Review by vgc2000
"A Donkey Kong/Kangaroo clone with some neat new twists!"
Overview- There's just something about these old computers and I don't quite know what it is but I love playing games for them; from awkward controllers and joysticks to the graphical style of those old monitors it all just pulls me in even if the games don't play the best. Maybe it's just the fact that they're just so simple yet so deep and complex and required you to hone your skills like no one's business. I can even find enjoyment out of the TRS-80 Computer when most others don't even want to mention that computer's name. I decided I need to give this old computer some more love so I dragged several games out of my collection if not just to try a few new ones out and get a few laughs. I decided to give this a try.
Canyon Climber is an interesting game and is one of the few cartridge based TRS-80 games that had ports to multiple computers in its day notably the Atari XL and the Apple II. It was also one of the few licensed games from another company. The game's developers obviously took notes from Donkey Kong and decided to borrow many of its ideas for Canyon Climber as you'll quickly come to see once you start playing this game. Let's take a look at one of the TRS-80's more enjoyable games it its library and see what it's like.
Game Play- The game play here is pretty simple. You take the role of a mountain climber on a pointless mission to climb a mountain full of goats and angry Indians. There are three stages in this game. Stage one is the most like Donkey Kong, the girders stage to be exact and has you running along the platforms planting explosives while jumping over crazed goats. When you're finished you have to get to the top left of the mountain and hit a detonator to destroy the walkways. Destroying it doesn't make any sense since you're actually trying to climb the mountain but who said these games had to make sense. Stage 2 resembles the game Kangaroo. You have to run along walkways and climb ladders to reach the top of the screen while jumping over arrows fired by a tribe of crazed Indians. It's the fastest moving and the most enjoyable stage of the three. Stage 3 is a simple platformer where you have to jump from ledge to ledge of the mountains and climb a few ladders while avoiding birds that are pooping on you. It's a pretty funny stage and halfway enjoyable to boot.
The game moves along at a pretty nice pace and grows harder steadily but not quickly that it becomes frustrating and I like that. I actually really enjoy the game play here and I can say it offers a fresh take on the Donkey Kong formula though it's not terribly original in the long run. The one thing that this game suffers from but it's not entirely its fault is the controls. The programmers did a pretty good job here with the controls and they are simple and do what you want but unfortunately the TRS-80's joysticks were some of the worst that were available for the time so they greatly hinder this game and make it seem harder and clunkier than it has to be but with a bit of patience it can be overcome.
Graphics- Visually this game is pretty bland but gets the job done. It suffers from the TRS-80's limited color palette but thankfully there's a decent amount of animation here and everything looks like it should and I never had a problem telling what anything is. I still would've liked to see a tad more detail added in but I'm not going to gripe here as it gets the job done and compared to most other TRS games released at the time it's much better looking than those. I guess you could say that it'd pass as a typical Atari 2600 game released at the time. There's an amusing animation once you complete the third stage where a goat charges you and knocks you back down the mountain where you get to start over with an extra life. It gives the game a nice comical touch.
Sound- The sound effects are once again limited to what the TRS was capable of at the time. They are pretty crude and minimal but sound quite fitting for this game and never feel grating and that's all that you can ask for with the limited technology. They still sound pretty similar to most of the other games in the library released at the same time as this so that's the one negative I can find here.
Conclusion- Canyon Climber isn't going to set new standards for originality or game play but it works pretty well which is especially nice since the TRS is so hurting for decent cartridge based games. I had a lot of fun with this quirky game but never became totally addicted to it like I did with so many other stellar games of the time so I can't give it a real high score. Still, it's a fresh take on Donkey Kong and platforming in general for the time so I'd recommend it if you have a TRS-80; besides, it'd probably only set you back a meager buck or two at the very most.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/11/10
Game Release: Canyon Climber (US, 1982)
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