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Alive 14
Sketchfighter 4000
               An action game, but not as you know it, for MacOS

                             By Ambrosia Software

Whilst I was roaming the internet looking for news and new things to put  in
this  issue  of  Alive,  or preferably,  some distraction from the  task  of
writing articles, I came across this.

Sketchfighteris an arcade-based shoot-emup,  but not really like  anything
you normally expect to see.  Fancy 3-D textured graphics have been disowned.
You  don't even get the lavishly coloured sprites and explosions typical  of
the  later 16-bit computer and console era.  Well does that leave us with  a
retro-vector line based game, like the early Atari arcade machines then?

Sort of, keep going..

What  Ambrosia  Softwarehave done with Sketchfighter,  is to make  a  game
environment  look  as if it has all been hand-drawn with  a  ballpoint  pen,
hence the name Sketch-Fighter.  The inspiration was from all the doodles and
drawings of fanciful space ships and space battles that a lot of young geeks
drew,  to get them through their most boring maths classes at school. Now an
OpenGL based graphic engine makes it possible to fly through a  'hand-drawn'
tunnel network, populated by all kinds of enemies and obstacles.

It  might even look like what you would get,  if someone made a game out  of
the initial game concept hand-drawings from the original graph paper.

Here's what you get!

It is available as a MacOS game, will run on both Intel and PPC systems, and
is distributed as shareware for a not too unreasonable 19 dollars a time.

It  looks  like a version of Gravitaror Thrust,  and has elements of  their
gameplay.  although  there  is no gravity 'pull' on the ship,  and  progress
through  the  early  levels is quite easy,  as long as  you  are  reasonably
careful.  The  gameplay  is,  for  the  most  part,  gently  paced,  and  is
exploration,  rather  than mission based.  The overall presentation and game
menus all maintain this hand-drawn style, and hand-written instructions. You
do  get  things  like weapons upgrades as the  game  progresses,  there  are
colour-coded  doors  or gates that need a specific weapon or  instrument  to
open it, and there are even huge hand-drawn end of level bosses to overcome,
which  is where I'm getting unstuck right now!  There is a constant  in-game
tune which is bland and inoffensive,  but at least you won't feel like going
out  and  wanting to punch in the composer's face half an hour  later.  Also
there are some more or less standard sound effects.

The in-game animation is smooth and easily-flowing,  when something is shot,
it  explodes  into  a satisfactory number of pieces,  and  there  isn't  any
slowdown, even on the low-spec Mac Mini that I've got.

The shareware version is crippled to some extent.  Once you have registered,
you  can  access all levels,  and there is a two-player option,  (as in  two
players  at  once.) There is even the option of online  play  against  other
Sketchfighter aces, or co-operatively, depending on how the mood takes you.

It presents itself as a fullscreen game on the Mac, and there is a choice of
800 x 600 or 1024 x 768, I guess depending on how powerful your Mac graphics
card is. It isn't clear what versions of MacOS are supported, but 10.4 Tiger
seems to be ok ;-)

I'd  say  that Ambrosia have a quiet sleeper hit on their  hands  here.  I'm
interested in this game, to the point of putting it in Alive, because of the
quirkiness factor, also it runs on Mac, and the intention that it might even
give one or two games makers closer to home some more ideas!?

Ambrosia  do  have  all  of  this on  their  website,  the  URL  lives  at:-

                                                     CiH,for Alive Mag, Dec '06.
Alive 14