Saturday, March 30, 2013

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 20 : Trailblazer (Commodore Plus 4)

Whoa, this was a hard game.  In fact, I would like to shake the hand of any person who has actually finished this game from beginning to end, in one go, and WITHOUT cheating!

Trailblazer was written by Shaun Southern, and released originally for the Commodore 16/Plus 4 by Gremlin Graphics in 1986, and then for most 8-bit computers not long after.  Although I had the game for the Commodore 64, it was the Commodore Plus 4 version which I remember the most.  To be honest, both games were almost identical, however the Commodore 64 version had a split screen two player mode, whereas the Commodore 16/Plus 4 version limited you to one player (albeit full screen).

You control what looks like a football across a gridded road in space which hurtles towards you at breakneck speed.  The road is made up from different colour squares, and some of these colours have various effects on your ball if you touch them.  You also have holes in the road which you must avoid.

Red Squares - Slow you down.
Green Squares - Speed you up
Blue Squares - Makes you jump
Cyan Squares - Reverses your control (Press left to go right, and right to go left)

Difficult jump - plan your approach and speed to get across.

There are 16 levels in total to negotiate.  The first few are relatively easy, but they get increasingly more difficult as you progress through the game.

Don't fall down the holes!

To help you complete the courses, you have a limited number of jumps which you can use to cross gaps in the road, but use them sparingly.  There is also a time limit on each course, and once your timer reaches zero, then it's game over.

The graphics are simple, but very effective.  The track moves at an incredible speed which does mean that the player needs to strategically plan their jumps.  Also, it's not always necessary to try and complete the track in the fastest time - sometimes slow negotiation of the holes can reward you with completing the course with the highest score.

The "Cyan Zone" reverses your joystick controls

And what do you get when you finally finish the game?  A boring message, and a chance to start the game all over again from level 1...  Oh joy! 

After all that hard work, you are greeted with this - The finishing screen!

It is a good game, and although I don't play it as much these days, I do have fond memories from playing it when I was young.  Well worth a go if you have never played it before

The cover

Full cover

Inside cover (complete with cheats and codes written by my Dad - no doubt copied from the cheats section of Commodore User)


The tape

Fortunately you can jump straight to a level by typing a secret code on the main screen. 

Level 1 N/A
Level 2 DARES
Level 3 WAXED
Level 4 RAZED
Level 5 CARDS
Level 6 CRAZE
Level 7 WEARS
Level 8 CARES
Level 9 WEEDS
Level 10 DAZED
Level 11 ERASE
Level 12 CRESS
Level 13 WARES
Level 14 CEASE
Level 15 REARS
Level 16 DREAD