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  • Jetsoft
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  • Action - Maze / Ladder (example - Pac Man)
  • 1983
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7  |  Knight In Shiniest Armor...
Darryl B. , 10/18/2005 11:48:08 PM
This is another review in a series that I'm doing of when a friend of mine sent me a bunch of ROMs the other month...over 500 of them.

Ugh. These are going to take FOREVER to get through.

Luckily, though, about half of them were bad, so that wiped out a bunch right there. Several more of them, even though being classic games, I had gotten tired of them a couple of decades before (like Centipede, although I have nothing against that game though). So those went bye-bye as well. Sports games? Never was really into a whole lot of those either. Others would have really wonky controls, since you would have to have the original controllers (or something close to them) from the arcade game to get it to work (and respond) correctly, others I couldn't figure out what to do, some were prototypes that were so boring you could understand why they were never released, etc.

Delete delete delete. Delete delete delete. Wash, rinse, repeat. I'm cleansing my computer! Begone, foul game demons of arcade's past!

But then, occasionally, there would be a gem of a game that I hadn't heard of that was actually worth my time -- rather than wasting it -- and Cavelon was one of them.

Cavelon was made by some small company named Jetsoft that I had never heard of that only made two games (according to came out during the video game crash of '83 - '84. If Jetsoft had some incredible ideas and expectations for their products, the video gaming world sure didn't get to see them, due to poor timing (which also happened with the Vectrex game system, coming out when plenty of other consoles [and computers] already had plenty of domination in the gaming world AND the crash happened not long after it's release as well).

Granted, not that Cavelon is the most original product out there, as it bears more than a passing resemblance to Tutankham. But it's in a bit of a different setting than most games in general, has a few shreds of originality thrown in as well, and it's a bit of fun.

Each game starts out with a little cinematic intro of a maiden (who appears to be clad in a yellow and red checkered dress) at the top of a castle clamoring for your attention. Your horse comically screeches to a stop as you hop off to storm the castle. Unfortunately the damsel in the fashion-challenged dress is several flights of stairs up, so this isn't going to be easy (which isn't that ALWAYS the way?).

Occasionally there are games that come out here and there that took place in the middle ages and had dragons and all, but there weren't a lot of them in general. So of course, your enemies in the castle include a bunch of knights in colorful armor, although the graphics weren't that great, even for back then, although they were, for the most part, pretty small, as a lot of objects are crammed into each screen. You have to find all eight pieces of a door in order to make it to the next level in order to (hopefully) eventually rescue the maiden.

Included in each level are a lot of battleaxes and all that can be picked up along ye merry way for bonus points. Enemies can also pour out of spots, a la Gauntlet (another game set in the "wizards and warriors" type of time period), which can be difficult to get through, but you have a magic sword of a smart bomb that will wipe out everything onscreen for several seconds. Occasionally an additional sword will also appear (marked by a musical score) that you can pick up as well (if you can catch it before it disappears), and you've got your trusty crossbow to fire at the enemy knights to clear them out.

It's even a pleasant journey throughout, as the game's got a lot of good music, although it's like Dig Dug, where the moment you stop, the music will too. But if you keep on moving, you'll go through several musical movements, which I was surprised at how good they are, coming from a company I had never heard of, as you collect all the door pieces to get to the next level.

Once a level is complete, you'll receive a brief interlude with your dashing (or not; heh) knight about to ascend some stairs to the next level...but actually, he does these hilarious bunny hops up the steps. Time after time, in my mind, this "BADANG! BADANG! BADANG!" noise would be heard as I imagined the clanging of the guy's armor as he bounced his way up the steps. Too bad they didn't add that in, although it's still pretty funny anyway to watch.

So, with all of this sounding great, why didn't I rate it as an 8 or a 9? Well, the blasted difficulty level hurts it a bit. For the most part, you won't have enough time to get through a level, even if you ignore picking up the nice, scattered bonus of knightly items, and then suddenly you'll notice your bonus is down to only 200 (which 100 points is deducted every few seconds), and then suddenly you're dead, due to running out of time. Oh sure, you'll get a big bonus by getting the last door piece and collecting almost every bonus point possible when the bonus resets when your next knight comes into play -- since you were very close to the last piece when time ran out -- but that won't bring your guy back.

I've also lost a lot of lives by running down corridors behind the enemy knights, mistakenly thinking that they won't shoot their crossbows behind them, which is wrong, and then it's too late to turn around and try to outrun that crossbow projectile down that long corridor (which you can't shoot it to cancel it out, either), it'll catch you. (Plus those shots are tiny dots, which can be hard to spot, which you might not even see them coming, and some of the knights take two hits to kill as well.)

Also, there might not be enough magic swords to get you through all six levels, especially with NO continuances, which is a HUGE rip-off, as I doubt that many even better than average players couldn't get to the end -- even after multiple plays -- especially when you get to a level that you're not familiar with, and you don't know the layout: the fourth level has one very long dead-end corridor that contains several door pieces, which is best to save it for last. However, it's one of the closest passageways to your knight when you first enter the level, and it will take several times of going through the game before you can figure this out.

All of this makes me wonder of how this game did at the few local arcades that it made it to; I can just imagine what few lucky kids deciding to take their chances with this unheard of game, rather than Robotron and all, had their allowances cleaned out in no time flat. It also might make you wonder what else Jetsoft could have been capable of coming up with later as well, had they survived the crash...hell, so much, I couldn't even think of many sarcastic things to say here (making this my most boring review ever!).

A shame. 7/10

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