(Cover art: Darrren Blackburn)
Astroball Demo (1992) (Balor Knight).sad (not yet approved)
A fiendishly addictive, yet simple concept.
You control a bouncing ball, set in space. The object is to collect the coins and power-ups by bouncing from platform to platform. If you fall to the bottom of the map you die, if you hit a spike or other nasty, you also lose.
Once all the coins have been collected, the exit will be enabled which was generally at the top of the map. By adjusting your bounce and direction, you carefully work your way to the exit.
Originally written for the Spectrum, but was never released.
Temporarily, the freeware demo of Astroball is attached
Your Sinclair review, courtesy of The YS Rock ‘n’ Roll Years.
In Astroball you have the simple task of bouncing around a scrolling world from platform to platform, collecting the required number of coins, and then getting to the exit (normally near the top of the level). The bottom of the map is deadly to the touch (unless you have the invincible bonus) and so are the spikes that litter some levels.
Also, some platforms have the unhealthy habit of flicking in and out of existance, quite often leaving you to plummet to a messy death below. So timing is of the essence in this game, especially since the bonuses flick between 4 states quite rapidly, and some levels may become impossible (impassible) if you collect the bonus in the wrong state.
So, the game is simple, but it is also deceptively hard, and some levels will require tens of tries before you can pass them, and it’s here that Balor has made his fatal mistake. Instead of giving you, say, 3 continues, he opted for infinite. This means that with a bit of patience you will complete the game first time you load it up (I did), and this means you probably won’t come back to it.
This is an awful pity, as I can honestly say it is THE most addictive game I have EVER played. And a bit more thought would have meant that instead of relying on people to be self-restricting when it came to continues, the players would have been forced to start again at regular points.
Again, a typical case of rushing the game out so that early SAM owners had something they could play.
|Graphics||71%||Simple and uninspired. But it doesn’t matter, as they work.|
|Instant Appeal||95%||Hoists you up by your pants and breathes ‘play me’ softly into your ear.|
|Sound||65%||Blip-blop. Big wow…|
|Overall||87%||Why only 87%? Because of the blimmin’ infinite continues!|
This game impressed Probe Software so much, they gave the author a job writing PC games.
Certain phrases are converted to hidden messages in the high score table.
Looking at a dump of the SAM version of Astroball it seems the messages are in plain-text but, unlike the Speccy version, the message triggers are encrypted. The encryption is very basic - simply the ASCII code + 1. Here are the triggers and messages in the SAM version:
|CHEAT …||WOULDNT YOU LOVE TO KNOW!..|
|FUCK ….||TALKING TO ME. EHH!|
|HELLO …||HI THERE…|
|ESI …..||GET REAL!!!|
|SHIT ….||IT SEEMS THAT YOU ARE.. YES INDEED!!!|
|ASTROBALL||CLEARLY THE GREATEST GAME IN EXISTANCE.. HA!|
|HELP ….||ERM.. GO ON A DIET!|
|ASTROKING||NOT THIS TIME MATE!!|
|CHRISP ..||RESTART BOY!!!!!!|
|BALOR …||THE LORD AND RULER OVER ALL MANKIND!!!|
|JADEL …||THE SOURCE OF MY INSPIRATION!!!!|
Most are obvious. JADEL refers to the then girlfriend of Balor Knight. ASTROKING is reference to the cheat-mode trigger on the Speccy version. I’m assuming CHRISP refers to Chris Pile, the other half of Digital Reality - not sure what the message to this trigger signifies though.