Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Computer Platform Games #6

Dangerous Dave (1990)
By: John Romero / Softdisk Inc Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC First Day Score: 24,800
Also Available For: Apple II

If you're visiting this fine blog on purpose there's a good chance you know the name of John Romero. That's right, he was the talented fellow behind Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake amongst others but he's been making games for much longer than that. One of his first notable titles was Dangerous Dave, a simple platform game consisting of ten main levels and four bonus levels through which you're in control of Dave, as surprising as it may seem. The stages apparently make up the 'hideout' of someone called 'Clyde' who could well be a pirate judging by the game's original full title - Dangerous Dave in the Deserted Pirate's Hideout - but all you need to know is: you need to find a gold cup on each level, then look for the exit doorway to access the next, presumably with Clyde's booty in tow.

The second level features some unreachable gems...
The first level is a single screen in size but the rest all scroll a short distance as well. Regardless of their size though, they all consist of a variety of platforms and/or passageways sprinkled around which are numerous treasures in the form of gems, orbs, crowns, rings, sceptres, and of course the gold trophy that somehow unlocks the exit. Moving our plunderous hero around these levels is simply a case of using three buttons - left, right, and up to jump. He can fall an unlimited distance without losing a life but there are a few hazards around which will claim one - fire and water will both do the trick, as will purple wibbly lines which are apparently 'weirdweeds', and there are a few enemies too. Spiders, spinning blade-disc things, and puffballs all turn up now and then, all moving erratically and all popping off a few shots in your direction.

Many treasures here, and most can be grabbed easily! :)
Some stages offer a gun which can be used to take out these pesky creatures and some also feature a jetpack which will be essential at some point but it has a very limited fuel supply. Most of the time you'll be relying on good old fashioned platforming skills though, and they will need to be well up to scratch to make it through this game. It's impossible to lose a life on the first stage but things get much tougher very quickly after that. The only real problem control-wise is Dave's tendency to continue moving sideways when he walks off the edge of a platform which can make zeroing in on a landing spot tricky, but jumping off rather than walking off alleviates this - if you remember! His jump is an accurate one too, which certainly helps avoiding the weirdweeds and suchlike.

Why waste time leaping around when you can float?
I suppose I'm over-analysing things as usual though - Dangerous Dave was made as more of a demo than a full game, originally for the Apple II before being ported to the PC two years later. It has of course only really come to prominence thanks to Mr. Romero's subsequent success, but it's well worth a quick look if you ask me. Unsurprisingly for an early DOS game the audio is very limited here - there's no music and Speccy-style effects, and the graphics are neat but very basic for the time as well. The whole thing is several years behind the times - it has the look and style of a game from the early-to-mid-eighties and, although it was supposedly inspired by Super Mario Bros, it looks and plays more akin to something like Manic Miner for me. Still, it's good fun, rather addictive, and makes for a fascinating look into the early days of a gaming great.

RKS Score: 7/10

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