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Old 04-23-2012, 11:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Apple IIGS Gaming: A Quick Look Back at Crystal Quest

After Easter services wrapped up last Sunday, I decided to take a trip to my favorite used game haunt to see if they had any NES games that I didn't own. Sadly, there was only one -- The Harlem Globetrotters -- which turned out to be a complete sack of excrement. But hey, that's one game closer to a mostly-complete NES collection! Only 300 more to go, or something like that. I also found a couple of Game Boy games that seemed like worthwhile purchases: Last Action Hero (also crap, but only three bucks), and Crystal Quest -- a port of a game I played a *ton* as a kid.

The original version was pretty fantastic for its time; the premise was simple (collect crystals and shoot baddies), the action was fast-paced, and things could get downright manic once you got to the later levels. I managed to work my way to wave 30 or so as a kid, but I don't think I ever beat my parents' top scores...

The Game Boy port isn't bad, but... let's just say that it lost a few things in translation. Some of the enemies were changed around significantly to help compensate for the system's lack of horsepower, and the lower resolution meant there wasn't nearly as much room for things to happen. The game, as a result, became much easier, and upon my second playthrough of the port, I managed to hit level 99, whereupon the level looped about 20 times before I finally whittled away the last of my lives and stopped at a little over 7 million points. Somehow I don't think I'd have that kind of luck on the original version.

The sound design is also a little disappointing in the port; whereas the original had distinct, quirky sounds that gave each enemy a ton of personality, all of those were removed and replaced by the simple blips and beeps that the Game Boy was capable of producing. There was one sound effect, however, that was preserved: the one that you hear upon exiting the "hatch" at the bottom of the screen after collecting all the crystals. Here's a video of the Apple IIGS version, which is pretty close to the original Mac version; the sound effect comes in at around the 19-second mark:

Apparently the designers of the Game Boy port thought that weirdly suggestive sigh was important enough to preserve in the Game Boy version. Observe:

Gotta love it.

Anyway, I've heard it's on XBLA, so feel free to try it! I think there's a demo or something available as well...
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