Monday 30 November 2015

Antarctic Adventure (Colecovision review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: 1984

Antarctic Adventure is an auto-scrolling platformer that was first released on the MSX in 1983.

You play as a penguin and the objective is to reach the ice station in all ten stages before time runs out. While automatically moving along the level you control your speed by pressing Up or Down, as well as jumping over ice crevasses and seals that slow you down when hit. Bonus points are awarded for any seconds you have remaining and you can also increase your score by collecting flags and leaping fish. The gameplay reminds me of Slalom (1987, NES) as the levels constantly scroll along while testing your reactions and decision making. The controls are very responsive and I like that you don't have to keep pressing Up when your penguin hits top speed. Despite the cutesy graphics the game can get hard depending on how you choose to play. For example, trying to gain the highest possible score by collecting every item puts you in awkward positions and the levels are designed so that following these routes puts you in harms way. Disregarding the bonus points and simply rushing to the exit will get you further but it still becomes highly challenging around Stage 5 with multiple ice crevasses lined up in a row. As you advance to later stages the draw distance becomes a real annoyance as seals don't appear until the last second; this makes them very difficult to avoid and it feels cheap as you're not given adequate time to prepare your move. There's also little variety in both the level design and environments which means that the action gets repetitive quicker than it should. There is some music during gameplay but the same track repeats over and over again!

Antarctic Adventure's lack of variety is a real shame as improving the level design and adding further enemy types would have made it much more enjoyable. However, the gameplay is decent and it's certainly worth a look if you like early Arcade platformers.

Random trivia: The game has been re-released several times including on the Wii Virtual Console (2007) and the Windows Store in Japan (2014).

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