Written by  :  Wurtzly (1072)
Written on  :  Jul 20, 2017
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars
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Summary

Commodore awesomeness

The Good

So, when Gradius/Nemesis got ported to--EDIT eh, let's just focus on Delta.

A well crafted shootemup homegrown in the Commodore scene! The game is produced by Thalamus, a reputable company delivering quality C64 releases. Delta (or whoever calls it Delta Patrol) is created by Stavros Fasoulas, known for his excellent coding and graphics in his games. Last but not least, there is the aural wizardry of Rob Hubbard.

THE GRAPHICS. It may look a bit barren at first (good ole space, ya know). The objects are well pixellated. There is perhaps a bit much of metallic grayness, but there are spots of colors to relief. Nice effects like the star field or the (for some reason) always rotating main ship. Smooth 50 FPS scrolling and sprite movement is granted as it should be.

MUSIC. SID chip plus Rob Hubbard equals sheer awesome.

C64 games released on tape usually have some tunes playing while the tedious process of loading is going on for several minutes. With the previous Thalamus shootemup game, Rob Hubbard made legend with the Sanxion Loader. This time, the Delta loader is not just a single tune, rather jukebox where you can mix your own music. Pick from a selection of short loops for melodies, bass lines, beats, and effects, they can be combined as you wish.

After the game loaded, you are greeted with the cool main theme. It is inspired by the soundtrack of an art movie called Koyaanisqatsi, but made much more blasting and actiony. During gameplay the sound effects are pretty uninteresting on the long run. If you press F5 at the main menu, they can be traded for some enchanting atmospheric music that is both very dinamic and slowly keeps evolving. All the tunes serve the game's purposes well, and also are a blast to listen to in themselves. they can make the most boring and tiresome household chores feel like heroic deeds.

THE GAMEPLAY. It keeps introducing new elements as it goes on (you may take this granted, but after checking out a bunch of shootemups, I don't). Some environments might repeat, but the gameplay evolves and has a lot to offer trough its 32 stages. No everlasting boss-fights with oversized bullet-sponges, instead there are some interesting enemy formations and some regular big enemies troughout the levels.

You have 3 lives and die by one hit, but at least you don't loose your upgrades. Neither are you put back to the beginning of the level, instead you just have to face the creatures or hazards that killed you previously. This spares a good deal of unnecessary repetition.

Hit detection works well and is forgiving to your favour.

Your ship starts up almost uselessly slow and weak, but if you don't miss the proper power-ups that are in places to be expected, you have good chances. The more you collect from a kind of power-up, the more that skill levels up.

A Note on the power-ups. They are to be found at the sections of gray blocks with icons on them. The gray blocks themselves cannot be picked up, and you can crash into them. If you destroyed the appropriate enemy formations. Some of the gray blocks will turn blue. Those are the ones to be picked up, but only one in every block section, the other ones turn back to gray.

Somewhere to mention that F1 in the main menu toggles between single player and two player mode. This is not simultaneous, the players take rounds.

The Bad

You can have either sound effects or music, but not both during gameplay. Why is this a thing in so many C64 games?

When you pick up power-ups, the icon of the skill that is improving gets animated for short while at the bottom of the screen. It starts working only AFTER the animation stopped. This gets me killed sometimes, thinking I already have increased power when not yet.

It takes long to get to the part where it becomes positively challenging, and 3 lives may not be enough to be able to explore the real depth of this game. Until that, it may come across as a bland repeat-and-memorize game that could be played blindfolded after you learned the levels. And one has to be a very hardcore professional to get beyond level 20-something, even with earned extra lives.

It's a feature, but still, it's so mean when some enemy formations punish you by degrading your firepower if you shoot them.

The Bottom Line

A generally little known game, but an insidious cult classic among hardcore C64 enthusiasts, that hold its secrets.