For The Fun Of It
Horizontal Scrolling & Looking For Love
In this issue START's venerable editor takes a look at the long-awaited sequel to one of the all-time great graphic adventures from Sierra On-Line. Also, veteran game reviewer David Plotkin examines the similarities and differences of three arcade shoot-em-ups that do something not often seen in the computer gaming world: they scroll horizontally.
LEISURE SUIT LARRY GOES LOOKING FOR LOVE (IN SEVERAL WRONG PLACES)
Reviewed by Andrew Reese
The delightfully demented Al Lowe is back. Who's Al Lowe? He's the designer and author of 1987's hit graphics adventure, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. And the hero of that twisted tale, "Leisure Suit" Larry Laffer is also back in a new adventure that takes up where the first left off: Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places).
Al has a wild sense of humor that permeates his computer creations. If you haven't played a Leisure Suit Larry game, then you're in for a treat. But be sure that you have a high tolerance for lewd, crude and hilarious humor--Larry is full of it.
|In this concluding
scene from Leisure
Suit Larry goes
Looking for Love (In
Places), Larry and
his new bride,
Kalalau, are hud-
dled together (for
warmth, I'm sure)
on the beach of
The evil Dr.
Nonookee has been
Larry II is a 3D-graphics adventure in which you move your animated alter ego around the screen and occasionally type in commands to make him take specific actions, such as "Put the airsick bag in the hair rejuvenator bottle." This makes for a varied and interesting game, especially since the built-in responses are seldom what you expect, but always good for a chuckle.
Music, Hardware and Manuals
Sierra has added a sophisticated musical score to this game. They've been working with Roland to implement an MT-32 music board for the IBM PC and their efforts have carried over to the ST. You can either enjoy the sound track through the monitor speaker or, if you have an MT-32 or a Casio CZ-101 synthesizer the game music can be played through it. I tried the synth option with my son's Yamaha PSS-480 and the results, although much better than through the monitor, were not quite what I'd hoped. I think the Yamaha's channel assignments for the various instruments must be different from the Casio.
This game is big, and it makes some special demands on your system. You must have at least one double-sided disk drive, as it's shipped on three DS disks. There is no physical disk copy-protection, so you can make backups easily or install it on a hard disk (the best solution). Some of the animated sequences (particularly the last few) take more than a minute to load, even from a hard disk. But it's worth it.
Larry II uses a manual form of copy-protection, in which you must match an image of one of your "girlfriends" to a picture in the game manual. There are variations in hair and dress color, hair style, jewelry and dress style, so you have to look closely. Once you type in the last four digits of her "phone number," you can proceed with the game.
In Larry I, you had to answer five questions about the 1950s to prove you were old enough to play the game. Larry II has no such restriction and includes a control to adjust the "filth level" of the game. At the filthiest level (where I set it), the game uses some fairly foul language, but nothing worse than is heard around the START offices at deadline time.
And Now, On to Our Story . . .
The story? Well, it begins with Larry being dumped by the love of his life from the first game. But if you succeed through the first part of the game, Larry wins a sea cruise on the Love Tub with the beautiful Barbara Bimbo and a million-dollar-per-year lottery prize. But that's just the "bare" beginning.
Later episodes involve onklunks, KGB agents, maitre d's, barber shops, witch doctors, piranhas, cross-dressing, bombs, bimbos and bikinis. If you manage to make it all the way through the game, Larry will wind up broke but happy on a tropical beach on Notoonyt Island with his new (and lovely) island bride. I finally defeated the evil Dr. Nonookee and finished the game, but only after some help from the Sierra On-Line Hint Line and their BBS. It's good to know that they're there to help, but the game is well set up to bring out a laugh when you take a wrong turn. Making mistakes is sometimes more fun that doing it right.
Larry II uses Sierra's new Creative Interpreter, which provides a fairly sophisticated parser and excellent gameplay. Almost every screen has some clever animation in it and Larry himself has never been better drawn (complete with shading and bald spot), nor more easily controlled. You can use the mouse, arrow keys, joystick or keypad to move Larry and generally I found that the keypad was the best. I usually kept Larry moving at the highest speed available, because the animation tends to slow his movement down. In some sequences, however (such as crossing the quicksand), I slowed him way, way down for precise control.
The graphics are easily the best yet from Sierra On-Line. Larry II runs in low resolution with just a 16-color palette but you'd swear that there's more. (It will also run on a monochrome system, but you lose a lot.) Kudos to the artists and designers.
Quibbles and Bits
I suppose there are always quibbles in every game. Twice, it crashed on me with a message to call Sierra On-Line's Customer Service, but since I was never able to repeat the crashes, I didn't. Also, this is a very linear game; you must add every conceivable item to your inventory when you can, because it may become vital much, much later in the game. And if you don't have the item (or didn't do the right thing with it at the right time), all you can do is restore or restart the game and try again.
A good example of the problem with linear games is the bikini top. It's on the cruise ship (I won't tell you where), but you can spend an hour playing the game after leaving the ship before it becomes a necessity. When I was stuck without it, I had to restore a position on the cruise ship and then find the top. Then, to continue, I had to go all the way through that portion of the game I'd just completed. And since there's a very slow piece of animation that repeats five times in between, I became quite irritated.
At least it's easy to save and restore game positions. But there's been a change in the save/restore routines from the first game, and I don't think it's entirely positive. Previously, you could choose which game save file to overwrite and thus keep their number down to a manageable level. Now, you can only overwrite a file if your disk is full or if you don't mind saving a game with the exact same title as another. I ended up with 20 save-game-positions on my hard disk, over 800K of files! I finally had to move another folder onto a different partition to make more room--a quirk in the save-game function wouldn't let me overwrite an existing file, because it had been saved at a much earlier position and was several K smaller.
Overall, however, I loved the game. My wife loved the game. My kids loved to watch the game. The START staff loved the game. It's a kick. If you want to spend a few days laughing and don't mind a little locker room humor, then Larry II is definitely for you. Oh, and Al Lowe says to remind you that everyone should take a little reading material with them on a long flight.
HORIZONTALLY SCROLLING GAMES: ZYNAPS, MENACE AND HYPERDOME
Reviewed by David Plotkin
Games that scroll the screen horizontally have never been as plentiful as those that scroll the screen vertically. Recently, however, three horizontally scrolling games for the ST have appeared on the market: Zynaps from Hewson, Hyperdome from Exocet and Menace from Psygnosis.
Zynaps from Hewson
In Zynaps you man a large, not especially maneuverable fighter as it flies through a cavern with some very tight spaces. The landscape is very nicely done, with shading to give a highly realistic effect.
Besides the hazards of running into the walls of the caverns, there are the enemies. They come in a variety of bobbing, weaving airborne vehicles, that not only try to collide with you, but also Iaunch missiles. These aren't too hard to avoid, unless three or four are released at once. Then, watch out!
Other hazards include ground bases that can launch tracking missiles, command ships (heavily armed and vicious), and mother ships (a command ship, only more so). The command ships tend to show up on levels of their own, and are almost impossible to destroy.
When you begin your journey, your ship is slow, and mounts some pretty feeble lasers, capable of only two shots at a time. It'll take some pretty fancy flying to stay alive in this part of the game, because if you miss with your lasers, you have to wait until the beams leave the screen before you can fire again.
To increase your weaponry, you must destroy whole waves of enemies. If you do, they leave behind pellets, which you can grab by flying over them with the fire button held down. Each time you grab a pellet, the icon on your control panel, representing extra weapons for the ship, changes. When it shows the weapon you wish to use, you must fly over a pellet to engage that weapon.
Some of the extras available include more maneuverability (four levels), more powerful lasers, plasma bombs, homing missiles and seeker missiles. The plasma bombs and the two types of missiles replace each other--you can only have one of these three active at any time.
The lasers have four power settings; each time you enhance them they can fire faster and you can get more blasts on the screen at once. The plasma bombs are great for ships that are close or for ground targets--they just bounce around until they hit something.
The homing missiles bring up a cursor on the screen which doesn't appear to be under your control. At any rate, these missiles home in on enemy targets and destroy them. You can have one or two of these missiles on the screen at a time if you select the homing missile icon twice. The seeker missiles are more efficient at finding targets than homing missiles, and can destroy multiple enemies before being destroyed themselves. You can also have a maximum of two of these at a time.
The game has you
man a large, not es-
able fighter as it
flies through a cav-
ern with some very
tight spaces. Nice
graphics and effec-
tive scrolling make
this an excellent
The graphics, sound and animation of Zynaps are quite good, with an excellent musical soundtrack, which, mercifully, does not play during the game. The game lets you enter the high score but does not store it to disk.
I also encountered a few bugs. Periodically, my copy of the game crashes with a row of bombs reaching clear across the screen. Also on my copy, the pause and quit functions don't work, so there's no way to stop when the phone rings.
Finally, the programmer simply wasn't up to the task required by this game. There is a considerable change in speed when more objects appear on the screen. As the joystick response gets more and more sluggish, you tend to overcompensate, and then run into a wall or enemy when the action suddenly speeds up. This effect is not fatal to the game, but it does tend to shorten it.
Overall, I like Zynaps. It has a considerable learning curve, and is quite frustrating at first, due in part to somewhat inadequate documentation (though better than many European imports). But once you figure out how it works, it's fun and the element of strategy is a welcome change--if you can find the time to glance at the control panel while fighting off all those enemies!
Hyperdome from Exocat
Hyperdome is another game where half the "fun" is figuring out how everything works. In the box is the disk and a single sheet of paper that purports to show what various areas of the screen are used for. That's it--no instruction manual, not even a warranty card.
In Hyperdome you pilot a small spacecraft across a horizontally scrolling, obstacle-strewn screen. Much the same as in Zynaps, your ship is slow and feeble when you start out. Facing it are enemy craft (singly and in waves) and various gun emplacements. Interestingly, the first level is the hardest, because the gun emplacements look just like the walls of the cavern, and you must watch to see what shoots at you. You must also figure out where holes can be made with your guns in the seemingly-solid wall approaching head-on. The graphics in other levels change, and moving obstacles, such as elevators (called lifts) are also added.
in the U.S. by Scor-
pion), has you pilot
a small spacecraft
across a horizon-
screen, strewn with
and inhabited with
To increase your ship's capabilities, you must blast gun emplacements and then run over the glowing marker left behind (anything here sound familiar?). As each marker is accumulated, an indicator moves down eight boxes on the right side of the screen. These boxes are each labeled with an icon and represent the increased weaponry available: speedup, more powerful guns, double firing rate, missiles, homing missiles, spread, droid (follows your ship and shoots when you do) and shields.
When the box that indicates the weapon you want is active you must let go of the joystick and press the Spacebar. This gives your ship the extra capability, resets the indicator, and often means you run into something because you had to let go of the joystick. Running into anything except a glowing marker costs you a life and gives you back your slow, feeble ship--a distinct problem if you're facing one of the large "mother ships" in the intermediate levels!
There are some problems with Hyperdome. First of all, not all the weapons seem to work. "Spread" did not work consistently, and the homing missiles didn't seem to work at all. There is also no way to abort or pause a game. Finally, the game had to reload each time even if I had not gotten off the first level. Unlike Zynaps, however, the scrolling was smooth and there were no speed variations.
Menace from Psygnosis
The object of Menace is to destroy the planet Draconia, which consists of six levels. Each level is populated by grotesque alien lifeforms, which you must blast with your lasers.
The large, detailed graphics and smooth controls of Menace make it easy to play. There are two difficulty levels in Novice Level, running into the cavern walls doesn't deplete your ship's shields, while in Expert Level, scores are doubled, but you must avoid all obstacles.
As with the other games, Menace gives you a way to enhance the initially inadequate weaponry of your ship. If you manage to obliterate a complete wave of alien attackers, a block comes floating toward you. Running over the block adds 1,000 points to your score, but each time you shoot the block five times, it changes to a different enhanced weapon. When the block attains the icon representing the weapon you wish to add, you then run over it to add that capability to your ship. However, it's not as easy as it sounds. First of all, some of the aliens are very tough to kill, so knocking out the whole wave is quite a chore. Then, you must shoot the block and run over it before it scrolls off the screen. Often, you take whatever weapon you can get because there isn't time to shoot the block enough times to achieve the weapon you want.
|There are two diffi-
culty levels in Psyg-
nosis's Menace. In
Novice Level, run-
ning into the cavern
walls won't deplete
your ship's shields.
In Expert Level,
scores are doubled,
but you must avoid
The extra capabilities you can add to your ship include added maneuverability (speedup), cannons, lasers, outriders and shields. Speedups add up to seven times the ship's original maneuvering speed. When you add either cannons (short range) or lasers (long range) to your ship, you must run over another icon to full arm them. The cannons and lasers do not last indefinitely. They're depleted as they're used; energy bars on the screen show the current status of the cannons and lasers.
You can add up to two outriders to your ship. These are small, short-range weapons that fire in a direction that you control by the motion of the ship (inertia-controlled). It takes a little time to get the hang of it, but these outriders can be very handy against enemies who approach from the rear. Shields make your ship immune to damage for a short period of time.
Menace is an extremely difficult game. It doesn't feature smoothly increasing levels of difficulty, instead, it starts out fairly easy, then suddenly gets nearly impossible, then gets easy again.
At the end of each level is the Guardian. This creature is huge, and shoots large numbers of indestructible projectiles at you. There isn't a clue in the manual on how to kill one of these beasts, even going up against it with cannons, lasers, and a full energy charge doesn't seem to work. What this means, unfortunately, is that many gamers will never see beyond level one! You only get one life--when your shields are depleted, the game is over.
In the Final Analysis
The games here--Zynaps, Hyperdome and Menace--have obvious similarities. At the end of each level is a Mother Ship, Guardian, etc. Each also has a way to increase ship weaponry, and each is a pretty good game in its own right. They're not really different enough to buy more than one--and with all its bugs and slowdown/speedup problems, Zynaps is still the most playable of all three games.
Andrew Reese is Editor of START. David Plotkin is a chemical engineer for Chevron U.S.A. and a contributing editor for START.
Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places), $49.95. Sierra On-Line, Inc., P.O. Box 485, Coarsegold, CA 93614, For orders only, call (800) 344-7448.
Hyperdome (Exocet Software), $34.95. Zynaps (Hewson Consultants), $34.95, Both games are distributed in the U.S. by Scorpion Software, 19 Harbor Drive, Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849, (201) 663-0202.
Menace, $29.95. Psygnosis, Ltd., distributed in the U.S. by Computer Software Service, 2150 Executive Drive, Addison, IL, 60101, (800) 669-4912.