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Abductor (VIC-20)

Abductor VIC-20 Title screen.

MISSING COVER

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41060)
Written on  :  Sep 19, 2016
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
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Summary

Another great game from Jeff Minter

The Good

Abductor is an addictive shoot ‘em up by Jeff Minter, the hippie programmer behind other classics such as Attack of the Mutant Camels and Gridrunner. Some of the game mechanics are similar to Galaxian in the way that the aliens you have to deal with perform kamikaze attacks, and killing these aliens awards you with points. Minter decided to go one step further than this.

The game encourages you to keep an eye on everything that’s happening on the screen. Some of the aliens fly past the bottom of the screen only to re-emerge at the bottom, and you will lose a life if you get in the way. There are also six humanoids that you have to rescue at the bottom of the screen, and the aliens will try to capture all of them. When they do, they will fly the humanoids to the top of the screen where the aliens will eat them and spit their skulls out at you. You release them from their grasp by shooting at them. You lose the game if you allow all six humanoids to be eaten, no matter how many lives you have left.

It's easy to control your cannon. Like other games that were released around the time, moving the joystick left or right moves the cannon in the appropriate direction, while the fire button shoots the lasers.

The cover for the game is on par with other covers that have a similar design. On the front, a ship that looks way better than the ships you control has fired its cannons at the aliens; some of them green, while others are colorless, and the ship itself is set against two layers of terrain. There are some explosions in the middle of the invaders. On the back of the cover are some brief instructions as well as some legal mumbo-jumbo below that.

Like other games from Minter, Abductor is fast and frenetic. You may be doing well in the game, but blink and you may lose a life. The aliens take the humanoids to the top of the screen quite quickly, and since your ship is quite small, it’s quite easy to miss the humanoids. And even if you are in the right position, the aliens will most likely get in the way. The captured humanoids don’t re-emerge when you begin a new wave, unless you are willing to lose a life.

A big plus to the game is the way your ship is upgraded to a much bigger size once you reach the fourth wave. The ship is well designed, and its double cannon makes it easy to rescue humanoids, especially the one on the far left. I found that you cannot get the humanoid on the far left, so this larger ship is a blessing.

Although the animations are a bit choppy, I don't have a problem with that given the VIC-20’s limitations. The loading screen is laid out nicely, and it's a nice change from seeing loading bars while you wait for the game to load.

The Bad

Although it is much easier to rescue the humanoid on the far left, once you are equipped with the big ship, it’s hard to sandwich yourself between two groups of aliens, especially if you are trying to get back a humanoid.

The Bottom Line

This is a great game from Jeff Minter, and like many of his games, the gameplay is fast and frenetic and requires you to be aware of your surroundings if you want to succeed. The double cannon that you get if you survive long enough makes it easier to save the humanoids while dealing with the aliens. Arcade fanatics may be put off with the high difficulty even in the early stages, but if you like challenging games like this one, then this should be in your VIC-20 collection.