"A town like this
A town with fish
And we surrender
To the martian blender"
(It's probably profoundly deep)
ST SOFTWARE REVIEW: STONE AGE BY ECLIPSE
by Richard Karsmakers
A while ago there was a visible trend in computer games that
seemed to have been initiated by U.S. Gold's "E-Motion". Thalion
did "Atomix", Psygnosis did "Atomino", "Chips Challenge" got
made on multiple formats (the Lynx one being the best), and there
was even a sequel to "E-Motion" (not quite as good, I seem to
recall). Software company marketing people all got dollar signs
in their eyes and puzzle games became the thing to do. Until the
ultimate puzzle game game came that seemed to mark the end of the
genre through it's totally complex simplicity - "Lemmings".
With "Stone Age", German software company Eclipse pays a visit
back to that time, and it has to be said that it's a highly
successful visit. Mixing the best of "Chips Challenge" and
another game that I have never seen and that may not even exist
(this is just a way to say it has ingredients similar to those of
"Chip's Challenge"), "Stone Age" brings back to life the genre.
In "Stone Age" you're a little dinosaur (the game documentation
refers to it as "dragon", but what the heck) that has to find its
way across 100 levels. Each level has an entry and an exit, and
basically you have to guide it to the exit, starting at the
Each level consists of blocks. Some of them can move in all
directions, some can move in one or two directions. Some others
crumble after you've walked across them, some award you with
extra time, etc. Moving blocks will keep on moving until they hit
something else, and basically you have to lay out the path that
the little dinosaur will have to walk to get to this exit. It can
move on a block itself, or pressing fire can give you a cursor
that can be used to prepare the position of other blocks so that
they can be used to maximum effect later on.
"Stone Age" starts off really simple, but the learning curve is
steep and somewhat bouncy. Gradually you learn how to use the
various kinds of moving (and immobile) blocks like they should be
used, and that's basically it. And quite an addictive 'it' it is!
The graphics are good and functional. You can switch on/off a
parameter that sortof randomizes one of several RGB colour sets
so as to enable extra variety in the level graphics. The music is
quite excellent - as a matter of fact it's totally unlike most
computer music and made me think of Jarre or Vangelis indeed.
This Sven Bauer dude is a very talented composer. The music
playback rate adapts itself dynamically to the amount of
available processor time, which is a nice design touch.
There are two difficulty levels: "Stone Age" for the good player
and "Stone Age" light for the less accomplished one. This proves
that Germans do have a sense of humour.
"Stone Age" is one of far too few games that work on monochrome,
too. Although a noticably longer time is needed for the
converting of the graphics, the monochrome result is excellent
indeed. The graphics are of good quality (some seem specially
drawn for monochrome) and even fade in and out properly. The
music works fine, too.
After the most excellent shoot-'em-up "Wings of Death II -
Lethal XCess", Eclipse has secured a number one position in the
underestimated quality software houses hall of fame with "Stone
Age". It's an excellent game that will keep you hooked for as
long as it'll take you to complete it. Every time when you think
about giving up you miraculously find a way to solve a level, and
that keeps you on the tips of your toes.
As a matter of fact this game is so excellent that I am giving
away the second copy that Eclipse sent. Yes, it's a true
competition again, so this issue has two competition in total as
opposed to issue after issue before this with no competition at
all. Well, you're just so lucky.
All you have to do is read the list of dinosaurs mentioned below
and write down the one that does not fit in the sequence. It's
pretty straightforward, so no hidden depths such as "this one's
out of alphabetical order" or something. Write down that name on
a postcard (or, better, in a letter) and mail it to the
correspondence address. Do note that this has changed recently,
so check out the article concerning it.
Well, here goes: Albertosaurus, Tarbosaurus, Tyrannosaurus,
Dilophosaurus, Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Allosaurus.
Even Norwegians are allowed to enter this contest, as there's no
way of cheating here (Norwegians, especially Nutty ones, are
infamous for their cheating).
Name: Stone Age
Overall rating: 8.5
Hardware: Joystick, colour or mono (!)
Remark: Quite a brilliant game
All "Stone Age" password codes, by the way, were featured in the
ST NEWS Volume 8 Issue 1 "Did you know that..." column courtesy
of Thomas "Illegal Exception" Sandberg (I seem to recall) and
will be featured again probably in the ST NEWS Volume 9 Issue 2
"Panultimate Cheat Encyclopaedia".
Thanks go to Marc Rosocha of Eclipse for sending the copies of
the game. For info concerning this game (including the price,
which Marc never told me), you can write to Eclipse. The game is
probably not easily available, but it's worth while contacting
Eclipse for info. Don't forget to include sufficient
International Reply Coupons!
Eclipse Software Design
Versmolder Str. 41
D-4802 Halle (Westf.)
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.