Friday, September 28, 2012

Game of the Day - Heated Barrel

Old West shoot-'em up, side-scrolling, platforming action. It's not just cowboys vs indians.  Heated Barrel is cowboys vs other cowboys and indians and bandits and bears and bulls and all kinds of other crap.

You are the protagonist with an itchy trigger finger.  Drawn of cartoony-type early 90s graphics, you plow your way thru different western towns and scenes, inevitably facing bosses that take some time to vanquish.

The controls are simple.  Along with your 8-way joystick, you have two buttons, fire and exploding barrel (bomb).  You can fire in any direction (so that's good), and use the barrel bomb at any time - you turn into a barrel and explode outward, killing everything in a small radius.  The number of bombs is finite but you can always collect more.  The number of bombs you have left is displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen.

Power-ups are plentiful, but simple.  Lots of "double-shot" and bomb power-ups.  A few for increased speed and occasionally, you get a 1-up (extra life).  Other stuff is infrequent.

The game has good action although is a little easy to start.  The difficulty level definitely starts to increase in earnest on the 3rd level (after you defeat the bull).

There are little thoughtful touches... For instance, when some of the bosses throw grenades or dynamite at you, after they explode they turn into your power-ups.  But, mostly, this is a straight-forward scrolling shooter with light, fun graphics.

A word about display,  On the MAME setup I play, the default choice for aspect ratio is the typical 4:3.  In many games that is not the native (correct) display for that game.  In Heated Barrel, the game's actual ratio is 1:1 and by changing the display, the game gets much better looking (as you can imagine).  Sometimes, graphics aren't great or look a little less than sharp and I don't always think about changing the video aspect ratio.  That's a mistake.

5 comments:

  1. I forgot about this one! Cool, I'll try it tonight! Thanks, Zach!

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  2. The game would have been displayed at 4:3 on real hardware, even if it looks worse..

    btw this is still considered NOT WORKING, hence the big red warning at startup, there are still some rather serious protection issues (collisions are very, very wrong at the moment, and you're probably lucky not to have had the game crash on you)

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  3. I played World Version 3 of the game on MAME .143 and it works pretty well. While the collision detection is a little off (sometimes a bullet that looks high will clip you), it still is a fun game to play. Earlier version of the Roms had some issues like invisible bosses, but haven't seen that since I've played this version of the game on MAME .143. And actually, I've played through several levels several times and haven't seen a crash yet. So, thanks for the warning, but for those of you who haven't played, it's still worth checking out even though it's still not a finished MAME-perfect game.

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  4. Yeah, just thought I'd mention it because it's something we're working on at the moment, specifically I've been looking at the hitboxes. I don't think the original had great collision, but it's slowly getting closer to real hardware.

    Kale has also been running some tests on the real hardware ( see http://mamedev.emulab.it/kale/ ) in order to try and figure things out better, some results have helped make things better, others have caused other issues because it turned out problems were being 'solved' in the wrong place altogether.

    The protection, known as the Seibu COP chip is used in quite a few games, and remains one of the more annoying challenges we have to deal with :-)

    The protection also controls things like enemy movements, bullet directions and a whole bunch of other issues which if implemented incorrectly will result in unexpected behavior which may affect the game difficulty (a lot of the ops are maths functions used by enemies etc. to calculate where the player is relative to them)

    Hopefully one day we'll get to the bottom of it, at which point it will be interesting to see how close the current approximation is.

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  5. The previous comment is brought to you by the Lord(s) of MAME!

    Thanks for the honor of posting this detailed info.

    ReplyDelete