Sunday, 1 January 2012
Escape From The Holy Tower (ZX Spectrum)
Party like it's 1982! It takes an extreme degree of nostalgia to grow misty eyed over the days when games looked like Escape From The Holy Tower (by Jelvion games) does. With its obvious UDG screen design, and gawdy colour scheme, this aesthetically resembles only the very earliest Speccy releases (or possibly a magazine type-in game). Movement is strictly by character squares – you'll get no smooth scrolling here, or even custom font here m'lad – if you are looking for high-sheen presentation then move along.
But hardcore puzzle gamers are made of sterner stuff though, and won't let an ugly finish (or the fact that the backstory / instructions are in Spanish) get in the way of a game – so lets see what is under the hood here...
Escape From The Holy Tower has you playing as a diabolical being, however a divine power has you locked in a tower – thus it is your mission is to escape so you can continue 'possessing bodies and sowing evil in the world'. (Thank you Google Translate). This setting manifests itself is a simple get–the-keys to open-the-doors, collect-the-booty and get-to-the-exit. Green arrow tiles can be crossed in in only one direction, cyan walls can only be crossed once, blue teleporters teleport you to and fro, and all the yellow boxes must be collected before the exit can be reached. The magenta tile steals any held keys, so some strategy is needed in planning the order of collection. There are ten levels of tower to complete, before escaping – and this will honestly not take the average gamer very long to complete as they do not present much challenge. As well as being all rather easy, the order of the levels places some very easy ones quite late on – meaning a rather strange feeling difficulty curve.
Controls are the classic Q, A, O, P (or Interface II joystick) to move the protagonist, and 'R' can be used to restart a level a limited number of times when you have gotten trapped – effectively acting as your lives.
Whilst there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this game it is all rather slight, and it has a very dated look, with little to recommend it above other (better) puzzle games. Perhaps younger gamers who are not put off by the presentation might enjoy the easiness, and the inclusion of a level editor – available as a separate free download – is a decision to be applauded. Perhaps with some fiendish level packs, puzzle enthusiasts would have something to get their teeth into – but at the moment this provides 10 minutes of distraction and nothing more.
Download the game here (from the World of Spectrum site).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).