Often things happen, when you least expect them. The appearance of bold was
surely one of these things, since nothing indicated it would be published. The
initial release was followed by a fixed one very soon (v1.1), addressing the
speed issues Bold had on several machines. It seemed the synchronisation to the
vertical blank didn't work, allowing the game to run at full speed :). Without
the patched version I hardly managed to survive the 2nd Level, but now it's
fairly easy to reach the higher levels. In fact I recommend playing the
unpatched version for training :). Anyway, what is Bold all about? The
background story about this eyecandy can be found on Laurents homepage.
A space station orbiting around Mars suddenly lost contact with the Earth and an
emergency mission sent back disturbing images. The station has been invaded by a
gigantic and unknown alien life form, dissolving and taking control of
everything on its path. As an elite fighter, BOLD, you are sent there and you
must find the alien core and destroy this threat. The space station is divided
into 5 areas:
You start there and most of your enemies will be maintenance robots being
controlled by the alien life form. Your squad will drop more weaponry in this
area as it is an open space.
First steps into the station. You must go through this area before the alien
does and capture more energy spheres...
The station was a research centre and was supposed to analyse life behaviour in
space. The alien entity controls this area and some scanner revealed mutated
and frightening life forms in there.
Unknown zone ... and beyond
Nobody really knows what you will encounter there...
So much for the story, sounds very much like the average shoot'em up story, but
what do you expect? :) As you might have seen, Bold is a horizontal scrolling
shooter in the tradition of R-Type or Sidearms. The graphics looks much like
Sidearms, especially the transformable player sprite and some of the enemies
could be miniaturized twins of the ones you find in the PC Engine version.
However I don't really get the point about switching between the two transforms.
In Sidearms it made sense since you had different weapons and abilities with
each type of player. Bold however offers the same weapons and only slightly
different abilities on both sprites. The Robot is bigger but has stronger armour
and more firepower, while the jet fighter is smaller and weaker in general.
Since the spaceship is a lot smaller you might want to choose it, for its
reduced collision risk. Beside the nicely drawn graphics bold offers reasonable
gameplay and would be good for a nice blast, if there wouldn't be some ugly
collision issues. Especially in level two your player dies randomly without
touching enemies or the foreground buildings. Since it always happens near the
rocket launchers, I guess it's a problem with their collision rectangle or maybe
with "invisible aliens". Anyway this issue can be solved easily by staying far
away from the rocket launchers, or by shooting them in time.
Once you get used to the uncommon mouse steering it works fairly well. Moving
the mouse moves the player on screen. Pressing the right mouse button transforms
your player from a robot to a spaceship and vice versa, while the left button is
reserved for launching deadly gunfire into your enemies face. If you play the
game for a while you will recognize lots of similarities with other well known
shooters. In fact Bold feels a bit like a "shooter - remix". You can easily
identify elements of Sidearms (player transforms, some level one enemies), R
-Type (satellite and some laser weapons) and Xenon II (additional weapons and
the shop system). However the graphics and the overall gamedesign are nicely
done and I don't care much about these similarities since it's pretty hard to
come up with something really new in this genre.
Under the hood
What to say about the technical side? Keeping in mind that Bold is done in GFA
BASIC, it runs pretty smooth an I have seem a lot of commercial titles on the ST
which ran much slower. Of course Bold uses only a small portion of the screen,
and most sprites aren't properly masked, which leads to some display glitches
whenever two sprites are in the same place, but it allows the game to run with
an acceptable framerate. And you won't expect 50 Hz from a GFA game anyway.
Bold offers you top league graphics and nice gameplay. Apart from some enemies
in the later levels the game is quite fair and can be mastered with some
practice. The key to success is to choose the right weapons since you are doomed
if you don't upgrade them in time.
Cyclone / X-Troll for Alive2004-06-29