Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Video game of the week: Satan's Hollow

In the early 1980s, the arcades were full of spaceships defending the Earth, spaceships defending the moon, spaceships defending Mars, and spaceships defending ... well, you get the picture. There were a lot of video games with a lot of spaceships shooting down a lot of bad guys.

Then along came Satan's Hollow from Bally Midway in 1982. Right away gamers could tell there was a difference. Not only were the colors fresh and strong, they were bright. Lots of warm colors, reds and oranges and yellows. Most shooting games at the time were on a dark deep-space background of little more than floating and twinkling stars.

And the villains of Satan's Hollow were different. No longer was the gamer saving some planet from alien invaders. No, no. Here you faced off with Satan himself, perhaps for the very souls of all mankind. Or maybe not. Who knows? It was just a game, but it was a ton of fun.

It had some typical shooting-game action. You piloted a craft at the bottom of the screen, moving left and right while shooting at falling gargoyles in the burning sky above. Yes, I said gargoyles. And yes, I said burning sky above. But so far it seemed like a typical shooter. But you also had a shield you could use, though it only lasted for a few seconds.

And you had to build a bridge on the right side of the screen. How did you build this bridge? First, you had to shoot one of the bad guys. Then a piece of the bridge would appear at the bottom left of the screen. Next you move your craft over to pick up the new piece of bridge, and then you carry it to the right of the screen to drop it off. Eventually, once you killed enough gargoyles and captured enough bridge pieces, your bridge was completed and you could cross the bridge over to another screen.

Which is where you faced Satan. Which, to be honest, was kind of a disappointment. Yes, Satan was fast. And yes, he dropped little missiles really, really fast. But the graphics for Satan were kind of lame, which sucked considering how awesome the graphics were for the rest of the game. Satan looked like a little red square, little better than something you'd find on one of the home video game systems of the day.

Still, it was awesome game play, and it wasn't something new and different in the arcades of the time.

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