Monday, 22 September 2014

Hare-brained

I bust through Bugs Bunny's Hare-brained Adventure at the weekend. For an old CGA game, it was actually still quite fun. It's a very simple premise, you have to run around a castle (at least, I presume it's a castle, maybe it's not?) trying to find 4 keys that will open the door and allow you to escape. There are 150-ish linked rooms, each room being a single screen and having exits to other rooms or a chute to another floor. Each room has an assortment of holes in them (you can't fall down them, they're just barriers) and a number of weird creatures that keep appearing the longer you stay in the room and inexorably home in on you wherever you are. The creatures follow the same rules as you and can't cross the holes in the floor, so you spend your time weaving around the holes trying to get the creatures stuck in the scenery so you can escape to the next room. They're slower than you, so it's not too hard. If a monster hits you, you lose a life. You also have a couple of tricks up your sleeve in the form of potions and bombs. There are two potions, one that makes you invisible so the monsters no longer track you (though they can still kill you if you run into them) and one that allows you to levitate over the gaps in the floor, which is incredibly useful for evading monsters. Both potions work on a timer, so you only have limited time with them. You also have a variety of bombs that you can pick up around the castle and throw at the monsters. These have various effects - slowing the monsters down, shrinking them, blowing them up - but generally they all have the effect of pausing the monsters pursuit of you rather than actually getting rid of the monsters. In the end, I found the only one of these accessories I actually used was the levitation potion, the others weren't really that useful. The other obstacle is the mad scientist who's trapped you in his castle (maybe it's a laboratory?). He only appears if you hang around in a room too long, and he takes a direct path to you, ignoring all obstructions. If he hits you, then it's game over no matter how many lives you had. He moves pretty slowly, though, and doesn't show up that often if you keep moving, so he's normally not a problem. His only real danger (which goes for the normal monsters, too) is that he always enters the screen through a doorway, so you'll sometimes have a very cheap death when he spawns in the doorway you're just about to walk through. The castle has a regular layout, so once you understand it (I actually mapped it with pen and paper...I'm an idiot) it's pretty easy to find your way around. basically, the central keep that you start in is completely pointless - 60-odd rooms that you don't need to go in at all. You just need to take a couple of chutes down to the ground floor, then just run up the four corner towers, each of which has a key at the top, then back down to the ground floor and out of the front door. Once you have the route down pat, it doesn't take long to complete the game at all. Annoyingly, the ending screen shows up for all of half a second, so I missed getting a screenshot of it. Still, it was a surprisingly fun game - borne out by the fact I've written so much for a simple CGA maze game from the '80s!

Next up on the randometer is...ATAC: The Secret War Against Drugs! Looks like some kind of crazy early hybrid of strategy and flight sim. I'll be hitting Ultima 1 next, though.

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