• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatAtari 2600
DeveloperBob Montgomery
PublisherAtari Age
ReviewJason and Christian

Main review

Working in a large, busy hotel is, if the various “reality” television shows aren’t trying to make it worse than it actually is, appears to be a difficult and stressful job and, for one maid in particular, things are going to get worse because she’s charged with making her way up through the hotel where she works, traversing the floors via the staircases because she needs to avoid using the elevators since they are totally out of control and getting crushed is a distinct possibility – talk about having health and safety issues in the workplace! And working in the maintenance department for this particular hotel must be even more of a nightmare, although all of the elevators going wild at the same time like that must be worth a bit of overtime to fix.

Getting Maidy through the corridors safely falls to you dear gamer and, because the poor woman is rather panicked by her situation, she doesn’t want to stop moving between stairwells; in other words, once she is set in motion, she’ll tootle long under her own steam until told to change direction via the joystick. If it looks like she’s in danger of being squashed by ne of the elevators, holding the fire button down will prompt her to run for a bit, but since the scoring is based on the remains of the bonus timer (which is added as Maidy ascends the staircases and then reset for the next floor) and use of the “leg it” option causes that timer to decrease far more rapidly, the player is actively encouraged to play without making the poor lass run as much as is possible.

Once our heroine makes her way out of the current screen at the top, she moves on to the next part of the building; the change in area is indicated by new background colours and the motion of the elevators changing and, ironically, as the game progresses, some of the nastiest ones to avoid are actually the slowest moving since, if they happen to be on the same floor, they take longer to get out of the way and, since waiting for them involves waiting in the shaft next to the slow mover, the odds of being flattened by another elevator are greatly increased.

Our uniformed friend is very cute and, although her animation is limited to a mere two frames, she moves quite well as she wiggles her way around the building. The hotel itself is bland, featuring a selection of dingy colours on the walls… which is much appreciated, since it’s far more true to the environment than splashing rainbows around like a lot of 2600 games tend to do. The elevators themselves are semi-transparent and the stairs are simply triangles at the sides of the play area, but whilst these other graphics are limited, they’re functional and there isn’t any ambiguity over their roles within the game. Similarly, the sound is either a reasonable but not particularly memorable in-game tune or, when sound effects are enabled, just the clacking as the elevators change direction and in both cases interspersed with spot sound as Maidy climbs the stairs and short jingles as she either dies or completes a level.

Elevators Amiss, in many ways, harks back to Ye Olde Days of video game design in that it’s simple to play, elegant in how it’s put together, offers a challenge that has been well tuned and is downright playable with it. And it’s rather reminiscent of the origins of the video games industry, a time when it was possible to produce a game based on just about any subject and, regardless of how surreal or obscure that idea was, people wouldn’t bat an eyelid. And lets face it, how many people aren’t attracted to the idea of dressing up as a French maid and legging it around a hotel for example… or is that just me?

Second opinion

A maid isn’t exactly everyone’s favourite character for a video game, but Jason asked nicely so I gave this one a try… In Elevators Amiss, you’re the maid in a hotel and your task is to get to the top floor – sounds easy, but unfortunately, the elevators have gone crazy, so you have to avoid them and use the stairs at the end of each floor. Once you reached the top floor, the next level will be displayed, with more and/or faster elevators, and a different colour scheme. There is a timer running down on each floor; the faster you pass that floor, the more points you’ll be rewarded with. The twist in this game are the controls – our maid is a busy bee, she just can’t stop moving, and holding down the fire button makes her run even faster!

Graphically, the game is a mixed bag: The maid sprite looks excellent, very well defined and great use of colours. The elevators are… well, functional and the playfield itself only consists of coloured stripes, each one representing a floor. A little bit of detail like doors or cabinets and a nice rooftop, maybe (and bung an Activision logo at the bottom and we’d have Keystone Kapers! – J =-) would have added so much more. Besides, the choice of colours isn’t always optimal, for example the third level is using rather dark red and green tones which have about the same brightness level as the gray elevators. Bad idea, especially if you’re playing on real hardware using that rotten RF lead that also worked fine as an antenna and let you watch a fizzy version of Channel 2 in the background while playing when there still was analog TV. I do like the sound, a happy little tune is playing during the game, and the sound when the maid is climbing the stairs is class. It might not exactly be Thrust or Aztec Challenge, but it’s more than you usually expect from a typical 2600 game.

The playability is good for a quick blast, at least once you got used to the controls. I’d really have appreciated a bit more variety, like bouncing balls (and shopping carts?) or the hotel manager, or maybe just elevators changing directions. The biggest drawback for me is the (normal) difficulty level – that game is damn hard! Then again, there are four difficulty levels to choose from, and for me, “expert” seems to be easier than “normal”. I recommend playing it in “child” mode anyway, but that’s probably only me getting old…