Caverns Of Callisto was Origin’s second game published way back in 1983 in their first year. It was written by Origin’s only founder who wasn’t part of the Garriott clan, Chuck Bueche (aka Chuckles) and was an arcade game involving flying around a maze-like cave system collecting objects. The game didn’t get the widest release only ever coming out on Apple II and Atari 8-bit which has led to its main claim to fame in that it is ludicrously hard to track down a copy. I finally managed this at 3am last boxing day after years of looking. After the effort and expense involved, I was always going to have to play it again at some point and enjoy it if it killed me. I savestated my way through the first time around so I thought I might as well do things properly and attempt a longplay while I was at it. I’m still going to cheat slightly and do it in 3 parts using a savestate at the end of each one.
In the game, I get to play an astronaut on a routine patrol to Callisto. When I get there I find the station destroyed and my ship beset by monsters who steal all its vital parts. Stranded in a hostile environment I have to venture forth into the subterraneous “Caverns Of Callisto” to retrieve them.
In true Origin form, this game came with a map although only on paper and it makes the world of difference to have it now when playing the game. It doesn’t tell me where everything is but the whole layout of the world is on here in detail. The first thing I did was fly around mapping hastily scribbling down item locations on those first two levels. I hasten to add, that I used a scan of the map rather than the real thing. On the map F is Fuel, S is Shield, K is Key and C is Component:-
Once you know where everything is, this game is fairly easy. The longplay below represents my first attempt at those 2 levels after mapping them and I still managed to finish with as many lives as I started. There are 5 zones in all but I have to fly all the way back to the beginning at the end so it should split into 3 videos nicely. There are 8 parts to collect in each zone + a key to allow access to the next level:-
After spending way too many hours on Batman Arkham Asylum this week, I was in the mood for an older game and I’m enjoying playing this again. Jotting down notes and navigating using a paper map is quite the oldskool experience. It’s well judged in terms of difficulty with my main problem being that I could have done with a pause button to look at the map and get my bearings. Glancing at the manual in hindsight, I realise now that Escape pauses the game which should help no end with part 2.
I can’t say that there is much use in shooting the aliens as it’s usually easier to run away or fly offscreen and back which conveniently makes them vanish. The jerkiness of the controls doesn’t help here with aiming being difficult and it’s occasionally tricky to pick up items with the little jetman skipping over them. You’ve got to allow leeway for a game this early though. It’s still entertaining and very reminiscent of the sort of thing I used to play on the ZX Spectrum as a kid. Assuming I can finish them, levels 3 & 4 should be up next.