• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
FormatCommodore 64
DeveloperChristopher Phillipse
ReviewAndy and Gordon

Main review

Released for the Game Over(view) Freestyle Jam Competition by Christopher Phillips (ChristopherJam on CSDb) and achieving fifth place (out of six entries), Teradyne Warrior (or Terradyne Warrior as it calls itself on the title screen) is a horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up, a common game type on the Commodore 64.

I’m going to be upfront right from the start: this game feels and looks incomplete. Indeed, its database entry on the Commodore Scene Database states that it is a preview. However, with no sign of the promised full game ever being finished (this preview was released just short of two years ago now) this is being judged and reviewed as is. Being a preview, there are many refinements missing, such as the obligatory colourful title screen. A temporary, “placeholder” title screen even manages to misnomer the game; hardly an auspicious start. Still, a passable Sid tune plays while you stare at this graphical atrocity.

In game, you are greeted by simple but well defined sprites that move smoothly about their business, waiting to be destroyed. There is no music, but a few sounds effects are in place to accompany the action (and I’m sure I know that main ‘shoot’ effect from somewhere else, but I can’t put my finger on it). The headlines, however, are grabbed by the background. There are no rocks, pipes, trees, girders, or any standard shoot ’em up fare on offer here. What you have instead is a mesmerising full-screen animated scrolling effect that is actually, to be honest, very difficult to describe in words. You’re going to have to download and play to witness it yourself. It’s actually quite refreshing and I find myself hoping that this games’ author will finish it one day so that I can see similar effects on additional levels.

Fortunately, although the rest of the game is quite minimal the programmer seems to have wisely spent some time on the actual game engine and it plays really well – the collision detection seems appropriate, the difficultly level increases gradually and the power-ups increase in, err, power, quite suitably – in fact, you don’t lose them when you lose a life. Bonus! And that background effect is stunning! What? I’ve already mentioned that? Well go and have a look; it is truly astounding!

Unfortunately, that’s about your lot for this game. Complete the level and it loops, then it’s more of the same. I’d love to write more, but until this game is completed (which seems unlikely), it merely feels unfinished. This is a shame because what is on offer holds a lot of promise. Maybe the Oldschool Gaming scores won’t reflect how good this preview is, but as a ‘full’ game it’s hard to recommend beyond a few minutes blast here and there. But if that’s what you’re looking for, an uncomplicated blaster, you’re on to a winner.

Second opinion

The screenshots fooled me into thinking that this was some kind of souped up Asteroids, but instead it’s better described as a stripped down Salamander with sideways scrolling, waves of enemies, power-ups and so on. The most impressive thing about Teradyne Warrior is the bizarre LSD-addled scrolling background; it’s a pretty neat warp effect that I’ve not seen before on an 8-bit. The rest of the graphics and sound do what they have to do without any big fuss, but as a bonus there can be quite a few sprites on screen without any slowdown. Aside from the aforementioned background, it’s an understated piece of programming, and there’s nothing wrong with that when you’re dealing with twenty-five year old hardware.

Maybe one problem with Teradyne Warrior though is that it’s a bit too understated for its own good. The game offers little in the way of departure from so many others of its ilk, and it’s got some irritations that kill the player’s motivation to try again. The lack of time given to recover from being killed can see you losing two or even three lives on the bounce before you know what’s happened. Darius was considered an unforgiving shooter, but at least it gave you a three second grace period to find your bearings after losing a life. Some of the attack waves are pretty dull and immobile, and the yellow rocks are a real pain to get past without facing destruction. After a short while, playing the game becomes a chore.

With Teradyne Warrior, you don’t find yourself grumbling at the technical aspects of the program so much as the game contained within: the execution of the idea is better than the idea itself. If the programmer can deliver a few twists in his next release as well as tighten the gameplay up a bit more, then he may be on to something. Perhaps it’s fitting that Teradyne Warrior has “preview” added to its official name, because it does have an air of being little more than a warm up to the main event.