for C64

Mr Creosote:
Company: Apex / Thalamus
Year: 1990
Genre: Action
Theme: Cartoon & Comic / Misc. Fantasy / Humour
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 177
Review by Mr Creosote (2023-09-09)

Who doesn't love the Looney Tunes cartoons? My favourite has always been the Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote. Obviously, I always sympathized with the Coyote, not the obnoxious Road Runner. His ingenious plans were always something to behold. Particularly when they involved ACME machinery. These convoluted, highly mechanical contraptions made a large part of the fascination.


Creatures tells the story of cute fantasy animals captured by cruel “demons”. Hauling them into captivity. Strapping them into ACME machines, for reasons of pure cruelty. Only Clyde is left to rescue his friends from the demons' torture chambers. Though to even get there, he first needs to jump and run through levels in classic genre fashion.

Released at the tail end of the C64's commercial life, the game has been developed on a high level of technical expertise. Graphics, background themes changing every few levels, and smooth sprite animations give a good first impression. The controls, probably the most important aspect of such a game, are flawless. The one strange restriction is that the game refuses to scroll left, which in some cases even has gameplay impacts. Such as when a bonus item is hidden in another branch of the screen whose entrance has already been passed.


Clyde's specialty is his means of attacking. Initially starting out with a basic shot curving downwards a little plus a particularly deadly fire breath which, however, takes a moment to activate, there is the opportunity to trade collected bonus items against different weapons (called “magic potions” in-game) between levels. Some of them simply changing the direction or angle of the shots. Others being completely different in their nature.

The levels have been designed with exactly this in mind. Laid out in traditional left-to-right fashion, enemies are routinely placed where the player cannot easily reach unless the correct weapon is selected. Which implies that unless the good selection of weapons is available at the time, losing a life is inevitable. Which, in turn, puts importance on properly exploring levels and collecting the potion ingredients.


Further variety is brought in through underwater diving levels and flying around on broomsticks. Plus, instead of boss fights, Clyde visits those ACME-powered screens where finally, he finds his friends strapped into deadly machinery. A small mechanical puzzle needs to be figured out in order to save them. Given how they work, it is too bad there are not more of them.

Those special levels, or those situations in which something special happens, are really what sticks to mind. It is those moments which make Creatures shine. Where it looks like this may be the best jump'n'run of the system. Though then, of course, the bulk of the game isn't this. The regular levels are good, and the shooting mechanic works, but they don't manage to rise beyond solidly entertaining. But make no mistake: a solidly entertaining foundation, coupled with flawless technology, plus some surprise spikes towards the top make a game which is well worth playing.

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