Retrogaming Times
Monthly
Issue #33 - February 2007

Table of Contents
01. Attract Mode
02. The Many Faces of Serpentine
03. NEScade -- Karate Champ
04. Holiday Gift Giving - Retrogaming Style
05. Nintendo Realm
06. Newsbytes
07. Game Over

joystick
Attract Mode

I have had to make it through my first month without my wife.  She is in Japan on a study-abroad program until April.  So I've had to get used to playing games again without my special "2P".  We talk on a fairly regular basis, which is a hard thing to do since she's 14 hours ahead of me.  Of course I tell her to keep an eye out for me, for any particular rare video game trinket that she thinks I would like.  The years have made me somewhat jealous of Japanese gamers and the astounding amount of video game merchandise that they have the opportunity to buy.  There's one thing that the Japanese do particularly well, and that's anniversaries.

2003 marked the 20th anniversary of the Famicom.  The amount of merchandise related to that event that appeared was astounding.  Everything from towels, to musical key chains, to t-shirts, books, and videos and more.  If you were a fan of that system, you got the opportunity to show it by spending money on every conceivable item.  2008 should see more of the same when the 25th anniversary occurs.  And speaking of 25th anniversaries, Pac-Man had his not so long ago.  Namco celebrated with T-shirts, and a new style of plush characters, as well as mugs, ash trays, and character bean bags.  Taito had something similar going on for Space Invaders shortly before that.

All this has made me wonder... where is the western love for video game anniversaries?  The anniversaries for the Atari 2600 have come with a commercial whimper, not a bang, as companies have tried to make new forays in the entertainment market with plug-and-play devices like at 10-in-1 Atari joystick system.  But there was no celebration, no commemoration.  Are we western retrogamers forever doomed to celebrate 
momentous anniversaries in silence while the Japanese revel in their celebratory merchandising flood?  There is something that makes their culture so different from the rest of the world, that companies see dollar signs when it comes to promoting otherwise insignificant milestones.  I'm not sure what it is, I only know that I've been envious of them for a long time.  (Ever since it was first announced that Dragon Warrior V and Final Fantasy V would not be translated in to English as a matter of fact.  That's a long time!)

So I put it forth to you loyal readers.  If there is an anniversary that you're aware of, and it's not getting the appreciation and respect that you feel it deserves, write about it and send it to us.  Sure, it's no merchandising market machine like the Japanese have, but it's your chance to share a special occasion with others, and let everyone know why you feel that a game or system's anniversary deserves to be celebrated.  That way, we can all keep the retrogaming memories alive.

Serpentine
The Many Faces of Serpentine

We continue our string of honoring titles that are now 25 years old - in the Many Faces of Serpentine.  This 1982 home computer game is an easy to learn and addictive maze game first released on the Apple ][ by Broderbund.   Serpentine can be summed up as "eat or be eaten".  My wife likes it because it is similar to "Snake" that you can play on most any cell phone.  All of the action takes place on a one-screen maze, but every level the maze pattern changes, for the most part getting more difficult, all the way to level 20, at which point level 21 repeats the screen for level 1. (On most versions I only made it to level 12).  Each level you must eliminate all the enemy snakes while trying to protect yourself and your egg (offspring).  Your snake is slightly faster than the others, so you will eventually be able to chase and eat them from the rear - this is always safe.  The law of the wild is that you must be larger than the enemy snakes to eat them head on, else you lose a life.  There are 3 enemy snakes to begin each level, but each can produce an offspring (eggs).  Initially, all enemy snakes are red and you are blue.  As soon as you are larger than any snake, it will immediately turn green - meaning it is safe to eat them head-on.  Likewise if you become the same size or smaller, those green snakes will change to red.  Eating anything green is most desirable to be done head-on, because that will add one segment to your snake, up to a max of 7 segments.  Plus, head-on snakes (segments) are worth twice the points as well.  The enemy snakes do not eat each other, but will pass over each other, making it harder to see where they are going.  All snakes will eventually grow an egg on their final segment which falls off when laid - decreasing their length by that one segment.   If your snake is only 2 segments long when you lay an egg then you will die in doing so - as you must be at least 2 segments long.  You can eat the enemy eggs but not your own.  Likewise, they can only eat your egg and not each other's.  Once laid, enemy eggs do not take too long to hatch - into two-segment long snakes.  Your egg will not hatch until the level is completed, AND you have returned home.  You'll want to protect your egg because if it survives the level and hatches, it will count as an extra life in your nest.  Be warned that the frog can show up and/or will continue to move after the snakes are gone, so hopefully you are not too far from home, and/or your snake does not take too long to wander home.  That frog will be hunting your egg, homing in on it, and if eaten at that time, then you are out of luck.  Fortunately, if your egg is eaten before the level is completed, you will be able to grow and lay yet another egg.  Good news is that you can only have 1 egg at a time.  In later levels, you should give up on that first (or second) egg and work get the level completed just after you lay your next egg.  Finally, the Frog.  The frog begins just outside the maze, and may wander around inside or out, but always hops one or two blocks at a time.  If you are near the frog it will attempt to hop away from you or get off the maze and even got to the other side.  In later levels the frog will be even smarter and hide inside a box inside the maze.   All snakes can eat the (green) frog and grow, the frog returns the favor by seeking out snake eggs, especially yours.
 
When you lose a life, all snakes, the frog and any enemy eggs are cleared from the maze. Only your egg, if present, will remain.  Bad news is that you will likely be shorter when you come back out, but at least 3 segments.  Good news is that any snakes eaten will remain eaten, and all remaining snakes retain their exact lengths at the time you died.  So you never have to repeat an entire level.   Scoring:  Frog (500); Egg (150 times level); tail segment (100 per segment, increasing +100 every other level thereafter); head-on segment (200  per segment, increasing +200 every other level thereafter)
 
This is yet another game that aspiring programmers should make a homebrew version on the 2600, CV or Intellivision - hint, hint.   Too bad the original games did not sell that well, or came out to late for them to consider a sequel.  My ideas for a sequel would include 2 to 4 simultaneous players, options with or without computer snakes, play competitive (cut throat), teams, or collaborative. Multi-players could get a slight speed burst for 5 to 10 seconds by pressing their fire button, then have to wait 20 more seconds to recharge.  Other enhancements would include additional harder mazes, mazes with changing doorways or walls, or a locked door & key, moving hazards or power-ups, teleports, wrap around tunnels, or one way halls or tunnels & more.
 
Many faces of SerpentineThe metallic Broderbund cartridges really shine out!
 
Arcade:  none.  First on the Apple ][  - by Broderbund
Apple ][ 1982 by David Snider - Broderbund
Atari 8 bit computers 1982 by David Snider - Broderbund
Commodore 64 1982 by Mac Senour - Broderbund
Vic 20 1982 by unknown - Creative Software
 
Not covered here - IBM 1982 by Harold Hedelman - Broderbund
 
Several Serpentine screenshots and their captions can be found at.
mobygames.com/game/serpentine/screenshots
 
Home Version Similarities - except those in < > all home versions have: a pause; a silent demo mode <Vic (attract mode only, but with music); maze sized 13 x 11 <Vic (10x10); same scoring system (noted earlier); eggs are easy to see growing & about to be laid <Vic>; extra life when egg survives a level; additional bonus life earned around 20k & 50k; your lives remaining, score and level number are displayed on-screen; each level the screen changes to a new maze; there is a sequence of 20 <Atari 8 bit (only 5)> mazes which then repeats; most of the later mazes are more difficult; snakes can grow to 7 segments <Vic (6)>; the movement of all snakes is fluid & at a constant speed <Vic>; regardless of the number of snakes & lengths, the action is never slowed <AP ][ & Vic>; your snake is always a bit faster than the enemy <Vic>; the Frog can move around outside the maze <Vic>; after a death enemy snakes maintain their length & number <Vic (restart the level entirely)>; save a high score via a 3 letter initial <Vic & Atari>. No version has any options for the number of players, skill or difficulty setting, or for choosing the starting level or maze.  There is not much music in any version but the Vic, and although the sound effects are not dramatic, there are many effects including: starting the level; you eat their tail; they eat your tail; your death; game over; you eat a frog; they eat a frog; you lay an egg <Vic & AP2>; they lay an egg <Vic, AP2 & Atari>; you eat an egg; they eat your egg; frog eats an egg; your egg hatches; frog moving inside maze (most of the time).  Several of these audio effects are similar or maybe the same, but I did not go to that detail or penalize. 
 
Have Nots:  Vic 20 (37)
VIC-20
Vic 20 screenshot courtesy of Boris's Vic 20 homepage
My first reaction was disappointment that there were not any gameplay options, which unfortunately is the case for all versions.  So a better 1st reaction is the Vic has the best music.  Gameplay is pretty good (7) with all versions having significant depth, good action and creative mazes, but no options.  Gameplay is the worst here because some elements are not quite right.  The speed of the snakes is inconsistent, and varies with direction, or when turning a corner & maybe for the length of the snake.  Likewise, the frog does not move as consistently as on the other versions. The waiting time before you start growing an egg is much longer than the other snakes and is frustrating.  The frog can only be seen when on the maze, taking away some of the strategy and adding to the dumb luck factor of where and when it will show up.  The max snake size is 6 segments - a minor deduction.  A big hit is the maze size is 30% smaller - impacting strategy and variety.   Finally, if you die laying an egg, it hatches and you get it right back.  Addictiveness is enjoyable (8) but not as good as it could be.   For any game, the <fire button> as the pause should be the best button/key to immediately toggle the action.  And it would be here, but . . . it is programmed poorly, so that you can accidentally toggle it twice, and thus your game is NOT paused.  There is no game reset, and as already mentioned it is frustrating if the speed is inconsistent or the enemy can catch you.  The action is also slowed when there is too much on-screen action.  The later levels get more difficult but not quite as challenging as the original, where the frog can hide inside the maze and there is less space to roam.  Finally, the most frustrating thing is that every time you die, the level completely resets.  So you cannot even get partially through the level if you had eliminated 1 or 2 snakes before you died.  Graphics are good (6) but the worst - being blocky, with less detail and too large leading to the 30% smaller maze size.  Everything is multi-colored and there are good scores & displays, good color variety and graphical variety.  The egg is much harder to see growing and when about to lay.  Sound is cool (7) and is the best of all versions.  There is nice music during the attract mode, when the game is over, when you make it home safely, and then if your egg hatches, you hear even more music for earning that extra life.  The other standard sound effects are all there except for when an egg is laid.  Controls are tricky (9) with the poor fire button programming & you really have to fight with the controls to make turns, especially around all those 180 degree turns - which are all-too-numerous in this version.  The cart is a bit hard to find.
 
Silver Medal: Atari 8 (38) & Apple ][ (38)
Atari 800
Atari 800 screenshot

My first reaction is these are similar but both have some setbacks.  If you are not that good a Serpentine player, then the Atari will seem better as you have perfect control.  But if you are up to the challenge (which includes fighting with the analog controller) to make it to all 20 levels - then the Apple is preferred.

 
Atari 8 bit (38)
Gameplay is (8) good quality with all elements in place.  The Addictiveness is very good (7), but the worst of all versions.  There is a pause <Break>, but with only 5 distinct levels (mazes) you will get bored quickly.  The difficulty of the snake's AI still ramps up - such as them working together to defeat you, but you miss out completely on the harder mazes.  Finally, you will constantly run over a frog, yet miss it due to poor collision detection - not a feature of any other version.  Graphics are effective (7) with good displays, good color variety, use of multi-color, and good details.  Sound is decent (6) with nearly all the effects save for the enemy laying an egg.  Controls are perfect (10).  Found on cart (a bit hard to find) and possibly on disk & cassette as well.

Apple II
Apple 2 Serpentine screenshot courtesy of Apple ][ remakes

Apple ][ (38)
Serpentine can only load/play on Apple ][s that have un-enhanced ROMS.   So if Serpentine, or other titles do not load - that could be the reason.  Gameplay is all there (8).  Addictiveness is superb (9) with all versions having good variety and randomness, and no double-deaths.  The pause button is <Esc> and there is a good progression of snake AI (difficulty) and maze difficulty.  The Graphics are very good (7) with good displays, detail, clarity & acceptable color variety.  Everything is multi-colored, the characters, background, and enemies.  There is not a lot of high speed action on any version, but the movements of all snakes are consistent and fluid, especially turning corners.  The action is probably the slowest here and gets slowed with more on-screen action - i.e. when the frog is present and all snakes are 7 segments long.  This is the only version having animated mouths, but then the frog sometimes disappears (or is about 5% visible), but it is still there and can eat and be eaten [maybe this is a glitch in my system].  Sound is good (6) despite not much music, and internal speaker sound, all of the effects are in place except for the laying of eggs.  This is the only version with an audio cue when you earn an extra life via points scored.  Controls are (8) imperfect as the analog controllers can have a mind of their own, so you have to constantly hold that stick the direction you want to go, not only when you change directions.  The game is found only on diskette. Some Apple ][ specific cheats to help you see level 20:  Extra serpent when you: Press [Esc] & then press and hold [Shift] and while holding it, press [1] and then [4] to gain lives.  There is an Apple ][ following that creates new games called "Apple ][ Remakes"           www.omninet.net.au/~irhumph/apple2.htm
 
In the Serpentine remake, they have included the shortest path algorithm - for when the serpent needs to head home at the end of each level.  They also include the original mode with the non-optimal path returning home.

Commodore 64
C64 screenshot courtesy of Lemon 64

Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (40)
My first reaction was this has the least shortfalls and wins the gold.  Gameplay is complete (8) and has all the levels found on the Apple ][ original .  The frog will spend time hiding and faking you out, off the maze, and because the Frog actually runs away more it can and will hide inside the maze, inside boxes that you cannot enter - found only on the Apple & C64.  The Addictiveness is outstanding (9) with the pause <R/S> and good progression of difficulty and (I think it has) all those levels.  Graphics are pretty good (7), a little better than the Atari, but not quite as good as the Apple with its animation.  There are good displays, everything is multi-colored, with good detail, good clarity and adequate color variety.  Sound is decent (6) with all of the sound effects in place.  Controls are perfect (10).  Found on cart (uncommon) and probably on disk & cassette as well.
 
Acknowledgements, Updates and Errata since last month.
Many thanks to Sir Thomas McLaren who helped me to not only learn bout Apple ][ un-enhanced ROMs (and that this game and others may only load/play on systems having them), but also in securing me such an Apple ][ system to play them on.
Visit Tom's site at:   http://www.digitaldinos.com/
 
Come back next month:  where we cover the Many Faces of "David's Midnight Magic" on the AP2, C64, 2600 & Atari 8 bit computer.
Contact Alan at: Hewston95@NOSPAMstratos.net or visit the Many Faces of site:   http://my.stratos.net/~hewston95/RT/ManyFacesHome.htm

nes_pad
NEScade -- Karate Champ

Many of those who have played video games throughout the generations feel that the era when fighting games really began to shine at home, was when the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were released.  It's undeniable that the early 1990's were critical in the advancement and popularity of one on one fighting games.  However titles like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat were nothing new when one looked to the past.  Arguably the entire genre began back in 1984 with the game Karate Champ, published by Data East and developed by Technos Japan.

Karate Champ was innovative for a number of reasons, the first being the controls.  The only buttons on the control panel are for starting the game.  A pair of joysticks is used to move each player's character.  By using a combination of directions between the two joysticks, a large and diverse number of special moves can be utilized.  The two player game was not cooperative but instead put players face to face in an all out martial arts battle.  A referee would award points, either a half point or full point, based upon single blow strikes.  First player to earn two points wins the round, two out of three rounds wins the fight.  There were two versions of Karate Champ released in the arcade - the standard machine and the Player Vs Player version.  While the basic gameplay is the same, the standard machine has some different graphics and modes, while the Player Vs Player version is straight up head to head fighting.  The NES version is based off the Player Vs Player version for the most part, which makes sense, since two player competition was the reason the game was fun.

Karate Champ

Graphically things are nice, maybe even a little more detailed in some respects on the NES.  Neither version is really superior, they're just different.  Obviously control is going to be the big hurdle with the home version, given the limitations of the NES control pad.  The directional pad takes the place of one of the joysticks while combinations of the A and B buttons substitute for the other stick.  It's not the same but with a little bit of practice most of the moves from the arcade version can be replicated and gameplay becomes fluid and technical.  In that respect the NES version is very much like its arcade counterpart - you have to practice to get anywhere with this title.  Audio was far from spectacular in the original but it's replicated well enough on the NES, including speech.

While Karate Champ is well done for the NES platform, a major part of the game just isn't the same at home.  That is, of course, the human social factor.  This would be a problem with fighting games at home to this day.  In the arcade you're always playing against different human opponents, the challenge is always different and that's how one becomes a better player.  When these games come home they're usually always played between the same few people.  While there's a lot of fun to be had, in my opinion this prevents these types of games from becoming as enjoyable as they should be.  Still, if you liked Karate Champ in the arcade and wanted a solid one on one fighter at home, there really wasn't much else to choose from.  The game is ported well but removing the game from the arcade removes a large part of what made it fun.  If you don't mind that or only want to play the single player game against the CPU opponent then Karate Champ is a solid arcade conversion for the NES.
 

"InsaneDavid" also runs a slowly growing gaming site at http://www.classicplastic.net/dvgi

apple
Holiday Gift Giving - Retrogaming Style
 
RobotronWelcome to the February 2007 edition of the Apple II Incider. As I write this, it is in early January and we've just passed the holiday season. Hope everyone had a great new year and lots of fun with family, friends and significant others. Instead of talking of about my Apple II gaming memories this month, I'll talk about how Retrogaming can be a great gift.

The origin of this column dates to sometime around late November 2006 after Scott Jacobi took over as Retrogaming Times Monthly (RTM) editor. I had decided to do some writing for RTM and was talking to a female friend of mine about the column and my love of Retrogaming.

It turned out my friend had also played video games during her teenage years as well. Interestingly enough her family also had an Apple IIe as well. She expressed that Robotron for the Apple II was one of favorites during that time. However, she wasn't really into the Retrogaming scene and not aware of the various emulators that were out there.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Christmas gift giving and shopping can be a challenge sometimes. However, with my female friend, I thought I had the perfect gift giving opportunity.

MastertypeInitially, I had thought about giving her one of the many arcade compilations that existed as my friend had a Playstation 2. Alas, that idea didn't seem to be too appealing so I passed. As I wasn't going to see my friend until after Christmas, I knew I had some time to find the appropriate gift.

It didn't take long for me to come up with an idea. After I had decided to contribute to RTM, I also had started playing Apple II games via the AppleWin emulator on my PC. While the games were fun, I was missing a key component to game playing: A game controller. I picked up a USB Logictech Dual Action controller at a local Best Buy and I was back to enjoying some games from the 80's.

As I picked up a controller, I thought to myself: "Why not give one to my friend as well?" Instantly, my gift giving dilemma was solved.

Of course, just giving my friend the game controller wouldn't do her a lot of good. So I introduced her to the AppleWin emulator and some games including Robotron and MasterType. Though Robotron was my friend's favorite as a youth, MasterType was the favorite now. It was funny how a game could still bring some smiles and enjoyment to people even though it is 25 years old.

All in all, I had a great time introducing my friend to the joys of Retrogaming and also happy that she found some enjoyment as well.

nes
Nintendo Realm - March 1986

This month, we're covering March 1986, and since there were six releases in March 1986, that's what I will limit myself to this time around.  The truth is, we're out of the Famicom's infancy and headed into it's prime years when developers were really beginning to increase the size, and play time, of their games.  So it takes longer to try these games out and distill the essense of the game into one paragraph.  In fact, we have the Famicom's first true RPG, and it was actually quite a chore to get all the way through.  Interesting though.  So let's see what March of 86 had to offer Famicom owners.

Circus Charlie released by Konami on March 4th, 1986.
Circus Charlie was a game that I can remember playing in the arcades.  It can legitimately be considered a side scrolling platform game, although there really aren't any platforms.  Instead, what there are a lot of are obstacles that you must direct Circus Charlie (a clown) to jump over or on to while proceed from one end of a high wire or circus ring to another.  For example, you start on the back of a tamed lion.  You must proceed to the right, all the while jumping off the back of the lion through large flaming hoops.  But sometimes there are burning pots of oil on the ground, so you must decide: do you take them safely one at a time, or can you be quick enough to leap through the ring and over the pot in one shot?  You are rewarded with a point bonus for the speed with which you reach the goal.  The next stage sees you leap frogging over tight rope walking monkeys while the third stage has you leaping from one inflated ball to another, which sometimes necessitates that you back up before you proceed with leaping to the next ball.  All in all, Circus Charlie provides a cute diversion and makes interesting use of the infrequently utilized circus environment.

Ninja Hattori Kun released by Hudson on March 5th, 1986.
While the title may conjure up fun memories of Jaleco's more simply titled Ninja-Kun, Hudson's Ninja Hattori Kun is riddled with problems.  The first obvious problem is the controls.  Your Ninja character feels very heavy and has a momentum problem.  It's hard to get him moving, and it's even harder to stop him or turn him around.  This is a particular problem because the fruit targets and tree ledges that you are trying to aim your jumps towards are very small, so the exaggerated momentum can be very unforgiving.  Next is the invisible life bar.  You can take several hits, and different enemies do different amounts of damage to you, but despite my best efforts, I could find no indication of my current health, leaving me very confused as to what moment I was about to die.  And the music... well, the less said about the music, the better, sufficed to say at some point the composer worked the "Can-Can" into the theme.  In short, avoid this game.

Circus CharlieNinja Hattori Kun
Circus CharlieNinja Hattori Kun

Gyrodine released by Taito on March 13th, 1986.
Gyrodine is an interesting vertical shooter that was rather ambitious for it's time.  In my personal opinion, however, the game's components didn't come together all that well.  The Famicom version is actually converted from the original arcade game of the same name, in which you control a helicopter that has a few different offensive capabilities.  It has air-to-air guns, air-to-ground machine guns, and guided missiles.  To fire the air-to-air guns you press B.  To fire the air-to-ground guns you press A.  And to fire a guided missile, you press both buttons together and use the control pad to guide it laterally.  Therefore, you can never truly use your guns in both modes at the same time.  In the home conversion, you can pick up little meshes of pixels that represent people, a departure from the arcade game.  In many ways, it plays a lot like Xevious, but slightly more sluggishly.  Shooter fans will probably enjoy this early look at the genre, but casual fans are better off looking elsewhere for a good shooter experience.

Hydlide Special released by Toshiba EMI on March 18th, 1986.  Released in the U.S. by FCI on June 1989 as Hydlide.
Sad but true, Hydlide Special is really the first game for the Famicom that could be truly considered an RPG, having beat Dragon Quest to the market by a little more than two months.  And truthfully, RPGs were a gamble, since developers had no idea how younger console players would take to the slower, more methodical play style that was popularized by older computer players.  In fact, Hydlide's origins are back on the MSX home computer system that was popular in Japan.  Hydlide Special is basically a console representation of the original MSX game.  It was clearly inspired by early RPG games such as Ultima and Wizardry, but it opted for a faster paced combat system which consisted of nothing more than collisions.  In order to fight the enemies, you literally walked in to them.  As long as you did not walk against their current direction, you would harm them and they would not harm you.  But if they switched to face you, you would begin to take damage.  Because there is essentially no communication in the game, it's difficult to gain hints or clues as to your purpose or the whereabouts of key items, leaving you to wander for the most part while you feel out which areas are safe for you to enter, and which areas are essentially suicide.  If you're going to give this one a shot, I actually recommend having a FAQ handy... and I ordinarily don't enjoy using FAQs for RPGs.

GyrodineHydlide Special
GyrodineHydlide Special

Baltron released by Toei Animation on March 19th, 1986.
We're simply not going to be spending much time with this one.  I gave it a chance.  Really I did.  But it's like someone took the worst aspects of Scramble and Defender and made a twisted combination of the two and ended up with Baltron.  You can choose which direction you fly in by holding down the B button and moving in that direction.  Then your speed is determined by how far across the screen you wander.  When you shoot with the A button, you fire an air shot and a ground bomb.  Enemies zoom in on the screen (some of whom look like paper airplanes to me), fire at you, and trail off the top or the bottom of the screen.  A scanner above shows you the positions of the immediate closest enemies.  In theory, this should just be an ordinary game, but there's nothing enjoyable about it, and quite frankly, I wanted to stop as soon as I started.  Steer clear of this one.

Magmax released by Nihon Bussan on March 19th, 1986.  Released in the U.S. on October, 1988.
Now this was an awesome arcade game.  Not to be confused with Mad Max, the early Mel GIbson apocolyptic film series, Magmax puts you in control of what starts out simply as a ship.  On the surface of the planet, you are bound to the land, but by droping down into certain hole, you can fly throughout the underground.  As you proceed through the game, you will come across oddly abandoned robot parts, such as legs, a head and chest, and a special gun.  By picking up these parts, they join with your ship, which you discover to be the torso of the robot.  As you accumulate each part, your firepower grows signifigantly.  Unfortunately, so does you size, and you become a much bigger target.  But that's half of the fun.  The good news is that when you get hit, you don't die as long as you have one part connected to you.  You may lose a part, but the rest of you gets to continue in hopes of finding and reuniting with that part again.  As far as the rest of the game goes, it's your standard horizontal shooting fare, but the ability to change up your environment by rising above or droping below the ground keeps it interesting.  Frankly, for emulation, I have to choose the MAME version over the NES version, but if the NES version is all you have access to, you could find worse games to try (like Baltron).

BaltronMagmax
BaltronMagmax
 
NEWSBYTES

Nothing major to report this time around.  Don't be afraid to contact us with any news that you would like to share.  You don't have to be a regular contributor to RTM to contibute your Newbytes.  So...

SEND US YOUR NEWSBYTES!

Game Over

Not the biggest issue we've ever had, but certainly not the least interesting.  Without sounding like a broken record, we are always looking for new authors.  If there's a topic that you would like to cover in the pages of RTM, please get in touch with us and let us know that you're interested.  See you next month!

Copyright © 2007 Alan Hewston & Scott Jacobi. All related copyrights and trademarks are acknowledged.