“C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition”, organized yearly, presents always to the C64 fans a huge amount of interesting games, it was also like this this time. Among other entrants, one of the participating games in this year’s competition, is pretty old-school, but at the same time pretty diligently done shoot’em up Aviator Arcade. When we look at the storyline, the introduction to the game is not so detailed or overwhelming, but in this type of games it is not particularly important. The important matter is only that as the good guys we fight the bad guys.
This time, as a military pilot who defends the city of Suburbia, we have to stop the incoming forces of rebels. Our another objective is defending the port, from which the reinforcements of our enemies come from. At the end, we will have to deal a final blow to their desert base.
The most important when playing the game is being in constant motion. It is connected with the fact that the enemies’ aircraft, ships and vessels constantly fire their shots at our current position. When we move wildly through the screen, we have the advantage that they try to fire their guns at the place which we luckily have left (at least we should have left). However, if this strategy succeeds, when we are being attacked at the same time by, let’s say 2-3 opponents, when there are 6 of them (such moments also happen in the game), small mayhem begins on the screen and when we dodge one missile, we very often fly into another. Regardless of the situation and with how many opponents we currently fight, the featured autofire proves to be extremely useful, because it allows us to shoot out a constant burst of bullets without getting tired. We have bombs under the space key, which obliterate everything in our line of sight immediately, but it is not so easy, because their quantity is very limited. What can we also mention….. you don’t die in this game because of one hit, when this happens, only your level of energy decreases. When your energy indicator is empty, you lose your life and the level is restarted. Good idea of the authors. There are, unfortunately, only 3 levels in this game, but what I like about them is the fact that they are completely different from each other. We can feel satisfied, when we end one level and we are taken to a completely different place as a gift, and not to a simple clone of previous scenery. It is important for the game pleasure.
At the end of every level we encounter, instead of a single boss, the situation, where the scrolling of the screen stops and we have to deal with a couple of waves of enemies who shoot at us aggressively. The exception to that rule is the last level, where after the aforementioned waves of enemies we have to defeat the prototype chopper stolen by the rebels (quite durable). Between the levels we also receive promotions in the military hierarchy (depending on the number of points we have) to finally become a general. If you are not able to achieve this rank, when you play the game for the first time, don’t get discouraged, because the point results in every game are connected, the achieved result and the military rank will be kept and will increase when you play the game next time.
When we look at the audiovisual design, a lot of praise has to be given to the music. Maybe it is not the most sophisticated kind, but it can be associated with the action games from the second half of 80ties and it looks here nice. It is also great that during the levels the author managed to simultaneously play the music and the in-game sound effects, which are not so many, but it is always nice to hear a couple of explosions. Graphically, the game is also good, even though the game gathers here points mainly for the mentioned diversified sceneries than for the general awesomeness. Variety of enemies’ vessels and vehicles is also impressive. We can see here a variety of different military vehicles, tanks, ground and sea cannon towers, smaller and bigger ships and jet fighters.
The author of the game is the working in “Hindsbosoft” Mark Hindsbo, who comes back to coding after a 20 year hiatus. What is interesting, he worked earlier mainly with Amiga, but he also always wanted to make a game for C64. The time has finally come and we have to congratulate the author for a fine game. The programmer was supported in his work by Richard Bayliss, who made the music and Andre Hogbom, who was responsible for the part of the graphics. Generally speaking, if you like the shooters with a pretty classic atmosphere and design, you will have a lot of fun with this game. The game has been met with a good critical acclaim in the C64 scene and the only thing, which some people will miss, is the lack of power ups (even though I didn’t notice that). To make the game in 16 KB certain limitations were necessary and the author thinks about working on the extended version soon. Now we can play with pleasure in the main edition.