BAG MAN game
  • Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
PublisherMSXdev’07 Competition
ReviewJason & Shaun C.

Main review

So theres this criminal, see, who was grabbed by the rozzers (always a painful experience) after what had been a fairly successful heist up until that point and was sent to the Big House. In true Hollywood tradition however, our anti-hero escapes and heads for the mine where he previously stashed the swag with the authorities hot on his tail. Developed by Valadon Automation in 1982 and released in their native France as Le Bagnard, then distributed by Stern, the original Bagman is a pretty obscure coin-op platformer but reasonably fun to play.

However, as the conversion of that original game that Bag Man claims itself to be, this is a pretty weak effort; gone are the coppers who chase the player or the elevators, similarly missing is the ability to use the mine cars that are a mere background detail now, the axes that are totally absent even in cosmetic form or the option to drop bags of gold as weapons against the forces of justice… in fact, the entire design has been boiled down to the absolute basics and now the player merely to runs around the mine, collecting the booty and ferrying it to the surface to dump into the getaway wheelbarrow against a rather strict clock; recovering a bag gives a time bonus but even then the margin for error is incredibly slim and even completing the first level without loss of life is pretty difficult despite the paring down of the action.


The graphics are reasonable and certainly functional, but at the same time nothing to write home about and sound is sparse to the point it may as well be omitted entirely, with spot effects only for major events. Which means it looks fairly bland, sounds even more so and there’s nothing of note to write home about on the gameplay or variety fronts past the layout of the mine changing between stages. But what drives the final nail home for Bag Man has to one of the most ridiculous collections of bugs I’ve seen in quite a while. And these aren’t merely relatively small cosmetic bugs like the one that prevents your high score-beating effort from being recorded or the way the time decreases at a slower rate when the player moves either, Bag Man has what can probably best be described as variable collision detection which will see the player occasionally stuck at the top or bottom of a ladder and unable to move away horizontally unless they “jiggle” back the way they came a little and approach the end of the ladder again. This, for a game that is all about working within a particularly tight time limit, very annoying in itself but made worse by another bug in the timer that means it doesn’t get reset correctly between levels and instead carries on where it left off with the bonus for the last bag of gold added, pretty much guaranteeing the loss of a life.

But these problems all pale into insignificance next to the real show stopper; if the player is carrying the final bag of gold and dies with lives left, the game resets their position to the starting point and promptly loses the bag of gold completely, essentially rendering the level impossible to complete, leaving the little criminal to wait until his time is up and all of his lives lost. And it’s not even possible to drop the bag at the last second to avoid this happening, since once a bag has been taken, it can only be placed in the wheelbarrow. So, basically, this is a simplification of an already un-complex game that has been given a frustrating difficulty curve before being rendered close to impossible to play by a collection of programming errors… a shame because it could at least have been fun for half an hour with a little more attention to detail, as it stands there’s no reason to come back to it after even one game.

Second opinion


Another day. Or is it night? Day and night have no meaning here in these mines. Time has been reduced to the cruel counter that hangs above me in the darkness, driving me onwards… to do what? To run. To clamber up and down these infernal ladders, the ones that ensnare my fingers so that time and again I find myself locked to their rungs. I must run. I must collect the bags I find and drop them in this wheelbarrow. Why? I do not know. What do the bags contain? It doesn’t matter. I have no choice. Once I have picked up a bag, I cannot drop it again, I can only place it in the wheelbarrow. The bag disappears, the counter gains extra time, and I must fetch the next bag before it is too late. Should I manage to retrieve every bag, I find myself in another mine, much like the last. More bags to collect, while the timer keeps counting down, inevitably, irrevocably.

I am the Bag Man. These bags define me.

And yet, I seem to have memories — faint memories from decades ago. But it was different then. I wasn’t alone. There were policemen. They would chase me. Beat me. It’s strange, but even the harsh bite of their night-sticks would be welcome to me now. Anything to break this soul-deadening solitude. And there were moving mine carts, too. I could hang from the roof and drop into them to hide. And while climbing a ladder, I could drop a bag upon the heads of my pursuers and laugh as they fell. I could even grab a pickaxe and wreak vengeance upon them.

But not now. Now I am alone. The mine carts are stuck fast, fused to their tracks from long years of rust and neglect. I stumble breathlessly towards the wheelbarrow, my fingers raw, the bag heavy upon my shoulder. I have no choice. Or do I? Why prolong the inevitable? Why not sit awhile and take the time to write these last thoughts? I watch as the counter races towards oblivion, but I no longer care. I welcome it. Already it is down to three digits. Soon this will be over. Do not pity me. At last I will be free from this mindless toil.

Now two digits… now one… ah! Sweet release!

Oh crap! I’ve still got two lives left.