News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 2

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  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.

Alive 2