Friday, December 30, 2011

Game of the Day - Mad Crasher

It's a dark secret of the arcade world that in 1984, Zaxxon and Spy Hunter had an affair and the result was a love child they named Mad Crasher.  Mad Crasher looks a little like Zaxxon and tries to play a little like Spy Hunter.  It doesn't do either one of them great, but somehow the resulting concoction is a compelling experience.

You are in a futuristic car driving on a road suspended in mid-air.  It is an isometric-3D look like Zaxxon except it is car (not plane) based.  That doesn't mean you don't leave the ground occasionally... In fact, one of the two buttons is "jump" (the other is "shoot").  So, there are cars all around and you have to blast them out of the way to live on.  Also, you have to stay on the suspended road or you fall off and die.  The road narrows and curves and angles a lot so you have to watch where you are going.  More importantly, there are breaks in the road that you have to jump.  If you don't, you also plummet to your death.  What's interesting about the jump is that there are little markers indicating it is upcoming (the screen scrolls fast and there isn't a lot of heads-up about what's coming).  One cool bonus is that it SEEMS that the later you wait to jump, the more points the game awards you for the "jump bonus".  I don't know that for sure, but it seems that way from my experience.

Like most games, it gets harder as you go.  At first you just approach cars and blast them from behind.  Later, faster cars come up behind you - so look out.  Then, the cars start shooting at you.  Also, some cars drop oil slicks that you need to avoid (or again, plummet).

There are power-ups that help a little...  One is a strip you drive across that works like the same in "Vanguard".  Once you drive across it, you become invincible for a while and are able to destroy the other cars by smashing into them.  A small timer indicates how much more time you have left of invincibility.

One last note that is extra cool...  The dipswitches have a setting for difficulty (easy, norm, hard) like many games do.  BUT, there is a separate dipswitch that simply controls the speed that the road scrolls (slow, med, fast).  So you can have any combo of difficulty and scrolling speed, they are independent of each other (although a faster speed is naturally more difficult anyway).

Weak graphics and a simple game, but somehow it all works for Mad Crasher.

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