Sunday, December 18, 2016

Potsworth & Co

Here we have a cute platformer released in 1992 by Hi-Tec Software which is based on an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon (which I'd never heard off until a sneaky google). Okay, so Potsworth is a dog who happens to have a group of kiddy friends called The Midnight Patrol. Someone evil has stolen a sleep potion and conveniently placed the pieces within five worlds. It's now up to the kids to find these and return it to the Grand Dozer, whatever that is!

Anyhow, this means we get to play as the various different kiddy characters from the tv show and first up is a rather stroppy looking little girl. Her adventure oddly places her underground and remind me of Rick Dangerous. A wide range of baddies are aimlessly walking back and forth doing their best to make life troublesome but it appears our heroine only has to open her mouth to kill them. Other characters fail to replicate this mechanic but they often have their own unique function... Most enemies are mortal, but some aren't and I especially liked the walking revolver who bobs up and down when he's about to shoot.

There are also numerous puzzles to solve along the way but don't worry yourself too much because rocket scientists need not apply. Many are simple and might require dropping a heavy block (or teddy bear!) onto a push-switch, for example. These tasks certainly add a spark of interest and offer a great variety which I thought was an enjoyable attraction. Each new level sees us change character and location, and I especially enjoyed the third where we are the silly dog within a colourful candy land. It's bursting with interesting mechanics, many awkward platforms to learn, and is overall positively interesting to explore. (displayed above)

The one thing which remains a constant throughout is the superb controls which are precise, responsive and never feel laggy. The visuals are also truly superb with fantastic locations, awesome sprites, and loads of colour with scrolling that is both fast and fluent. Audio is sadly the mirror opposite and appears to be nothing more than an afterthought with only a few spot effects and no background chiptune. The theme tune is even worse and should be skipped as quickly as is possible, just like in Alien World which is another humongous disaster of audio waste!

Potsworth and Co has many wonderful characteristics - great controls, huge levels and gorgeous graphics which all make for a fantastic experience. Each map is very different, with styles and mechanics that help keep gameplay exciting and interesting. What I don't like are the limited number of lives and the level design is often awkward with frustrating and finicky platform jumps. But it's the lacking audio which disappointed the most and playing within an almost silent environment fails bigly. Overall, this is such an incredible venture and I'm sure all platformer fans everywhere will love it. There might be some frustrating quirks, that stop it just shy of being a classic, but I feel Potsworth & Co is actually one of the best platformers on the Atari ST. A hidden GEM this one, folks. Play it. Love it.

LINKS

 - Peter Putnik from 8BitChip is addicted to this game!! Download his hard drive adapted version.
 - Those who require the floppy disk version should check out Old Games Finder.
 - I recorded a youtube video a long time ago which features me struggling along on level one.