Monday 9 September 2019

Climber (Supervision review)

Developer: Bon Treasure
Publisher: Watara
Released: 1992

Climber is an action game programmed by Yin Yong Qiang, who also coded Delta Hero (1992, Supervision).

You play as a climber and the objective in each of the game's 15 stages is to reach the flag within three minutes. Enemies can be destroyed with your projectile (although fire and water pools must be avoided), and your character can scale walls by shooting anchor climbing tools into them. The level design is above-average and part of its allure is the fact that there's usually multiple routes to beating the stage; this gives the action a neat puzzle element which is great for players that like to beat their best times and rack up points. The gameplay initially shows promise too and for the first few levels the simple premise has an addictive 1980's Arcade-like quality that's aided by unlimited continues. By Stage 5 though, it adds in new mechanics that are required to succeed and unfortunately these aren't explained to the player in-game or in the manual (e.g. learning that you can purposely fall off a ledge and then use your jump mechanic at any time in the air). It's also never clear which blocks you can break with your tools to form a new path, leading to lots of wasted time. Furthermore, the game is let-down by sub-standard coding and the technical deficiencies on display here are really unforgivable. For starters, the controls are often unresponsive and your character usually needs some serious persuasion to turn on a dime; this is confounded further when too many sprites are on-screen, and to top it off there's frequently a mixture of slowdown and sprite flickering. The collision detection is also shoddy and you'll sometimes find yourself losing a life despite clear distance between yourself and an incoming enemy; on other occasions, your sprite will clip straight through an opponent while you safely walk away unharmed!

Climber is a solid concept with intriguing level design, but the dodgy coding really puts a dampener on the whole experience. Its appealing premise is majorly let-down by unintuitive gameplay and dreadful controls, and most times you lose a life will be the result of technical shortcomings rather than poor skill on behalf of the player.

Random trivia: The ending features an unintentionally hilarious screen that states: 'Man participated in this game'!

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