Intensity (Commodore 64)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

Morpheus scraped its way to a ZZAP! Sizzler award... decent, but probably not what was hoped for. But depending on who had reviewed it, it might have not even garnered that... some would suggest a Sizzler was overly generous, and that maybe it was awarded out of a sense of duty, with the game having been subject of a Diary of a Game. I would counter that such a suggestion was harsh... Morpheus is an epic game that takes a long, long time to get into and appreciate, and ZZAP!'s review pointed out that it would not hold universal appeal.

It would be interesting to know how Andrew Braybrook felt about it when all was said and done. Perhaps it burnt him out on the space shooter genre, because his next (and ultimately his last) game on the Commodore 64 turned out to be nothing like that. It was, instead, a single-screen collect 'em up, and it was called Intensity.

Doesn't look all that intense...

There's still a spacey element to the game, as you might expect. Colonists are stranded on their, um, colonies, and with no course of action remaining other than evacuation, you're tasked with piloting the rescue mission. A drone ship is placed on the exterior of each space station. The colonists will emerge from doors and run towards this... hurray, safety beckons!

Once you have saved the requisite number, the exit portal will be activated. You must use your skimmer to guide the now-heaving-with-colonists drone to that exit. This task is simple enough... if you press the fire button, the drone will move to the point at which you summoned it. There's a bit of a problem, though. If the drone hits your skimmer, both will explode. So once you've pressed that button, you'd best leg it, sharpish.

The exit has been activated. Save them!

You don't have to go directly to the exit, and indeed, there are times when you can't, such is the layout of some of the colonies. Why they litter the exteriors of space stations with obstacles is beyond me. You'll also find yourself skimming backwards and forwards between points, picking up a colonist here then heading over to get one from there. It's reminiscent of Choplifter in a way, albeit from a different viewpoint.

Naturally there's a little more to it than that. The colonists are evacuating for a reason, and that reason manifests itself in the skies above each space station. Alien critters meander about, causing bother wherever they may roam. In a nod back to Gribbly's Day Out, the alien critters mutate into stronger, more dangerous forms, if left to their own devices. Luckily you can turn them into space roadkill by just flattening them with your skimmer.

Things are getting a little more complicated now...

That's the game, in a rather large nutshell. There are other bells and whistles... saving colonists releases resources which you can pick up and spend between levels, for instance. But after the sprawling epic that was Morpheus, it comes as a huge surprise to find such a small-scale, tight and focused game. There's no shooting (another surprise), and the single-screen action, whilst initially a little confusing, doesn't take long to click. Once it does, it's very enjoyable indeed, and it gets quite frantic just a few levels in. Considering I'd never played it before, I picked it up in no time, played it for ages and had loads of fun with it.

You're dying to fly a Manta over that and blast everything, aren't you?

Intensity proved to be the last game Andrew Braybrook would write on the Commodore 64. It's a bit of an underrated gem in my opinion, and as such it unfortunately provided something of a low-key swansong. He certainly deserved to leave the scene with a very large bang, having provided some of the greatest gaming moments of its history. Gribblets, Paradroids and Dreadnaughts will forever be remembered fondly by a public that bought in on gaming to a massive degree at the time, and Andrew Braybrook will be remembered as one of the brightest stars of the era.

That's not the end of my look back at Andrew Braybrook, though. I've got a few other things I want to get out there, and then I'm going to come back and round up his Special Editions, and there just might be a sneaky look at something on the Amiga...

Andrew Braybrook - a quick C64 history.

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , , , ,

A while ago (a good while... sorry!), I ran a poll to decide what I should write about next, in series form. I've left it up... it's to the right there. As you'll see, the reading public decided that I should write about Andrew Braybrook's Commodore 64 games. Now, I've had a fair few distractions since then, but I'm moving on with that right now, so buckle up and get ready for a classic Commodore ride.

As is the case with a lot of my articles, I did some research on Andrew Braybrook before I started writing this. I knew a fair bit already... of course I did, he was one of the Commodore 64's biggest celebrities back in the day. I thought he'd written more Commodore 64 games than he actually had... although some of them were rewrites and upgrades. I still haven't decided whether or not to include those yet...

It turns out that I've never played Andrew's first or last Commodore 64 games. That gives me something extra to look forward to over the coming days... for while it's nice to revisit well-loved classics, it's embarking on a voyage of discovery that really makes this exciting for me.

The man himself! Responsible for about 30% of my worst homework assignments...

There was almost always an air of excitement around a new Braybrook game. The first one I followed excitedly was Paradroid, courtesy of ZZAP! 64's "Diary of a Game - The Birth of a Paradroid". You can read that here, at the rather splendid 'Def Guide to ZZAP! 64' website. I didn't even have a Commodore 64 at the time, although friends did, and I would often be found at one of their houses, marvelling at this amazing machine.

Little did I know at the time, but I'd already played an Andrew Braybrook game while I was reading this diary - his Gribbly's Day Out was a favourite from those snatched afternoons. The strange infant-collecting platformer was already renowned as something of a minor classic, and was an indicator of things to come from the programmer...

Paradroid, of course, blazed onto the scene with a fanfare and a shower of awards, and accusations of favouritism in certain quarters... but it really set out Braybrook's stall as a top-notch programmer, not just technically but as someone who could write amazing games. This was reiterated with the release of Uridium, one of the finest arcade shoot 'em ups on the 8-bits not just on its release, but in their entire lifespan.

Andrew released just three more original games on the C64... once its natural life was reaching an end, he started moving toward the more powerful machines. Alleykat was a space racer with guns... which was probably only partially successful. The massive, sprawling space epic Morpheus followed, and then his time on the 64 ended with something of a whimper, with the puzzle game, Intensity.

There's lots to look forward to there, especially if I include any of the Special Edition updates. But first it's back to the beginning, with a game I suspect few of us have played before... Lunattack.