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Quasar (Commodore 64) artwork

Quasar (Commodore 64) review


"The only thing that made Quasar noteworthy on my collection of C64 floppies was that it was the only game I had that started with a Q. When you are six years old, that fascinates you. Q is a mysterious letter. You have no clue how to pronounce the name. It logically follows that it's got to be a cool game. Perhaps the designers of Quasar used the same reasoning. Slap on a nice sounding name, rip off a Commodore game that *did* work out - in this case, Buck Rogers - and success is assured, no? No..."



The only thing that made Quasar noteworthy on my collection of C64 floppies was that it was the only game I had that started with a Q. When you are six years old, that fascinates you. Q is a mysterious letter. You have no clue how to pronounce the name. It logically follows that it's got to be a cool game. Perhaps the designers of Quasar used the same reasoning. Slap on a nice sounding name, rip off a Commodore game that *did* work out - in this case, Buck Rogers - and success is assured, no? No.

Quasar is an action game - term used loosely - in which you control a ship hovering over a planet, shooting at incoming targets of various kinds. Seemingly without provocation, the game switches between planetside and space based action from time to time, while a relentless horde of poorly drawn saucers flies at you, never shooting, always trying to just ram you. No, that's not entirely true, they actually just fly in a straight line and if you're in the way, tough luck. And since you take up damn near half the screen, you tend to be in the way. You, on the other hand, can shoot back, which would be great if the game's non-existent hit detection didn't let your shots pass through the enemy as often as not. If you do manage to hit one, shot and enemy disappear and a new saucer appears at the horizon immediately. What's that you say? Do they explode? Well, duh, of course not, that would involve special effects! Just making them vanish in thin air and adding 100 to the player's score is plenty. Do you know how long it took already to actually back up every shot the player fires with a sound effect? A long time, apparently, because nothing else seems to make any sound.

The "design" of the levels - term used even more loosely - is so obviously a ripoff from Buck Rogers that it isn't even funny. Destroy enough saucers in a ground based mission and some jumper enemies appear next, moving awkwardly from the top of the screen to the bottom, seeming to float because they don't actually animate. They, too, don't have the decency to explode if you hit them. Destroy them all and suddenly the planet is gone, you're in space, and it's just saucers, coming from impossible angles, flying through your shots flawlessly, and "colliding" with your ship just by coming close to it. You'd think that if they felt like redoing an existing game, they'd at least try to do it right.

Fortunately, for the patient gamer, it is entirely possible to get a good score on Quasar. Not because you'll be able to last more than two or three minutes between the total randomness of your own hits and the enemy's collisions with you, of course, but because your score is equally bugged. Sometimes you suddenly get an enormous boost of points for completing a level or defeating an enemy, completely out of nowhere. You could play the game twice, killing roughly as many enemies before dying both times, and end up with five or six times your score on one game as opposed to the other. The reason? I have no idea, but I strongly suspect it is nothing intentional.

Okay, so the gameplay is horribly executed, and there is a near total absence of sound effects; does Quasar at least sport decent graphics? Not in the least. Your own ship, which as mentioned before is huge on the screen, hasn't been subjected to any kind of detail. It's just large blocks of blue and brown glued together and looking only very remotely like a spaceship. The enemy targets are all still, unanimated images with very little use of colour. The planetary backgrounds consider of horizontal lines in two colours, which alternately blink to simulate movement. The space battles are even simpler. Black screen, a couple of white dots, bingo! We got space, Houston.

No, I regret to say it, but Quasar has absolutely nothing going for it except it's cool name. Actually, I don't regret that at all. They tried to rip off an existing title - and not even a very brilliant one - and like so many other imitation games, they got no farther than taking the general idea and totally missing the strong points that made it playable. Everything about Quasar reeks of haste, from the sudden level transitions and the lack of sound and explosion graphics, to the major bugs in scoring and hit detection. Some games spend a long time in development and when they finally hit the stores, they disappoint most players. This is inevitable. Quasar doesn't even look ready for beta testing. This is inexcusable.

If Quasar had had a different, less noteworthy name, like Space Warrior, or Astral Battle, or Kosmos Blaster or whatever, I would probably never even have played it. It would have been better.

Rating: 1/10

sashanan's avatar
Community review by sashanan (December 09, 2004)

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