Reply To: First impressions
Ah, I grew up with Apogee and id’s games, so there’s so much I can say about this one 🙂
I’m trying to think back to the first time I saw episode 1 – it was after I’d already seen episode 4, so I remember thinking it looked a bit primitive as well. This is particularly true if you compare it with something like Sierra’s King’s Quest V, which came out the same year and looks absolutely spectacular. Shareware games lagged behind the curve for a long time until the landmark release of Doom, and Apogee would stick to EGA for a shockingly long time – well into 1992 at least. It’s important to remember, though, that this was the first side-scrolling platform game that the PC had ever seen – nothing approaching a Mario-style platformer had been possible before id worked out how to massage the graphics support of the time to do it efficiently, so this was a major milestone. (But yes, fair point that this was already a whole five years after Mario.)
From what I remember, episode 2 was the best out of the trilogy, with new elements like turning the lights on and off affecting the behaviour of enemies, and puzzle-like parts with clearing bonuses to route the little robots you can stand on to where you want them to go. The level designs really are punishing throughout, though – just one slip (or running into a really fast enemy you couldn’t see coming like the ninjas or jumping Vorticons) can set you back an awfully long way, and for less frustration, the game could really do with mid-level saving (something that was added in Goodbye Galaxy).
The quality noticeably drops in episode 3 and the levels tend towards very large copy and paste mazes – see the cave levels in particular here, and the way that the large apartment-style map’s upper left portion is mistakenly completely walled off! It seems like they were in a rush to finish it.
But still, it’s always going to be one of those games I admire from childhood, even though it might have rough edges today 🙂