A long lost game for the Falcon '030 rediscovered!
Now some of you might remember the group called Opium?Not so many hmm? Well
they were around in the early days of the Falcon, and made one or two nice,
if not ground-breaking demos. Apart from that, and before they could leave
any sort of impression, they seemed to disappear, along with Sanity, The
Respectables, Gen and Wax,and dozens of names which didn't decide to stick
around after those first days.
Well it turns out Opium didn't completely vanish from the face of the Atari
scene after all. There was a final(?) piece of code which they completed on
the bird, but of which nothing was known until very recently.
They were working on a game, and indeed, managed to complete it, but for
some reason, it never got that far away from the original coder's hard
drive. This is 'Rave', a Falcon clone of the classic track-based shooter
'Eliminator'. This game is a cross between Space Harrier and, erm, a racing
game for one. Opium opted to make a pretty faithful copy, complete with
power-ups, multiple weapon choices, and finite amounts of bullets!)
obstacles and ramps (to jump over the obstacles), and a selection of bad
guys to blast out of the way.
Having the extra resources of the Falcon, especially with sound and colour,
Opium went and made Rave with lots of textured graphics, a great many
colours, almost too many fighting in a sack trying to get your attention.
The combination can be described in today's more design-conscious times as
"Coder Colours". However, for a mid-nineties game, the cheesiness factor
counts in its favour, and the presentation seems to work, dammit! Some of
the sky textures are a bit wonky at times, but there is lots of variety. The
track obstacles, power-ups and enemies show off how many zooming sprites the
Falcon can handle.
The game works on both RGB and VGA monitors, a major feat for an early game,
but looks better on RGB (320 x 240 mode). There is a good choice of
controller, and the Jagpad is supported.
A lot was made of the sound engine in the readme.txt. Seven channels,
including a four channel protracker style modfile tune, and three channels
for stereo sound effects, which are pretty standard shooting and explosion
samples, plus some in-game speech. The music appears to be have been
'borrowed' from other sources, I recognised the Amiga 'Desert Dreams'
soundtrack on the title page.
The game looks finished, as it starts with a distinctive 'Opium' facial
logo, then onto the main menu screen, where a list of options to customize
the controller, sound and screen etc, sit against an impressive demo-ish
background of a swirling starfield and a rocky purple alien planet.
The game itself is quite a playable little game, especially in a mindless
shootemup mode.After a while you manage to progress further through
different levels as the track layout becomes more familiar and you know
where to expect the obstacles, and concentrations of bad guys. Weapons are
selectable, when you pick up new ones on the way, but your energy can run
out, usually in the crucial last quarter of the level. There is only one
life, and when you use your energy up, a nice explosion and 'Game over'
signifies the end.
It is playable on quite a wide range of differently specified "Falcon '030"
machines. That included testing on standard 4 mb Falcon '030, but it also
ran happily on Centurbo 2 (50 mhz '030), CT60 in '060 mode, and even the
pre-cvs build of Hatari v.0.9.1, the experimental Falcon emulator covered
elsewhere in this issue of Alive. Which is another brownie point for Rave,
and suggests a fairly good level of care and attention to detail. No rush-
job release here.
I'm not sure what happened to it in the first place. The readme file
suggests it was intended for release as shareware. The original copyright
date is 1996, which is a couple or so years after we saw the last demo from
Opium, so it might be interesting to find out why this game wasn't
distributed when it was first completed.
Anyway, Opium is a undeservedly delayed release, with a curiously appealing
Graphics:-78% - Blocky, garishly coloured, but somehow so RIGHT for this
Sound:-75% - Competent soundtrack, unoriginal material.
Playability:- 85% - Works pretty well, not quite compulsive 'pick up one
more time' material, but good for a casual ten-minute blast, or two, or
Overall:- 80% - Enjoyable escapee from the vaults.
CiH, for Alive Mag,Dec '06.