Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Recommended Gaming: MAME GP32

Mr Do!
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Mr Do came out in 1982, soon after Dig Dug. It was a lot cuter and had deeper gameplay, but many people still preferred Dig Dug, I think because that's a more straightforward game. Mr Do however is an easy game to pick up and play once you understand gameplay mechanics, making for an excellent 'quicky' GP32 session. Controls are a 4-way joystick and fire button.
Your character is a circus clown, and you can dig through each level. You carry a 'powerball' you can throw at any time. It bounces it's way around passages, but it's a little tricky to predict exactly where it's bounce will take it when it comes to a junction. It'll just keep bouncing around till it hits an enemy or returns to you. If it hits an enemy it'll take a couple of seconds to respawn in your hands. Each time you kill a monster it'll take a little longer to respawn. Scattered around are cherries, eat all these or clear the level of monsters and the level ends. Apples are also scattered about, if you drop these on to a monster you'll kill him. The same applies to an apple dropped on you unfortunately, so be wary. Note that an apple does not have to be at the very edge of a precipice to be pushed over the edge: you can push them as far as you like horizontally until they come up against an obstacle. Also, it may appear that a thin wall separates the apple from a precipice (a good example can be seen to the left of the main verical shaft on the first level), but you can in fact push them right though this thin wall. Very useful fact to know, as the monsters cannot go through walls at all (though they change to 'diggers' if they get stuck behind an apple for a while, then they'll come after you no matter the barrier). Also note you can drop apples a single shaft height, which may help you to block monsters and then push the lot, apple and all, over a precipice. In the centre of the screen a treat will appear, eat this and all monsters will freeze, making them easy to pick off if you're in a hurry to clear the level. But in addition new monsters will appear, 4 'blue chompers' and a single 'alphamonster'. The alphamonster has a letter of the word EXTRA printed on him. If you kill 5 alphamonsters you'll get an extra life. You don't need to kill all the blue chompers, just go for the alphamonster and once you nail him all the blue chompers will turn into apples and the level will return to normal (the monsters will unfreeze). The alphamonsters will continue to appear, cycling through the letters.
There are many strategies in Mr Do, but basically when I play I stick to a tried and tested method: kill all but one or two monsters and then go for the food to spawn an alphamonster. Concentrate on him, pick him off, wait for another to spawn (trying to not end the level by killing the last monster), repeat until you get the EXTRA.
Note also sometimes a diamond will appear. Collect this and the level ends, though I have no idea what makes it spawn. Maybe someone out there knows?
I really enjoy Mr Do, it's a game that rewards an understanding of cause and effect, insomuch as you can change gameplay by triggering events.
You'll find it in the Classics folder of MameGP32, and it runs very nicely with sound if you give it just a little frameskip.

Reviewed by: Alyinsanfran

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Recommended Gaming: Yo! Noid (NES)

Does anyone remember Domino's Pizza's mascot, The Noid? The Noid was a funny guy in a red suit who liked to steal people's pizza in the late 80's and early 90's. Like most commercial mascots, he eventually went the way of the dodo. Remember Little Caesar? But, at least they released an excellent NES platformer based on The Noid before his untimely demise.

The game is fairly basic, but still with some depth. Your goal is to make it to the end of each level and get to the pizza eating contests. You have a yoyo that you use as an offensive weapon and collect scrolls for your special attack. There are small scrolls that are only used to collect power, and Large scrolls that can be used for more power, or you can hit them with the yoyo to open them up for different special attacks.

There are many different levels, each a little different than the previous, but all fun. The first level is at the docks, they move up & down and water fills the lower portions so you have to time your jumps correctly. Other levels include an ice skating rink, a skateboarding level, sewers, a flying level and more.

There are bonus pizza eating contests between stages, where you have to beat out another Noid in a sort of card game. It really helps to break the monotony that some platformers get stuck with.

I really like the music in this game. It's simple, yet very upbeat & catchy. The sound effects are also good considering the NES' limited capabilities.

Yo! Noid is an unexpected classic, that brings back some nostalgic memories of funny childhood commercials. Not that I'd expect a "Where's the Beef?" game to be any good or anything, but it sure beats the hell out of McDonaldland! Anyway, I recommend this game to anyone who likes good 8-bit platformers, it's a pleasant surprise!

Yo! Noid plays well in LittleJohn with standard, default settings.