ST Format Review
Baal is a run and gun, with a graphical style that is typically psygnosis, with hints of Shadow Of The Beast which would come years later. Speed is maintained by having quite a small window for gameplay, and this proves effective as the animation is crisp, though it does noticeably slow down around the generators if you’ve destroyed them. The downside of this implementation however is that you can’t really see far enough ahead, something exacerbated by the odd way that scrolling works, where it only moves if you’re quite close to the edge of the screen. The scrolling itself is smooth, though I notice that it never scrolls diagonally, only horizontally as you walk or vertically as you ascend or descend a ladder. I presume there are technical reasons for this.
I had one particular flying nasty cause me problems in this respect, in that I shot it, passed it to go and shoot the generator, it respawned behind me where I needed to go, but I couldn’t get close enough with the terrible scrolling to see much of what was shooting me, and it kept on respawning within seconds of me shooting it, making it impossible to pass because any single contact with the monster is instant death. This follows a pattern of somewhat unfair difficulty in that right at the start you face a couple of creatures shooting at you who flatten between shots so you can only shoot them when they’re shooting you, because you can’t crouch. You can jump but then you miss the only opportunity to shoot, and you can’t jump over them (in part because the jumping is terrible). The only option is to keep shooting and take the hits.
Controls are tight, with instant response and even ladders being easy to navigate, and you can shoot from them. Sadly the jumping controls are poor and you can’t fall any distance, no matter how small, from a ledge without dying.
One pleasing aspect of the game is that the developers clearly anticipated my vulgarity, making it quite plain that my filth won’t make it to the high score table. While it’s fun to put filth up, it’s also quite fun to know that the developers took the time to think of the different filth I might put in.
There’s no doubt that visually it’s impressive, and perhaps that’s why ST/Amiga Format gave it such a high mark, but as a game it has perhaps too many irritations to achieve its potential.