Saturday, June 25, 2022


If these screenshots are ugly, I do have to apologize, since the last Apple II game I've upgraded by OS and the settings for this emulator have been lost in the change
Publisher:Continental Software
Developer:"Tom and Jerry" (Allegedly, Bob Flanagan and Scott Miller)
Time:30 minutes
Won:Yes (44W/47L)

Normally, you wouldn't think today's title would be very interesting. A random Apple II action game by some long dead publisher...except that the developers are Bob Flanagan and Scott Miller. The former, a bigshot software engineer who did work for The Sims series, and Scott Miller, founder of Apogee. Pretty heavy-hitting talent. The game itself doesn't sound too unusual, outside of having an exit mechanic like the one in TRON: Deadly Discs; Every time the player kills an enemy, the exit changes locations, and the player has to reach there in a certain time frame. The story is about protecting a special emerald in the far future of 2112, but this isn't too important.

One of the many level starts

Well, that's the description. In practice you have a time limit each level which runs the second you start it, at which point enemies circle the starting area. Until you fire a shot they'll continue to do that. Fire a shot and they'll start chasing after you. The only special enemies are the purple ghosts, who fly through walls, and the orb things, which take two shots. The exit doesn't appear until you kill an enemy, not that this matters since you won't be able to reach it anyway. Each enemy you kill changes the exit's location, but generally speaking this isn't too worrying, enemies follow you surely but leisurely and aren't in short supply.

Unprepared, you can easily find yourself taking out one enemy only to get taken out by another
Reach the exit two times and you get deadly walls, which kill you. Fun fact, the game doesn't properly stop you after exiting a level, so the game can and will screw you over. You can beat this by rapidly pressing the K key as you enter the level, or maybe any of the shooting keys. There are no other changes, and the designs of these walls seem to picked at random from a selection of pre-made wall layouts. Reach the exit two more times and you are in a level with walls that turn invisible. Beat this 2 times and you win the game.

One of the more annoying layouts, offering little protection against the horde

This is a twin-stick shooter, and thankfully I can play it via keyboard. I probably shouldn't have, since the layout is QWEASDZXC for shooting and UIOJKLM,. for moving. S & K shoot and stop respectively. You cannot move and shoot at the same time, however this is not a problem. The problem is that the game feels awkward to control. I don't know if this is my keyboard or if this would have been ass on a period computer, but I often felt like I was wrestling with the controls. Later on, I seemed to have problems lining up shots against the very corners of enemies.

I beat the game on normal difficulty, and figuring out how to win is simply a matter of figuring out where enemies will approach. The walls are rarely a concern, almost always pop up by complete accident. Try to take out a purple ghost first thing, and then take out any others in your way. The key thing is that enemies are not important, killing them all actually starts the level over. If you can break away before then, go for it.

This feels considerably less impressive than it should be
Winning the game does nothing special, you only get the pleasure of having beaten Guardian. Which doesn't really seem all that impressive considering it didn't take me that many attempts to win. The game has an expert mode, but the game wasn't that special the first time through.

Really, this game's novel ideas just don't work that well. Having monsters circling the player at the start is an interesting idea, but it feels a bit like I'm watching the monsters dance around me. The time limit feels strange. I should feel like I'm in a panic about it, but I never tripped it up. Perhaps I just got lucky at the end, when the timer was down to 20 seconds, but its not really making the game harder. Decreasing it further wouldn't really work though.

Generic gun. 1/10

The two unusual enemies add a little variation. 2/10


Fairly generic sets of walls. 1/10

Player Agency:
Technically it should work, but it doesn't quite work right. And there is that issue where you can die as soon as you start a level. 3/10



Its a bit hideous, but it works. 1/10


Annoying blips and bloops. 0/10

That's 8. A bit below average for the year. Nothing really interesting, but nothing offensive. I had the impressive before uncovering this game that Scott Miller didn't do anything in the gaming world before he started Apogee, and I think I understand why now. This makes even those awkward early Apogee games look like masterpieces.

I won't be having any more entries for Star Cruiser outside of the review/summary. There's nothing to talk about with the gameplay and the story isn't very interesting either.

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