Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ice Trek (Intellivision)

Developer:Imagic|Release Date:1983|Systems:Intellivision

This week on Super Adventures, my Star Trek 50th Anniversary Week continues with Ice Trek!

Chances of this having anything to do with 'Star Trek' aside from the name seem kind of slim, but it gave me an excuse to get an Intellivision game on my site at last. Now I get to make a new category for it on my 'Console Games' page!

The low detail nature of the game means that I can (and will) go crazy with the GIFs this time, but some of them might get a bit flickery. Game developers loved flickering back in the 80s. Just giving you a heads up.

Oh shit that's a lot of reindeer. Even my score thought 'fuck that' and made a run for it.

Well I've learned two things so far:
  1. My character is a dude in blue wearing horns who seems keen on getting to the right side of the screen.
  2. The Intellivision isn't really up to reproducing the sound of an onslaught of caribou, but it's great at mimicking sustained violent flatulence. I'm going to have to mute this for the sake of my speakers as well as my ears.
Wow, now I've sped up the footage I can see there's a parallax effect on the trees!

It'd be a lot more fun to play if it was this fast in game. This is more or less the entire first level by the way, it's quite short when you're not getting hit.

Uh... thanks?

And I've completed the first leg of my ice trek! Can you even trek wearing skis? I thought that was more of a walking thing (or a spaceship thing). Never mind, onto the next stage.

Well I can't swim in the water and I can't step on the icebergs, so uh... I'm kind of stuck here.

One thing that's interesting is that if my unfortunate little Viking takes a dip he turns blue instead of losing a life. Falling in again in this state does kill him, but if I leave him for a while he warms up and turns red again. That's regenerating health in a game from 1983! You've also got a rippling water effect there too... kind of.

I kept throwing him at the water and icebergs until his lives ran out and that was Game Over. Back to the start of the game, no continues.

Okay I'm going to quickly check a video to see what I'm doing wrong because I can't figure this out at all. I bet it's something really obvious though and I'm going to be kicking myself when I know the trick.


Yeah I'm an idiot. I had it in my head that this is a game about dodging so it never occurred to me to try pressing the buttons. Look, I can turn animals to ash with my mighty hammer! Though I probably shouldn't as it aggravates the Ski-Valkyrie, and she's so skilled with the bow that the way she's pointing it has no correlation with the directions the arrows come shooting out. It's easier to dodge deer than evade her spiky punishment.

Interesting to find a game this old that doesn't want me to kill absolutely everything.

Okay, what I have to do to get past this bit is use my grappling hook to pull icebergs in and form an ice bridge across the river! Or maybe it's a magnetic banana peel, I can't tell with these graphics.

I press the button, tap the direction to throw it in, then when it's airborne I release the button to let it drop. It's original, I'll give them that. Trouble is I miss more often than I hit and waiting for the next iceberg to come along takes forever.

Uh... what the shit? You can't do that to my bridge! That's just wrong!

So I have to race to finish the whole thing before the ice bergs have a chance to smash what I've built? Doesn't seem plausible somehow, not with my aim, but I'll give it a shot.

Well it turns out that doing that for 10 minutes isn't fun. This is about as Sisyphean as tasks come as any progress I make is swiftly undone. Well it's swift when you watch it in fast-forward anyway.

Alright fine, what am I missing this time?


Well now I feel even more stupid. So I grapple the ice bergs going past my bridge, and throw fireballs at the ones about to smash into it, got it.

Sure did take me a while to get it done though, so long that he eventually turned blue from the cold.

I had to continually drop what I was doing and run back down to take out incoming icebergs before they could demolish five minutes of work. Fortunately aiming the torches is a lot easier than aiming the grappling hook. The trick is to not slip off the side of the bridge while you're doing it.

Yep they made it so you can walk left and right here for no reason whatsoever.

Hey it's the ice fortress from the title screen! Turns out I trekked all this way for a one-man siege.

Seems it's like reverse Space Invaders, as I have to smash their battlements with fire to leave the defenders vulnerable while dodging the deadly... black snowflakes they're throwing down at me. Or have they been stockpiling giant bugs as a natural alternative to boiling oil? First thing I do when I take this place over is get an exterminator in.

It looks like this should be really easy, but my Viking is slipping around a bit on this ice so I can never put him exactly where I want him. I've got three lives left though so I can do this!

I couldn't do it. I was only 4 shots short though!

After I ran out of lives the castle reset and I was locked in place unable to move. This confused me for a few seconds before I realised I'd gotten him killed at the exact place he stands on the title screen. When it comes to failure, I'm just that good.

This is actually the final level, so I was so close to finishing the game. But there's no way I'm spending another quarter of an hour building that bloody ice bridge again so I'm done with it now. I've reached the limits of my curiosity.

But if I had beaten the game, the end sequence would've looked a lot like this:

It plays 9 notes from Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' (which Intellivision games are apparently fond of doing) and then the game loops, throwing you back into the forest to dodge deer again. Yay.


Well Ice Trek looks pretty bad, the sound is basically just fart noises, it's slow and I didn't find it much fun to play. But there is a game in here and it's actually pretty unusual. Well the grappling hook ice bridge stage is at least, there ain't nothing original about dodging things or shooting targets.

Plus it's apparently one of the better looking games on the Intellivision, so this may have been a quality product in its day. You just can't really expect much out of a system four years older than the Famicom with a 1 MHz processor and a little over a kilobyte of RAM, even if it is technically 16-bit.

But you can probably enjoy a full and happy life without ever playing this game.

I don't know if this clue's too hard or way too easy, so I'm curious to see if anyone/everyone gets it before the article goes up tomorrow.

If you've got anything you want to say about Ice Trek or Super Adventures, you're welcome to write a comment.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great read. I played a ton of that in the early 80's, it was a lot of fun then. Imagic games were always pretty innovative back then.

    There are new games being made for the Intellivision, even in 2016, even though the hardware hasn't changed. :) Do a a few web-searches for stuff like "The Minstrel's Legend" (an RPG my group is making, shameless plug), "Sydney Hunter", "Christmas Carol vs the Ghost of Christmas Presents", "Boulderdash", "Caves of Kroz", and many others. There is still fun to be had in the world of blocky graphics!


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