Saturday, April 9, 2022

Action Quest

Name:Action Quest
Publisher:JV Software
Developer:Jack Verson
Time:1 hour

I don't know who this Jack Verson is, but he's got four titles on my list from here to 1983. All but one seem to be inspired by Venture. Today's title is Action Quest, which just reminds me that in Russian, they call adventure games quests. Its one of those titles that while not technically used by a lot of games, is very generic sounding. You don't really see many games with genres in the title, well, outside of tabletop game adaptations and early adventure games. Lot of text adventures slapped adventure somewhere in the title during the early years.

Something the developer probably calls music plays over the title screen, and then the game begins. The room draws in and I can move after considerable time. Move very slowly, I should add. To shoot you hold down the fire button, aim around something that looks like a safety pin and then release. Just imagine it like Resident Evil in a top-down game and you've got how this game allows you to shoot. Funny thing is, there's a reason for that in RE. Not sure why I have to do it here. The only range you get still corresponds to eight directions. You only get one bullet on-screen at a time. Further complicating things are that each level is timed, you can't spend more than 15 time units on one level, which varies depending on the level.

The basic gist of the game is indeed Venture, but its not a big world collecting items. Instead you have a hub level, where there are four rooms with a treasure inside. You have to get in, get out, while surviving and taking the treasure. You have to figure out how to get the treasure or deal with whatever challenge the game is throwing at you. In short, what I've been missing from 1982.
For instance, early on there's a taco in-between two blocked off areas with a block in them. If you grab the treasure, you get crushed. No matter what direction you travel in, that happens. You can't shoot the walls or the crushers. The way to get it is to shoot it out of the way, the crushers go by harmlessly. And of course there are the rooms where you have to deal with enemies or dodging bullets. The latter is something I find annoying, but I'll give him an out on that last one, its 1982.
As with most games with this sort of level design, the question is, are they interesting challenges? Its hardly unforgettable, but I was entertained. The bad or forgettable levels were usually short enough that they didn't make much of an impact. A lot of challenges involved tricking enemies into the path of your bullets, because enemies are just smart enough to stay out of the path of your gun, but not enough to stay away from bullets.
The game is advertised as having 30 rooms, but its more accurate to say its 5 sets of 4 levels. It was just about the right length. You only have 10 lives and no saves so its not really an endurance slog either. By the final set the game is introducing some mechanics and enemies that aren't very fun to deal with. For instance, there's a lever puzzle where walking into the lever a certain direction moves it a certain way, and I could not figure out what that way was. I did of course solve it, but a bit more time than necessary was used because of it.

A generic blaster. 1/10

The typical array of enemies. 1/10


Short, sweet, and rarely overstay their welcome. 3/10

Player Agency:
The player's movement speed and aiming speed are on the low end and just feel unwieldly to play as. 2/10

You can do a small amount of things to the environment, but mostly in service of a puzzle. Its not always smooth either. 3/10


Simple stuff. Weirdly, characters have animation, but it doesn't really correspond to anything. The main character just swings back and forth for some reason. 1/10


A selection of bizarre music stings, plus your usual bloops and blips. 1/10

That's 12. Better than what we've been seeing for 1982 so far.

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