ST Format Review
SPOILER: NOT 100% WORK SAFE SCREENSHOT
For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve gone with Fuzion 9, in part because I’ve not used many Fuzion disks, but also because the menu has some hilariously bad artwork (I’ve had to spoiler-tag it). Scrolling text is the usual, the music sounds vaguely familiar..
For this one I had a look at the Amiga version too as it seemed worthwhile to make some kind of comparison. This section for instance still has the sampled sound but the colour isn’t as good as the Amiga version, and it seems like the sound is of lower quality. It’s a nice enough animation though, reasonably well put together.
The loading picture requires rather more dithering than the Amiga version due to the ST’s more limited palette. The Amiga gets some sampled music but the ST gets silence.
We’re into the first level with a “Let’s go”. The Amiga has a few sampled noises but no music, and the ST is the same. Scrolling is the big difference. Where the Amiga camera follows the player around smoothly, the ST scrolls in stages, with rapid moves when they happen, to disguise the weakness of that area of ST performance. Character animation is reasonably smooth. Controls are a little sticky and the sticking to walls and ceilings feels a bit gimmicky and I think has resulted in less time spent perfecting the jump.
One absolutely unforgiveable mechanical failure is that there seems to be no clear rhyme or reason behind getting out of one level and moving to the next. It doesn’t happen when you collect the last piece of rubbish, and on first glance there’s no door (or at least not one that does anything).
Looking at the manual it refers to end of level teleporters and says that in-level teleporters can be invisible and that must be what I encountered. This took me to a place I didn’t see any obvious way in or out of but I somehow accidentally made my way back and eventually found the end of level transporter. And now here I am on level 2.
Completing level 2 – this section was a bit of a problem in that the monster you see up top can’t be avoided or killed as I can’t get a weapon and his patrol path makes it impossible not to hit him. Btw that’s the teleporter my character is over.
It’s revealed in https://codetapper.com/atari-st/st-bullfrog-part-1/ which I think is taken from the ST Format Bullfrog Assembler tutorial that Flood was Sean Cooper’s first game. He would later create Syndicate so he did at least get better but really it’s fairly clear here that this is a training exercise for a new coder disguised as a game. Frankly if you compare it with Entombed for instance, which came free on an ST Format coverdisk and was allegedly its developer’s first Assembler game, and achieves smooth scrolling on an STFM, it’s clear that the trainee wasn’t yet up to standard.
I’m not sure why ST Format gave Flood a Format Gold – I suspect the Bullfrogs brand name counted for a lot and to be fair it’s not a bad game technically and it tries to do something new, but the level design is weak, the art direction isn’t the most inspiring, and it really doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd.