Amiga Anarchy: Base Jumpers

So, hey, I’m bored, and I’ve got tons of free time. Here’s an idea: Let’s open some some game I’ve ever played, for some system I don’t know much about, and see what happens. This couldn’t possibly go wrong, could it?

Some people see "tragedy". I see "adventure"!

Some people see “tragedy”. I see “adventure”!

Did I mention I never actually had an Amiga?

If any of you reading this are in the States, you’d probably know of an Amiga if you happened to hang around a lot of sites or forums about retro gaming. If you’ve read that old post on ‘The King of Chicago’, you know the basic story. The Amiga came out in the 80’s, and while it was slow to catch on for the first few years in Britain, it eventually replaced the 8-bit computers like the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. In the US, on the other hand, it was slow to replace the 8-bit computers, and then it died. You’d think it would sell millions, considering that at the time, DOS tended to look like this.

If your color pallete for your sexy poker game makes your customers think "Easter", you might want to reconsider.

If your color pallete for your sexy poker game makes your customers think “Easter”, you might want to reconsider.

As time went on, however, DOS eventually grew in capability, along with the quality of the games. While DOS games would get Amiga ports, and vice versa, the two ended up on entirely different spheres of gaming, meaning there’s a not quite literal crapton of exclusives on either end. With the rise of Doom and 3D graphics, however, the Amiga just couldn’t quite keep up. There was, and possibly still is, however, a dedicated bunch of folks out to make the Amiga do things it never could before. Like play Quake.

When this is the game your most top-rate developers can bring against Doom, it's time to go shopping for a PC.

When this is the game your most top-rate developers can bring against Doom, it’s time to go shopping for a PC.

But enough of that. Let’s go play some games!

Correction. Let's play a MILLION GAMES.

Correction. Let’s play a MILLION GAMES.

This is Amiga GameBase, my software of choice for Amiga emulation. There’s probably better alternatives. I mean, probably about half or so of the games on this screenshot alone are missing. Nothing you pick is guaranteed to work. They often don’t come with manuals. And you’re not guaranteed to have the option which keeps you from having to switch disk images about ten times to load Stage 1. But it works! Mostly. Sometimes. And it seems to have landed on “Base Jumpers”, which from the info box, is a 1995 arcade game from Rasputin.

Probably not this guy. Probably.

Probably not this guy. Probably.

Let’s fire it up!

"Let's NOT," said WHDLoad.

“Let’s NOT,” said WHDLoad.

You know how I said games weren’t guaranteed to work? This is what I meant. This is a bad sign, because this means that for games that require multiple disks, you’ll have to play games the old fashioned way: Sitting, waiting, and swapping disks. You couldn’t be more British if you were sitting on the top of Big Ben eating scones. Or something. Let’s try this again!

Much better.

Much better.

It took some rampant use of the turbo button (That’s End+Pause for those of you playing at home), but we’re finally at the title screen. And it’s playing that typically awesome Amiga .MOD music that makes you feel like you’re hanging out at the world’s dorkiest rave. So, we’ve got a guy jumping from something, that may or may not be a base. Let’s go check out ‘Change’ and see what that does. You think they’d call it ‘Options’ or ‘Settings’, but I guess that’s how they do it on this thing.

Oh, sure, it looks cool. Now try figuring out how you'er going to make everybody fit.

Oh, sure, it looks cool. Now try figuring out how you’er going to make everybody fit.

This is probably the biggest feature of the game right here: Four player hot-seat play. I’m imagining this wasn’t something you saw often on the Amiga besides something like a turn-based strategy game, so I imagine if you could get this going, it must be pretty cool. Good sign so far!

The building says 'gritty urban decay'. The stars say 'wacky adventure'.

The building says ‘gritty urban decay’. The stars say ‘wacky adventure’.

There’s not much of a plot in Base Jumpers, not that it really needs one. You make your way up tall buildings, and then throw yourself off of them. Preferably in a manner that means that you can continue to comfortably do so.

base jumpers_002

If you’ve played a lot of platformers, you’ve probably played at least one involving a level where the screen continually scrolls up, forcing you to keep moving to not die. Maybe because there’s spikes at the bottom, there’s fire, lasers, or in this case, because the developers say so. Armed with only your trendy Amiga logo helmet and the ability to jump, you begin to climb. Considering we’re dealing with a controller that traditionally only had one button, the game could have controlled worse.  The main problem is that the physics on your base jumper are a tad slippery, meaning it’s hard to jump or move with any real precision.

base jumpers_007

Most of the game looks more or less like this, at least on the first world. I’m assuming other worlds look different, but I’ve never made it that far. You’ve got all your platformer staples right here: Bouncy blocks, ladders, blocks that crumble when you touch them… it might look tricky, and it gets to be that way pretty quickly. Don’t be too afraid to take your time, however, because if the screen catches up to you, you lose some points and get scooted back up to a safe spot. But your shame that you will never have the high score on ‘Base Jumpers’ will be eternal.

Your man opposition, besides whoever the guy chunking barrels of TNT down at you, along with the architect who made this building, are the cops. And they’re really only just doing their jobs. I mean, there’s the chance that somebody owns this building you’re running and jumping through, destroying their valuable collection of gray blocks. And then there’s the fact that what you’re trying to do is clearly a danger to yourself and others. Mostly yourself, really.

So, what do you do to Budgie Dock Tower’s finest to defend against their attacks? Crush them, obviously. It’s the platformer way.

Before Grand Theft Auto, there was Base Jumpers.

Once you make it to the top of the level, it’s here you… well, base jump. It’s in the title, after all. It’s here where the game takes a rather, ah, sinister turn.

The fact that you have parachutes doesn't make this any better, really.

The fact that you have parachutes doesn’t make this any better, really.

The goal here is simple. Move your jumper around, ram into the other three players that have suddenly decided to show up, and try not to turn into something resembling chunky salsa.

Look at the blue guy. That's not the face of a man who's enjoying what he's doing.

Look at the blue guy. That’s not the face of a man who’s enjoying what he’s doing.]

Oh, and by the way, in case you thought I was exagerrating about the chunky salsa thing…

Would I lie to you? (Actually, I probably would, but not about that.)

Would I lie to you? (Actually, I probably would, but not about that.)

What is it about British games that look harmless at first glance, and then have scenes of utter carnage once you make some headway into them? Maybe it’s just a bunch of developers silently rebelling against publishers who demand games where cute cartoon characters don’t react realistically to being rammed into a solid object while falling at terminal velocity. If you end up ‘juiced’, as the game calls it, you get to go to the next stage, but with one less life. This happens to me a lot, because I tend to be kind of reckless about this sort of thing.

I should discuss the letters real quick. No, ‘WA’ isn’t a reference to Waluigi, the perenially unloved evil counterpart of Luigi, but actually how the game’s powerup system works. Enemies, TNT barrels, and other things drop letters. If you get three in a row, something might happen. If they’re just three random letters, you’ll just get bonus points. Certain combinations, however, will do stuff. ‘ERM’, for example, is the ‘Indecisive Bonus’, while ‘FAD’ puts a weird antannea thing on your helmet. There’s also a powerup for invisible walls, because British developers hadn’t entirely worked out all their spite for the human race with Jet Set Willy. It honestly reminds me of Wiz & Liz, where half the combinations might have been useful, with the other half pulling jokes at your expense.

Oh, hey, this actually sounds kind of --

Oh, hey, this actually sounds kind of —

-- fun?

— fun?

No, the game didn’t crash. There’s sounds when I hit buttons, so I’m assuming that the game isn’t lying. It didn’t say there wouldn’t be any background, or HUD, or… well, ANYTHING, though. You sure got me, Rasputin!

Ah yes, the Egyptians and their great, ancient laser beams.

Ah yes, the Egyptians and their great, ancient laser beams.

This is Stage 2. Considering how bad I am at this game, I had to use the game’s handy password feature to get here. It’s more or less the same from here on out. Climb up, don’t get murdered by arrows, try not to splatter yourself on the side of a building. Overall, Base Jumpers is interesting, but kind of difficult to play, in practice. It’s pretty easy to end up losing all your lives, and most of the powerups seem to be there to screw you over. It’s pretty much the epitome of British platformer design: Unforgiving, mysterious, and generally wacky. If stuff like Wiz N’ Liz was your bag, you might want to seek the ROM for this out. Or actually buy it, if you’re Bruce Wayne or something.

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