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Spike’s Peak for Atari 2600
Spike’s Peak is another interesting multiscreen title from the folks at Xonox. It is a challenging title, that will frustrate and annoy at first, but the person who is willing to commit to mastering its ins and out, will find that it is truly an uneven, and completely unrewarding gameplay experience. As with all Xonox games (and I guess all games) make sure you read the manual first.
In Spike’s Peak, you control Spike on a climb to reach the peak of the mountain. Start on the path that leads up through the meadows, crosses rocky ledges and advances through an icy snow field. But watch out for the bear, waterfalls, the eagle, falling rocks and the abominable snowman. Collect points as you go higher, and find gold nuggets and ice diamonds. But watch your body temperature; do not freeze before you reach the top — you only have 3 lives.
The first thing you will notice is that the game looks great. Spike is rendered in multiple colors, and the initial base camp screen is a real treat as VCS games go. When you reach the first play level (the meadows) you will need to duck eagles and hide from bears. It is pretty elementary, but when you attempt your first hide, you will realize that the controllers are really sluggish. About half the time I attempted to hide, I failed and was clawed to death by the infernal bird. Yet I persevered for the sake of the review. Upon reaching the 2nd level, I questioned that perseverance.
Level 2 is a mountain climbing board, and this is where the joystick really turns to mush. At this point, frustration set in hardcore and I thought about giving up. Why is this guy climbing a mountain when he doesn’t seem to know how?? After a few tries, I was able to move beyond this level, but it was not through any gained skill. Stupid dumb luck. I did realize halfway through the screen that his game has an array of sounds. Not a ton, but enough audio cues to make is interesting.
Level 3 is a combination of levels 1 and 2, which makes it only slightly less confounding than level 2. At about this time, the sound is starting to get on my nerves. I think it is mocking me. I am not sure, but I think this mountain is beating me. I reset and finally get through this.
If you manage to get to the “final” top level, move fast because it is coooooold up on Spike’s Peak and Spike was not smart enough to pack a heavier coat. The first time I made it there, I delayed for a second and died from exposure before planting my flag. So I needed to climb this thing again. The next time, I was smarter and ran right for the top and planted my flag. Victory was humorously short. Spike falls down into the snow, and the sound goes from passively annoying to ear-bleedingly bad.
I am bummed. Spike’s Peak has a lot of potential. It just seems that Xonox wasn’t able to bring all the of the necessary components together to make it fun. This results in a game that is far less than the sum of its parts. Still, the game does look great, so I am going to give the game a merciful 2 stars.