Oldschool Gaming - reviewing new games on classic computers
Main review :: written by Mickael 

Bars, as the game intro explains it is a port of a PC game of the "puzzle" type. The first thing worth mentioning is that if you are the owner of a SID sound output extension you will be able to use it in the game, giving you nicer sounding music. By the way, music isn't original and have been ripped from the C64. The presentation is globally ok, with raster bars, cycling colors, text scrollers, and sinus based sprite animations. Anyway, a game is a game, and not a demo, so let's talk about the game itself!

I don't really know why this game is called "Bars", because personally I would have called it "Flags"! The objective of the game is simply to make lines of flags, when you got three of them aligned, they disappear leaving some room and increasing your score. The game mechanic itself is quite simple and you just need three keys; two arrows to move a selection square from left to right, and the space bar to select and deselect. Once you have understood how it works, it's a no brainer, you just have to think fast, and shuffle things around frantically.

When pressing left and right arrows, the selection square moves to the left or right stack of flags, selecting the top one. If you press space, it become selected, and by moving left and right, you can move it to a new stack of flags. Pressing again space will liberate the flag and let it begin the new top of stack. The idea is to select the flags that cannot yet be put together to form lines here and there to get access to three identical ones and stack them together in order to make them disappear. The difficulty comes from two factors; first when you temporarily move the other flags you have to choose where to put them carefully because you risk blocking off access to other flags later, and thus lose a lot of time. Secondly there's time, because every few seconds a new flag appear at the bottom of a stack, so if you're not fast enough the screen rapidly gets filled and it's game over.

HANG AROUND IN BARS
In order to increase the challenge and add some spice to the game play are some bonus bricks that can, for example, increase your score by few hundred points, or acid drops that destroy the three underlying flags when moved and dropped on a stack. These ones are quite useful when you have a stack that's getting dangerously high! Each game session is split into levels; after a particular amount of flags are removed you complete the level and start a new one and are given a code that allows you to directly start to this level next time around. Since I'm a nice guy, I give you the code for the level 2: October.

So, how do I feel about this game? It's quite mixed, in some way I like the idea and finished the first level quite easily, getting to grips with the way the game worked quickly but by the middle of the second level I got bored and decided to stop there in order to write the review. Usually I can stay playing hours on games like Tetris, or Columns, but on this one I didn't really feel a strong incentive to continue playing it.

If the author were to think about doing an improved version, here are two ideas: first, make sure that when the pause key is pressed, the game game area gets hidden otherwise it makes things a lot easier when you start to panic. And second, change the flags or at least add a small border, sometimes it's hard to distinguish some of them (especially the vertical ones that are red/white/green and red/white/blue). In conclusion all I can say is that this is not a bad game, it's probably a matter of personal taste. Perhaps you will like it, just try it!

Second opinion :: written by Andy 

Skoro Design seem to like producing puzzle games; they have released a few, this being the second that I have reviewed in the last month. Like Mickael, I too was rather confused by the games title. The suggestion of "Flags" as a title seems far more appropriate than Bars...

The game play in Flags, I mean Bars, is simple once you have "tuned in" and the game provides more than a respectable challenge. Your brain certainly won't be suffering atrophy and you'd better keep at hand both a can of oil for your joystick and a hanky for your sweaty brow, as the action can become very frenetic. The game is well presented sonically and graphically, but the on-screen flags, I mean bars, can become a little confusing at times because of their similarity. Flags, I mean Bars, may send you a little cross-eyed. There is also some variation in game play with bonuses, amongst other things, and thoughtfully, the programmer has included a password system so earlier levels can be skipped once completed.

Overall, a competent, challenging game that is quite enjoyable, as long as you like the well established Tetris rip-off genre. Skoro Design is becoming one of the "Kings" of Plus/4 puzzle games it seems and Flags (don't you mean Bars there Andy...? J =-) does nothing to harm their reputation.

Information

BARS

Format Commodore Plus/4
Developer Skoro Design
Released 2003
Price Free
Review Mickael and Andy
Download Available
Screenshots
Titles Screen
Titles Screen
In-game Screen
In-game Screen
Scores
Graphics
Sound
Playability
Lastability
7
7
8
6
   Overall 7
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