Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Game of the Day - Teeter Torture

A graphically simple old-school game, Teeter Torture never much saw the light of day.  An obscure game for sure, Teeter Torture is a simple concept done well.  You are essentially shooting bad guys Space Invaders style, but your cannon is mounted on a teeter-totter (see-saw) and you use the spinner (dial) to move left and right across it.

Here's the rub:  As you move back and forth across the see-saw, your weight starts to push it down on that side (just like the fat kid does at recess).  Sitting menacingly at either end of the see-saw, is a TNT detonator.  If the see-saw goes too far down, it pushes down the handle on the detonator and... Kaboom! (Wile E Coyote style).  So, you can't stay on one side too long, you have to run back over to the other side to balance the see-saw out.  And, they have done a good job emulating the physics in that the further out you go to either side, the faster the see-saw tips that way.  So it is beneficial to stay in the middle, and if you have to go out to the end, do it fast and then get out of there.

In addition to dying because the TNT blows up, you also die if one of the enemies comes down and hits you (of course).  And, in fact, if they come down and miss you, they grab onto the see-saw and add their weight wherever they latch on, making future navigation of the level even more cockeyed.  The game becomes much harder when several little guys are hanging off the see-saw putting it more out of balance.  BUT, the difficulty of this is rewarded with bonuses for each little guy that gloms onto your see-saw (the game refers to this as "catching weights").

Occasionally, a little flashing block appears on a level while you are playing and if you hit it with a shot, you immediately graduate to the next level.

Teeter-Torture is fun because of the constant back and forth and the balancing act of avoiding the see-saw getting too out of control while still getting in position to hit all the bad guys to finish the level.  This is accomplished by quickly moving the spinner back and forth (kinda like Tempest).  The game can be played with a joystick in MAME (I tried), but the smoothness (smoothosity?) of the spinner makes for much better gameplay (imagine playing Tempest by moving left and right with a joystick).

It's about as simple as a game can be, and yet tons of fun and challenge (although the challenge doesn't really begin until level 10 - then, look out).

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