By Al Backiel
As soon as I saw the posts on the Internet about an upcoming collector's show called the World of Atari, I had an orgasm. When I read further that it was in Las Vegas on August 21 - 23, my heart sank because I realized that I would not be able to make it. What I dreaded most is that I would miss my chance to own a new, limited-edition 2600 cartridge called Alfred Challenge. This was a game I had to have. You see, my first name just happens to be Alfred. Only 40 copies were
going to be sold at the show on a first come, first serve basis. I tried to get my user buddies to pick one up for me, but it was only one to a customer. I finally found one for sale by a non-collector on the Internet for well over the initial $37 price. Eventually I hear that a second edition will be available from the author, Eric Bacher of France. This new edition will be minus the box that mentions the show and might bear a different label. All of the packaging refers to the game as Alfred
Challenge instead of in the possessive as originally reported.
What's it like? It is a platform game and most closely resembles Fast Eddie (by Sirius/Fox). Other close relatives are I Want My Mommy (by Zimag) or even some screens of Miner 2049er (by Tigervision). It would be a distant relative of Donkey Kong. The big difference between the game play here is that, when you climb the ladders to the top of the screen and grab the key, the level is not over. Along the way, you have to avoid the guardian floor monsters by hitting the fire button to jump over them. They are invincible and contact is fatal. Besides you have only 3 lives to lose. All of this requires split second timing. Speaking of timing, there is also a time limit which doesn't give you too much time to waste. If you get hit you have to start over at the bottom. The key opens one of the doors on the screen and you must pick up a second key to open a second door, and after that, a third key and door. Now what's left to climb the ladder at the top of the screen to reach the next game Level 2 which has an all new layout. This is as far as I got in this game. The monsters are faster and this screen is much more difficult. The game is supposedly over after Level 3 Screen 3, but the instructions hint at a hidden screen somewhere????
The joystick control is a bit sticky at times and the reaction time is a little slower than one would like, but with practice and trial-and-error you can get used to it. This is a definite twitch game and the torque may be a bit rough on your joystick. The game features ladders to go up and down, and ropes which you can only slide down non-stop. Alfred, your alter ego, looks like Humpty Dumpty. His adventure story is in the manual. There are two different types of monsters which travel at different speeds just to make it interesting. There are disappearing floor sections that you must cross whenever you can. There are 2 Game Selects. The second has double-speed monsters. Reset is normal. The left and right difficulty switches have a smart feature. By using the combinations of switches provided you can run the game in NTSC, PAL or SECAM. This kind of thing is long overdue and makes the game more international. Overall I'd give this game a 7 in game play and a 6 in graphics. It is an original game and not a clone. My biggest complaint is that the time limits are too restrictive. For an amateur effort it is quite impressive and I hope to see more games from the same source in the future.
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