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Friday, 12 February 2010

rOx Review - Atari STe

I had a good playtest of this game yesterday and found it to be an enjoyable game.  It's an "avoid-'em-up", which basically means that instead of shooting things, you have to simply avoid them.  Adding to the difficulty and challenge are several factors; some rocks can be mined (collected), there are power ups and power downs to avoid / collect, spacemen to be resuced, and letters to be collected - if you can collect each letter in the word EXTRA, you get an extra life.

The graphics are nice, with the whole style and colour palette rather reminding me of Speedball 2.  The various asteroids have a slightly 3D look to them and are nicely designed, not just uninteresting slabs of colour coming at your ship.  The scrolling starfield is simple but effective, and all the sprites move very smoothly.

I was a little disappointed that chip music was used, bearing in mind it's an STe only release, but it was okay.  There were some digitised sound effects and speech samples though.  They didn't sound like they were sampled at a particularly high rate but that wasn't really a problem.  
The gameplay started off a little pedestrian but it soon becomes quite frenetic - when the asteroids and other objects are just coming straight down the screen at you it's simple to avoid them, but once you get things flying around in all directions, survival becomes a mad dash from one place to the next.  There's a good balance of avoiding / collecting with the objects, and quite a lot of both manual dexterity and ability to think ahead is required to do it well enough to score big points.

Another feature is that you don't simply get points for avoiding asteroids - you get points for getting as close as possible without crashing.  You can scrape your wings against the big rocks for mega points, but of course a slight miscalculation will turn your ship into subatomic particles.  This adds an element of risk and extra interest to a game that could have become somewhat stale otherwise.  There is also a 2-player mode which looks good, but I haven't had a chance to try that properly yet.

Overall rOx is a good game, I wouldn't call it amazing but it's fantastic to see that even now people are producing more ST games.  Check out the Official rOx Wesbite for the download.  You'll need the STEEM Engine emulator or another ST emulator to run it if you're not fortunate enough to have the original hardware (still wish I'd never got rid of mine!  Sniff...)

Setting up your emulator to run rOx.

In order for rOx to run, you'll need to have an STe version of TOS installed - v1.62 (2.06 or higher should be fine too, but for gaming 1.62 is the obvious choice), and set it to have 2Mb or more of RAM.  You can get the TOS ROM from several sites; I used this one.

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