It is unusual for APG to review a shareware program, since they are often hard to obtain and may be found in so many different versions. Pharaoh’s Tomb is so readily available and comes so highly recommended, however, that we have made an exception.
Indiana Jones had a few spears thrown at him while he searched for the lost ark. Sure, he got caught in some pretty hairy booby traps on his crusades for ancient relics, but none of them compare to the perils faced by intrepid explorer Nevada Smith in his 80-level trek to find the well-hidden Pharaoh’s Tomb.
In this lively and imaginative quartet of arcade-adventure games, players assume the role of Nevada Smith with the objective of finding that lost tomb with its reportedly vast array of archaeological — and golden — treasures. At each succeeding, more challenging level (with some easy ones thrown in along the
way), one faces nastier booby traps and rabid tomb-enslaved monsters.
What makes this series so successful is the masterfully clever programming and screen design, the artful exploitation of available screen colors, and the unpredictability of each level. The games use a special animation system, FAST (Fluid Animation Software Technology), that provides flicker-free movement, even
on older and slower PCs. One can also move around via a usercustomized keyboard interface. The space bar controls jumping, one of the primary activities and necessary in order to escape poison darts, climb the serpentine walls, and collect both points and extra life bonuses hidden randomly in the walls.
Poison darts are the least of the obstacles. There is, at least, some warning when the traps which launch them are triggered. There are also moving jaws of death that rise from the floor and descend from the ceiling, not to mention the ubiquitous vampire bats which are ready to feast upon Nevada’s carcass, or the 16-ton weights that spring from the wall in order to crush him when he isn’t fast enough. Those crafty Egyptians didn’t want anyone messing in their tombs, so they left zombies behind to foil Nevada’s plans. And if that’s not enough, there are platforms which move both vertically and horizontally, requiring expert timing to navigate. One slip and one can fall into a pit of razorsharp
spears. Along a number of paths are essential magic scrolls. Find them and, usually, either booby traps will disappear or new exits and entrances may appear. Still, even the scrolls are unreliable. Some might cause Nevada to be entombed forever at that level. When that happens, the game must be saved at the current level and then restored to begin again at the start of that level.
If Pharaoh’s Tomb teaches anything, it is to be aware of one’s surroundings. The wise explorer looks
around and ahead at each level to see what needs to be done to master the level and move ahead. Players get five “lives” to play with and two spears, but it is possible to earn more of both along the tortuous expedition. Note that one does not have to eliminate all the obstacles which crop up along the
path in order to continue the journey. Sometimes, evasion is better than elimination, so that players can save those spears for when they are really needed.
Sometimes, players will have to direct Nevada’s journey beyond what seems an obvious distance in order to trigger the release of a hidden passage. Sometimes it will look like there is a trigger for a hidden passage, but it turns out not to be the type of ‘passage’ anyone would intend to take so early in life. The wise player is constantly aware of the tomb environment and explores the walls whenever possible to find the hidden points and eggs of life located there. Yet it is necessary to jump at precisely the right moment and correct angle to avoid those occasional booby traps.
Pharaoh’s Tomb is obviously a take-off on the Indiana Jones films and the actual play is highly reminiscent of the classic Miner 2049er arcade game that was such a hit on Atari and Commodore 8-bit machines a few years back. The combination works well and will provide hundreds of hours of fun.
The programs use CGA graphics which are quite similar to some of the action games of a couple of years back, but they are not without some merit. Also, those who have faster machines will be glad to know that there is an automatic adjustment to the processor speed of the IBM or compatible PC used.
Some will be disappointed that Pharaoh’s Tomb offers no mouse support and only works with the user-selected keyboard commands. Included with the purchase of each game is a hint sheet and a secret cheat key code to give players unlimited lives and spears. The package will also contain some free samples of
other games Apogee produces.
Scott Miller of Apogee Software is so sure that computer gamers will love the game that he offers it for free trial. The first game comes as shareware and can be found for downloading on virtually every major bulletin board and service (CompuServe, GEnie, Executive Network, for example). After sampling the first 20 levels, most players find themselves “hooked.” Fortunately, the low price for the entire package is just as enticing as the game play. “Raiders of the Lost Tomb,” “Pharaoh’s Curse,”
“Temple of Terror,” and “Nevada’s Revenge” are the four games that will follow. It’s an outstanding value.
Developer(s) Micro F/X Software
Publisher(s) Apogee Software
Designer(s) George Broussard
Release date(s) 1990
This classic arcade conversion should be sitting on the top of our platform league. Released after much controversy by Ocean in the late eighties, it’s way ahead of other similar style games in the playability stakes.
The Beauty o the whole affair lies in the incredible hidden object and bonus system which still seems to throw up new features even after years of play Andrew Braybrook and the Graftgold team must be congratulated for camming them all into the constraints of an A500 (Amiga) system and producing what is arguably the best Amiga game of all time.
The aim of the game is to kill the nasties by firing rainbows and to reach the tow of each level, amassing as many points as possible. If you still don’t own this cite and hugely playable platform romp, look up the word ‘purchase’ in the dictionary and follow the description to the letter.
Publisher: Ocean Software Ltd.
Developer: Taito Corporation
Release Date: 1990
Snes, Playable on Pc Genre Platform Styles 2D Platformer Developer Nintendo Publisher Nintendo Release Date January 1, 1990 Controls Keyboard /Joystick/Gamepad
Super Mario World is a fantastic 2D platformer starring the world famous Mario. It is thought by many to be his greatest adventure game. In the game, you control Mario as you set off to rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser while saving the Yoshis, who made their first appearance ever in this game.
Super Mario World has a huge amount of levels across many different worlds. Some levels have more than one exit; there are 96 exits in all. However, each exit is a blast to find and finish, as this game has some of the best controls of any 2D platformer.
There are also many power-ups, as with most 2D platformers. There are the classic Mushrooms and Fire Flowers, but there are also others that are new to the game, like the Cape, which lets Mario fly through the air. Yoshi also has some power-ups.
The game’s huge vvorld c0nsists 0f eight distinctly themed_lands, ranging fr0m Grass Land t0 Ice Land t0 Pipe Land. The map screen allovvs players t0 c0mplete certain levels 0ut 0f 0rder 0r skip them alt0gether, giwing the game a n0nlinear feel. In a 2-player game, Mari0 & Luigi vvork t0gether by alternating_turns vvhenever a player finishes a level 0r l0ses a life, but they can als0 c0mpete in a special versi0n of Mario Bros., accessible by_selecting an already c0mpleted level 0n the_map screen.
Starting with $1,000,000, players build stations, railroad tracks, and trains. Each train is assigned a route and cargo before generating income. As time passes, new train engines with better power and speed are invented. Players can also initiate a rate war at a computer-controlled train station that may cause them to take over the station. Purchasing stock is another way to overtake computer opponents as owning more than half of a computer opponent’s stock allows a railroad to be taken over. Be careful though, because the computer can do the same to the player.
The Railroad Works
1941 is your basic mindless shoot-’em-up. As the pilot of a World War II biplane, it’s your job to shoot down Axis planes and sink Axis ships. All of this is done with two buttons and a joystick. There are no messy flight simulator controls to deal with, so the gamer’s mind is completely focused on blowing stuff up.
1941 is merely one clone in a sea of air combat games where the gamer has only to aim and shoot to achieve success. There is little plot to speak of and little challenge, assuming that the gamer has a very fast trigger finger. Finger fatigue may be the only reason people actually stop playing this game. It’s pretty hard to lose, especially if you play enough to recognize enemy flight patterns.
For the time in which 1941 was developed, the graphics and sound could have been a bit sharper. Prior games like After Burner were better to look at and more fun to play.
Overall, 1941 is an average game with little to propel it into the ranks of great video games. In the time between Pong and 1941, developers should have realized that gamers crave a good story and not merely senseless violence. You could argue that hand-to-hand combat games are mindless, but at least they involve some skill when pulling off joystick and button combos. 1941 does not even rise to that level. It’s completely devoid of strategy and has a very mundane premise: Shoot things and do not get shot.
Mediocre at best.
Could have been better.
Not bad, but not great.
Slightly higher mark here if you plan on learning enemy flight patterns.
Destiny of an Emperor centers on the wars for unification in second century China, as fictionalized in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. You guide Liu Bei and his allies as they attempt to bring peace back to China. The game differs from other RPGs in that instead of each character having hit points, they command a variable number of troops. In battle, you can choose from numerous options and tactics, as well as an “all-out” mode where the computer fights for you. Overall, this game is a good example of the innovation possible in a console RPG, with a level of depth and realism rarely found on the NES.
Nevertheless, Altered Destiny’s puzzles are quite good and go a long way towards making up for the so-so storytelling. The puzzles are difficult and don’t all rely on the “take object A to location B and use it” mold. They are logical. Enough so, that when you do finally figure out the solutions, you don’t feel like the game is cheating you by requiring unwarranted leaps of logic.
And the game’s text parser is remarkably versatile, with few instances where the parser is unable to interpret what you typed. In most cases, when you enter input incorrectly or when the parser doesn’t understand your command, it will come up with some sort of suggestion to help clear up the meaning.
This does come with a price, however, as the parser sometimes tries to guess your intentions. Typing in “look at thing” will result in the response “I don’t see the strange sign.” Trying to look at a device or contraption will result in similar results for the silencer and the machinery. This tendency to give away the identities of important objects is a bit disappointing, but not terribly damaging to the game’s fun factor.
The reason you have to use the word “device” or “contraption” to interact with items in the background is because the artwork isn’t particularly good, and the game suffers from washed out coloring. More than once, you’ll find yourself looking at something in the background and wondering about its identity. If the description of the room doesn’t give you any clues, you have to guess until you come up with a noun close enough for the game to respond.
Additionally, the game’s sound and music, while not hampering gameplay like the graphics, doesn’t really help it along either. The songs are filler music — short note sequences played repeatedly so the game can have sound playing in the background. After you quit, you’ll be hard pressed to remember any of the tunes.
In conclusion, Altered Destiny has the same gameplay as Sierra’s King’s Quest and Space Quest without the charm. If you’re a fan of the genre, play it after the classics. If you’re not a fan, playing Altered Destiny probably won’t change your mind.
Poorly drawn and colored graphics sometimes make it difficult to tell what you’re looking at.
Forgettable music and sound effects.
Lots of interesting puzzles are difficult but quite logical.
After you beat the game, the only reason to replay would be to explore every nook and cranny for the points.
Basic documentation explains gameplay.