Stick detached. By this time I was snuffed. I looked over and notice a laughing T.R.R. who said "Looks like your plug-in is as greasy as your face. Ha! HA!" Meanwhile Miss "Quick Game" seemed quite concerned and was quick to sooth my frustrations.
That little raving reviewer was next. He too, like myself, got off to a great start blowing away tanks for a good fifteen minutes. I knew I was in trouble. Then to my relief, Miss "Quick Game" accidentally spilled her coffee on T.R.R.'s lap. Obviously this brought an end to his turn. I offered him some of my garlic bread to go with his coffee stains. He was not amused. Once again Miss "Quick Game" was most apologetic and quickly soothed any of T.R.R.'s internal frustrations..
Finally we saw the debut of Miss "Quick Game" DeWow. Within 2 minutes T.R.R. and I knew it would be no sweat. She was good, but on a professional level, she was a mess. She was gone within five minutes. T.R.R.'s score and mine easily tripled hers. Due to the freak accidents, T.R.R. and I decided to call the first game a draw.
Before our game of Encounter, we decided to have an intermission. T.R.R. was insistant upon showing this European pumpkin his Wine cellar. As for myself, I was content with my six pack I'd bought at the corner store. When they returned it seemed that Miss Pumpkinhead or whatever her name was, was once again flattering T.R.R. She came and started to bubble over at me. Somehow I knew something was wrong. I offered her a garlic bread.
Due to the lousy performance by Miss "Quick Game", the competition was broken down to the usual dual between T.R.R. and myself. Sinking deep into my chair, I went first. The alien ships seemed to be coming quicker than ever. Soon the Raving Reviewer grew uneasy as my game began to improve. I shot to the left, dodged to the right and shifted my ship into the reverse direction. There were more shots, more near misses, yet most important, more points. T.R.R. began to twitch. I entered 4th level. As my confidence began to increase.
Suddenly the power went out! ... The room was a black as the Maseratti. Within a couple of seconds T.R.R. had switched on the auxiliary power. With a quick glance we noticed Miss Pumpkinbrain was gone. Suddenly T.R.R. screamed, "My entire R.O.M. collection is gone!" The horror on T.R.R's face was enough to scare the garlic right out of my breath.
We heard a scream. T.R.R. and I went rushing towards it. To our surprise we found Miss "Quickhead" captured by the gateman. It seemed that she started reading an issue only 500 feet from the gate. He saw her and nabbed her.
When we later questioned her we found that this whole episode was a fiendish plot for her to rip-off the priceless R.O.M. collection. That Raving Reviewer sure got taken in on this one. Ha, Ha!