Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Crypts of Plumbous

Name:The Crypts of Plumbous
Developer:James Jengo
Time:30 minutes

Didn't quite have as much time this week as I had hoped, so let's see one of the titles from Cosmi's debut year. I may rag on them, but its genuinely impressive that a company started in one of the worst years to start a gaming company has existed for at least 3 decades, possibly more, with seemingly no noticeable impact on the overall gaming world.

So, The Crypts of Plumbous by James Jengo. I did have to check to see if that's an actual name and not just one chosen out of a hat. It has been used as a name and it is a real word, meaning building. That doesn't mean that the author is not using a pseudonym, however, since it is the only game released by the author, and Plumbous is just a fancy Latin way of saying lead. The game itself is unremarkable at first glance, sounding like Defender with atomic waste. The manual even says it like its a generic kind of game.
The game, my guy in the upper right, enemy ship on the left
The story, such as it is, is that aliens are raiding a planet and exposing all the atomic waste buried underground. Not even to steal it, they're just unburying it. There's no reason for this, they're just being dicks. Did the author just like the general concept? Because I can't see this being a too effective anti-nuclear message. Seems to me like a more interesting way of handling this would be to have the aliens dumping their atomic waste on the planet, but then you couldn't have the weird title.

Taking out one of many

After starting the game up, some confusion resulted from figuring out where the emulated computer's start and select buttons, I am greeted to a simple screen. A ship slowly moves towards me, my movement is simple. I move, and shoot at the ship. A noise rings out. My ear drums, despite accustomed to years of heavy metal music, scream out in pain. I have successfully destroyed the ship. Another one arrives. I shoot that one. Another noise rings out, though I do not notice because the neighbor's dogs have started howling in terror.

Another part of the level
Exaggerations aside, this is a bad game, and I do mean BAD game. The noise is one part, but this is the complete package. For a while I just thought I would be shooting at one enemy that constantly respawns. For a while before that I thought I was missing something in the other parts of the map, but no, its really small and all that's on-screen is really all there is. This is hardly fit to be called an asteroid. You don't even get a good scrolling speed, you scroll slowly whenever you're practically at the edge of the screen.
The crypts have been breached
The difficulty selection changes how many lives you have, how much fuel you have (?) and how fast the game goes. Curiously, everything increases as the settings go up. From a cakewalk on the medium difficulty to difficult on the hardest difficulty. I suspect I could get a pretty good kill count on the highest if I wanted to, but I don't and I wish to be elsewhere for now.

A simple blaster. 1/10

Generic enemies that conveniently know to stay away from your blaster. 1/10


I've never crashed against a wall in a Defender-style game before. 0/10

Player Agency:
It generally works, but there are issues. It controls a bit stiffly and you can't reach the top of the screen. Further, there is that issue with scrolling and it just doesn't feel smooth. 2/10



On one hand, while I don't care for moving around it, I liked the look of the level. On the other, the enemies and the ship are the most generic single color things I have ever seen. 1/10

None in-game.

I know I usually gloss over sounds from this era, but this is truly ear rendering. 0/10

Let's subtract a point for the whole Plumbous experience, finishing with a total of 4.

Normally I don't feel negatively against an early game like this, but this is a special case. Don't play this, just don't. Its not even as a case study. This is truly awful.

There will not be an Ultima Underworld post this week because I'm trying to tie up some loose ends in that game and its taking longer than I thought. Instead there will be three 1982 titles, including this one.

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