MANUFACTURER: DATA EAST (Distributed by Texas Instruments)
PRODUCT NUMBER: PHM 3168
RETAIL PRICE: $29.95
|REVIEW: Grade B-: This is a Japanese
arcade game that I personally had never heard about until playing it on
the TI-99/4A. In the game, you take the role of an island explorer who
must get to the top of Treasure Island before it becomes completely
submerged in water, and along the way avoid monsters, gorillas,
poisonous skulls, and boulders while picking up scattered treasure for
points. Your only line of defense is an unlimited supply of rocks which
may be hurled at the monsters and gorillas that are on your tail. The
game uses an interesting concept where the island constantly is sinking
downward into the water while you try to make your way to the top. It's
because of this vertical scrolling that the game becomes more
challenging and interesting than a simple one-screen video game.
You start out with 5 explorers, and in a matter of seconds the island will start to sink with your only hope for survival being to head for higher ground. However, getting to higher ground is not as easy as it sounds! This is because you can only move on the white paths that lead up and across the island, and sometimes these paths are blocked by poisonous skulls that when touched send your explorer head first into the water below. Therefore, you must choose your way carefully or will be forced to turn around and find another way up the island, and in this game every second counts as the water is always close behind. It's also important to note that sometimes there are paths which are simply dead-ends, and you can't see they don't go anywhere since the screen has not scrolled up far enough. Not being able to see where all the paths go is what makes the game very challenging at times.
In addition to the challenge of selecting the correct paths to take, there is also the challenge of the caves. These caves exist to provide a quick way to climb up the island, but sometimes can also act as traps. If you choose to enter a cave, your explorer will randomly exit from another cave somewhere on the screen. Sometimes this can be a good thing, especially if the water is so close behind you that your only option is to enter a cave and hopefully come out farther up on the screen. But you have to be careful since boulders will randomly roll out of caves and monsters/gorillas use the caves quite frequently to get around the island. If you happen to enter or exit from a cave that a boulder or beast is also entering/exiting from...you'll fall to your death. Of course, it goes without saying that you must also avoid the beasts and boulders outside of the caves, as they too travel on the white paths that you are confined to (boulders can only travel downwards on the paths, while monsters/gorillas can travel both up or down depending on where you are in relation to them). To help battle the monsters/gorillas you can use your endless supply of rocks which can be thrown down towards any oncoming beasts. However, trying to hit an enemy can be hard since the rocks can only travel down the white paths, and therefore the monster/gorilla must be below you when you drop the rock in order for a hit.
Besides the monsters, gorillas, poisonous skulls, caves, and boulders there are of course...the treasures! On your safari to the top of the island, there are ruby lamps and golden crowns scattered about randomly (and usually placed in locations that are kind of off to the side, making you have to go off the main path to get them as is the case with the golden crown in the top right of the screen shot). However, you are not required to pick up these treasures but they will increase your score dramatically if you do. Once you manage to reach the top of the island there will be a little house, or what appears to be a house, and the explorer will wave his arms while music plays in the background, signaling the end of the level. Overall, I like this game quite a bit, but personally find the first 3 levels too easy. Once you reach the 4th level, things get hard pretty quickly. If the game had more play options (such as a difficulty setting) then I would have given Treasure Island a higher score. Also, just to add some challenge to the first levels there should be a set amount of treasures you are required to collect before being able to pass on to the next round. But, even with these elements missing from the game it still gets a fairly high score here simply because it's fun to play, especially once the challenge picks up on the 4th level. Try your hand at Treasure Island and see if you can save the explorer from drowning in a sea of misery!
-Bryan Roppolo (Writes "The TI-99/4A Arcade" for Retrogaming
|TOUCAN'S TRIVIA: This game is a port of Data East's 1981 arcade game Treasure Island.|
|TOUCAN'S TRIVIA: A prototype version of this game exists, where the enemies are nicely drawn multi-colored cavemen instead of single-colored monsters. The only logical reason for why Data East chose to go with the monsters was due to game speed, since the cavemen are made up of 3 sprites and and the monsters only 1 sprite. The more sprites that exist on screen sometimes slow the pace of the game down and cause the characters to flicker. It's really a shame that the sprites were reduced, since the cavemen looked pretty cool in the original version.|
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