Recommended Gaming: MAME GP32
Bagman was not a particularly common game back in the early 80's, but everyone knew what it was and you'd sometimes find a machine out the back with the other 'too hard' games. I tried to get into it on several occasions, but it was a pretty tough game and still is. The level design spans across three screens and I don't think I ever actually completed the first level! In fact I'm pretty sure that I never saw anyone achieve this feat, it really is a tough title to get good at. Luckily, thanks to Franxis' work with MameGP32 we can all get some practice in. I've played the game a dozen or so times in the last month and I still haven't cracked that first level, though I have gotten through to the third section so there's hope for me.
Despite the difficulty it's a really neat little game. You play a thief in a mine, running around trying to collect bags of loot. Bring the bags up to the surface and toss them into the wheelbarrow. You're chased by a couple of cops, who can team up to cut off escape. The characters all move quite slowly, especially you when you're carrying a bag of ill-gotten gains. The cops can run you down at this point so it pays sometimes to drop the bag and make a run for it. Control is simple: an 8-way joystick and single button (which performs several tasks). As you pass a bag hit the button to pick it up. To ride (or avoid, they're deadly if they hit you) the mine carts, look for the hand-holds in the ceiling. Place the thief below the hand-hold, hit the button and you'll grip the ceiling for as long as you need. Hit the button again as the mine cart passes to drop into it and get a free ride. You can exit the cart at any point by running off the back of it, climbing a ladder as you pass, or if you time it right you can grab a handhold as you pass. The elevators are a useful way to get bags to the surface as they move quite quickly. Notice that you can drop a bag on a cop if he's following you up a ladder. The cop will just be knocked out for a while, so do what you have to do and high-tail it out of there. You can drop bags into carts too if that helps your strategy. There are a few pick-axes dotted about, grab one of these to knock out a cop donkey-kong style. But they have another purpose too: you'll find a blue bag of gold in the second screen that's behind a wall. Demolish the wall with the pick-axe and grab that bag, it's worth a serious bonus. But we careful, it's twice as heavy as the regular bags and slows you down even more. The pick-axe will disappear after a while unless you drop it, so if you don't need it drop it, you may need it again later. Once you've gotten all the bags on the first screen to the wheelbarrow at the surface, grab it (with the button) and push it to the second screen. You can move the wheelbarrow at any time, so placing it close to a ladder or elevator will make your work a lot easier when bringing bags up. The cops can be lured into areas by placing the thief where they can 'see' him, that is to say vertically or horizontally in line with him. You can use this to good effect to buy time and get bags to the surface. As you ride a cart the cops can't get you, but they will still follow you so be careful when leaping out of the cart close to a screen border, the cop may be about to appear behind you! You can use the pick-axe to make the cop reverse his course as he runs away from you, then drop it for later and quickly take an elevator. Note that as the game progresses the cops get a bit quicker, so it's usually better to collect the bags from the bottom first so you'll have less distance to travel to the wheelbarrow later. Speaking of the wheelbarrow, if you place it over a ladder while a cop is ascending, you'll knock him all the way to the bottom of the shaft when he touches it. It's a cool trick to buy time. You can put the wheelbarrow on an elevator too, to make bringing bags to it a lot quicker. Note the slope on some horizontal shafts: if you drop a bag it will slide down the slope, taking out a cop with it. There are a few bugs in Bagman that can be exploited. You can ride slightly to the side of elevators to make your getaway quicker. If you're on the edge between two screens flick back and forth between them, sometimes it'll stun cops in either screen and sometime it'll reset the elevators.
Have a go at Bagman and see if you can work some new strategies, it's a tough game but once you get the hang of it's nuances you'll keep coming back to it.
You'll find Bagman in the Classics foolder of MameGP32. It likes frameskip 1 with the sound on and is very playable with these settings.
Reviewed by: Alyinsanfran