Thursday, April 23, 2009

50 Great Arcade Games #10 - Cameltry

For those familiar with Super Monkey Ball, Cameltry will seem quite familiar. In Super Monkey Ball the played manipulated a 3D playfield to guide a ball filled with monkey into a goal while gathering bananas for bonus points and in Cameltry the player manipulates a 2D maze to guide a blue marble to a goal while breaking blocks for bonus points.

The similarities more or less end there. While for Monkey Ball players their greatest foe was falling off the playfield fans of Cameltry know their greatest adversity is time. In Cameltry the game is broken up into four different courses(training, beginner, expert, and special) and players must complete all of the stages within the time limit(though they get bonus time everytime they complete a stage or break certain blocks). The mazes themselves are filled with traps that can cost valuable time(both in score & survival) and although arrows are constantly pointing out where to go time can be lost needlessly bouncing off of walls and just generally getting stuck. A single button is used for both gaining momentum(necessary for speed and breaking blocks) and it can also serve as a jump button when you're really stuck. All of this is secondary though to the field itself. Since you can't directly control the ball(outside of that single button) you must move the entire playfield around(ever play those Sonic The Hedgehog 1 bonus rounds? yeah this is similar except you're not controlling Sonic)

The beginner courses aren't particularly hard but expert and special will have you kicking down walls as the multitude of traps will send your marble(s) all over the place and eating up tons of valuable time. Every now and then if you're not doing so well the game tosses you opportunities to win some extra time and even if you run out you still have one last chance provided you match the winning number. The game is more than fair for gamers of all skill levels.

The game does a particularly fantastic job of always yet subtlely letting the player know where they stand. Throughout the stage numbers depicting a countdown are placed to show players how close they are to the goal so they can consider whether or not they should grab nearby time bonuses or hit particular spots for extra points. 

While the game is optimally played with a paddle the PS2's analog stick is a decent enough subsitute. Unfortunately some of the tricks the attract mode pulls off seem well out of my reach due to the controller which is quite a shame but I guess that's one of the difficulties of adapting a game to a unique control scheme. Regardless this is an excellent game with a lot of depth and completely worthy of this Best 50 list.

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