These days, we tend to expect multi-format releases to have if not complete parity, then certainly as close an experience as possible to one another.
That wasn’t always the case, though, and I can think of few better examples of this that Adventure International’s The Eliminator, which somehow became an entirely different game between its original TRS-80 incarnation and its Atari 8-bit “port” by Steve Coleman.
It’s a fun little blast ’em up, though, so I’m not mad or anything; I just thought it was interesting!
Pharaoh’s Curse is legitimately one of my favourite games on the Atari 8-bit, and one I frequently revisit to unironically enjoy every so often.
Developed by Steve Coleman, who we last saw at the helm of Mastertronic’s Ninja, Pharaoh’s Curse is an early example of an open-world 2D action adventure, allowing players to explore 16 screens arranged in a 4×4 grid in an attempt to recover all the awkwardly positioned treasures before escaping.
16 rooms doesn’t sound like much, does it? Well, you clearly haven’t counted on the intervention of the mummy. And the pharaoh. And all the traps. And that stupid bastard absolute penis of a flying thing that always shows up at the worst possible moment. Not that I’m bitter at all, no no no.
Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind! Pushing diagonally backwards and up while holding the fire button to swing your sword, however? Somewhat less intuitive…
Enter Mastertronic’s Ninja from 1986. This was a game developed by Steve Coleman (who was previously responsible for Pharaoh’s Curse, which we’ll be coming to in a few weeks) that combines open-world 2D adventuring with a fusion of one-on-one fighting and beat ’em up mechanics to produce something altogether unique.
Ninja was a game of “firsts” for me growing up. It was the first time I saw a ninja and learned what it was. It was the first time I saw (and learned the name of) a lot of pieces of traditional Japanese architecture such as torii gates. And it was one of the first games I played where fighting mechanics were a little more complex than simply mashing the fire button to do a single type of attack. It’s still pretty fun, too… though it puts up a lot more of a fight than I remember!