Thursday, September 30, 2021

Matter of Import 76: Escape [New Generation 1982]

 Escape is a top-down maze-chase game released for the ZX Spectrum in 1982. The player seeks to evade dinosaurs within a hedge maze. There are five difficulty levels, each of which adds a new dinosaur, culminating in the pterodactyl’s addition to level five. Other than it’s ability to occasionally fly, each of the dinosaurs plays approximately the same, and moves at the same speed.

The goal of the game is to find the axe you need to break down the door and end the level before the dinosaurs catch you. This is difficult for two reasons - firstly, the ax appears to be heavy as hell - you’re much faster without it, but as soon as you pick it up you slow to the same speed as your pursuers. This makes timing its acquisition critical, as you can only just keep ahead of them once you have it.

Of course, the second problem with the axe is that it’s invisible - you’ll only know where it is once you’ve run over its space on the map, and even then you’ll have to press a button to pick it up. Same goes if you drop it because you need a burst of speed - it stays where you left it, but there’s nothing on the screen to indicate where this is.

Each maze is fairly large, so you’ll have to run across the axe by chance, and then make a dash to the door in the upper left corner. Once you escape, that’s it, game’s over - you can enter your initials if you like, then select a difficulty level to play again.

Escape is a fairly decent single-screen maze game for the platform, though any given run will be highly random in its difficulty depending on how long it takes you to find the axe… and there’s a frustration factor if you can’t figure out where it is.

The dinosaur sprites are small but cute, and it makes decent use of the ZX Spectrum’s limitations.

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