If you grew up like many of us during the 80s, you may have possibly been aware of (and sniggered!) at a particular title called Pooyan. Not quite a title featuring poo or anything relating to the subject, but in fact a game about a mother pig who has had some of her piglets stolen and the rest scared into hiding by a group of wolves (no doubt inspired by The Three Little Pigs in some minor form). The game was released to the world in 1982 by Konami in the arcades and received a number of home ports - including the C64 by the US development team Datasoft - but, although this port was in 1983, the VIC 20 by this point was commercially fading in the US at least, and so never got an official port of its own.
Fast forwarding to 2013 - when looking for a title to convert to the VIC which hadn't previously been done, Adrian Fox turned his attention to Pooyan. Adrian had been inspired by the resurgence in game development on the platform from the last 10 years and arcade homebrew ports such as Frogger '07. His aim though was to create a conversion as close to the arcade as possible, hence why the title would require 16K in total of memory expansion to help achieve it.
THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO MARKET
Luckily the conversion lives up to the initial impressions, with slick moving and well defined graphics. For those who have never played Pooyan before, the game consists of you controlling mother pig on a rope elevator, which the other piglets control to help move her up and down. Wolves try to get to the piglets in a safe house below, by falling down from a large tree on balloons. Mother pig must shoot the wolves down by firing arrows at their balloons to make them fall, whilst avoiding the rocks that they throw at you. If you let too many wolves escape and climb up the ladder, then its a life lost (as well as the fact that those on the ladder can thwart your movement).
The next level has you attempting to free your trapped piglets. This time the wolves move from the bottom of the screen and use balloons to float to the top. Again you must shoot the balloons to get the wolves to fall to their death, preventing them from pushing a large boulder across at the top of the screen, with the intention of crushing you. Here you must destroy the head wolf to progress, which takes more shots (less with the projectile meat being thrown at it) to kill - otherwise the other wolves will keep on coming. Get past this stage, and you are rewarded to a bonus round where you must throw projectiles down at the wolves flying up to score as many points as you can. After this, the game loops round with increased difficulty.
Graphically the VIC 20 does a superb job of capturing the feel of the arcade. Although blocky, the animations, look and feel of the characters all seem to be present and correct and capture the feel of the arcade very well. The colour scheme seems initially a little harsh with all the red, blue and green tones, but it doesn't do any harm to the game - apart from making the wolves hard to see (as they are the same colour as the rocks/tree bark). Adrian seems to have replicated the colour scheme of the C64 edition (Datasoft seemed to love their reds!)
The only real issue I had was that the blocky resolution of the VIC reduces the playing area somewhat, so it makes for a much harder game overall - which could put off some game players. It isn't too bad, and actually - considering the arcade was a little easy, it provides a nice sterner challenge. Sonically things are solid too - with tunes fairly close to the original arcade simplistic numbers, and are complete with simultaneous SFX - a nice touch for the VIC. There are a good selection of tunes in all throughout the game to accompany the action.
Overall, the only real missing features are a few cut scenes and different enemies/pick ups - but this was at the cost of keeping the game to a common expansion size of 16k, and to be honest, you won't really notice unless you are an avid fan of the original arcade. The game plays in my opinion a lot better than the C64 edition and feels closer to the arcade in some ways, which is a real credit to the developer. The game is addictive enough to keep you wanting to loop it at least a few times and notch up a high score and keep coming back, like the arcade itself!