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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (42104)
Written on  :  Aug 25, 2021
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Excellent and addictive at the same time.

The Good

Ever since their inception in the early Eighties, Ocean Software has produced a handful of licensed games and arcade conversions. They tried and failed with original titles such as Mr. Wimpy and The Chinese Juggler. Their next title after that is Hunchback, and in my opinion, the game is pretty much faithful to its arcade parent.

The game opens up with Robin Hood (oops, I mean Quasimodo) jumping his way toward the starting point. You are trying desperately to rescue Esmeralda, but various screens full of obstacles stand between the two of you. Correct timing and precision are required to get past most of these, and a knight is chasing you to make sure you get a move on. A new screen appears once you ring the bell, and it appears below the orange line in the status bar; manage to get five of these and you will likely be awarded an extra life. A small map in the bottom-left corner shows your current position from Esmeralda. If you leave the game idle on the title screen, you are actually treated with a short attract mode, which ends with the text “featuring The Bells” as if the bells themselves are actually a music group.

While Quasi is getting to his starting point, the game shows you some of the screens you can expect to get through. In the first of these, you are just running toward the bell, jumping over a single fireball en route. The next screen after this has you swinging to the other side where a bell awaits. Timing is crucial to avoid falling down into the pit below. On screen three are gaps in the ramparts you need to jump over. In screen four, now the same gaps are occupied by knights that stick their lances up in the air. Screen five features the same knights with a fireball coming toward you. Screen six is the same as the second. In screen seven, you have to immediately jump to avoid the arrow coming at you from the left. Subsequent screens after this one are a mixture of these obstacles.

One thing that I like about the game is the ability to change direction while you are jumping; if you are jumping over an obstacle while facing right, and you are afraid that you won’t make it, you can turn left.

The graphics in the C-64 version are much better than its arcade parent, and I am glad that the game’s developer has put so much detail into it. Although inappropriate to the game’s theme, the rendition of “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is quite nice. The effect that plays when arrows or fireballs appear is akin to someone lighting a cigarette lighter. The lack of speech synthesis (as heard in the arcade version) is understandable, given that Hunchback was released long before the ESS became a thing.

The game is addictive. I found myself having just one more go in an attempt to get past the screen that has given me the most trouble. A colorful high score table is well presented, showing entries restricted to three initials. The further you get through the screens, the more chance that you get to enter your name.

The Bad

I could not find any faults about this game.

The Bottom Line

Hunchback is a great game from Ocean, in which you have to navigate screen after screen, avoiding obstacles, in an attempt to rescue your sweetheart. The graphics and sound are great, and it is highly addictive. Several rip-offs of the game were made to capitalize on its success, but most of them are crap. Definitely a title well worth checking out if you have a C-64 handy.