Old Tower (RetroSouls) Review | - Everygamegoing


Old Tower
By Bum Fun
Spectrum 48K/128K/+2/+3

Old Tower

I'm a big fan of everything written by Denis Grachev and his team over at Retrosouls. Their catalogue of games isn't actually that big, but the quality speaks for itself, and they have that hold over me that if their name is on it, I will play it. And I won't wait long either; as soon as I see there's a new game (which currently happens about once a year) I'll be straight on over to download it and pass judgement.

Retrosouls' latest is Old Tower. It's a platform game that's somewhat difficult to describe, although if you've experienced Alter Ego, Dreamwalker and Gravibots, it's a variation on the trademark game mechanics used within these. You're in control of either one, or two, bots and the aim of each screen is to collect up all the yellow dots which are scattered around in lines a little reminiscent of the original Pac-Man. You move up, down, left and right by pressing the appropriate key but movement is almost jetpack-fuelled, with your bot flinging himself in the direction at the speed of sound and a suitably atmospheric whooshing noise. Align yourself with a row or a column of dots and you'll collect them all up and then come to a rude halt as you collide with a wall, or boundary, ahead. Collect all the dots on the screen and you'll have solved that particular screen and can proceed to the next one by pressing M.

The name Old Tower is a little strange. Sure, the environment looks like a tower, in that it's a vertical shaft with brick walls designating the boundaries your bots cannot cross. However, the area inside the tower is more like an overhead maze rather than the tower containing platforms of your average platform game. Although your bot is viewed from the side, there's no gravity, meaning he is often hovering in mid-air. This is where the game differs significantly from, for example, the two Alter Egos. The turbo-speed with which the bot moves also means that some levels seem to have been designed to give progress almost the feel of a pinball table, with flippers built into walls preventing you regaining any control over the bot for a long period of time.

Old Tower

On some screens there are separate sections, a fact that is not immediately clear neither from the instructions nor from the game itself. Instead you work this out when you suddenly find you have collected all of the dots, but the familiar exit block does not open. Instead, in desperation, you press M, only for the screen to scroll across the tower to another section of maze containing a second bot. He must also clear his own area of dots for both exit blocks to appear.

Like with all of the propelled movement games, bots can get "stuck" in particular areas if you're not careful and, if you do, the only solution is to restart the level with the inevitable loss of life. You can also be killed if a bot collides with one of the patrolling birds, flings himself headlong onto a spike or gets blasted by the wall-mounted laser cannons that periodically let loose. There's a real irk here in that you don't get a password or a level code as you complete each of the screens in Old Tower, so if you lose all your five lives you have to play through all the screens you've completed all over again. If you're not very good at the game, this could quickly become tiresome.

Graphics are rather average, with everything being an 8x8 CHR$ block, but I can understand that this has been done in order to keep everything to a manageable size. And, if you're playing on a 128K machine, you may actually not even realise this because you'll be so bowled over by the game's inherent playability and, of course, the music.

Ah yes, the music...! We don't just have a background tune here, we have what seems to be a whole album from Mr. Oleg Nikitin playing on interrupt throughout all of the action. And it's brilliant. Even though some of the songs sound familiar to me, they have a new bouncy, and occasionally eerie, noise to them. AY music lovers will be in seventh heaven!

In conclusion, Old Tower is the business. A brilliantly addictive game, successfully combining puzzles, reflexes, new ideas and sparks of genius, it takes its rightful place at the head of Retrosouls' superior catalogue. I don't think it quite tops Dreamwalker, but it'll definitely leave you in awe of the coding and musical talents of this Spectrum development team.

Dave E

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