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

Joe is an adventurer in the grand tradition of people who name themselves after American states (okay, so Joe didn't but perhaps he's called Idaho by his friends or something...?) Yes, he's a Fedora-wearing, death defying hero of the highest order who has spent a good deal of his life looking for yet another near-legendary lost pyramid... come to think of it, those ancient Egyptians must have been incredibly careless to misplace so many large, pointy buildings like that when you think about it - after all, it isn't as though carelessly draping a picnic blanket down obscures the average pyramid and they don't exactly slip down the back of the sofa like loose change either. But we digress somewhat, because our protagonist Joe, armed only with a cool-looking hat and his recently-discovered map, is off exploring once more, and heads into a particularly interesting looking cave that appears to be the only sign of anything even vaguely of note at the point his map says the pyramid should be.

Before we go on, let's face the facts here, Joe's Adventure has been inspired by both the classic Montezuma's Revenge and the pre-Tomb Raider Core classic Rick Dangerous; Joe and Rick even go to the same milliner! Graphically, the backgrounds look similar to the C64 and CPC renditions of Rick, albeit with less detail overall and some rationing of colour, whilst Joe and fiends are animated sparsely but reasonably enough. Sound during the game is reduced to footfalls and spot noises as it was with Rick Dangerous and the effect can be quite eerie sometimes, adding significantly to the overall atmosphere. The music in the presentation screens is very nice indeed though, and it's a bit of a shame that there isn't an option to have an in-game soundtrack from the same composer.

WE ARE THE DANGEROUS BROTHERS
What is annoying is that Joe's adversaries obviously went to the same school as Rick's, since they both share a penchant for placing evil, spring-loaded spike traps so they're only just visible and having ledges around the place that are possible to reach at a running jump but only at the risk of skinning both shins in the process. Granted, Rick's opening Raiders style boulder chase scene that takes a few lives to work out is omitted and those incredibly frustrating pads that trigger arrow launchers are kept back until some progress is made into the tomb (neither are the sticks of dynamite present, which were hysterical fun in the original) but the overall tone of Dangerous-ness is very strong with this one and there, sort of, lies the problem I had with Joe's Adventure - it's a very difficult game and probably a little more so than the titles that inspired it because, whilst Rick Dangerous was a very linear affair, Joe has the option to explore, get thoroughly lost in the caves or, as tends to prove far too easy during the first couple of games, miss something important that then makes both continuing or going back impossible.

The "trial and error" adventuring format is an odd one though, whilst it can be incredibly frustrating a lot of the time when Joe is turned into an impromptu kebab or suddenly plunged into darkness because he should have gone left at one point to get a lamp from a dead end rather than going right, it can also be immensely satisfying too; getting a few screens further than the last go is a major achievement in this game as it was playing the Rick Dangerous series so, whilst it's certainly not suited to every kind of gamer, if you have that slightly bloody-minded streak that enjoys this sort of title and some very good hand to eye co-ordination, Joe's Adventure can recommended but only with the usual disclaimers about Oldschool Gaming taking absolutely no responsibility for any hair or sanity loss incurred. And less masochistic adventurers probably shouldn't apply...

Second opinion :: written by Shaun B. 

Joe seems to be a good name for an explorer, as Georg Rottensteiner realised when he wrote his superb Commodore 64 Joe Gunn earlier this year. Joe's Adventure is an earlier effort for the 64K XE/XL Atari machines, and is a sort of Rick Dangerous-alike affair, but at a more pedestrian pace. The game starts with hero and tomb-raider Joe finding a map that he believes should lead to some lost pyramids in Egypt - a popular storyline, as you may know. After an arduous search with map in hand, Joe feels that his efforts are in vain until he finds a mysterious tunnel close enough to where the map says that the pyramid should be located to arouse his curiosity. Without any further thought as to the consequences of his actions, he enters the eerie catacombs in hope of fame and fortune. Starting the game is something of a familiar affair if you've ever played any 8-bit games in your life; it's a simple screen-by-screen platforms and ladders thing, you see.

Joe can jump (luckily, enough to avoid the roaming undead that appear now and then), and fall a full screen or more without peril unless he lands on something harmful, like the Zombies whom patrol within, or unfortunately placed spikes. These spikes pop up, some of which are difficult to spot, and others that you can't see at all - luckily, leaving the screen to return to it usually resets them. This game plays well enough, however I found that the collision detection isn't always very fair. When I think I'm going to loose a life because I've mistimed my leap over those pesky roamers that patrol the tunnels and paths within, I sometimes don't, and vice versa. Furthermore, there are pixel-perfect leaps to make, which can still be difficult to get right even after the 20th attempt, which can bring just a little frustration.

You'll find sparse sound effects once the action starts, with reasonably defined and animated chunky graphics - kind of pleasing to the eye, however I'm sure there could have been more detail added here and there to the backdrops, for instance. I liked the touch that the lives are depicted by hats, after all Indiana Jones was always okay as long as he wore that manly-looking head-wear. New players should note that the first task is to find the lantern, which someone, presumably a previous explorer, has luckily left that still works perfectly, otherwise no progress in the game can be made after a certain point. The general rules to this sort of game apply, explore every screen and remember the safest paths. There are a few surprises, but everything is pretty much straight forward. A few puzzles wouldn't have gone amiss here, but there's enough of a game to keep you occupied for a while. Overall, something that isn't going to set the gaming world alight like Joe Gunn did for the C64, but also a production that shouldn't be completely overlooked.

Information

JOE'S ADVENTURE

Format Atari 8-bit
Developer Piotr and Mateusz Wisniewski
Publisher ABBUC Contest
Released 2005
Price Free
Review Jason and Shaun B.
Download Available
Screenshots
Intro Screen
Intro Screen
In-game Screen
In-game Screen
Scores
Graphics
Sound
Playability
Lastability
7
7
7
6
   Overall 7
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