Tuesday 7 September 2010

Rock n' Bolt

At the time of writing I've played roughly half of the SG-1000's library. It's not overly surprising why Sega's first console failed - 90% of its games library came from Sega themselves. Nobody supported this thing!

Even Rock n' Bolt here which started life of as one of Activision's creations was ported to the console by Sega. I looked at this one on SMS Power and instantly came to the conclusion that it was tat... before playing it and realising it isn't.

Rock n' Bolt is a strange puzzle game from 1984/1985. It's a game that nobody remembers and under-sold, but despite looking hideous in this day and age it actually sports a rather interesting gameplay concept. As well as making its way to the SG-1000 in 1985, it also showed up on the Colecovision, MSX and Commodore 64. As you can imagine, when you're dealing with consoles/computers like these, you'll be hard-pressed to find a version that looks nice, but it's the SG-1000 version that gets the closest.

The SG-1000 version was a Japanese-only release, as were most SG-1000 games by that point. It's been localised, so the main character, Louie, has had a shave robbing him of his previous raw sex appeal, and it's amazing how much removing a mustache can damage a game's image. The game's still dealing in dollars though, so it wasn't a thorough job.

The basic idea behind Rock n' Bolt is to secure a number of moving platforms by... spinning some screws into holes. In many circumstances, the platforms will complain if they're bolted down in the wrong locations, and you've got to make sure you can get back to the starting position too. Once all the platforms are bolted down and the exit is clear, you can progress upwards.

Though primitive in design I've never seen a game like this before, and it came to me as a shock to find it's actually very good. The graphics and sound are a little dated, but the game does supply you with a number of music tracks which are triggered by certain events. The SG-1000 version seems to be the only port out there that can deliver both decent looking graphics and music. Even the Commodore 64, known for its impressive sound, can't seem to knock out more than few notes here and there (though it's definitely a more manly game, what with Louie's facial hair and all).

The puzzles also get quite challenging, spanning over multiple screens. And as you're hindered by time limits, things in Rock n' Bolt will get tricky as you make your way to the top. My only concern with the SG-1000 version is the fact it keeps stopping you between levels to tell you something in Japanese. This doesn't seem to be a problem in other ports, so I'm not sure what the reason for this is.

As usual there's not much else that can be described when talking about SG-1000 games. This is one of the only games for the system I actually enjoy but it isn't half bad on other machines too. A shame it's never seen a makeover.

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