Monday 16 May 2011

8Bit Killer (PC)

[Originally reviewed by C. Allcock in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

I have a rather poor record with oldschool FPS games. I played Wolfenstein 3D (rather later than when it first came out, I might add) and never finished it. I also played Corridor 7: Alien Invasion and never finished that, either. So you might well expect that I'm going to write a whole load of random words about 8Bit Killer without actually having played it to the end - or even at all!

But no! To improve upon my abysmal performance in this field to date, I can report that I actually finished it! *does a happy dance* Hey, stop looking at me like that. I'm easily amused, okay?

Seriously, 8Bit Killer is an absolute gem, cut with masterful precision and polished until it could sparkle in a pitch dark room. To the untrained eye it may be hard to see why I'm already starting to gush over what's "just" a modern reincarnation of id Software's classic. Screenshots don't particularly do this game justice, but give it a chance - playing only the first couple of levels will demonstrate just how smoothly done this game actually is.

In traditional Wolfenstein style, you navigate through a series of 12 themed levels to infiltrate and kill humanity's most recent nemesis, the alien "Master Brain". Though at first it promised a new dawn for Earth's remaining inhabitants after many years of war, it soon showed its true colours by unleashing an army to wipe out the last free cities left in the world. The story of your progress against this menace is told through a series of pseudo-cutscenes between each level.

Starting on the outskirts of the city you'll fight through roadblocks, ruins, the city hall and half-submerged underground tunnels before finally making it into the Mega Tower where Master Brain lives. Along the way there's the usual selection of grunts and bosses to fight, none of which are hugely original but are used in such a way as to avoid becoming stale. Just because you cleared one route in getting to a key, don't necessarily expect it to still be clear on the way back! There are plenty of surprises and ambushes to keep you on your toes and six different weapons to wreak havoc with, as well as powerups tucked away in remote corners to improve your maximum health and ammo.

You really do get the feeling that if there had been first-person shooters on the NES, 8Bit killer would be the king of them. You need only look at the graphics to see why; the whole game uses only a 64 colour palette and textures in the levels are 32 pixels square. This leads to a magnificently authentic retro atmosphere. Topped off by a melodious array of bliptastic chip tunes and tinny sound effects, your trip into FPS yesteryear is complete.

8Bit Killer isn't for those who expect a good few hours of gameplay; it took me slightly under an hour to complete it, and I'm far from calling myself "hardcore". But to experience the purity of how intense these games were before we had photo-realistic 3D graphics, or simply to see how much the genre has progressed since Wolfenstein was unleashed upon us in 1992, you need to play this. Then play it again to make sure you found all the secrets!

Download the game here (from Locomalito's website).
4 out of 5

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