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Oil's Well (DOS)

Published by
Developed by
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37494)
Written on  :  Dec 26, 2013
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Run an oil-drilling operation – from your own home.

The Good

When the Eighties drew to a close, Sierra started remaking their old games. Most of them were adventures that were made around 1986 or 1987, but there were only a few of their arcade games that got the remake treatment, and one of them was Oil's Well.

It is an addictive arcade game where you control a robotic arm trying to mine oil in the underground tunnels, but stopping you from doing this are bugs that roam around the tunnels. Before any of these come in contact with the arm, which will result in a loss of life, the arm must get back up to the level and destroy these bugs with the drill. The gameplay is similar to Pac-Man, in the way the oil is laid out.

The first thing that drew me into the game was the music. Starting from the title screen, soundtrack is brilliantly composed by Ken Allen, and blends in with the game's overall theme. There are cartoon-like sound effects that just sound good on the Roland MT-32. I can understand why there is no background music while you're busy drilling; with it, you would not hear the sound of your drilling machine. Besides, it is consistent with the original game, made at a time where you just don't hear background music.

The graphics are excellent. The oil rig at the top of the screen is well designed, and each underground tunnel is laid out nicely. There are many tunnels, and once you get to the bottom most tunnel, it's hard to come back up if the critters are about to come in contact with a piece of your drill. There are also patterns within the underground tunnels, instead of them just being a solid color. For example, level one contains a pile of rocks surrounded by brown dirt. The creatures are animated nicely and are drawn nicely.

In between levels are humorous cartoon sequences starring a dinosaur-like creature called Slater, and he was popular enough to star in his own game, Slater & Charlie Go Camping. There are eight cartoons, and they basically show the oil drill interrupting one of Slader's daily activities. I enjoyed watching each cartoon, and I wish that there was more than eight. It is also a coincidence in the last cartoon that the limo has the words “Oils Well That Ends Well”, which happens to be my review's summary for the original game.

Controlling the arm is really simple. You don't use the up arrow key as well; all you need to use the down arrow to move the arm through the tunnels, and space to retract it. The space bar is perfect for dealing with some creatures that are crawling at a previous depth than you.

The Bad

Why do the creatures change color? It looks really strange.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Oil's Well is an excellent update to the original 1983 classic, with great sound, graphics, and the same gameplay that made gamers have “just one more go”. There's even a high score that allows them to see what the scores of their previous games were, then try to beat them.