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Lock 'n' Chase (M-Network)

DoctorSpuds

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Sorry about missing the review yesterday, I've been under the weather recently. I managed to get this review out for you guys today, because I like ya, and you deserve it.

 

We’re back in Mattel territory with Lock ‘n’ Chase which just so happens to be another Pac-Man clone. Lock ‘n’ Chase was one of the several Mattel games that were released both on the 2600 and on the Intellivision. While the Intellivision version was a slow and monotonous mess with unresponsive controls, the 2600 version was snappy and fast and played much like a Pac-Man game should, fast. The graphics are plain and boring, and the sounds are unimpressive, that doesn’t matter, all that matters with a game of this genre is how it plays, and it plays pretty well. The controls are fast and responsive and the enemy AI is challenging and cunning, I would even say wily. The main goal in this game is to collect all of the white things and get to the exit, you are pursued by four restroom signs who will take a life if you touch them, collision detection is very strict so watch your step. You can stop the signs dead in their tracks by pressing the button and magically summoning a locked door, I honestly don’t know where the doors will show up so it’s a bit of a crap shoot on whether you’ll stop them or not, but it’s still useful either way. Much of the difficulty comes from the somewhat restrictive maze layout that consists of several long straightaway’s that will lead you to get boxed in, and a grid-like design that will have you backtracking heavily, but the design simply emphasizes the use of the door system to save you from getting boxed in and losing a life so the maze design is rather smart in that aspect. There are escape chutes that will take you to the other side of the maze, and from what I’ve experienced the enemies are unable to use them to those are an easy way out of a bad situation. Overall this is a fun game to play a few rounds on and put down for a while, like most Pac-Man style games it won’t hold your attention for long but while it does it’s a fun time. Copies of Lock ‘n’ Chase are relatively cheap, on Ebay you can find loose carts for as little as $3.50 free shipping and boxed copies (some are still sealed) are as cheap as $10 free shipping, if anything I’d say to go for a CIB copy since it’s be easier to store, since those M-Network carts are garbage.

 

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Another Mattel game whose design impresses me - like Dark Cavern, they created the enemy images so they could be interchangeably drawn using a player or missile. This allows 3 "sprites" to be in a row without flicker (you and 2 enemy). Enemy movement AI prevents 3 enemy from ever appearing in the same row.

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I like to mention my stacking solution for M-Network carts whenever someone brings up their awkward shape. Those little sheets of adhesive clear rubber "feet" you can buy at most hardware stores. They about about 3/16" thick, 1/2" diameter and shapped like little blisters or tiny clear servings of flan. Put two of them under the label end of M-Network games and then they stack fine.

 

Nice review as always. I appreciate the comparison with the intellivision version too since I was planning on giving that version a whirl soon. Nice insight on the programming side of things too, SpiceWare.

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I like to mention my stacking solution for M-Network carts whenever someone brings up their awkward shape. Those little sheets of adhesive clear rubber "feet" you can buy at most hardware stores. Put two of them under the label end of M-Network games and then they stack fine. Nice review as always. I appreciate the comparison with the intellivision version too since I was planning on giving that version a whirl soon. Nice insight on the programming side of things too, SpiceWare.

 

That is an excellent Idea, I'm gonna have to do that sometime. I wouldn't classify the Intellivision version as 'Bad' it's just very slow in comparison, but the graphics are nicer, and the maze is better laid out. And besides, the Intellivision version is incredibly cheap, I got mine boxed in the wild for two dollars. And SpiceWare, well, he knows things, he's one of the few people out there who can truly appreciate the technical side of things.

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I Totally remember a magazine BITD saying how this didn't flicker and they wish the same guy had programmed Pac Man...Thanks for the technical insight Darrell!

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Pac-Man wouldn't lend itself to this technique - to be drawn using a missile the images need to be comprised of a stack of solid pixels of size 1x, 2x, 4x, and 8x. While you could get a blocky ghostly shape, there's no way to do the eyes nor a detailed ruffle.

Additionally that locks all the ghosts to a single color since each player/missile pair shares a color. And yes, the ghosts in 2600 Pac Man do have unique, though poorly chosen colors. You can see them in Stella if you:

  • start a game
  • hit the ` key (to the left of the 1 and above tab) to enter the debugger
  • repeatedly click the FRAME +1 button in the upper-right
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