Everygamegoing


Stormcycle

Author: Dave E
Publisher: Atlantis
Machine: BBC/Electron

 
Published in EGG #013: Acorn Electron

Stormcycle

This game has absolutely nothing to do with storms or cycles and is a fairly run-of-the-mill graphic adventure with one or two quirks. The backstory on the inlay is needlessly complicated but it can be summarised as a quest for shiny diamond things which must be picked up (with key P) and carried back to your house and dropped (with key D). There are five diamonds to collect so you'll have to find them all and work out how to return them home as quickly as possible.

As in most graphic adventures, Stormcycle is in flick-screen style, so as you exit one room on the right, you enter the next room on the left. Unlike in most graphic adventures, each room is awash with nasties that do not roam in set patterns. Instead, they constantly enter the room. They come in from each side of the screen, and on some screens, they appear without warning in the middle of it too.

To fight them off your warrior has a knife which he doesn't so much swing as extend. It's almost like a very wide, red, flick-knife. When an enemy gets too close, you hit Fire, extend the weapon and the enemy will be vapourised. The problem is that there are lots of nasties and you can only extend the weapon in the direction you're facing. If your timing is off, or you find yourself in the unfortunate position where an enemy is coming at you from the front and another enemy is coming at you from behind, you'll take some damage. At the bottom of the screen is a health bar which decreases with each hit.

Stormcycle

There are oxygen packs scattered around the playing area which restore even the most depleted health to full when collected. They need to be used strategically so they are not wasted.

The thing about Stormcycle is that it's a manic game. It's not the sort of graphic adventure where you can scratch your head and logically deduce where to go and what to do. The attacks are relentless from the moment it starts and, every time you do vapourise someone standing in your way, another nasty comes charging in to replace him. The nasties don't seem to follow you from room to room, but you can't "flick-screen" them away either - if you enter a room, decide it looks a bit hairy and retreat then enter it again, the nasties in there just remain in the same place!

It's practically impossible to get through a screen without taking at least some damage, no matter how practised at playing the game you are. When health decreases to zero, it's not actually game over though; you have three lives. The trouble is that despite all those oxygen packs and despite all those lives, it's still hard to play the game.

Stormcycle

One of the worst features of Stormcycle is the jump. In most graphic adventures, jumping is easy and you don't even think twice about it. However, in Stormcycle the speed at which you jump is determined by the speed at which you were moving when you pressed the jump key. Yes, confusing, isn't it? A bit like a car gearing up, when your warriors starts to run in one direction or another, he takes a fraction of a second to get "up to speed". So if he's standing stock-still and you press left and jump together, he does a very small jump. If you take a run up and press left and jump together, he does a much longer jump.

This dinamic really throws you off when you have to jump pits of spikes. You either end up jumping straight into them by accident, or sailing right over them and uncontrollably crashing into some other foe. Spikes don't just deplete energy either, they kill you stone dead instantly.

There's also something a bit tedious about having to retrace your steps back to your house with every diamond you find.

Overall, I don't find Stormcycle to be total rubbish. It's a competently programmed game - very fast, different enough that it feels like its own genre of graphic adventure and the teleporters and objects lend it enough variety that it beckons me in for the odd play. It's actually the sort of game where you play it, get frustrated due to lack of progress, turn it off and then decide a few weeks later to give it another chance... and the cycle repeats.

It was released in 1989 as one of Atlantis' budget titles and only cost £2. The classy packaging, as long as the superior game within it, have seen quite respectable second-hand prices for these games and Stormcycle now sells for around £4-£5 if you want to track it down.

Dave E

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