Looking for a good arcade adventure?
One in which the puzzles are not too complex? One where you can Wast away at anything that moves? And quite a bit that doesn't? One which even (dare we mention it?) requires more than a touch of agility as well as a well-calloused joystick thumb?
Then, perhaps, your quest is over. BAAL is all of this and more. The title screen suggests that quality is to follow and the game docs not let you down - across more than 250 screens, a time warrior must search for a war machine in the realm of Baal Ten pieces collected moves you on a level, but from every side snakes spit poison venom, bouncing nasties throw killing worms, pools of gunk await and traps lie everywhere.
If the game has a fault, it is that too much happens. The action is pitched at about the right level but the 100 plus monsters are of too many types - too long spent learning their patterns, too few lives to benefit from the knowledge.
Yet that isn't a concern when you're playing; too much is happening. There's a great deal to marvel over, visually and aurally. The Time Warriors move with a very effective swagger and chunking swing of their over-sized lasers; the feet reverberate through the caverns, the laser thumps away and the nasties die with unpleasant screams. Background detail is great too - lots of detail in the screens but perhaps a bit too much in-filling in the deep background. Better to have used the memory for even more sounds.
Up and down ladders, shooting nasties, collecting fuel for your laser or parts of the war machine - it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Most importantly, the game has a real compulsive quality, that one-more-try element that every software house wishes it could bottle and sell. Tough, kids - it's not that easy.
I'm really enjoying this game - it's one I want to finish but, perversely, once I do finish it, I'll want to find other ways of doing it. The eight way scrolling is smooth enough, the graphics are intriguing enough, the sonics are compulsive enough - so go for it. What else has coder Wayne Smithson done? I want it. NOW!
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