Too Much Free Time

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

Archive for the ‘Arcade’ Category

First Impressions: Naughty Mouse

Posted by Tracy Poff on February 8, 2016

Naughty Mouse is a 1981 collect-em-up by Amenip.

Naughty Mouse (arcade) [nmouse] - title

First, a point of contention: Arcade-History describes this game as a platformer, and mentions that “The player has a single button with which to make Naughty Mouse jump over [enemies].” In truth, the game is no platformer, and, as far as I can tell, has no buttons. Okay, enough about what it isn’t. What is Naughty Mouse?

Naughty Mouse (arcade) [nmouse] - 01

It’s a collect-em-up, like Pac-Man (and, apparently, runs on the same hardware). The player controls the titular mouse and must touch the eggs on each of the houses while avoiding the birds in order to complete the level, racing against the timer. When touching an egg, the player scores the number of points remaining on the countdown timer. When the timer reaches zero, or when the player touches an enemy, a life is lost and the level is reset.

In the first level, there are five eggs to touch and two enemies.

Naughty Mouse (arcade) [nmouse] - 02

In the second level, there are three enemies, instead.

Naughty Mouse (arcade) [nmouse] - 03

The second level is as far as I got, though. I was never very good at Pac-Man, and this game seems a bit more difficult to me. Also, I don’t really enjoy this kind of game, so I’m going to call 11,810 points good enough.

Amenip also released a very similar variation of this game called Woodpecker.

Posted in 1981, Arcade, Arcade, Bad, Collect 'em Up | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Hanami no Yopparai wo Osaeru

Posted by Tracy Poff on October 6, 2015

It’s October, and that means IFComp! Naturally, therefore, I’m reviewing… not interactive fiction. I’ll get to that Real Soon Now. Instead, I’m continuing my (announced and immediately ignored) series on independent (doujin) games.

The game we’re looking at today is Hanami no Yopparai wo Osaeru (花見の酔っ払いを抑える), meaning (very roughly) Stop the flower-viewing1 drunkard.

Hanami no Yopparai wo Osaeru title

The developer was attempting to make a game in the style of old handheld games, and in my judgment had absolute success.

Hanami no Yopparai wo Osaeru 01

The player character, on the left, must reach the drunk, on the right, while avoiding the thrown bottles.

Hanami no Yopparai wo Osaeru 02

Reaching the drunk successfully adds points to the player’s score.

Hanami no Yopparai wo Osaeru 03

Failing to avoid the bottles costs the player time.

It’s hard to tell from the screenshots, but the bottles are moving from position to position like they would on a Game & Watch or other LCD game. A video will show it better:

I only played the trial version of the game (available on DLsite). I’m not sure what might be different in the full version. This isn’t a great game, even for 108 yen. For a similar, and rather better, game, you can play Dave Baskin’s Bouncing Babies for DOS, itself a clone of the Game & Watch title Fire.

  1. For the cultural significance of hanami, see Wikipedia

Posted in 2015, Action, Arcade, Bad, Full Review, Windows | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Tracy Poff on January 5, 2009

Qix for the Atari 5200 is a straightforward port of the arcade game, developed by Taito America Corporation and published in 1982 by Atari.

There have been ports of Qix for most systems, and other games, such as JezzBall, have been inspired by it. The premise is simple: you must draw lines across the playing field in order to fill in areas. After a certain percentage has been filled in (in this version, 65%), the level is complete, and bonus points are awarded for any additional area filled in beyond the required percentage.

It’s not as simple as it may seem, however. You begin with a totally empty playing field–empty, that is, except for you, the Qix, and the Sparx. The Qix moves about in the unfilled area, and if it touches you or a line that you are drawing, you lose a life, and the line you were drawing disappears. The Sparx travel around the edge of the filled area, like you do, and touching them similarly ends your life.

You can draw two kinds of lines in order to fill in territory. Fast lines, which are blue in this version, give fewer points, and slow lines, which are orange in this version, give more points. Of course, there is more danger in drawing the slow lines, so you must certainly earn the extra points.

It is possible to take the screen slowly, by drawing small boxes around the edges, thus avoiding leaving long lines exposed to the Qix, but this carries its own danger: a timer at the top of the screen is constantly counting down, and each time it runs down two new Sparx are created. Too, on higher levels, the Sparx will chase you up the lines you are drawing once the timer runs out.

By cleverly creating lines, it is possible to trap the Qix in a very small area, and fill a large percentage of the screen. This can be quite valuable, since each extra percent filled is worth 1000 points. Too, trapping two Qix in separate areas multiplies your points on following levels.

Gameplay: 9/10
I found the controls a little difficult to use accurately, but it may have been my joystick rather than the game. Of course, the 5200 had a notoriously bad controller as well, so perhaps I should consider it to be a part of the ambiance.Control issues aside, the gameplay is essentially perfect. It is simple, easy to understand, and challenging as you progress. It’s not without good reason that this game has been ported so often.
Graphics: 8/10
The graphics look as good as can be expected for a 5200 game. The movement of the Qix is a nice effect, and a mostly-filled screen actually looks sort of nice, with the orange and blue areas separated by the white lines you drew. Qix loses a couple of points, though, since I found the text somewhat hard to read (which I suspect could have been improved), and I don’t quite like the orange color for the slow fills.
Sound: 6/10
There’s no music, although that’s not uncommon for contemporary games, and the sound effects are acceptable. I think this could have been improved somewhat–Pitfall, released the same year, or especially Pitfall II, released two years later, had rather nice music, and it would have been nice to have something in the background to listen to.
Personal Slant: 8/10
I enjoyed playing this quite a bit. There are certainly better versions available–I prefer the arcade original, in fact–but this is still fun.
Total: 7.75/10
Qix is a well-done port of a good game, which has endured throughout the years and inspired other interesting games. It looks a little primitive now, but the gameplay is still solid. I might choose a different port to play, but if I had to pick my top four or five Atari 5200 games, this would surely be in the list.

Posted in 1982, Arcade, Atari 5200, Full Review, Good | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Novatron

Posted by Tracy Poff on June 24, 2008

Novatron is a DOS lightcycles (tron) game released by VeriSoft Works in 1982.

First Impressions: Novatron

There have been quite a lot of lightcycle games through the years–MobyGames lists 10, though I suspect it’s missing quite a few. The most recent that MobyGames lists is for the Xbox 360 (Tron, 2008), and the oldest is for the Intellivision (Snafu, 1981). Novatron is a fairly old example of this type of game, and it shows.


Though the graphics are fairly nice, and the controls responsive, Novatron is quite difficult to play. The keys used to control your lightcycle are F9, F10, Insert, and Delete, which are poorly placed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an original IBM PC keyboard, but I don’t recall that they would have been in ideal positions on that keyboard either. Positioning aside, I kept confusing which of Ins and Del turned which direction, so I lost quite badly. Too, I found it difficult to tell just how much space I had left before running into a wall, probably due to the viewing angle.

In short, the game isn’t terrible, but isn’t really worth playing when there are so many better examples of the type. Personally, I’d recommend Armagetron Advanced.

Posted in 1982, Arcade, Bad, DOS, First Impressions | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »