Saturday 2 August 2014

Hammer Boy (C64 review)

Developer: Pablo Toledo
Publisher: Dinamic Software
Released: 1991

Hammer Boy is a tower defence game where you have to defend your fort, ship and castle from hordes of incoming enemies.

It was released in 1991 by Spanish publishers Dinamic Software who also brought out titles such as Astro Marine Corps (Amstrad CPC) and Risky Woods (Mega Drive). This C64 game is very similar to Vermin from the Game & Watch series in that enemies try to invade your base and it's up to you to suppress them by hitting them with your trusty hammer. It consists of three levels which take place in a desert, on-sea and on your castle grounds. There's a timer in the top-right corner and this represents how long you have to survive wave after wave of attacks before the level is complete. I was having a great time until I realised that the levels loop once you've completed them with no variety added to the gameplay. For some reason the levels don't get tougher the more you play; in fact, I struggled to actually lose lives and gave up on my 8th or 9th loop! This is really disappointing as high-score games shouldn't stay in the first difficulty setting for their entirety. Although your character has mediocre animation the rest of the game is beautiful, in particular the ship level with its waving flags, enemies rowing towards you and rival ships blasting cannons from the background. The music is dull and will likely grate on you within the first couple of minutes. The SFX are your standard arcade-style sounds but weirdly the music cuts out every time one is played.

Hammer Boy won't blow you away but it's a title you'll find yourself returning to occasionally. It's such a shame that more development time wasn't available (see random trivia below) as the addition of more levels / gameplay mechanics would have made this a stand-out title in the C64 library.

Random trivia: The game has since been dismissed by coder Pablo Toledo. On the Lemon 64 website, he admitted that he made it "just because I needed money and Dinamic almost didn't pay me!" He also said that the entire game was coded in only one month.

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