I played through Caverns of Callisto last night. The game didn’t change much from what I’ve already described. The map was divided into 5 Levels and you need a key to get between each one. There are 8 panels in each section to be collected as well as the key + an ion drive on level 5.
New creatures are added in each level. By the final one, spiders are dropping down from above and little purple arrow things head straight for you all the time. I didn’t try to shoot these as a rule, they all vanish if you can move them off screen so its easiest to run away and come back again.
The image above shows the laser shooting device that guarded each key. These could kill you through the protective bubble, as could little mini volcanoes which had a nasty habit of shooting out fireballs every time I went near them.
The thing that strikes me more than anything else playing this game, is the insane level of difficulty considering you had to play through the whole thing in one go to win This was nothing unusual for games at the time, but using savestates this game took me over an hour to finish. There is no way I would ever have been able to finish this without them.
Once I’d retrieved all the panels and the ion drive, I had to head back to the start again to reach my ship. Thankfully all the fuel reappears in the first 4 levels.
When I finally get to the start, you get a very brief scrolling message saying you can now head back to earth with details of your exploration and thats it.
I quite enjoyed playing through this game, you never have time to get bored and the level of challenge keeps going up. This was a pretty good shooter for 1983, but doesn’t have much to set it apart from countless others.
This is the one Origin game I don’t actually own (I’ve pinched the cover image above from the Origin museum) and there is very little information about it on the web. It came out in 1983, was the second game Origin published and was written by Chuckles himself. I can’t say much on the backstory. What I gather from a couple of reviews is that you are on the moon of Callisto for some reason and mutants steal 8 panels off your spaceship. You have to travel into the caverns on the moon, gather the panels and escape.
The game came with a map of the caverns, an image of which is on the origin museum site. I’ve blown up the jpg to a useable size for when I play the game.
I’ve found an apple 2 disk image of the game on the web. Technically I know I should own the game and given opportunity I’d pay good money for it but thats not likely to happen. So far, I’ve just had a quick go so I’ll save the screenshots for tommorow.
The gameplay consists of flying round the caverns on a jetpack shooting hoards of monsters picking up fuel cannisters for your jetpack and reclaiming the panels which are lying on the ground. There are also blue patches on the ground that surround me in a bubble and make me invulnerable for a time.
The controls are a little tricky to master. Your man always faces left or right – if you level him out and press alt-fire you can get him to face straight forwards and then the next direction you fly you will face. Its tricky to turn round and shoot things quickly when they are behind you.
Regarding the shooting, when you go fowards you point down, and when you reverse you point up. This makes it hard to actually hit anything. The hoards of mutants never stop coming either – this game is probably going to be difficult to finish but using savestates should stop it from being impossible.
Your fuel gradually runs out through the game but there are cannisters which refill it. I’m assuming I’ll have to get back to the start again when I have all the panels so I’ll try to be as frugal with it as possible. Your gun heats up as you fire it and stops working for a while if it gets too hot. Avoiding the mutants looks more likely to work than trying to shoot them.
First impressions are this is an average arcade game of the time but with dodgy graphics. My ZX Spectrum games looked better than this.