Tuesday, August 28, 2018

No Buddies Land

Eternal's No Buddies Land was released in 1991 by Loriciel and is programmed by David Boshoven who is possibly better known as Lair from the group Hotline. Okay, the story is silly but let's roll with it: the lands are flooding and Bud (great name) is the hero of the day who must climb up into heaven to ask for help before everything is destroyed.

Level one is pretty cool but it also introduces you to the cruel mechanics and an overpriced shop!

Five dreaded levels are all about to be flooded but our adventure strangely begins in a dingy castle before heading outside to hop his way through the trees and then up into the clouds. As each level begins, the waters begin to rise just as in games like Flood, Goin' Down With The Captain or Killing Game Show - so be quick and get moving!!

It's a world of hurt from the very start when we encounter the game's cruel nature with a wicked environment that features lots (and lots) of traps and frustrating jumps. We must also contend with moving platforms, acid droplets, spikes, disappearing ledges and much more. Not only all that, but the local wildlife is never friendly and will zap your energy with a single touch. Thankfully, guns are allowed and we are armed with a pistol that can be upgraded in a shop. Yes, there are shops along the way to Heaven... as are hidden side-games and annoying puzzles(Grr!!)

I liked level 2 the most which also reminded me of Elf but I found level 3 a killer and really annoying!!

The visuals are by Bram Leyten, aka Sense of Hotline, and are absolutely stunning with an incredible attention to detail for both the environment and its cute sprites. Animations are also pretty nice but Bud walks like he's rushing to the toilet - gotta laugh at his zippy legs!! Not only do these graphics knock you for six but they slide down your screen at a graceful 50fps using sync-scrolling. This method screws up my VGA monitor each time it attempts to scroll, but it works dandy using a standard CRT monitor/TV. So, I guess it must be a VGA issue?

Audio has not been forgotten and if you remember Monster Business' outstanding tunes then you're in for another treat. Laurens Tummers, aka Lotus, has done it again to provide the most stunning examples of timeless chip music. In fact, I would say No Buddies Land has some of the best tunes I've heard in any game. They are beautiful.

Both level 4 and 5 featured disappearing platforms which I really, really, really hated!!

No Buddies Land is far from perfect. The controls are fast and smooth but jumping diagonally can be awkward unless Bud is already walking. Also, knowing which ledges to hop onto isn't always obvious because some will blend into the background scenery far too easily. Ultimately, No Buddies Land gave me deja vu as I felt I was playing another Enchanted Land: it looks and sounds beautiful but ultra-hard gameplay spoils what might have been...

Technically, this is a masterpiece and one that certainly proves what the Atari ST is capable of knocking out but there are better platformers. There's just too much going on that constantly hurts poor old Bud so I doubt he will ever reach Heaven unless a trainer is used. Download either the floppy or hard disk games and help stop those rising waters?

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