Sunday, December 18, 2016

Potsworth & Co

Another platformer? Yawn, okay, let's check it out...

Potsworth & Co is a cutesy platformer developed by Ben Walshaw for Hi-Tec Software (1992) and is based on a Hanna-Barbera cartoon (which I'd never heard of). I've just learnt that Potsworth is a dog who happens to have a group of kiddy mates - The Midnight Patrol. The story is, someone has stolen a sleep potion and then broken it up throughout five worlds so, it's up to the kids to return it to a Grand Dozer. Whatever that is!!

We are different members of the Midnight Patrol depending on the level and each has different mechanics for powers and abilities. For example, in the first, we are a girl who looks stroppy and she begins underground in a place Rick Dangerous would love. It appears our heroine only has to open her mouth to kill most of her foes.

Sounds weird? You betcha! But I think you're gonna love it. Read on...

Each level is different uses the other characters, who come with their own skillset.

Developers who care!

Potsworth & Co offers gaming styles similar to Doodlebug or Magic Boy but, don't let the comical visuals trick you, this game is not easy and actually very challenging. Each world features many hazards and, of course, a wide range of baddies who aimlessly walk back and forth doing their best to make life troublesome. There are also puzzles but these won't have you stumped, it's more like moving a block onto a switch panel (or a teddy bear!).

Actually, this isn't an easy-to-pick-up-and-play platformer, if I'm being honest. I think it has a testing learning curve thanks to a difficulty level famous throughout the 8 and 16-bit era. Personally, I think a lot more lives should have been given by default and there are some parts of the later levels that are quite irritating. But all this is solved by having more lives or (cough) a trainer which means you're then able to enjoy this game fully.

The controls are a joy and very responsive so exploring is a breeze without any sluggishness. When you finally move onto a new level, the game changes your character which is quite the twist. I especially liked the third world where we play as a dog in a candy land which is bursting with cool mechanics and is positively brilliant fun to explore.

No lame port here but there are... walking guns in a Ricky Dangerous world!

Model looks!

The visuals are stunning. Absolutely stunning and it certainly proves what a developer can do when they care about their product. This looks the business alright and feels quite console-y with fantastic environments, awesome sprites, and bundles of colour throughout each and every level. The scrolling is both fast and fluent which means we're being treated, rather than enduring a jerky lame Amiga port. Amazing, just amazing.

Sadly, the audio is the mirror opposite of those lovely pixels and appears to be nothing more than an afterthought. There are only a few spot sound effects and, even worse, no background chiptune which would have been perfect. Oh, and don't even ask about a title theme. That is absolutely terrible and should be skipped - quickly!!

Why is that? So much effort was spent on the visuals and gameplay yet little on the audio...

Another new level and another different character to master.

The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, this is superb and provides a fantastic venture through several interesting worlds. Each is a vibrant and fascinating experience in its own right and, not only that but a testament to the power of the Atari ST when in the hands of a talented programmer. Prepare thyself for a game that is as challenging as it is beautiful.

This is one of the best 16-bit platformers I have played and I've loved every second with The Midnight Patrol.

Don't wait, play it right now!!
Downloads for floppy disk & hard drive.

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