Posts Tagged ‘Mastertronic’

Spectra Review

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spectralogo

Developer: Gateway Interactive
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Steam, Xbox One

Back in 2014, I came across a game by the name of Goscurry. It was a racing-style arcade game in which players navigated a single spaceship along a never-ending road suspended in space. It was incredibly challenging, but a ton of fun. This year, I discovered Spectra and couldn’t help but become intrigued because of the game’s similar nature.

In Spectra, you control a spaceship along a long, winding galactic highway. You collect blocks, dodge obstacles, and (hopefully) make it through to the end with a high score. The gameplay is simple enough as most of the time you’re only weaving left or right to stay safe on the road. Things get more challenging as you progress through each of the ten stages, but not as much as you might expect.

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This is the main contrast between Goscurry and Spectra: Difficulty. You failed in Goscurry by making one wrong move. Here, you’re given a lot more freedom. Crash into a barrier? You’ll still likely be fine as long as you don’t panic. I even came across a glitch where the ship would warp back up from underneath the road to inadvertently save your run. Despite being an easier game overall, it still offers a lot of challenge and two difficulty settings to keep players on their toes.

Chances are I would have enjoyed Spectra much more if I had not previously played Goscurry. The graphics are nice and vector-like, but less artful than I would have hoped. Similarly, the music by Chipzel is good, but apparently chiptunes of this sort are not to my personal taste. I’m the odd man out! Of course, Spectra still provides a nice way to pass the time with quick play sessions and arcade sensibilities.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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The Chaos Engine Review

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The Chaos Engine Logo

Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Now, I’d never played The Chaos Engine in the past but somehow the game always stuck with me. Thanks to the ‘remastered’ version on Steam I’ve finally gotten to play this Amiga classic. Although it might not be very in-depth, I found it quite enjoyable, if difficult. Just make sure to not turn on smoothing if you have any affinity toward pixel art.

The basics of The Chaos Engine are that it’s a top down action game. You select from a cast of characters (each with unique weapons) and play alongside a co-op partner. This partner can be a real person via local or online play or simply a computer-controlled buddy. Of course, enlisting a real friend is the best idea.

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Apparently this version of the game has been made a bit harder than the original release. If so, it definitely shows. Although it looks like you can go guns blazing through the stage, slow progression is really the way to go. I found myself creeping toward the edges of the screen so as not to be jumped by an enemy. Some ram into you while others shoot bullets and in either case it’s all terribly damaging. For whatever reason, characters start with very low health. It’s definitely a challenging game but enjoyably so.

One change was making the game have “360 degree” shooting. It’s more like 8-way shooting but it works well. You can play on a gamepad (not just of the Xbox 360 variety) as well, which is pretty cool. This ended up being my preferred method of play. My biggest issue with The Chaos Engine is a severe lack of level passwords to return to old stages in online matches. Fans have been clamoring for this for over a year so such an update is unlikely. Overall, I enjoy the difficulty and just wish there were ways to temper it when needed.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Montague’s Mount Review

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Montague's Mount Boxart

Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, Get Games, GOG*

Montague’s Mount is a game that reveals very little about itself when you begin. As the story starts, your character simply wakes up on a dark and dreary beach. There are pieces of wood scattered around and it seems as if you once had a boat and ended up here. The character hobbles – perhaps his leg was injured in the accident? His coughs also echo in the quiet air which makes it seem that this guy is in a lot of trouble washing up in a strange place. You find a walking stick, and then proceed. That’s all the introduction player or character receives.

This is an excellent start to a game which, unfortunately, cannot live up to its own expectations. It sure tries though. Everything about the game attempts to push a dark and mysterious atmosphere, from the mostly monochrome visuals to the sometimes eerie ambient sounds. The story is also told in small snippets, and objects are named in the Irish language Gaeilge. This all sets up a superb “feeling” for Montague’s Mount but none of this can protect against dull gameplay.

Wandering through this isolated island is ponderous. The lead character is purposefully slow and so is his interactions with everything around him. At one point, a bridge is lowered, but it creeps down at a horrendous pace. Really, this characterizes much of the game where puzzles are resolved in equally snail-like fashion. Slow events could increase tension if there were anything to fear, but that’s not the case here either. Instead, everything is monotonously paced without a good reason.

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Exploration is the main goal and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Players basically have to examine every object, because it’s never known what might be useful. Only necessary items can be picked up, which is convenient. There still happens to be a ton of clutter though which is fairly annoying to comb through. But if you ever lessen your extreme attention to detail then needed objects will be overlooked, only forcing you to comb through an area or two again. Whenever a game demands copious item hunts it is annoying, but definitely more so in dark environments. As you might expect, these are plentiful in Montague’s Mount.

Even those who enjoy atmospheric and slow games might find a bigger issue with this one. For some reason, Montague’s Mount has caused me (and some other players as well) to experience definite framerate issues. Without them, I’m certain it would have been easier to tolerate the game, but the common 20 FPS or so really made other issues readily apparent. Some have reported no hitches when playing, but there doesn’t appear to be a demo to test out first.

To me, Montague’s Mount is a game that seriously could have been great but has turned out to be a very flawed creation. Puzzles usually only require fetching an item and using it, but that is hardly compelling gameplay. Of course, when finding some items can be difficult it just serves to annoy rather than immerse anyone into the world. Of course, the technical issues I encountered made it a nearly unbearable gameplay experience. It’s really sad to see a game with such promise end up this way, but they can’t all be winners.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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