Tuesday 6 August 2013

Caveman Capers - Acorn Electron

Who here loves tape-based gaming? Me! I do!

If for no other reason, the loading time gives me time to make a cuppa. Actually, it gives me time to cook a pizza. In fact I could probably go to the shops, buy all the constituent ingredients for a pizza, study cookery under a top chef, win Masterchef 3 years in a row, and cook a pizza in the time it takes for the average tape-based game to load.

Fortunately, in this case the game is worth the wait. Caveman Capers from ICON was released in 1984 for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron computers, and it is one of the simplest yet most addictive games I own for the Electron.

This woman appears to have a cat's bum sticking out of her elbow.
You are Ogg, a caveman with a very imaginative name, who has just found a new mode of transport: Kickstart the Turtle! You have to get Ogg and Kickstart past a plethora of obstacles to the phonebox, so Ogg can tell his wife (who, according to the box art, has a massive pair of tits and a face like a slapped arse) that he'll be late for tea. While this isn't the dumbest story I've ever heard, and there are a lot of dumb stories when it comes to cheapo tape games, it is still pretty ridiculous. Anyway with arcade style games like this, you don't need a story, it's the gameplay that counts.

Claiming to have 60 levels (although I doubt I will ever get that far), Caveman Capers is a simple yet challenging little game, which plays like a cross between Wonder Boy and Moon Patrol. Sounds pretty good? Good, because it is pretty good!

If I must...
Basically, you control Ogg with the Z and X keys to go left and right, and pressing return makes Ogg jump. It's as simple as that. However, there are ditches, snakes, pterodactyls, mushrooms and what is probably the weirdest looking Brontosaurus you'll ever see trying to trip you up and sent Kickstart flying. Oddly enough it's not the animals or ditches that get me, it's the mushrooms that I have trouble with. I'm not sure I've ever played a game where a mushroom turns out to be the main antagonist... usually they're such fungi's! ...I apologise for that one, sorry.

As is usually the case with arcade games, you'll have a hard time getting past more than a few levels without a certain amount of level memorisation and determination. I've been playing for an hour and haven't got past about level 9 or 10. Since starting writing these reviews I've begun to realise that perhaps I'm just not that good at video games. Or maybe I just pick out the hard ones. Maybe I'll cover something that I'm good at at some point.
Game Over... because playing a game while taking a photo is harder than it sounds.

The graphics in this game aren't astounding, but they are fairly decent. In fact, considering how limited the Electron was (in this display mode, only 4 colours are available), the graphics and animations are really quite good. I can't say I feel like I'm enveloped in a prehistoric world as I play, but they do get the job done.

The sound,on the other hand, is pretty dismal, although I've found that to be the case with most Electron games. It only had single channel sound and the speaker was built in. I'm not sure if there's a loose screw or something scintillating whenever the speaker makes a sound but mine seems to always have a really shrill overtone to it.  Fortunately, in Caveman Capers there is an option to turn the sound off, an option that not all Electron games offer.

Basically, if you have an Acorn Electron and you like cartoony arcade action, check this game out. It's fun, it's fast, it's got tits on the cassette case,  it's not rare, it's not expensive...

...so what's your excuse?

Cheers for reading,
Dusty Old Games

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