Arcade action for the Commodore 64. (evaluation) Andrew Hurdidge.
Sierra On-Line has entered the slowly maturing Commodore 64 software market with three converted Apple games, two of which are Crossfire and the licensed version of Sega's coin-op Frogger. They have done an admirable job. Frogger
Many games boast action so quick and graphics so clear that they make you think you are in an arcade. Sierra On-Line's licensed version of Frogger for the Commodore 64 is one of them. But unlike many others, Frogger holds true to its claim. It is the best version of Frogger I have seen for any machine.
The object of Frogger is to guide your frog safely across a busy highway, over a river, and home to his lilypad in the allotted time (120 beats of the timer). To accomplish this successfully, he must cross the highway without being run over and cross the river without falling in. The latter seems rather strange considering that frogs are very adept at swimming.
Your frog must avoid cars, trucks and bulldozers, deadly snakes, otters, crocodiles, and the treacherous diving turtles. After five frogs have made it to their lilypads, you advance to the next level.
You move your frog vertically and horizontally using a joystick or, as with Crossfire, the redefinable keyboard. Frogger, however, lends itself much more to keyboard use than Crossfire. The responsiveness of both the joystick and the keyboard is outstanding. Your frog moves as fast as you can press the joystick or hit a key.
The screen is split into two main parts, the highway and the river. The highway, the first obstacle to be overcome, is located at the bottom of the screen. Situated in between the highway and the river is a narrow strip which in the lower levels offers refuge from danger. In the higher levels this area is patrolled by a dangerous slithering snake. At the top of the screen is the river and your final destination--the lilypads.
Much care has been taken in creating the Frogger graphics. The sprite animation of the frog is extremely realistic. It looks much better than the arcade frog. Details such as the tread on the bulldozers, which are made to look as if they are actually turning, are outstanding. The excellent three dimensional logs and the "Game Over" sign which glides across the screen atop a log make On-Line Frogger a great replica of the arcade version.
As in the arcade version the music is non-aggressive and has a winsome melody. Also, bonus points are awarded for gobbing insects, escorting ladies home to your lilypad, and completing a level.
When I first read about the Commodore 64, I revelled in the thought of the games that could be made with its sophisticated high-resolution graphics. Frogger comes very close to the games I envisaged. Perhaps Commodore, too, had games such as Frogger in mind when they dubbed the 64 "The most brilliant game machine you can buy." Crossfire
In Crossfire aliens have landed and are steadily taking over the evacuated city destroying everything in their paths. You have three ships with which to defend the city from the onslaught.
Crossfire is a one-player shoot-'em-up that brings new meaning to the cliche hand-eye coordination. You navigate your ship around the city using a joystick or the keyboard, which to my delight can be redefined to your liking. But even with the ability to select your own keys, Crossfire is not a game to be played with the keyboard. I strongly recommend having a joystick before you even attempt to play this game, as using the keyboard requires the manipulation of nine separate keys.
The screen graphics consist of a top view of the city streets which closely resembles the coin-op game Targ. When the game starts, the aliens are surrounding the city and beginning their intelligent attack. Your ship is located in the center of the city where it is vulnerable to the aliens' fire from all four compass directions. You can replenish your ship's ever dwindling supply of ammunition by entering a refueling station, which is randomly placed about the city. After successfully ridding the city of aliens (Clearing a board) you advance to the next level. Each new level brings with it faster and more aggressive aliens and less ammunition for your ship, until you reach the minimum of fifteen missiles.
The first thing that struck me upon loading the program was the music. I started off quietly humming the tune, and before I knew it I was singing it out loud. It is fast paced and catchy, and adds greatly to the excitement of the game. Then I toggled off the music and noticed, to my surprise, the virtual absence of the sound effects. All I heard for the effort of blowing up an alien was a disappointing "pop." This disturbed me, as Crossfire is the type of game that will appeal to shoot-'em-uppers who thrive on noise as a vampire thrives on blood.
The next thing I noticed was the lack of color in the game. Everything seemed to be in red and blue. I tried adjusting the controls on the monitor, but to no avail. As a check, I switched to a regular television and got the same result. The game does not make nearly enough use of the 16 color available on the 64.
The handsome Crossfire box depicts a man's hands (which I assume are the player's) firing a laser pistol at an android. Seeing the box, you could mistakenly be led to believe that Crossfire is meant to be a version of Berzerk for the 64. Not so. Crossfire is rather a cross between Targ and Space Zap.
Crossfire is a game that can be criticized for its lack of color and sound effects. Apart from these two points, which are quickly and easily forgotten as the game progresses, it is an action packed game that is addictive and fun to play. When compared to currently available games for the Commodore 64, Crossfire is outstanding. Kickman
Trying to remain the "Friendly Computer" company in the minds of its devoted customers, Commodore has released, as promised, its first batch of entertainment software for the Commodore 64. Among these is Commodore's version of Kickman, a relatively unknown coin-op game by Bally/Midway.
The game screen consists of a three-dimensional city street. A skillful unicyclist at the bottom of the screen is dressed as a clown, and you control his left/right movements with a joystick or the keyboard. Swaying, multicolored balloons, shifty-eyed ghosts, and chomping Pac-Men fall from above the clown, and it is your task to burst or catch them on the top of his pointed hat.
The speed at which an object falls is indicated by its color, making for a colorful game. The clown unicyclist can kick any objects that fall below the level of his waist back up into the air. As the game progresses and the objects fall faster, you are virtually juggling! When a Pac-Man falls on top of a stack of balloons or ghosts, he chomps through them and comes to rest on the clown's head.
Missing one of the objects causes the clown to fall off his unicycle, scattering in all directions any previously caught balloons and ghosts, and resulting in the loss of a "life."
If you are familiar with the arcade version, you will notice the omission of the bonus round with the mad bomber. Also, running into a falling object will not cause it to be knocked aside. In addition, Commodore's version is for one player only. These are only minor drawbacks and in no way impede the game play.
A word of warning if you are using the keyboard. It is easy to mistakenly his the SHIFT LOCK key instead of the A key (the kick key) frustratingly preventing the A key from being read. I found the background music to be repetitive and annoying and a poor imitation of the carnival music of the arcade version.
On a positive note, the animation is smooth and realistic and the 3-D background is great. As a handy feature, the RUN/STOP key doubles as a pause, allowing you to take a breather.
In summary, Kickman is a good adaptation of the coin-op game. It is a welcome change from the usual shoot-'em-up games and will be enjoyed by those familiar, and well as those unfamiliar with the arcade version.
Products: Frogger (video game)
Crossfire (video game)
Kickman (video game)