by Bastian Schick
The name S.I.M.I.S. comes about from the four games included in the cartridge -- Snakebyte, Invaders, Mines and Isolation -- along with "Specials", which contains four playable demos of Lynx games in development that should leave Lynx owners drooling in anticipation of future games to come.
Bastian Schick is responsible for three of the four finished games in this compilation. Invaders is based on -- you guessed it -- the Taito classic shooter Space Invaders, and it's very well done. The graphics are colorful and the pace of this game is fast and furious. In fact, the aliens in Schick's version descend toward your spaceship much faster than in the original, but the controls are thankfully tight and precise enough to give you a fighting chance. Mines is an adaptation of the well-known Minefield computer game, where players must clear the screen while avoiding the mine fields scattered about the playfield. I'm not sure if Isolation gets is inspiration of any game that I'm aware of, but the object is to try and isolate your opponent by eliminating the tiles surrounding him, thereby leaving him trapped. This one is comlynxable, so even if you get bored with the computer (which, by the way, has decent A.I.) you can always call upon a friend to provide you with new challenges.
Matthias Domin's contribution comes from Snakebyte. In this one or two-player comlynxable contest, you slither around going from room to room gobbling up apples while at the same time trying to prevent the snake from smashing into the walls or itself. Like in the old coin-op game Nibbler by Rock-Ola, your snake grows longer and longer as you progress, and it basically makes it tougher to avoid your head from colliding into your own body since your movable area gradually shrinks. It's somewhat similar in concept to the light cycle stage in the arcade version of Tron. This game is easy to pick up and play, but it gets difficult quite quickly and you'll soon get that uneasy claustrophobic feeling. Maneuverability is very easy, however, so you won't have anyone but yourself to blame when you meet your fate.
The special extra demos on the cartridge vary in the amount of progress made by its creators, but it provides a glimpse of things yet to come for the Lynx. Dungeon is an ambitious, first-person corridor adventure game that's reminiscent of Eye of the Beholder or Towers II. Marble is an adaptation of the Atari Games arcade classic that should have been ported over to the Lynx from day one. The Wolfenstein 3-D demo is very early, so it really doesn't reveal much of how it might be if and when it were to be completed. A simple polygon demo rounds out the four-title demo package in S.I.M.I.S.
Given the simple nature of the four completed games in this cart, it's no surprise that graphics are fairly plain and sprites are rather large. But what's there is quite colorful and serviceable, and at the very least, all the objects, characters and enemies are easily recognizable. There's nothing wrong with uncomplicated graphics as any good game on the 2600 should prove. Similarly, the sound effects are nothing more than blips and beeps for the most part, although you will find some simple tunes incorporated in some of the games.
Nothing in S.I.M.I.S. will knock your socks off with snazzy visuals or mind-boggling stereo soundtracks. But the play's the thing, and compilation of games in this cartridge are enjoyable and worth your while. After all, isn't that what gaming is all about?
- GERMANY -