Monday, August 03, 2015

Alpha Waves

Alpha Waves is a unique game if ever there was one from back in the glory days of retro gaming. You pilot a spaceship craft that looks like a wedge of cheese and it's trapped within a huge multi-room cube. Each of the inner rooms are littered with platforms that function to progressively bounce you higher and higher into the air, as if on a trampoline! This may sound rather silly (well, it is) but it's also quite the cool concept and one which is certainly well executed.

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 the 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. If you don't use the platforms then gravity takes over and you sink to the floor because your craft strangely has no upward thrust, only forwards. So use them, bouncing from platform to platform, reaching dizzy heights and ultimately the exit.

Graphically this is a mightily impressive game and the Atari ST is certainly working hard to display an abstract 3D world of filled-vectors and zero distance clipping. Those lucky enough to have a faster computer will enjoy even smoother frame-rates but even a stock 8MHz computer performs fast and fluent. Heck, it even runs in ST High so you can see all those polygons in a crisp 640x400 without any slow down at all.

I personally rank this as one amazingly quirky title and a perfect example of what goodies are lurking within the ST's retro gaming archives just waiting to be re/discovered. It might not appeal to all, but Alpha Waves certainly helped invent a new style of game which nobody ever expected and one which plays great and offers a unique challenge of skill and perseverance. Who would ever have thought bouncing your way through a cube could be so much fun?

LINKS

 - Download 8BitChip's hard drive adapted version if you have the hardware.
 - Those that need the floppies should look no further than Old Games Finder.
 - AtariMania features Alpha Waves within their ST database website.