A beta preview of a game by Nature.
I would love to take a look into the kitchen of Nature someday, as it
has a very strange cooker, which seems to be made up entirely of Back-
burners! I've almost lost count of the amount of stuff which seems to
be in everlasting 'work in progress' there, but I do recall Reekin'
Rubber, Natris, and a little multiplayer game called 'Aces High' for
three of these....
Now it looks like Aces High is getting a quick turn on the front burner
of this strange coding cooker at last, as a beta preview has finally
been made available. It seems to be at a pretty advanced state, and
a very playable beta as well.
Aces High is a flight-combat based game. Not a serious and heavy
flight-sim, where actual experience of an F16 cockpit is handy, but a
more simple sprite based game, where you pit yourself against up to
three other players, in a stand-off or shootdown. The gameplay could
almost be a VCS 2600 game, a classic combat arena shootemup.
Having said that, there are lots of little touches included, to
distinguish it from inferior imitators. The ground is ever present, you
hit it, you die. That can come about from carelessly stuffing up your
(short) takeoff run, through to the relatively advanced pointing the
nose of your Sopwith Camel straight up into the sky, and stalling. Yes,
some authentic flight characteristics have been kept in, just to stop
you getting complacent! You fire bullets at your opponent(s), they take
a certain number of hits, and smoke starts pouring out. They take some
more hits, and spiral to the ground and crash. It is likely to prove to
be a challenge to get them that far, if they are looping madly to try
to avoid you!
Ammunition is limited, but there is the option of replenishing supplies
from the bonus balloons that appear and fly around the screen. These
replenish your ammo, also repair existing damage to your aircraft, and
possible provide for a more powerful engine (according to the projects
in progress webpage.)
The game world is all on one screen, which has a wraparound effect at
the sides, a ceiling at the top, where you can't go any higher, and the
cruel unyielding ground at the bottom. Everything takes place, within
this whizz-bang intimate little universe!
It is multiplayer, from two to four players, making maximum use of the
joypads, keyboard and standard joystick ports. This game really is
intended to maximise the sociability factor, when two or more Atari
fans are gathered together.
Graphically, it looks like an authentic Falcon game, this screengrab
gives a reasonable idea, even in this ST mode picture displayer.
A nice touch is the background picture, which adds an illusion of depth
and 3-D'ness to the game.
I'm not sure if there is already some sound in there, the game is
silent, to my ears. Apparently, this will be using some of New Beats
sound replay routines soon, which if you recall the excellent
'Flextrax', is very good news indeed! I've been in recent contact with
Hencox, and he is looking to get authentic sampled sound effects, so
the video rental store nearest to him, had better be well stocked with
old war movies!
This game is essentially complete, only the 'boring bits' remain to be
done, according to the authors. I've got one or two suggestions, one of
which ought to be a single player mode, with some sort of computer
intelligence stepping in if a second player is not available, or even
as an extra player if you do have two or three people. The Reservoir
Gods were able to do it, and I don't see why it shouldn't be possible
here too? Maybe this is one of the 'boring bits' that they mentioned
earlier? For the purposes of completing this review, I had to set up
for two player mode, get two planes in the air, one of which was
constantly flying in a straight line, to allow me to shoot it down!
Which doesn't make for the most exciting game on the market, and people
don't tend to stick around too long, when you mention you are writing
reviews, and want some help!
It does work fine on different flavours of Falcon, but with an
occasional freezing or hanging up problem on my CT2 machine (which is
okay again when switched down to standard mode.) Maybe this is a
problem peculiar to my hardware, I don't know?
Anyway, if you haven't already found this game, I suggest you surf on
over to nature.atari.org to get your copy, and to plead with Nature to
get it finished and done! One thing we definitely need more of, are
proper Falcon specific games, and this one just might be enough to see
off the Red Baron!
CiH for Alive! Magazine, Jan 2001.