Saturday, September 25, 2021

Matter of Import 71: The Bounty [Orca 1982]


The Bounty is yet another arcade cabinet from Orca that never saw distribution in the US, this one a 1982 horizontally scrolling shooter. You control a boat heading down a river, avoiding enemy craft, gun emplacements, turtles, whirlpools, and mines.

Are you after a bounty? Is the title of the game an obscure reference to the 1962 movie or the real life mutiny that inspired it? No idea, this isn’t the kind of game that gives you a story.
Your goal here is to travel upriver as far as possible and accrue as many points as you can before your lives run out. If you make it all the way to the lock at the end, you’re given bonus points and taken to the next level - the river’s the same, but the enemies are faster.

In terms of controls you have a joystick and two buttons - one to thrust, and one to shoot. Constant thrust is necessary to prevent your ship from floating back down the river, though not so constant that you crash into the banks or islands and explode. This involves, in some cases, some careful threading of the needle.

Your guns don’t shoot far - only perhaps two boat-lengths ahead - but you do get a three way spread, which helps in that you don’t need to accelerate into enemy gunfire to take out the towers. You also face hostile boats that shoot back at you, but thankfully they only have a single canon to your three. Other hazards and features include logs to avoid, buoy flags to capture for points, and whirlpools that temporarily immobilize you. There are also turtles, but I wasn’t able to really get a firm handle on how they impact gameplay. Finally, there are oil drums that, when collected, add to the fuel you’re constantly burning.

Visually The Bounty is simple, perhaps even crude, even for 1982. It does have a musical score but it’s much more repetitive than catchy, and the other sound effects are both limited and muted. Ultimately the presentation is as limited as the gameplay. There just isn’t enough variety in The Bounty to make it worth playing.

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