Monday, August 03, 2015

Alpha Waves


Alpha Waves is a unique game if ever there was one! We are to pilot an odd spaceship (that looks like a wedge of cheese) which is trapped within a massive multi-roomed cube. Each of these inner rooms is littered with platforms that function to progressively bounce you higher into the air and is your means of transportation.

We bounce independently, as if on a trampoline. But this is only when using the platforms, if you don't then gravity takes over and you sink to the floor like a lead balloon - because your craft strangely has no upward thrust, only forwards. So use them wisely and skim from platform to platform to ultimately reach the dizzy heights and an exit. All this may sound silly but it's quite a cool concept that is well executed and very easy to pick up and play.

  
Oh heck, how am I going to reach that platform over there? Hang on, somethings coming!!

Two gameplay modes are available: "Action" has a time restriction whereas "Emotion" gives you all the time in the world and is useful for newcomers or those simply wanting a more leisurely experience. Controls are best with the joystick and navigation is improved by pushing up or down to change your viewing angle. Interestingly, a shadow is cast by your craft which helps to pinpoint your position perfectly. Some rooms contain obscure baddies which can annoyingly get in the way and knock you off position - watch out for the "snake" creature!!

Graphically this may appear simple or even crude but it's actually mightily impressive! The Atari ST is very working hard to display an abstract world of 3D filled-vectors with zero distance clipping. Faster computers will knock it out the park but the 8MHz Atari ST performs so fast and fluently. Heck, it even runs in high resolution so you can see all the polygons at 640x400 without any slow down (but I personally preferred the whacky colours in low resolution).

  
Ah, these look like an easy couple of rooms... until a circular abstract beast decided to attack me!

I personally rank this as an amazing game and a perfect example of what is lurking within the Atari ST archives just waiting to be re/discovered. It might not appeal to all, but Alpha Waves certainly helped invent a new genre which nobody ever expected and it which plays great with many unique challenges which will require lots of skill and perseverance. Who would ever have thought bouncing your way through a cube could be so much fun?

Alpha Waves can be download and run from a floppy but is obviously best run from your hard disk. Enjoy!!

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