Archive for August, 2007

Foggy Boxes

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Foggy Boxes is another game that’s part of the After Dark Games collection, and certainly one of the simplest. It’s a variation of Dots and Boxes that is played against a computer-controlled disembodied hand on what appears to be a fogged up piece of glass.

Essentially, you’re presented with a series of dots and take turns connecting two of them, either horizontally or vertically (never diagonally). The goal is to create a complete box. Complete a box and you claim it, and get a bonus move.

Foggy Boxes

It’s quite simple, and is really only fun when you’re trying to outwit an actual person instead of the computer, but it’s good for a few minutes of fun.


Monday, August 20th, 2007

If you take a Warrior, a Valkyrie, a Wizard, and an Elf, throw them into a series of dungeons packed to the rim with monsters, and throw in a heckling dungeon master, you’ll have Gauntlet.

Each of the four characters has a projectile attack, the Elf fires arrows, the Valkyrie throws axes, etc. Your goal is to get to the exit, to make it as far into the dungeon as you can. This is made slightly difficult because each room in the dungeon is packed tight with abominations, each one hungry for your delicious Hit Points. It would make sense, then, to stand in a corner and pick them off one by one until the way was clear and then rush feverishly to the exit, but there are two problems: the monsters constantly are spawned by ‘monster generators’ replenishing their supply almost as fast as you can mow them down, and your health constantly deteriorates. You can mitigate these problems by moving quickly and collecting food that’s scattered through the level. However, some of the food is destructible. Move too fast and you will inevitably destroy the hit points you were working your way toward (“Someone shot the food!“).

The game is a bit deeper than I’ve gone into here. You have to collect keys to open doors and chests, you can collect magic bomb-things to annihilate screen-fulls of creatures, and you have to deal with Death on more than one occasion. The only flaw with this game? It goes on forever. I would like to have seen some kind of ending to this game, but I would have to wait until Gauntlet 2 or the NES port of this game to get one.

Paint Roller

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

I’m reasonably certain you’ve heard of Pac-Man, one of the most successful games of all time. What do you do when you see something that’s really popular (i.e. making buckets of money)? Easy, create a clone! A direct clone, of course, would be way too obvious, so you might consider doing the next best thing, make a game that is similar, yet legally distinct from, the original game. Paint Roller is one of that kind of game.

Paint Roller

Okay, so Paint Roller is only tangentially similar to Pac-Man. They both take place in mazes and both have monsters. The difference is that in Pac-Man you cleared the screen of dots while in Paint Roller you take your paint roller and paint the floor of the maze. Of course just painting the floor is incredibly boring, so the monsters are there to ’spice things up’. Occasionally, one of them will escape the cage that it’s in and run around your freshly-painted floors, leaving footprints. You have to re-paint the printed-up areas before the stage is complete and you move on to the next one.

I’ll be honest. I had an old book about arcade games that I wore ragged while growing up. This was one of the games that the preview in the book made sound fantastic, I couldn’t wait to play it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Many years later I was finally able to play it. Turns out that it’s slightly below average, and only worth playing once, if that.


Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Dateline Peoria – Three giant monsters are destroying the city. What will you do?

If you answered ‘Try and stop them’ then you’re very wrong. Rampage lets you take on the fantasy of just about every preteen (and some post-teen) person on the planet and assume the role of the monster and destroy the cities. You can choose between 3 giant monsters, George (a giant gorilla), Ralph (a giant werewolf), and Lizzie (a giant lizard [and the only girl]).

Rampage Arcade

Each city is represented by a set of buildings that you must destroy to reach the next. You destroy buildings by punching them and jumping on them (standard giant monster moves). Do enough damage and the building falls to the ground in a rubble heap. Inside the building are power ups and power downs. You, for example, want to eat the roast chicken, but not so much the fire extinguisher. Keeping your health up is vital, as there are bullets coming from every direction all at once in an effort to stop the carnage. Bullets coming from helicopters (which you can punch) and soldiers (which you can eat).

This game is actually pretty fun, if you have the quarters and the patience to play all the way through it. You eventually smash your way through the entire USA. What do you do after you finish the USA? Why you go to other countries and eventually other worlds, but those are different entries for different days.

Fish Schtick

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Not all of the games in the After Dark Games collection were good. While Bad Dog 911 was an enjoyable little game about maiming a clock cleaner, Fish Schtick is a pretty terrible game about… fish, and then only slightly.

See, you have this view of some underwater scene or other, it doesn’t really matter. Occasionally a set of fish will swim by, each with a letter on them. Your goal is to unscramble the word they spell out. Figure it out and you get some points and some time added to the clock. Don’t figure it out either before the time runs out (the fish swim off the screen) or you give up (you hit the space bar), and the word is revealed, and it’s on to the next word, assuming you have any time left on the clock.

This game is so simple that it’s intensely boring. I’m almost convinced it was put in the collection to pad the number of games they could include on the box. Heck, I couldn’t even find a picture to attach to this post (and my copy of the game is long gone). I wouldn’t fret too much about it, though. It’s not that good.

Bad Dog 911

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Bad Dog 911 was a part of the After Dark Games collection, which was based on the screensaver of the same name (famous for its flying toasters). It starred the Bad Dog creating mischief for a hapless clock washer. The dog runs across the screen, and manages to knock the clock washer’s platform down to the ground, leaving him hanging on to the hands for dear life. You have to take the letters in the scrambled word at the top of the screen and create as many words as you can. Each word will send the platform up a little higher, and eventually will rescue him. Assuming, of course, that you spell enough words to get the platform high enough in the time limit. Fail and the poor guy falls down and breaks a limb. He’s a trooper though. He’ll get back on the platform, cast and all, and head back up to clean the clock.

The game sounds simple, and it is. It’s a part of a larger collection, and all of the games in it are pretty quick and easy. If you like playing with letters, you’ll probably like this game.


Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Bloons is one of those Flash games that makes the rounds on the Internet. People tell me it’s awesome, I see my coworkers playing it, and eventually cave in to give it a whirl.

And I almost wish I hadn’t.

Bloons is a very simple game. You, a monkey, are armed with a number of darts and must utilize your cunning (read: trial and error) in deciding what angle and how hard you’re going to throw the darts into a field of balloons. The goal is to pop a certain number (your ‘goal number’) so you can continue on to the next stage.

As the game progresses, special balloons and obstacles get thrown into the mix, but in the end, it just you, a monkey, popping balloons with darts. Really, it’s as fun as it sounds. You can play it here if you’re so inclined. Though you might want to make sure you set aside enough time to fully enjoy it.

Five minutes ought to suffice.

Crude Buster

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

In some kind of nuclear bombed-out New York City, monsters and mutants armed with ‘high tech weaponry’ have taken over the decaying ruins, stifling all attempts at restoration. What’s the government to do? Why, find two ludicrously-muscled brawlers and pay them some fantastic fee to enter the city and clean it up.


Crude and Buster, the two heroes, are so muscular that they can’t find shirts that fit. They constantly walk to the right and savagely beat anything that gets in their way. The hook is that they are able to pick up an unusually large amount of scenery to use as weaponry. Weaponry like building rubble, street signs, burned out cars (I told you they were quite muscled).

Crude Buster

Each stage has a mid-boss halfway through it and a full boss at the end. These guys aren’t quite the fodder that you deal with through the stage, they have ridiculous reach, unusual stamina, and will kill you. Since your guys are so muscular, they aren’t very maneuverable. Since the mutants are so… mutated, they’re very maneuverable and very able to kill you.

Controls in this game were so bad that I couldn’t make it very far. After about 15 minutes and the equivalent of $5.00 in quarters, I was partway through stage 3. I decided that it was best to fight again another day… with another game.


Monday, August 13th, 2007

Karnov is an icon of video game of the 1980s. He’s an unlikely hero in a world that doesn’t make any sense, out to save the day. You see, Karnov the guy is a chubby, bald-headed fellow that breathes fireballs, fireballs that sound like radio static. Hit him once, he turns blue, hit him twice he turns dead.

He has to travel a landscape that looks like some kind of burned out villa, fighting gargoyles, birds, suits of armor, and stone heads that look suspiciously like Abraham Lincoln. If Karnov merely had the fireballs, he’d be a force to be reckoned with. But, as it happens, he has a host of items available to help out. Things like bombs, gas masks, and ladders. A quirk about this game is the usage of these items. Your items that you’ve collected are at the bottom of the screen, and you press the ‘Select’ button to use the highlighted item. But you choose the item you’re going to use by pressing the left and right buttons on the d-pad. You can imagine that placing things like a ladder are exponentially more difficult when you’re moving around every time you try to choose the ladder to deploy.

I never was able to make it very far into this game, I just wasn’t willing to put in the required hours. But I do know that the game gets weirder. Thanks to a video that I have detailing secrets of many games, I know that there is a stage underwater where Karnov is wearing flippers and goggles, and a stage in the sky where he’s sporting wings. Karnov would go on to make ameos in other games, but those games will have to wait until another day.


Sunday, August 12th, 2007

I mentioned the other day that Chopper Command was a lot like Defender. How can this be? One is set on Earth and has you piloting a helicopter, and the other is set on an Earth-like planet and you are piloting a spaceship.

The main difference between the games is that instead of the enemy forces simply trying to destroy a convoy, these aliens are attempting to kidnap the people on the planet’s surface to turn them into ‘mutants’. Ideally, you’d want to destroy the ships before they have a chance to kidnap the folks on the surface. Failing that (and you will fail) the poor schmucks will get snapped up and transported to the top of the screen. If they make it, they’ll be lost, transformed into ‘mutants’ that you have to kill. It’s not all over if your guys get picked up. They’ll let out a noise when they get nabbed, and the ships fly pretty slowly toward the top of the screen, giving you a few seconds to rescue them. Of course, after you blow up the ship that’s got your buddies, you have to catch them and deposit them back on the surface, lest they splatter on the ground.

Kill all the aliens and a new wave appears, faster and more aggressive than before.

I found the game to be kind of dull, so I would let all of the people get kidnapped right away. Doing that would make all of the enemies you fight the ‘mutants’ and makes all of the buildings disappear (civilization falls, it seems). Though even that couldn’t hold my interest for long.