Saturday 23 May 2015

Lock 'n' Chase (Intellivision review)

Developer: Data East
Publisher: Mattel
Released: 1982

Lock 'n' Chase is a clone of the Arcade classic Pac-Man with a few unique gameplay elements thrown in for good measure.

You start off with five lives and you play a thief who is attempting to rob a bank. Your character automatically moves forward and you need to guide him around the maze, collect all the gold coins while avoiding the police and then reach the flashing exit to complete the level. Like in Pac-Man there are special items that occasionally appear (i.e. cash bags, hats, crowns) that will net you bonus points and you can also use the side-doors to escape the cops. The main thing that sets Lock 'n' Chase apart is that you can temporarily close two doors behind you by pressing the Side buttons on the controller; this adds some real strategy to the game as not only can you use it to deter or trap the police, you can also barricade yourself into a safe zone if you're skilled enough! The A.I. is pretty intelligent and they tend to swarm on you in packs rather than as individuals. Although there are four skill levels which affect the speed of the action each is very challenging and it's unlikely that you'll breeze through the first couple of levels without lots of practice. The Intellivision controller doesn't help matters as the directional disc isn't precise enough for making quick turns and it's easy to (for example) accidentally press Up-Left instead of Left meaning your commands are sometimes ignored. This is a hardware fault though and the actual game is great fun to play; the action is smooth and it's exhilarating when you manage to shut a door behind several cops who are hot on your tail! The sound effects are decent but the constant alarm noise does get a bit annoying after a while!

Lock 'n' Chase is an excellent example of a developer using the Pac-Man template and then adding some unique features to enhance the gameplay. While the Intellivision controller is an unavoidable issue the rest of the experience is top notch and the arcade action is perfect for high score chasers.

Random trivia: A handheld version of Lock 'n' Chase appeared on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1990 and the original Arcade version was released on the PlayStation Network in 2010.

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