by Digital Nightmares
(A 'Kwik' Review!)
I turned to the obscurer corners of my CD-ROM collection in those tense pre-
Chu Chu Rocket pre-release days. For the purposes of informing you better,
this one came from the 'Transmission' Falcon CD-ROM collection.
And I found this game, which I don't recollect seeing before, although it
dates back to the mid-nineties. This one falls into the category of an
'early but playable work in progress'. In other words, a bit like Thomas
Haines infamous interpretation of 'Breakout', fortunately saved by not being
totally crap. What I got was a basic interpretation of an ancient arcade
game sometimes known as 'Quix' or 'Painter' for the Falcon.
This was developed by Tommyknocker of the obscure group called Digital
Nightmares. There may be some ST-ish origins, as the intro kicks in with a
cheesy sub-Carebears effect and elderly Amiga style fonts in the intro. The
music is more Amiga-modern, or modfile though. A basic options screen is
next, which can allow you to select up to four players, and with a choice of
controllers. In a sensible move for sanity and good sense, Jagpad
controllers are included in there. Alternatively, you can go and look at
some instructions on how to play the thing, if you hadn't been alive in the
early 1980's, when the game came around for the first time.
It plays like, well, the classic painter game, where you have to fill in
around three quarters of the screen area, whilst a hostile alien dot
creature is bouncing around. When you draw a line and join it, the
appropriate area of the screen is closed or 'painted' off. In this updated
version, instead of a plain screen fill, you get a lovely background
picture, of a landscape, desert, or tropical paradise appearing bit by bit.
Apart from the modfile tune playing throughout, this is the most obvious
attempt to show off the revamped 'Falcon-ness' of this concept.
There are up to six separate backgrounds bundled with the game, the number
being limited so the game could fit on a double density disk originally,
according to the readme bumpf supplied with the game.
If the single pixel bad guy does make contact whilst you are in the middle
of drawing a line to close off a block, then a life is lost. Alternatively,
careless and panicky going back on the line that you just drew also forfeits
Of course, it wouldn't be much of a game without some attempt to ramp up the
difficulty/interest factor, and by adding extra numbers of bouncing bad
guys, Kwiks attempts to do that. Dodging one is a doddle, and can be done
practically blindfolded, two is still reasonably okay, but once there are
four or more on screen, then life can get so very interesting.
Do you get that boxed-in feeling?
This isn't a game with any grand long-term aims, but that works in its
favour. It is eminently suitable for a quick half-hour session. Not exactly
Chu Chu Rocket, but more like a nice relaxant to wind down after a fraught
day in the salt mines or something.
Tech note:- It runs mainly under RGB screens, and the majority of SVGA type
screens, although I tried it with a newer screen which rejected the signal
as 'out of range' on the vertical frequency. Be suitably warned then, and
curse that nannying herz detection circuitry! It claims NVDI compatibility,
but I'm not so sure? It should run on accelerated machines, according to the
author, but you be the judge of that...
Graphics:- 55% - Combines a minimalist approach with borrowed material. A
typical amateur coder's approach then.
Sound:- 60% - A reasonable choice of modfile music, but no sound effects.
Playability:- 77% - Ancient but winning gameplay achieves that crucial 'Just
one more go' factor.
Overall:- 73% - Cheap, cheerful and unpretentious is a winning combination.
(C) - CiH for Alive! - Nov '01