Sunday, October 22, 2017

9 Lives

Reach out for the power

It's time once again for some Atari ST box art and today we have 9 Lives. Like most Arc games, this has a simple design but is also pretty comical with a laughing cat that reminds me of Tom And Jerry. I must admit, I laughed at the glowing reviews plastered by three popular magazines! This has to be a great purchase, right?

Sadly, they were wrong because 9 Lives is incredibly problematic, the gameplay borders on impossible! At first, I thought this might be because of the controls, which do take some time to fully master. Once you have, I personally found them to be perfect: it's easy jumping through the platforms and those long leaps are guided by a meter for fine control.

So, no matter what others say, it's not the controls. Not at all. So let's view a couple of screenshots...

What a massive and unique variety of characters this game has.

Just look at those funny faces! I'm sure these were designed by insane people!!

What's going on?

What I feel is wrong are the gameplay mechanics, which present a number of awkward flaws that irk me. The sprites are far too big so each screen appears zoomed in and overly cluttered, thus Bob cannot help but touch something nasty. Sure, I can knock them out with my woolly yo-yo but it's not long before they get up to zap more of my lifeforce.

Also, the level design is incredibly unfair and requires a psychic gamer who is previously aware of every off-screen trap. Argh, those darn spikes!! Oddly, for a cat, Bob cannot fall very far without dying!! However, this produces a hilarious animation effect not too dissimilar to Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons. Love it!

The idea is great but the design doesn't work. Sigh, I think it's time for a screenshot of my hell...

Another life lost... Well, at least I'm going up and not DOWN!! Phew.


The graphics are absolutely superb. Drawn with such amazing detail and, at times, this can feel more like an exhibition than a game! The animations throughout are brilliant - I love how Bob struts his stuff walking across my screen and how he clings to a ledge, just before managing to pull himself up. This game looks the business!!

Audio isn't left behind, the most gorgeous YM Chipmusic plays and it's a belter. Love it.

Looks and sounds great, right? So what went wrong with this game? Sigh, let's view another screenshot...

Oh dear, another life lost at the hands of the frustrating and over-crowded level design...

The CryptO'pinion?

Personally, I think 9 Lives had the potential to be a great and unique platformer but I doubt it was produced (nor tested) by actual gamers. Sadly, I imagine most will play this once or twice before giving up - which is a shame? To think I bought this... but it's still a piece of ST history I will cherish. Just make sure you enable the trainer option!!

Floppies are found via Old Games Finder with an HDD version by 8BitChip.


  1. I have a question, who wrote the 9 lifes music? // Viktor Sandhagen

    1. AtariMania has the answer :)