Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Gravity Beam (Amiga)
Gravity Beam tips its second hand hat at classics such as Thrust or Lunar Lander, and as the old adage goes, 'Good artists borrow and great artists steal'. There are more stolen bits in this game than your local Cash Converters store but unlike the aforementioned pawn-shop, Gravity Beam won't empty your wallet to enjoy its wares.
There are tons of clones out there, but very few are willing to try something new with the concept. Gravity Beam's gimmick is its namesake, you have a gravity beam which allows you to tow objects to their destinations. If only modern games were so honest with their titles, we'd all be waiting for the upcoming release of 'Murder n' Drive' or 'Army-Shooter: Quick Time Event Cut-scene Watcher'.
Developed by Matthew Carr, the super-talented chap responsible for the best GBA homebrew game ever, it's unsurprising that Gravity Beam features some of the finest gameplay witnessed in an Amiga title for years. Overall the game works really well, although the acceleration of the little ship is a bit insane and I found that I had to resort to tapping the thrust button to maintain control. The real fun comes in with towing your cargo thanks to some neat physics - you have to really think about your speed and inertia. Change direction too quickly your craft will tumble out of control. A surprising design decision is that your cargo is effected by collisions but not your ship, as most other games in the Thrust genre normally have you explode should you as much as graze the walls. I would of liked the additional challenge truth be told.
In terms of presentation there isn't much here, the ship is a triangle, the planets are barren and craggy, your cargo is a box. That's not to say its bad, just a little uninspired. However, the menu and briefing screens are attractive and nicely designed, and even the music - although nothing really outstanding - is well suited to the game. There's nothing that really pushes the Amiga hardware here, but this may be in part to the game also being available on the 8-Bit Sega Master System - I imagine a decision was made to unify the look and in that regard it's fine.
So as a package does it work? Yes. Its a nice freeware game that does exactly what it says on the tin; there is gravity and you have a beam. At times its too forgiving, but some of the time limits you have to beat to secure one of the top spots on the leader board more than make up for it.
The Amiga is certainly more than capable enough to do more in nearly all aspects but that doesn't stop Gravity Beam from being a very fun game indeed.
Download the Amiga version of the game for free here (from the developers website).
Play the game using the Universal Amiga Emulator, available here (freeware).