Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 29: ROM Check Fail

The objective of ROM Check Fail is simple. Clear all the enemies from the screen. What makes it challenging is that every five seconds everything, the hero, the villains, the setting, the music, literally everything, changes. From Link slashing asteroids with his sword to Mario jumping on Space Invaders to who knows what.

ROM Check Fail takes elements from classic games like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Spy Hunter, Qix, Arkanoid, Buster Bros., Gauntlet and others that zipped by faster than my brain could process them, and mashes them into a frantic, kill or be killed celebration of all that is video games.

And if that isn't genius enough, what really makes playing ROM Check Fail compelling is that each element, from goombas to ghosts, follow the rules of their original games. The player's ship from Space Invaders, for example, can only move horizontally while Pac-Man can move an all four directions but has to eat the energizer to be able to defeat enemies. Every five seconds the strategy needed to win changes. Sometimes the only thing you can do is wait for the next change to happen.

The reward for clearing all twenty levels is, appropriately, a barrage of final screens from a number of games. Since most of the games used for ROM Check Fail, like Asteroids and Defender, don't actually have ends, these come from Out Run, Street Fighter and others.

ROM Check Fail is by no means a deep game, but it is unique, interesting and usually fun. Sometimes the randomness works against it, with some screens being at best impossible to clear and at worst impossible to survive. But with ROM Check Fail, like weather in Kansas, if you don't like it, just wait a few seconds.

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