By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on August 11, 2017
Welcome, dear readers, to a slightly delayed Big Red Timemachine. As the more perceptive of you may have noticed, we should have blasted off last week, but due to a number of strange goings-on, I was regrettably not able to do so. I don't know what is going on, but it seems that the whole Big Red HQ is working against me somehow. If my HQ was a woman, I would say she is on her period and hates my guts right now. And why? I haven't got a clue. I mean, I'm clearly one of the most loveable, least self-centered and cuddly men on the planet, am I not? But enough about me; what do you think about me?
On top of my HQ not working properly, I think I'm going slightly mad. The last few weeks, I started seeing Elvis, walking through the building. Now, I wouldn't mind so much if he stopped by for a couple of beers, but this Elvis has something spooky about him and all he wants to do is turn this entire place into one big jungle room! Nevertheless, all of my current troubles aside, I have an obligation to you, our readers, to take you on a brand new journey through time, in search of some of the grand and sometimes forgotten jewels in gaming history. Luckily, I had my very first prototype of the Big Red Timemchine stashed away in a safe place. And, seeing how it is not connected to any computer leat of all to PAL 9001), I can only assume it is still safe to use, even in these dangerous times! So buckle up and come with me to a time when things were much simpler: 1991!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is my very great honor to introduce to you: Murphy! This round, red fellow is trapped in a computer and must make his way through all 111 levels in order to finish his quest. So, what is his quest, I hear you ask? Well, to be quite honest; I haven't a clue. I just think his quest is to clear all 111 levels, but that might just be me. On his travels, he will have to face heaps of dangers and solve numerous environmental puzzles, all the while munching on circuit board material. Yes, I do believe it is time to play another round of Supaplex.
Supaplex was created by two Swiss students and is basically a souped-up Boulderdash clone. But, instead of being a cheap copy, Supaplex is, in my not so humble opinion, better than Boulderdash ever was. Now, I know that I might be kicking a few shins here, but that is really what I think. For one, the controls in Supaplex actually worked with you, instead of seriously impairing your gameplay experience. Secondly, due to the nature of the environments, gameplay is quite more fun and the game looks one hell of a lot better! Okay, okay; to be honest, Supaplex was released nine years after the original Boulder Dash, but even the contemporary Boulder Dash clones didn't look quite as good or were as much fun, so there!
The premise of Supaplex is quite simple; Murphy, our protagonist, must make his way through a level in order to reach the exit, which is a square tile with the letter "E" printed on it. On his way there, he must collect as many "Infotrons" as possible. These treasures are shaped like the basic representation of a basic atom. Now, if the levels were to be empty, both reaching the exit as well as grabbing the Infotrons would never pose a problem. Alas for Murphy, but lucky for us, the levels in Supaplex are filled with every kind of danger. First and foremost, Murphy must look out for falling gray orbs, called Zonks. These round pellets of death will fall down as soon as Murphy eats away the circuit board that supports them. They will also bounce off each other, so be careful not to stand in their path, or Murphy will explode and you'll have to start the entire level all over again. What. No checkpoints? Of course not, it's 1991 we're talking about here! The entire concept of checkpoints hadn't been invented yet! This was back when gaming was challenging as hell. That is, if you even managed to get a game running on your awesome Olivetti M290 with a whopping 20 Megabytes of harddisk space, 1 Megabyte RAM memory and a 12 Mhz 80286 processor!
But, enough about computing dinosaurs (no, I don't mean myself!), and let's get back to the game at hand. Where was I? Oh yes, the dangers of Supaplex. Apart from falling Zonks, there are also bands of scissor-shaped enemies, known as Snik Snaks. These cutting creeps will follow Murphy in order to. well. cut him down to size. Your best bet is to lead them on until you can drop a Zonk in their path, then quickly make your way around them, or even lock them in, using a second Zonk. Then there a pieces of circuit board that give off an electrical charge at random times which, as we all know, is never a good thing.
There are also three types colored floppy disks. Yellow disks can be pushed around and can be made to explode by using a small terminal. Orange disks will fall down like Zonks but, very much unlike the silver spheres, explode when they hit something on their way down. Lastly, there are red disks; these helpful little things can be carried around and dropped at the appropriate time, after which they will explode. You will also come across tube like obstacles, called Ports. These obstacles can be moved through, but only in one direction, limiting Murphys movement. Lastly: the Electrons! These twinkly star-like objects can be destroyed and, if you manage to do so, will reward you with a number of Infotrons.
It can be hell to reach the exit and collect all the Infotrons in any given level, but when you finally pull it off, you feel a sense of pride for doing so. This is what gaming used to be about; being proud of yourself for achieving something, instead of immature boys and girls whining about graphics they don't like, or anything else that games seem to be lacking in their clearly superior opinions. Talking down a game is easy; just think of thirty swear words and nitpick every little thing you can find. To people like that, I can only say; just try to build a game for yourselves and then get back to us. Well, that should give us a couple of millennia worth of peace and quiet!
After all this, I still feel there is one danger of Supaplex that I haven't mentioned yet, and that is the fact that it was addictive as hell! I, for one, played the game for countless hours without ever losing interest or getting bummed out because I just couldn't seem to finish a level. No sir, Supaplex managed to beat you down, get you on your knees and have you crawling back, begging for more. (damn, that sounds a lot like my ex-girlfriend.) It was truly one of the more simple and fun games I ever played and I even, still to this day, fire up DosBox for a couple of rounds from time to time. And guess what? It is still the same fun game I remember from when I was young!
And with that, my dear readers, our time together has come to an end.. No, not permanently! Just for the coming weeks. You see, I've come to a realization; what I really need is not to change the way I act. Au contraire, mon ami! What I need is a couple of weeks of well-deserved vacation. And that is exactly what I am going to do. Just take off for a couple of weeks and get some rest. But, before I can do that, I will have to deal with the construction-mad Elvis and I really need to have a word with our super computer, PAL 9001. I have a sneaking suspicion he is determined to make my life miserable. Well PAL, if you want to make my life miserable, get ready. Because, using the immortal words of Rob Halford: you've got another thing coming!
Think!Ware Development & Dream Factory (Digital Integration)