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/// Send in the Clones!
    By Marcus J. Albers


Last week, my article contained mini-reviews of some clones of arcade games
that are currently somewhere on the Net.  We looked at clones of Pac-Man
and Space Invaders, two classic arcade hits.  This week, let us look at
classics that gained fame in the home computer realm.
*** Boulder Dash ***
Anyone who had a Commodore 64 knows what Boulder Dash is.  For those of you
who lead deprived childhoods (or owned a PC), Boulder Dash could very well
be the Lemmings of the 1980's.  You control a little bug named Rockford
that is trapped in diamond mines.  You dig around the screen, collecting
the amount of diamonds needed to open the exit to the level, while trying
to avoid falling boulders, butterflies, slime-molds, and other deadly
characters.  I am sad to say that I have yet to complete the entire game,
but I keep on trying.  Boulder Dash spawned two sequels:  Boulder Dash II
and Rockford, as well as a Boulder Dash Construction set.  And now all you
people who sold your old 64's (I've still got mine) can have the fun again
on your Amiga.
Cave Runner
This is by far the most faithful translation of the classic.  The levels
even look suspiciously similar.  The only real difference is the fact that
the bug has been replaced with a Pac-Man type of character (no, he doesn't
eat up the dirt and diamonds).  I found this to be very entertaining
because the levels are so similar.  Most of my old strategies still work.
It was very much like having the old game right there.  One of the neat
little things that I liked about the original Boulder Dash that doesn't
appear in this version is that when ever you would leave Rockford sitting
doing nothing, he would turn to you, cross his arms, and start stamping his
foot in impatience.  I have yet to see that kind of behavior from the
character in Cave Runner, but it is a minor complaint, perhaps not even a
complaint.  It is a good game, none-the-less.
Mr. Brownstone
This has a general basis in the old Boulder Dash game.  This game has even
more of a puzzle element than the original, though.  The main objective
remains the same: collect the diamonds to open the exit.  But in this
version, the digging carefully to avoid falling boulders has been replaced
for the most part by opening doorways.  On the levels, there are switches
that can be utilized by the level to operate a number of doors on the level
depending on from which angle you touch the switch.  You use the switches
to open the doors on the level in the correct order to get to the diamonds
on the levels.  Careful for doors that are acting as "key-stones" keeping
a pile of boulders at bay.  This version is very addicting, and in some
ways better than the original.
By the way, both of these versions are in PAL mode.  I have yet to find a
Boulder Dash clone that is in NTSC Standard (sorry 1/2 meggers).
And I have heard from the author that there may be a demo release onto the
Net of a new version of Boulder Dash for the Amiga, sporting 32 colour
screens, many, MANY levels, support for loading in levels from other
Boulder Dash clones, and much, much more.  I don't know when, if it will,
be put on the Net, but I it materializes, you will hear about it here.
*** Omega Race ***
Although this classic appeared in the arcade, it gained fame as one of the
best games written for the ancient VIC-20 home computer.  I got to play it
on a demo model set up in a store a long, LONG time ago.  It compared quite
admirably with the arcade version (which remains one of my favourite arcade
games).  The arcade version also was one of the first sit down style games,
along with Star Wars and Turbo.
Amega Race
This is the one and only version that I have been able to find for the
Amiga (although I have heard another version is rumoured to be on the Net
somewhere).  And an excellent one it is, too.  The graphics are faithful
to the original, with the elegant wire-framed ships and the appearing
boundery markers.  Game play is extremely smooth, but I found the keyboard
controls to be backwards, at least in my mind.  Once you get over this
minor inconvenience, the game play is extremely rewarding.  Unfortunately
for people without PAL mode capabilities, Amega Race doesn't run on an
OCS Agnus chip Amiga.  The author states that he is not planning on
releasing an NTSC Standard version, because is would call for a lot of
redrawing of graphics so that it looked good.  Guess its time to get an
upgrade, eh?
*** Tetris ***
Who doesn't know about this game!  One of the hottest games in the history
of video games, it is also among the most cloned.  I have at least seven
different versions of the game, some very much like the original, others
somewhat different.  I'll give you a short rundown of the ones I have used.
This is the best of the bunch.  It has options galour, it has a very slick
2.0-looking interface, and is very smooth all over.  It has an option that
I have yet to see in any other Amiga Tetris clone-a two player mode.  This
seems to be one of those games that gets about 200 times better when you
are competing against another person.  It has options for next piece
preview, fast or slow drop, and other things.  It also appears to be multi-
tasking friendly, although it seems to take up quite a chunk of my one
megabyte of memory.  The only draw back, again, is that this game only runs
in PAL mode.  It will run in NTSC mode, but all of the option gadgets are
located on the bottom of the screen, and are completely invisible when not
in PAL mode.  Otherwise, an excellent conversion.
This is a nice little Tetris game that can easily be played while your
Amiga is doing something else (*only Amiga*).  This game appears in a small
window on the Workbench screen, and takes up very little memory.  The
screen size is completely arbitrary, and the game takes the shape of the
screen, i.e. you can have the high and thin screen like the classic game,
or you could size it to look like a fish tank.  The game pauses when the
screen is deactivated, and resumes upon reactivation of the window.  It
doesn't have many options, but is great for that night when you are down-
loading that one megabyte file at 1200 bps.
This semi-popular game is a clone of a clone.  The game Columns is based
on the basic theme behind Tetris, and was made popular by Sega when they
distributed it with they're Game Gear portable system.  The idea is similar
but the implementation is quite different.  You are presented with the
familiar empty well, but instead of different shaped pieces falling from
the sky, there are straight, multi-coloured pieces to deal with.  The
straight pieces consist of three verticle, multi-coloured blocks.  The
colours are rotated up and down the piece with a press of the action button
or key.  The object is to get three or more similar colours touching in
some way, whether it is vertical, horizontal, or diagonal.  The game is
nearly as addictive as Tetris, if not a bit more challenging, especially
on the faster levels.  Oh, yes.  This game is also quite multi-tasking
friendly, and doesn't take up much memory.
Next week, we wrap up this talk of clones with a look at clones of newer
games, including Street Fighter II (yes, there is one out there), and
Arkanoid.  See ya next week.