goes bubble bouncing and popping, for lack of
a better description...
decade-old former shareware game written in
GFA BASIC can't be all that good, right? Not
so this little platform romp by French coder
Tobe, recently re-released for free and already
on its way to SuperFly-like cult status. Now
I've stopped playing it long enough to write
something about it, here's the scoop: you run
around jumping, collecting shiny things and
avoiding spiky things. Typical platform fodder? Yes, but there's a
twist to the way in which it's done, especially
with regard to the travelling upwards bit.
of that later. It's a whole game based on a bonus level
in an even older game called Cool Spot, apparently.
can say is that I picked it up in about two
minutes, and I mildly resent having
to put it down to write this.
any kind of story or background, there isn't
any. The very basic mechanics of the game are
similar to pinball, in that if you don't keep
up your control of the game, the object you
control (in this case a little character that
looks remarkably like a ball) falls to the bottom
of the playfield. To defy gravity you have to
jump onto the bubbles scattered around, causing
them to burst, but they become replenished after
a few seconds. That way, if you find yourself
missing a bubble on your upward travel and suddenly
falling back down, you can be sure there will
be bubbles below to bounce you back up. They're
strategically arranged so you can easily shoot
to the top and from side to side, collecting
those aforementioned shiny things as well as
money and time credits to prolong the countdown
bubbles and their one-way action also make for
some potential little brain teasers on the way,
like bonus items buried beneath bubbles,
so you have to somehow approach from below,
sometimes having to bounce diagonally to reach
the desired item.
wouldn't go as far as to say it has a great
physics engine, but the motion and dynamics
just feel right, it's hugely satisfying to
bounce between the bubbles in rapid succession
like a chain reaction. This
makes just playing the game like driving for
fun (or maybe more like trampolining?),
though there are some game objectives as well.
everything is nicely presented, nothing Earth-shattering.
The full-screen scrolling is quite fast and
variable speed to give a real sense of acceleration
and deceleration, though
the frame updates look a little coarse by STE
standards, and the screens don't look very
colourful. Given the limitations of programming
such a game in BASIC, I'm glad that priority
was given to the movement and control response,
rather than compromising that by trying to push
lots of colour or make it scroll smoothly.
At times, the
blandness of the backgrounds slightly hinders
the game when some more imaginative design would
have made helped navigation. Good thing none
of the levels is so large so as to cause lost
sheep syndrome, the pace always keeps you on
Backing up the
visuals is a technically competent if not particularly
catchy tune, though one has to bear in mind
the chap was only 14 years old when he wrote
it, using fat humming bass and razor-sharp synth
lead sounds. Frankly, it wipes the floor with
many a commercial blip-blop trash effort of
the era and shows what the ST can really do.
Sound effects are limited to short samples of
bubble popping noises, funny squeaks from Roger
himself, and a cartoon-like spring sound (which,
when running under Steem, doesn't play until
he lands - though I haven't checked this
on the latest version yet).
Overall, this is a star find,
thoroughly enjoyable despite little niggles.
Download it now and prepare to lose a couple
of hours in your first session. After that,
set an alarm clock to remind you to eat and wash
- forget about sleeping. We'll be playing
this one at JagFest UK for sure. Did I mention
it was written in GFA BASIC?
STE, 1 MB minimum
- Runs from hard disk
- Strong "One
more go" factor
a wobbly if started
from wrong resolution