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Alive 9
Bold Review

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:

Landing zone

 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.

Engine centre

 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 

Alive 9