Sunday, March 5, 2017

Frank Cohen's "Scooter", Level 1

Always good to start at Level 5.... I mean, One.  Now, I've noticed something, and that thing is this: the older I get, the more I dislike certain types of randomness.  In this case, the case of "Scooter," there's the randomness of the noise made when you eat a dot... sorry, that's Pac-Man.  In "Scooter," you walk on dots.  With your feet.  For 50 points.  I forget how much a power pill... sorry, a key, is worth.  Yes, much like Frank's "Ollie's Follies," there are "power pills" that give you temporary superiority over your many, many enemies, allowing you to send them to the cornfield with impunity.  However, in "Scooter," they return quite quickly, often appearing just off screen right in front of you, like in the cartoonies for the tiddly-winkies.  One of the pleasures of 1990's PC classic "Dangerous Dave" by John Romero, which I can't easily play anymore... wait.  It might work on my Windows Vista machine.  Now if I could only get the CD player to work!
But back to the instant case.  Frank Cohen was one of the great, prolific video game auteurs.  One of the reasons for this was that he had a lot of tools in his toolbox.  Note the scoreboard from the ungainly "Brewbiz."  Note the sound effects from "Ollie's Follies" and "Ghost Chaser."  Note the lack of passwords allowing you to skip ahead... could really use one or two of those right now.  But there's one thing I haven't seen in his work before... note the use of many colors on the bad guys in level 1.  Did he have an Activision intern that week?  Giving the 256x8 player missile stripe many vertical ribbons of color is their stock and trade, damn it!  I believe they call it Display List Interruption.  More pushing of the 6502 to its very low breaking point.  Also, there's no pomp and circumstance when you finish a level.  There's a little celebration at the end of an Ollie's Follies level, no?

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