Thursday, June 24, 2021

Game 79: Cholo

Publisher:Firebird Software
Developer:Solid Image
Difficulty:I don't know
Time:1 hour

You know, I rarely make fun of a game's title, but who the hell names their post-apocalyptic shooting game Cholo? I don't know what's the deal with that title and I couldn't find a manual. Is it a reference to something or is it talking about the South American term for a kind of mixed-race person?
The story is that a computer that was supposed to monitor radiation on the surface has malfunctioned, trapping the remaining humans under the surface. The player is supposed to hack into the computer's droids, and find some way to shut down the computer. The game starts off with a Rat droid, which is an interesting choice. Later I understand more robots show up...but I gave up on this game kind of fast. You'll understand in a moment.
Starting up the game, the first thing that strikes me is the slowness of it. There's a difference between cautious and slow, and Cholo is slow. Very slow. There's a very short draw distance, undoubtedly so the C64 can render all this. There's no music either. So I'm sitting here, looking at a screen, while I move forward at probably 1 kmph or something. But its just fast enough that if I get bored and check something else, there's a decent chance I'll accidentally crash into a wall. This, in my opinion, is a very deadly combination. After a while, you're just wandering around hoping to find something. Well, I was, no way I'm making a map for this game.
Now the problem with the speed is the second you go forward, that's what you're doing. As far as I can tell in my manualless state, there is no stop button. Turning is slow, as can be expected from the era. That means the only way to stop is to crash into a wall. I haven't the faintest idea what I'm doing or where I'm going. This GUI is useless. Is that a map? Its not telling me anything at all. The only thing that moves is some strange pixel going back and forth. The rest of the GUI isn't telling me anything yet.
Eventually I find a computer which gives me a password list, I assume. That's some kind of progress at least. But it doesn't end up helping me. This game is a maze, and one I can't find my way around in. Like I said, the GUI is useless and this game has already tested my patience too much to make a map. I find another computer, but it seems like its the same one. I briefly tried running the Amstrad CPC version, but soon enough I realized, wait, this is basically the same thing, except slightly nicer and faster. That does give me some interesting information if the CPC is better than the C64, I only knew it was better than the ZX Spectrum and MSX. Score one for Cholo, anyway.

Generic laser cannons. 1/10

I did not encounter any enemies, but I know they exist. They're probably generic. 1/10


A confusing mess of walls and wireframe objects. 0/10

Player Agency:
This honestly feels poor even in comparison to 1987. I know there are only like 3 FPS before this, but they all play like this or slightly better. I'm sure as I play other games from this era this is going to feel worse. 2/10

You can activate a computer. 1/10

I feel nothing. 0/10

I don't mind wireframe graphics, but its clear they didn't do a good job of making this if I can barely see in front of me. 1/10

We're still at the stage where games keep their stories more in manuals than in-game. 0/10

Basic sound effects, typical for the era. 1/10

That's 7. Hardly any better than something from 1981.

Surprisingly, I am in the minority, even today. While I was searching for this game I came across quite a few positive opinions on the game. The thing is, I can see that. I'm sure it opens up once you get past the opening hour. The thing is, I spent about an hour playing this game and I didn't make any real progress. In an action game where you couldn't originally save, do you want to do that? That's a steep time investment and one I wasn't willing to make.

Next up, Faceball 2000.

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