Atari User1st June 1988
Published in Atari User #38
Is this because it has an addictive quality that everyone loves, or could it be that the hero - Rockford - is the cutest little rockmite you have ever seen?
Now MAD software has released Rockford: The Arcade Game. It's a conversion of Arcadia Systems' classic coin-op game and the cassette inlay tells you that you have just bought one of the greatest pieces of game software ever released. Read on to find out...
The game is set on five worlds Rockford has to explore. On each, he takes a different identity in his bid to collect items of treasure. His guises are cowboy, hunter, spaceman, doctor and chef - I wonder if he bakes rock cakes?
The various treasures are the Pharaoh's gold masks, apples of eternal youth, Indian pennies, suns and hearts. To collect one, all he has to do is walk over it.
Each world has four levels and each level has four screens. According to my maths, that makes 80 screens in all - plenty to keep you busy.
Wandering around collecting the treasures sounds very easy, but in Rockford's world life is rarely this simple. You must avoid falling rocks that tumble down as you eat the earth, or move a treasure from beneath them.
Deadly monsters inhabit these strange subterranean labyrinths. Some move in pre-set patterns, simply there to make your life difficult while others will chase you.
Yet another type explode when killed, creating treasures as they fade. You may have to do this in order to finish some levels.
Once the required number of items have been retrieved from a set of caves, a door - which looks like a beehive - will appear for you to go through.
Some of the rooms have fiendish traps and puzzles to work out. For example, some are known as Torch Rooms but these only occur on the night-time level. In them, you carry a torch that only allows you to see segments of a room.
Some have a fire that you have to put out. To accomplish this you must find a tap and turn it on, then push the water to the fire.
Of all the puzzles and devious traps I encountered, the most annoying were the walls that grow. If you remove a boulder or treasure in the wrong order the wall will follow you, making it very easy to pen yourself in.
Although the graphics are not as good as the original game - and remember no other computer format has been able to emulate the quality of the old Atari version - it does have that certain classic touch to it.
Rockford is still animated in his old way - if you stand around too long doing nothing he starts to get a little nervous and begins to twitch and shuffle around.
The sound effects are lacking when compared to the original but, they are superior to other games currently on the market and they do add atmosphere.
It's nice to see Rockford back on my TV screen again, even if it is in such unusual surroundings.
Compared with the original version, the on-screen action seemed a little slower, and there was a tinge of a delay in joystick response - but I could be comparing it to the old version too much.
If you are a fanatic of the Boulderdash game and love to see that cute little rock termite fly around the screen, then invest in this game - at £2.99 it's an absolute bargain.
And if you get bored with it, you will find a free copy of Crystal Raider on the B side.