FOR THE FUN OF IT
Space Ace, Batman, Indy, Stik--Gripper
In Which Smith Goes To The Movies And Gregg Gets A Grip
REVIEWED BY CLINTON SMITH
One of the most visually stunning coin-op arcade games of all time was Don Bluth's animated laserdisc game Space Ace. This SF follow-up to Dragon's Lair featured beautiful, high-quality film animation that was a sight to behold. Now, thanks to the 16-bit audio-visual capabilities of the ST, you can enjoy Space Ace in your home.
Space Ace chronicles the adventures of the muscular space hero Ace and his beautiful partner Kimberly. Ace has run afoul of the nastiest dude in the galaxy, a fellow by the name of Borf, who is in possession of a device called the Infanto ray. This ray can turn any adult into a baby and Borf has already given Ace a small sample of its power. As a result, Ace intermittently turns into a nerdy guy named Dexter.
While attempting to stop Borf's plans of global conquest, Kimberly has been captured. Dexter (and sometimes, Ace) must make his way through Borf's evil traps so he can rescue her and put an end to Borf's childish ways.
In each animated scene (there are 40 in all), you must figure out which joystick moves will safely take Ace/Dexter to the next scene. These moves must be executed at the correct time or you'll be treated to one of the many life-ending animations.
Playing Space Ace boils down to knowing which joystick move you have to make and when you have to make it. The game is simply a contest of timing.
Space Ace features gorgeous background scenes with smoothly animated characters cavorting around them. It is simply the best animation I've ever seen on the ST. Accompanying these visuals is a stunning digitized soundtrack that features dialogue, sound effects and music from the coin-op version. The game also takes advantage of the STE's 4,096- color palette when run on that computer.
Space Ace does have its shortcomings. The original coinop version was massive (25 minutes of animation) and it would have taken quite a few disks to fit everything into the ST version. As a result, many scenes from the arcade have been left out.
The original Space Ace also gave you a number of choices for getting through the game. At several points, you could choose to turn into Ace to make a sequence more challenging, or stay as Dexter and take on something a little easier. There were also multiple directions so you could experience different storylines. To streamline the flow of the home version, and lessen disk swapping, there is only one path through the game. Dexter appears in some scenes; Ace in others.
Since Space Ace takes a number of hours to complete, a save-game option is included.
Caveat: Space Ace comes on four double-sided disks though the manual claims that single-sided owners can play half of the scenes in the game. However, when I ran the game from a single-sided drive, I could only play the first scene. When the game tried to go to the next scene, my drive made the grinding noise that a single-sided drive makes when it tries to access a double-sided disk and would proceed no further. Single-sided drive owners should check this with their dealer before buying the game.
Indy, The Graphic Adventure
REVIEWED BY CLINTON SMITH
Creating a graphic adventure based on a film is a tricky business. If you follow the plot too closely it won't be very fun or challenging for people who saw the movie. On the other hand, if the game has few or no ties to the picture, fans will be disappointed. In their latest offering, Lucasfilm has walked this tightrope perfectly with their graphic adventure Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The Quest for the Grail
In Lucasfilm's cinematic style, Indy begins with opening credits that are displayed on the sides of the circus trains which young Indy is chased across during the beginning of the film. The detailed 63-page grail diary is both entertaining and beneficial to gameplay.
|Lucasfilm's Indy, The Graphic Adventure is full of sur-
prises even for those who have seen the movie.
The game follows Indy's adventures as he attempts to find his missing father and the fabled Holy Grail. These adventures take Indy from Venice and its mysterious catacombs, to the Nazi stronghold Castle Schloss Brunwald, on to the skies above Germany and finally to the fabled Temple of the Grail.
While many of the scenes in the game are from the movie, there are also more than enough new scenes to make it interesting for people who have seen the film. One of the best features of Indy is that there are multiple solutions to many of the puzzles in the game and you don't have to do things exactly as they happened in the film.
Another nice touch: while you can try to fight your way out of a confrontation, you can also try to talk your way out of one by selecting a response from a group of on-screen choices.
Indy features the handy Lucasfilm adventure interface--no typing, just point and click--that makes the game incredibly easy to play. Along with the adventuring, Indy includes some arcade sequences (fist fights, biplane flying and mazes) that really spice up the game.
Indy features higher-resolution graphics than previous Lucasfilm adventures thanks to an improvement in their SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) development system. The sound effects throughout the game are pretty good and the music includes recognizable themes from the film.
Indy comes on three double-sided disks but Lucasfilm will exchange them for single-sided ones. The disks aren't copy protected so you can install the game on a hard drive.
Batman, The Movie
REVIEWED BY CLINTON SMITH
Anyone who's been on this planet for the last year knows that the movie Batman was the number one hit of 1989. Data East and Ocean have done an excellent job in bringing all the excitement of this film to the ST.
Playing The Parts
Faithful to the movie, Level 1 of Batman takes place in the Axis chemical plant. Infamous gangster Jack Napier and his band of hoodlums are robbing the joint and you must don your crime-fighting gear to stop them. Napier is waiting at the far right of the factory and you must climb, jump and swing your way around the maze-like setup of platforms so you can reach him before time runs out.
Patrolling the factory are gun-toting and grenade-throwing goons who you can dispatch with a toss of your famed Batarang. The Batarang and your rope can also be used to climb to higher levels or to swing across chasms.
Since you're in a chemical plant, you also have to watch out for chemical leaks that sometimes emit from the deadly pipes. Contact with the leaks, thugs or their weapons eats up your energy, which is represented by a Batman face. As you lose energy the face becomes that of the Joker. When it's all the Joker you lose one of your lives.
When you beat Napier he also gets a first-hand lesson in chemistry when he falls into a vat of green toxins. He and the chemicals don't mix too well and he becomes the Joker. There are four more levels that promise challenging fun. If you've seen the movie, then you can guess what's in store. However. it's up to you whether or not the Joker gets it in the end.
The various sequences in Batman, The Movie, are all very enjoyable and well done. The Batmobile sequence, which uses a poleposition perspective, is as good as many driving simulations I've seen. And the graphics throughout the game are great. The only weak point in Batman is the sound. You can choose between music--which sounds okay but doesn't come close to Danny Elfin's excellent score for the film--or sound effects, which are pretty standard stuff. Some digitized effects from the movie would have been better.
Overall, Batman, The Movie, is one of the best action games based on a movie I've ever seen. It's sure to please both fans and non-fans of the film.
REVIEWED BY DAVE GREGG
The hand is not the steadiest of appendages, particularly for playing computer games. At the most critical times, a slip of the wrist can mean the difference between life and death. That's why a product like Stik Gripper is so handy. It's a joystick holder that keeps your game control rock solid. Flight simulation fans who often rely on both the keyboard and joystick will find Duggan DeZign's Stik Gripper especially helpful.
Putting It All Together
Stik- Gripper is made of tough steel and is easy to assemble. It's adjustable so that it fits snugly on the lip of any table.
The types of joystick Stik Gripper works with is limited. The ideal stick appears to be a tower/base type that's under four inches wide. The Atari stick comes quickest to mind. The Beeshu Hot Stuff joystick is over four inches so it didn't quite fit. Hand-held sticks such as the one from Epyx, and Mindscapes' PowerPlayer are also a tough fit.
There's no doubt that Stik-Gripper is the solution for more solid game control but in its present form, there appears to be a limit to the types of joysticks it can accommodate. Just keep this in mind before you buy. (Editor's Note: Duggan DeZign has a special rebate offer for user groups. Contact Duggan Dezign for more information.)
Veteran arcader Clinton Smith has written numerous game reviews for various ST publications. This is his first appearance in START. Dave Gregg divides his time between writing for START and nuclear physics.