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Alive 14
               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.
Alive 14