Mean City (Quicksilva) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User


Mean City
By Quicksilva
Commodore 64

 
Published in Commodore User #49

Mean City

These 'non games' are becoming very easy to spot - and very boring to play. The people who write the code are obviously no cretins, but they've a poor excuse for an imagination. Listen to this:

"Civilisation is trying to rebuild itself after world wide nuclear devastation... There has been a polarisation of the surviving cultures... two armed camps, the cabal of the cities aligned against a tribal federation of the mutants led by your father Hante. Unfortunately, he has been captured... You, Sante, must release him if the federation is to hold its unity.

Nothing stunning there. Any one of half-a-dozen typical cassette inlays could fit this game because in reality it has very little to do with post-nuclear holocaust cities, Hante, Sante and mutants and everything to do with 'you shoot them and they shoot you'.

Mean City

Mean City is really a two player game, although one player can compete with the computer that's obviously not how the game was meant to be played. The city is in fact a maze and, to give it its due, it is not a bad one. The action is viewed from above and, although what you see below is represented two dimensionally, the city is not all on one level and has raised walkways and platforms.

There's actually one really crucial aspect of the plot I left out. You have an evil cousin called Calte (not Fante, Wante or Bante?) who is also out to discover your old man's whereabouts so he can claim leadership of the federation, so you must get there before he does. The wicked cousin role is taken on by player two - none of your Gauntlet style camaraderie here, it's all-out urban warfare.

Both you and the wicked cousin set out in hot pursuit of the old boy at the same time in the same maze. To begin with, it's probably best to ignore each other - you'll have your hands full fighting off the city dwellers. Your only means of defence is a puny ping pong ball type cannot which is effective, but slow. Once you hit the 3000 mark you can rob assailants of their more powerful weapons. Your immediate objective, apart from staying alive, is to obtain four parts of the digital key which opens your old fella's cell.

The screen is divided in two, so each of you in effect has an aerial window onto the section of the city through which you are travelling. The centre of the screen is occupied by the score display, an indicator which is supposed to give a clue as to the location of the nearest key section; but which proved in practice to be unreliable, and two huge oscilloscopes which seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever. The net result of all this clutter in the middle of the screen is that you get not a half, but one third of the screen through which to view the action. It's not enough, you can't see what's coming at you until it's on top of you, by which time it's too late.

And that's all there is to it. Blast the attackers, collect the key segments and try to hold on to them. If there were two of you playing I can see you might get more fun beating the living daylights out of each other, but as a solitary pastime Mean City is pretty poor entertainment.

Ken McMahon

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