Friday, 4 May 2012

Magic Pockets (Amiga)

Super Adventures in Bitmap Brothers Games - Game 7

That's the most hypnotic title screen I've seen since Xenon 2. It's got the standard Bitmap Brothers blue and orange colour scheme, but where's the shiny metal?

The title screen music this time is a conversion of 'Doin' the Do' by rapper Betty Boo, only without the vocals (youtube links). I have to admit that I actually like the track, though maybe I'm just nostalgic. I used to play this game when I was very young, so there's a chance I'll actually know what I'm doing in this one.

The Bitmap Kid gears up for action with his monogrammed hoodie, his Bitmap shades, and his creepy inflating pants.

Awesome, we're starting off in some caves. No idea why, we just are.

By the look of those trees on the right it seems that if I'm really lucky I'll get to visit a forest level next!

As the game starts the pop music stops, replaced with the echoing thud of footsteps and exploding snails. This is way more cartoony than the typical Bitmap Brothers game, but that hasn't stopped them from pixelling it in their trademark shiny high-contrast metallic style. Personally I reckon it was a smart idea, as it helps the game stand out from the million other platformers around at the time. Plus I always appreciate being able to see the sprites against the background.

Okay the game's a platformer and I'm armed with tiny bouncing cyclones that I pull out of my magic trouser pocket. It takes a few well aimed whirlwinds to blow up an enemy though.

However if hold down the button for a few seconds to charge up my attack, I can throw out a super whirlwind that'll sucks up the first enemy that gets in its way, and then annihilate them. Though if I can get to a whirlwind containing an enemy before it dissipates, I can burst it for free stuff.

Popping this whirlwind left me a shiny metal ball worth 100 points! Which is pretty much worthless, but seeing as it takes as long to kill enemies either way, I might as well use charged whirlwinds and get the points.


SOON.


Actually I'm bored of holding the fire button now. So I'm just going to keep throwing mini-whirlwinds down into this pit until all these little Darkseid lookalikes explode. Sure I'm also throwing away the chance to get some whirlwind popping pick ups from them, but I've only got a single hitpoint left so I don't dare go down there until they're all dead anyway.
 
The game's kind of slow paced, but at least I'm able to plan how I'm going to deal with situations. It doesn't typically throw things at me and expect me to react. In the last Bitmap Bros game I played, Gods, I'd frequently find myself ambushed by a wave of enemies spawning in all around me, and all I could about it was try to spin around and throw knives into them before they got me.


ONE ROOM LATER.


Well I didn't plan that very well.

Though in my defence I'm sure these frogs have more health that the last frogs I fought, which is a damned dirty trick if it's the case. When a player encounters an enemy type they've fought before, it should be a predictable known threat, unless it's made very clear that they've changed in the meantime.


EVENTUALLY.


Losing a life put me right back at the start of the level, but I made it all the way back up to the frog room again with full health... just in time to be attacked by these bloody flying enemy bat things.

I can aim my whirlwinds a little when I throw them, but it's still a pain in the ass to hit anything in the air. And I'll need to clear the sky before I use that bubblegum over on the left to float upwards, or else I'll soon be in the shit.

Agh, I'm in the shit!


SOON.


Fortunately I got away from the bats with just a single hitpoint left, and made a daring escape on a stolen bike. Tap the fire button to crush the whole roomful of enemies beneath your wheels!

Magic Pockets (DOS)
The Atari ST version looks to be identical to the Amiga game, but the DOS version of the game seems to come with an entirely different first level for whatever reason. Plus it gives you a laser helmet at the end of the stage! It's not as fast as the bike perhaps, but the end result is much the same.

Other than that the PC version seems basically the same as the Amiga game I'm playing, though with lower quality music.

No no, put the Bitmap shades back down. Please.

Oh right, there's one more thing the PC port does differently: IT HAS LEVEL PASSWORDS. Which seems like something that should have been in the game in the first place really.


LEVEL TWO.


That's interesting, I've got three directions to choose from on this level. I'll think I'll break through... the wall to my right.

I'm sure these bastards are smarter than they used to be. It seems that two enemies that look alike can have different behaviour, hitpoints and abilities. Sometimes it even takes more than one full power whirlwind to trap them.

It's hard to plan out what I'm going to do when the enemies aren't consistent and I think that's a bad thing. I don't mind fighting tougher enemies, but that's what having different enemy types is for. I mean they could've at least given them a different coloured outfit or something!

Hey I found a gold star, and it gave me a Speedball helmet! I have no idea what it does though.

I have figured something out though. Each time I kill an enemy, it changes the item I'd receive if I captured one in a whirlwind. As I cycled past the worthless score items with each kill, eventually I reached useful pick ups like health, whirlwind upgrades, and stars. So it turns out that it's actually better to kill enemies rather than catch them for the most part.


EVENTUALLY.


Son of a bitch, I fell from the ceiling right back into the room I started in!

Fortunately the Kid occasionally throws an yellow arrow out of his pockets pointing to the exit, so I'm not entirely lost.


LEVEL THREE.


For fuck's sake... I just can't throw out enough whirlwinds in time to kill these creatures before they get me. And they just keep coming.

What a tragic waste of one of my precious lives.

I'm going to try just running past them this time. It doesn't look good, but I've got two hitpoints left so I think I might just get away with it.


ONE LIFE LATER.


Hey I've learned a new trick: if I press down while I'm standing in a full power whirlwind it'll throw me spinning into the air. As long as I'm still rotating I'm an invulnerable instant-kill frog-seeking projectile!

It's really hard to screenshot 'spinning' though, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Fuck, are these rock monsters throwing shit at me now? I've only got the one hitpoint remaining and I can't get close enough to do a spinning whirlwind cannonball attack on him.

GAME OVER.

Well, the game was alright while it lasted, but for everything it does right, it manages to find some way to piss me off too. Like, by not having passwords, saves, or continues for example. If I wanted to retry this level now I'd have to start again from the very beginning, and hope I manage to make it far again. And fuck that shit.


EVENTUALLY.


Okay I restarted the game and I'm slowly making my way back to the level I died on... and now these bloody bats are swarming me while I'm using the bubblegum again. Another tragic senseless loss of a credit.

Right, I've made it back to THAT room again, and this time I'm determined not to let those things take even one of my hitpoints. I have a cunning plan.

Step one: I fill the room with powered up whirlwinds that spit out smaller whirlwinds, before the enemies can start jumping up.
Step two: I fling myself up with a whirlwind, then bounce off each ledge as I drop, keeping my spin going and killing every enemy left alive in my path.

It actually worked! I made it through without taking damage. Also I've learned that apparently collecting a silver star then a gold star gets me a teleporter helmet.

The teleporter took me to a bonus room filled with milk bottles (health) and silver stars. Which is nice. Now I just have to earn another gold star and I can get myself another teleporter helmet.


LEVEL FOUR.


Level four is a bloody maze, and this television map I found isn't being much help. Though it does show me where a health pickup is, sitting on that step on the bottom right.


LEVEL FIVE.


Fuck, now the slime monsters have started jumping and spitting things too?

The Kid isn't much good in a fair fight as 'getting out of the way' isn't one of his strongest skills. I mean he can get around the level just fine, but he's a little unresponsive and slow to dodge.

I finished level five, but then "PREPARE TO RACE" flashed up on screen, and this happened. I guess I gotta hammer the hell out of my fire button to win.

Yes, I've finally made it to the forest level! Well, it'll be a change from the caves at least.

What the hell have they done with my whirlwind attack? Now I'm throwing clouds, or snow, or something, in a weird floating forest.

To be honest, I don't think this art style suits forests as much as it does caves. I can't tell if those are meant to be leaves hanging off those branches, or some kind of fruit.

This is my new charged up attack? A cloud? It'll still suck up an enemy, but I can't seem to fling myself into the air by pulling down anymore. Which is a bit of a pain in the ass as that was my most dangerous attack.

You know, with all these plants and wasps around I almost feel like I'm back in Terraria again. Only this time I don't have a grappling hook. Or a gun.

Apparently the unique ability of clouds is that they can rain a single raindrop onto plants to make them grow across the level, forming new platforms.

The trouble with that though, is that I can't walk around the plants. I have to jump over them, and I've lost my whirlwind jump. Though I've found it is possible to get some height from the clouds if I jump on them as they're bouncing.

These bees are sinister creatures. Like the other enemies they're absolutely silent most of the time, but when they're angry they start buzzing, and the buzzing of an angry bee isn't a sound I like to hear.

Anyway they ganged up on the Kid and killed him, and his magical adventure finished right there. The end.


I don't want to give this a gold star, because even though I did actually want to keep playing, the more I did the less I liked the game. The flaws became more apparent and the levels got more frustrating, and I haven't got the enthusiasm left in me to get this far again anyway.

But I can't help but like the game, so I'll compromise and award it a...

Bitmap Brothers games:
Part 1: Xenon (Atari ST)
Part 2: Speedball (Atari ST)
Part 3: Xenon 2 - Megablast (Amiga)
Part 4: Cadaver (Amiga)
Part 5: Speedball 2 - Brutal Deluxe (Amiga)
Part 6: Gods (Amiga)
Part 7: Magic Pockets (Amiga)
Part 8: The Chaos Engine (Amiga)
Part 9: The Chaos Engine 2 (Amiga)
Part 10: Z (MS-DOS)

6 comments:

  1. I have to say I LOVE these reviews and your writing style. Very funny and extremely entertaining.
    I am giving your reviews a gold star.

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    1. That's cool, I love your comment! Thanks man.

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  2. I remember I didn't like the game so could've been this star http://bit.ly/1g5jVmD

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    1. Yeah, basically. I love the game, I just don't like it a great deal.

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  3. when standing on top of a cloud in the 2nd world, you Can make a salto jump by pressing down, just like in the 1st world ...
    it's just a little bit trickier ...
    in the 3rd world and 4th world there are no salto jumps to my knowledge ...
    the 3rd world has water (in which you can dive) and which you can freeze with your icecubes ...
    and the 4th world allows you to roll a little accumulating snowball up just by walking ...
    by collecting multiple silver stars, the award spawned from touching a gold star changes ...

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    1. oops, i forgot to mention that i much prefer the first world, since it has the best balance or feeling for me ...
      level 2 of the first world has many routes which can all be travelled since they often end up in the starting room again ...
      it is definitely my favorite ...

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