Transmuter (Atari 8-bit)

missing cover art
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Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Wurtzly (1084)
Written on  :  May 03, 2014
Platform  :  Atari 8-bit
Rating  :  2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars
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Summary

The equivalent of rubbing salt into a wound

The Good

Hmm, let's see, I could do this in a few words, but I can go into a dramatic depth.

It's a low budget clone of Nemesis (aka Gradius). That sounds like one of the most trivial things ever... except for Atari 800 users. There is a disturbing lack of scrolling games on a system that was to compete with the Commodore 64, NES, et cetera. Even the less than capable ZX Spectrum fared better. So, a game like this theoretically COULD have been be more than welcome in this scene.

But let's turn around the previous thinking. I like Gradius partly because there is life to it. There is a sense of adventure, like you are going somewhere and meet with curious creatures (hostile ones, but hey). Surely, Gradius is not the apex of all of this, still it's set up in a way that makes sense in its own little world. The other part is that the challenge comes from good design. Not just random objects bombarding you randomly over a useless random backdrop, like 90% of shootemups were at the time. I've got a feeling that this game COULD deliver at least a fraction of Gradius experience. This meeting with the unique aesthetics of the Atari 8-bitters COULD have been great.

Oh, almost forgot, the music and sound was done by David Whittaker, so it at least sounds like it COULD be a good game. But why they wasted David Whittaker on this?

The Bad

HOW ON EARTH DO YOU MAKE A SHOOTEMUP AND IGNORE ALL THE STRENGTH OF THE ATARI 8-BIT HARDWARE!? THE GAME ENGINE IS A TOTAL JOKE!

What they did is, took the assets of the ZX Spectrum, and did a little effort to make it work. Imagine the Spectrum graphics, in a blocky low resolution, with even less colors, all a choppy, slowly moving, ugly mess. Hit detection? It exists. Sometimes.

Look at that lame title screen. I assume those agonized looking faces in the bottom are the faces of the people who bought this game.

The Bottom Line

Such a wasted potential. I can say that there is a game under the crud, but you have to try very hard to pretend it's acceptable. At least there is Zybex to redeem a little. There are also some recent homebrew Atari 800 shootemups that are technically impressive, but they still don't cut it.