Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Lost Tomb

The resolution of this game is weird

Name:Lost Tomb
Genre:Top-Down Shooter
Time:50 minutes

Indiana Jones-styled settings are a rare beast in games. I think the biggest concentration of them exist in the adventure field, where the using your noggin part of the original films really comes to the forefront. It doesn't happen much in straight-forward shooters because people prefer having more than six shots in their magazines. There are games set in modern times that take cues from those films, but treasure-hunting is thinly important to the game. Lost Tomb is all about that, full hog into treasure-hunting.

The introduction tells us the basics of the game before it starts. Open chests to reset the timer and to find the key out of the room. Shoot everything in your way. The intro looks like a crappy CGA game, but once the actual game starts its nice...for all of 5 seconds. This game feels like its being run on too fast hardware, and this is supposedly the easy variation on the game. There are two analog sticks, you shoot with one and move with the other. You press it once and suddenly you're firing your whole clip. Its more than 6 shots, and seemingly I get unlimited, but its pretty freaky regardless. Enemies rush at me.

After getting through the first level, which takes longer than you might thing, I have an option of where to go next. Left or right. Taking too long, which is just enough time to actually reach one destination, will cause bats to start chasing after you. Like I said, this is the easy variation, there's a hard one. This doesn't even pretend to be anything other than a quarter-eater here. It has the audacity and I mean audacity to ask for a quarter for a whip.

You have two weapons, the pistol which fires automatically until a certain number of bullets are on-screen, then you have to wait for some to disappear. The other weapon is a whip, which destroys most things in a gradually growing circle around you. You seem to have unlimited ammo, but the whip is very limited. Hence in some places the game offers you 25 whips for 1 credit.

And I just know there's something here I'm missing. I sometimes stumble my way into a fairly solid playthrough of the level, only to suddenly get blindsided by some element I wasn't keeping track of. Or couldn't keep track of, because there's so much stuff you need to pay attention to that you're going to miss it. Doesn't help that the game forces you to wait about 20 seconds before dumping you back at the beginning of the level, minus any chests. It just feels like the game is flipping you off for quarters while also being completely doable if you know how.

Let's talk about the treasure aspect. Chests do three things, give you points, give you either whips or increased ammo, and reset the level timer. If the level timer runs out, the walls start shooting at you. As a result, if you've already cleared out all the chests in a level, its very possible to get stuck in an endless loop of dying. The whips are very necessary, since they can mean the difference between slow death and fast death.
It doesn't help too that if you get too distracted by shooting enemies, they can build a nest somewhere and overwhelm you by sheer numbers, because in a sense, enemies respawn. What happens is that at the beginning of the level a bunch of enemy spawn points are placed. After a random amount of time, they'll spawn from there, and continue to do so until you die. What happens is that those enemies can decide to create another spawn point. Which means if there's some place fairly blocked off the entire area may be swarming with enemies.
Did I mention there are about three levels (repeated through many rooms) in the game, and one of them blocks off the key you need, which frequently results in the whole area being filled with spawn points? As a result, I couldn't muster up the strength to beat this game. Even though I started using savestates to reduce the loading times, and having the same situation every time, it was just too much of a pain to try to finish. Lost Tomb is comparable to the kind of death metal albums that are a non-stop onslaught of brutality. Fun to a select few, but the rest of us mere mortals enjoy a few breaks.

The gun is standard, but the whip is nice. I understand why they limited it, because I would have spammed it a lot more if it wasn't. 2/10

A few variants on enemies that just wander towards you. 1/10


I hope the game actually has more than 3 levels, but for the early part of the game, this is a poor showing. 1/10

Player Agency:
For a twin-stick shooter, it sure felt finnicky. Quite a few times the controls died on me, resulting in my death. Just another reason why I hated this. 2/10


The intro text was kind of spooky, but then the game got started and it got much less impressive. 1/10

For an arcade game, its not very impressive to look at. Our hero looks like the kind of person to star in a hipster pixel art indie game, and the rest falls into the extremely generic. 1/10


Generic bloops and blips. 1/10

That's 9.

I would avoid this because some of the issues I had seem to stem from poor emulation of the game. I can't imagine it playing this badly on actual hardware, but it still wouldn't be very fun.

It seems like every title I've played from 1982 is hitting that obnoxiously hard difficulty level. Perhaps it'll get better once I start hitting more home computer titles, but things are looking to be down for the foreseeable future.

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