Saturday 15 June 2019

Relentless (Commodore 64)

Already this year the RGCD 16KB Cartridge Game Dev Compo has received its fair share of shoot 'em ups - and as shmups are my favourite game genre, this makes me very happy! With Sarah Jane Avory's excellent Neutron, Richard Bayliss' Blastopia DX and Let's Invade 2 already submitted and two more planned from C64CD (Stercore XD and Death Weapon), you'd think there wouldn't be room for any more.

You'd be wrong.

Back in 2013, Paul 'Axelay' Koositra, rexbeng and Tom & Jerry released a stunning 16KB shoot 'em up called Relentless for the Amstrad CPC - also, somewhat fittingly, as an entry in a 16KB cartridge competition - which it ultimately won. Then, to celebrate Psytronik releasing the cassette version of the CPC game, rexbeng uploaded a C64 version of the loading screen to CSDB as a teaser - but that was all - there was no C64 conversion planned... Until now!

Similar to the original, Relentless 64 is a high speed, non-stop score-chasing shmup with some neat score chaining mechanics. The enemy waves come at you thick and fast, and taking out an entire wave rewards you with an increasing score multipler, resetting back to 1x should you miss a ship or crash.

Level progression is akin to Konami's Scramble - no pause to catch your breath, no 'level complete' text, just a scenery/enemy change and onwards you go, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. The gameplay, aside from the scoring, is pure - no power-ups or bosses, just classic horizontal shooting action at a breathtaking speed (beaten in this competition only by Stercore XD).

It's fantastic stuff, with multiple difficulty settings (changing the rate of fire of the scenery mounted turrets and player autofire), options for music, sfx or both (with the soundtrack provided by the awesome Cyborgjeff) and proper high score entry (which even remembers your initials between rounds). There are also plans for medal icons to show the difficulty scores were achieved on in the high score table.

As with Moonspire II, rexbeng's artwork gives the game a unique futuristic feel - the player ship and bullets are vibrant and despite the minimal ROM space he has achieved a rich and varied set of enemy types and scenery pieces. The randomly selected enemy waves also help to keep it feeling fresh with every play.

All that currently remains prior to submission in the competition is a reworking of the front screen and some minor tweaks and changes here and there, but in all Relentless 64 is shaping up as an excellent 16KB game, and one that we're especially proud to announce will be available from RGCD and Psytronik in physical format in the near future.

Keep an eye on the 16KB competition progress here, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up to our mailing list so you don't miss out when the Relentless 64 is released!

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