Omega Orb (Audiogenic) Review | Everygamegoing - Everygamegoing


Omega Orb
By Audiogenic

Published in EGG #013: Acorn Electron

Omega Orb

Life's tough for everyone in the future. Humans have to decide which interplanetary cruise holidays to go on and droids have to persuade humans to part with their hard-earned cash to go on them. Blip, who is the hero of Omega Orb, is a big, red, bouncing ball who's been gainfully employed running cruises for as long as anyone can remember. He's a trusted tour guide and cool in a crisis. Which is just as well, because crisis in the form of a total power failure has just struck the space liner Blip is captaining. As a result, Blip has beamed himself down to the nearest planet rich in "core" minerals which will restore life to the stricken ship. The only problem is the planet's full of other droids who don't take very kindly to his presence.

Omega Orb is a variant of the flick-screen graphic adventure, with two unexpected additions. Firstly, you can shoot, meaning it's not all about jumping over the patrolling nasties. And secondly, you can interact with a network of dumb (in all senses of the word!) terminals scattered throughout the planet. There's a peculiar kind of currency mining and exchange throughout the game too. Lives, for example, are a commodity than can be traded; and if you blast an enemy droid, you score 5 credits. Scattered throughout the landscape are terminals. These charge you 100 credits merely for holding a conversation with you!

Accessing a terminal is easy. You just bounce over too it and press the Space bar. But, due to the limited number of commands which the terminals actually understand, Omega Orb is one of those games for which you do need to have read the instructions. All the little inclusions (like HELP, INFO, etc) are nice, but what you must do to complete the game is find "core" pieces, pick them up, bounce over to a terminal and "use" them. You are hindered in this by X things.

Omega Orb

Firstly, there are the marauding droids who teleport into each room you cross. They pop out of a cyan block which may or may not be "shootable"; the latter either because it's just out of reach of Blip's bouncing height, or because it's impregnable.

Secondly, the (somewhat limiting) control you have of Blip in the first place. Blip bounces constantly, meaning that, if an enemy is in the space above him, he will be propelled into it unless you rock left or right on the joystick to keep him out of trouble.

Outside of the terminal interactions, you can only move left and right, fire, and perform a "super-bounce" by holding down the Shift key. When you cause an enemy to explode, he disappears and is replaced with a blast of energy which, if you're touching it in any way, remains on-screen until you're not touching it. This can have such a devastating impact on Blip's energy that you'll wish he never engaged the enemy at all!

Omega Orb

There's also yet another quirky feature in the form of special terminals marked with a T which offer a teleporting facility, projecting Blip to an unknown area of the map, if you enter PORT. The inlay sounds a note of caution however, stating that this command will not work "until you have enabled the teleport grid". No clue on how to do that though.

As a Peter Scott game, you can probably guess that Omega Orb is very colourful, paced very well and was favourably received on release. However, I have to confess that, despite the variations on the graphic adventure theme, I'm personally not blown away by it. Being only able to carry one item is limiting and the fact there's no pick-up/drop control means items are immediately acquired or discarded if you bounce on them... you can find yourself fighting your way across a screen to collect an item and then only realising later that you actually accidentally left it behind!

Interacting with the terminals is also not really the boon that it seems; pausing the 'action' in this way seems to throw off the game's rhythm and actually all interactions with them are only noteworthy by their pointlessness. Instead of having to carry around and "use" core pieces, for example, why couldn't they just be picked up and credited automatically? And why do you need to enter commands to teleport around when Scott could easily have programmed the teleporters to operate if you chose to bounce into them?

Whilst it looks impressive, and by no means is it a bad game, Omega Orb is a slave to its quirks rather than being positively improved by them. In fact, they needlessly complicate the graphic adventure format and make it much less user-friendly than, say, Palace Of Magic or The Golden Figurine. It was available from both Audiogenic and Atlantis and, if you fancy trying to help Blip make sure those stricken humans finally make it on their holidays, either version usually goes now for around £4 second hand.

Dave E

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