Baal (Commodore Amiga)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

I think that anyone who's played games for more than twenty years remembers the Psygnosis name with a degree of fondness. Whether it was for Shadow of the Beast, or maybe Lemmings, or just their awesome box art, everyone has a happy Psygnosis memory.

Baal is unlikely to be one of them.

I suppose it's not technically a Psygnosis game, being released on their offshoot Psyclapse label, so your memories can remain preserved. There's nothing wrong with the basic idea - space warrior searches caves for a demon that will destroy the world - but it's just done wrong.

The main thing that's wrong with Baal is that it's probably one of the most frustrating games ever released. At a glance, it looks like a typical-but-pretty Amiga run-and-gun platform game. The animation on the main character is really nice, huge gun swinging as he walks. And it has effectively creepy backgrounds, given the subject matter. It's when you start playing that the nightmares begin.

Baal? Bah, more like.

Controlling your character is an exercise in frustration. All you need to do is walk, climb, jump and shoot. Easy. And the walking is indeed easy, as is the climbing. The shooting is OK... with occasional struggles. The jumping, though... the jumping...

Pixel-perfect jumps kind of went out of fashion before the Amiga was popular. But you didn't mind them, as long as you knew what the parameters were and the game stuck to them. As soon as anything dodgy was thrown in, there would be anger. Baal has dodgy pixel-perfect jumping.

You'll come to a gap that you need to jump, take off early and fall short, plummeting a few feet and exploding. The game will then throw you back to a pre-specified point, and you'll have to work your way back to where you were. You know that you need to jump from closer to the edge, so you'll take it easy, inching towards the gap... and the game will decide you've gone over the edge, and you'll plummet a few feet and explode.

So that's the game ruined. It doesn't matter what else it might have going for it, it's knackered by the fact you can't trust it to play nice. And to compound your misery, if you do feel like giving it another shot, you have to press the space bar to start a new game, when the space bar is not used for anything else in the entire game. Graaaaarrrrrgghhhhhh!