Monday, May 27, 2024

Plazma Line (1984)

Name:Plazma Line
Genre:Racing (sort of)
Time:30 minutes
Won:Not possible

From the people who brought you Thunder Force, Wibarm and Star Cruiser comes a weird spaceship racing game. I'm surprised there aren't more games with spaceships racing, guess developers are afraid players can't race in 3D space.

This has the dubious claim to fame as being the first home video game with 3D polygon graphics. Dubious because this claim is from a Japanese magazine, and even a brief look at their industry questions that claim. But because of it it's all over the internet. Even if it were that seems like a half-hearted complement considering this doesn't really seem like it's 3D.

This is your basic racing game with little story other than, race you fool. To control your ship, you press TAB to speed up, space speed down, and in this game, space is frictionless, don't get hit? Don't lose speed. The numpad controls you in that direction. That is, tab is forward, and numpad dodges the obstacles. This is basically the game. Dodge obstacles.

Despite having the typical Japanese computer jankiness, it controls pretty well. I never felt like I was fighting with the controls despite the game being slow. Somehow the combination of slowness and the way the controls are used comes out working against all odds. I can't explain how, it just works. Even at high speeds I don't feel like I'm fighting against things.

Let's talk about the game's big problem. I played this a bit before actually making an entry, but forgot about most of it. I think this is either my second or third playthrough, and the first in a while. I took a video.

The only reason why I lost that is because I ran out of fuel. I was going at the redline, and despite waffling around at the start, I was at sixth. Me. The guy who bitches about games requiring too fast reflexes. I was hitting the walls, but the actual objects were basically not there.
Now, that's not entirely it, at the end you have to thread the needle through a gateway, but you more or less have it. Miss the gateway, the game ends. Get hit by objects, hit the walls or get hit by missiles too many times and the game ends.

The problem is, it's a good concept, and it's fun...for all of ten minutes. It seems to loop indefinitely, but in practice you seem to see everything there is to see at the end of the first loop, everything after that is more of the same. It's basically the opposite of what I expect a 1984 game to be, there's nothing there, and it's far too easy.


Other racers you can pass who occasionally shoot missiles at you. 1/10


You've seen everything after one loop, how long it goes is beyond my patience. 1/10

Player Agency:
Somehow, despite seeming like it should control poorly, very smooth. 5/10


It's kind of zen, dodging all these things, and it has the same feeling that old Windows star screen saver had, but despite this, boredom quickly sets in. 2/10

Impressive for 1984, but in practice looks less like actual 3D and more like a poor imitation of 3D. 1/10



Crude blips and bloops. 1/10

That's 11.

AGE is proving to be troublesome and this weekend I did not have the time to do the kind of blazing gameplay session I'd need to get it out today. And I've kind of been distracted by Jagged Alliance 3.

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