Forums > Game Forums > Baal > Another game I wanted and didn't play till later, but turns out I missed out on a pretty good game.
Andrew Fisher (693) on 3/23/2023 4:25 AM · edited · Reply · Permalink · Report
This game would have been hell as a kid with no online help, programmer Wayne Smithson had some very strange ideas about combat, you inexplicably can't crouch or lay down to duck enemy fire or to destroy four legged opponents and mines. To do that you have to climb down a ladder a little way. Hmmm. The biggest "fuck you" though is how the enemies respawn, not going on a timer, but by the computer determining you've left their area and returned. He clearly didn't refine this system, each enemy's area is so narrow that some times they will respawn the second after you kill them and you absolutely can't afford to waste laser, if your shield doesn't run out causing life loss first, your laser will and unless you’re lucky and near a recharge point you'll be stuck with no option but to lose a life to get your laser back!
It's a shame though about these major faults as underneath them is fun and exciting problem solving and strategy learning. I loved finding and destroying the generators, then discovering which force field was knocked out. Some of the generators are quite cleverly hidden and I appreciated that challenge. I thought the recharge stations which refill your laser and shield gauge did quite a bit to offset the difficulties. Finding the weapon cartridges to increase the power of your laser helped a lot too, very satisfying to be able to kill or destroy things in fewer hits. The jetpack system was horrible and there absolutely should have been a map either in game or hard-copy to help you find each docking point. If that wasn't bad enough, you fly all over the docking station, but won't bloody well dock unless you're at a very precise point. And even more, you can be trapped in an area with not enough jetpack fuel to fly to another dock, losing a life won't regenerate the fuel, so it's game over and this happened to me in the first cavern when I'd just collected all the ten weapon parts and was ready to go to the teleporter! Absolutely no shame in using save states, even they won't necessarily save you from these dead ends (unless you've saved at multiple slots). Like a lot of old games, with save states you can you can actually appreciate Baal. Without them the game is a waste of precious life.
P.S. this refers to the DOS port which came after the Atari ST and Amiga original game, which were the same as DOS except of course more colour and better sound, I'll note that they had different title themes, Atari's was kind of rock/metal, Amiga's was electronica/house. However they had an apparent bug where the generator powering the upper-most force field in the second cavern(green) can't be destroyed no matter how many times you shoot it, in any weapon mode. Luckily there's also a bug that allows you get the final weapon-part behind the force field that involves falling to your death and catching the part on the way down. The generator bug was fixed in the DOS game.
MaryRobinson on 4/29/2023 12:55 PM · Reply · Permalink · Report
Yes, I agreed with you it's interesting.
jegv on 5/11/2023 10:31 AM · Reply · Permalink · Report
Man, I feel you on this. I swear, sometimes Wayne Smithson's design choices made me want to pull my hair out! The respawn system, the dodgy jetpack mechanics, ugh. But the puzzle-solving bits and finding those hidden generators - loved that stuff. Save states were my lifeline too. It's a rollercoaster of a game, no doubt. Atari's rock/metal theme was my jam! And yeah, those bug fixes in the DOS port were a relief. Talk about a game of highs and lows.
Andrew Fisher (693) on 5/11/2023 10:59 AM · Reply · Permalink · Report
Yeah glad you enjoyed it too even with the faults :D
JanieKenyon on 5/15/2023 7:36 AM · Reply · Permalink · Report
I agreed with you. Thanks for sharing it.