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SummaryCentipede with a twist
The GoodThere were quite a handful of bedroom programmers back in the early ‘80s, and Jeff Minter was one of them. One of the first games he made was Abductor. The game may have been awesome, but it was only available for the VIC-20. Gridrunner, one of his latest games, was just as good that not only was it released for every popular 8-bit computer at the time, but it was also released for the Amiga and Atari ST 16-bit computers.
Gridrunner is the type of game that should have been released in the arcades first, since it uses an original concept that hasn’t been done before. The game mechanics are similar to Centipede, except that you are fighting the enemy against a grid which you can move up on, as well as left and right while on the bottom edge of the grid. The enemy in this case is the series of pods that appear on the grid and move their way down toward you. When shot at, these pods eventually leave their yellow remains behind, and you must destroy these remains before they mutate and eventually turn into projectiles. You also need to worry about the X-Y Zappers who move along the bottom and right boundaries respectively. The Zappers will shoot electric beams randomly, and coming into contact with a beam will result in death.
Both the graphics and animations look good, and everything stands out on the grid. What's amazing about the VIC-20 version of Gridrunner is that Minter has crammed such a big game into 4K of the unexpanded Vic, and this is quite a technical game. It is fast and furious, so fast that you need to be alert at what's happening on the screen if you want to stay alive. The graphics and animations are great, as are the sound effects.
As always with games like these, Gridrunner can be used as a “score attack” game, where you play one game and record your score, and then when you play the next one, you try beating your previous score. One of my games had me on wave six with over 40,000 points. Having said that, there is always the “hell, just one more go” addictiveness.
The BadI don’t think there is anything bad about this game.