Saturday 21 May 2011

Alter Ego (ZX Spectrum)

Alter Ego is new ZX Spectrum game based on 8-Bit Story, an upcoming perspective-twisting PC title by the same developer.  An addictive and taxing puzzle-platformer hybrid, RetroSoul's latest offering puts most other modern ZX releases to shame despite the fact that it's only RetroSouls second release on the machine.
It may look like your average 8-Bit collect 'em up platformer, but the difference here is that as well as the main character you also control a phantom on the opposite side of the screen and pressing the fire button uses one of your limited 'swaps' to exchange your position with the little ghost.  The goal is simple, collect all the pixels on each level whilst avoiding the marauding skulls, but the addition of this clever swap mechanic transforms the game into a genuinely fresh experience.

There are some deviously designed levels here requiring some forward planning and dexterous joystick control, and the introduction of ghost pixels for the phantom to collect make the game even harder as you progress further.  However, you're never left feeling frustrated for long thanks to the fair difficulty curve, and the game's addictive and novel nature will pull you back time and time again.
In it's current incarnation, aside from the intro screen there is barely any in-game audio so it would be great to see a 128KB expanded version in future with a proper soundtrack.  Otherwise, the presentation is perfectly suited to the style of game and it's hard to see how this winning gameplay formula could be improved (apart from the possibility of adding level passwords).  RetroSouls have created a superb little game here that deserves your attention and acts as a suitably retro appetizer for the main course to follow.

Download the game here (from the World of Spectrum site).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).
4 out of 5

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