Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Switchblade: exploring the caves

Switchblade was always touted as one of the great games on the GX4000, using the power of the console over the standard CPC version and benefiting from instant loading.  Given the size of the map, that's not surprising; the disk version certainly seems to chug regularly.  Despite having owned it for many years, I've never given it a proper go beyond making sure that the cartridge worked.  Over the Christmas holidays I had some time to rectify that.

The first thing I was surprised about was the accuracy of controls. When playing many 8-bit games, there's a noticeable lag in inputs, and games are often designed to allow for this.  Some games did this better than others - Titus the Fox, for example, allowed a bit of leeway in jumping.  That's not the case here, but the response to inputs is instant, making you feel much more in control.

The second thing I noticed, after playing for a while, is how complex the game is.  It's packed with puzzles, in terms of finding new rooms, finding ways to attack enemies without taking damage, and exploration.  I originally thought that the fact that enemies can't attack you while you're standing on a crate was a limitation of the game, but in many cases it's the very basis of the puzzle.

That's not to say that the game isn't an action-based title.  I've not completed it yet, because the five lives you start with don't last long when you're being attacked.  I shall try again, though - each time I play I get a bit further.  I may need map paper soon though ...

Meanwhile, I loaded up an emulator to take some screenshots, and took the opportunity to compare the GX4000 game to the CPC version.  As I said above, the disk version seems to chug a bit more, which may be loading, but the main difference is the visuals.  Look at them, it's an astounding change.

(GX4000 is the top, standard CPC is the bottom.)

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