Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.


Posted by Tracy Poff on June 1, 2012

Pyramidon is a 1987 Tower of Hanoi game by M. Kötter.

Wow, is this game different from the last dozen or so I’ve reviewed. Just look at that lovely title screen! It’s got sound, nice graphics, a plot, everything you could ask of a game. Well, almost everything. It’s not much fun, but nobody’s perfect, right?

As far as I can decipher (German is not my strong suit, I fear), you are an astronomer who has discovered that a comet is on its way, and will strike a pyramid. Naturally you decide to save the pyramid… with a flying saucer. I’m not too sure how you got your hands on one of those, but… well, maybe you’re an alien astronomer.

You may choose between three difficulty levels, the harder difficulty levels having you rescue larger pyramids. The easiest, Menkaure’s pyramid, has three levels  (corresponding to the three-disc Tower of Hanoi puzzle); the second, Khafra’s pyramid, has four; and the hardest, Cheops’s pyramid, has five.

Having selected the difficulty, you’re presented with the pyramid you chose in the center of the screen, and your task is to move it to one side by lifting the layers and solving the Tower of Hanoi puzzle.

While you’re doing this, a meter at the bottom of the screen shows how far away the comet is. Should you succeed in moving the entire pyramid before time runs out, you’re given a score based on how much time was left. You’re also treated to an animation of the comet smashing into the Earth where the pyramid used to be. Should you fail, you still get to see the same animation, but it destroys the pyramid and you get no score. Bad astronomer!

Unlike most of the other Tower of Hanoi games I’ve reviewed so far, which are more like computerized puzzles, Pyramidon is really game-like–it even gives you a score at the end. Unfortunately, the flying saucer moves very slowly; it took me ten minutes to beat the highest difficulty level, and I doubled the emulation speed after a while because it got too boring waiting on the movements to finish. I guess you have about fifteen minutes on the timer when you start, and it takes most of that time.

The game also has a slight problem with the controls. When the flying saucer is moving up or down, you can reverse direction, in case you started moving by accident, which is very convenient. When moving left or right, though, you can’t do this–you have to wait for the flying saucer to finish the movement before you can reverse it. Perhaps accidentally going the wrong way wouldn’t have been a problem on a real C64, with a real joystick, but the analog stick on my gamepad made it pretty easy to go the wrong way, so this missing feature made an already seemingly-interminable game take even longer.

I regret that the first really polished looking Tower of Hanoi game I’ve come to has such poor gameplay, but I’m afraid that’s how it is: I recommend against playing this one, unless you’re quite patient.


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