Alter Ego – Review


A shroud of gray was slightly covering the SkarLand, which was a sign that mother Winter was approaching fast. The air was fresh and vivacious and thus heavy, full of thin fog, freezing and covering abandonly everything with hoarfrost. Windows' pane were mostly experienced and witnessed the most this act of nature.

This evening I found a little bit dull, thus my eyes focused more than few times on my C64 laying on the desk. Lucky I was - the day before I found some new and hot „warez”. ;) Another fast glance at my Commodore and... I do not remember how everything was fired up, with my disk in front of my eyes.

Ahhh, that blue screen.... Ahhh, SID.... Ahh, what is it??? Watching those „colorful geysers” ;) on the glassy screen, I decided to write a review. But which game to choose... Hummm, what an interesting title a read: Alter Ego. „It must be something interesting” I told to myself thinking about Altered Beast, which I was playing a lot on my old NES. I was not too far away from my suppositions, in fact. This game looked very interesting, although it is not an Altered Beast's style. I missed here. ;)

Alter Ego – a game written in 2014 by a one-man group from Russia – Retrosouls, which the only member is Denis Grachev – a coder, musician and graphician. This is his first Commodore 64 game. The other ports are available on ZX Spectrum, NES and IBM PC. The rumor has it that the Atari XL/XE port was also considered to be done but due to European Commission coal restrictions as well as coal-diggers protests, the author has not had enuff fuel to fire the Atari up and to continue the project. ;)

The game is a logic one. The best time for these kind of games was, according to me, in the late 90s. It is past. But... well not exactly. :) This game has something extra.

The game is a platform game, showing the entire level on one, static screen with all the platforms connected by the small ladders. Player incarnates a hero (well, who else? ;) who has its personal phantom who copies exactly all his moves and steps in the mirror-way. The player uses a joystick to move his hero in four directions only (up, down, left, right), with no jump option. The aim of the game is to collect all the square coins (or diamonds) spread on all the platforms thru the screen. The fire-button let us to change between the hero and its phantom – both available and shown on the screen. The movements' restrictions makes the game, from one level to another, more challenging and more difficult, forcing the player to use more than a few brain-cells. ;) To make it more challenging - and you probably had guessed it - we are not alone. We have some company, the enemies in form of kinda „flying skulls”. ;) Deadly skulls - once a skull is touched, the player is of course dead (of course ;). We have no weapon! Well... the only weapon we have in fact, is our... or rather our hero's (nomen-omen) „ALTER EGO”.

The game starts with five lives and two (depending on the level) phantoms – Alter-Egos, which number in fact changes depending on the level and decreases every time the phantom-option is used.

The entire screen is presented rather modestly, although very cleanly. The sprite animation as well as that of the background's are really well pixelled, and gives an extra diversity to the static plane.

What can be clearly seen, or rather heard is, in my opinion, a SID's humble use. There is no music at all and the sound effects are really minimalistic. Well, some of you, as me in fact, might find this minimalistic approach not so bad in this kind of games. One may better focus on the game itself.

This very same evening, I have spent with my Commy quite a lot of time trying to solve yet another Alter Ego's levels. The sound's minimalism as well as a very good idea for the game itself, was a bull's eye for me.

The game's difficulty is not a tuff one, but needs in fact some practicing. Especially in the further game levels. The gameplay is well balanced, and one can spent a few good dozens of minutes and trying to complete yet another level without being killed wisely using available phantoms.

I will give Alter Ego 4 out of 5 stars. It really deserves it despite being a modest port, without decent graphics and minimalistic sfx.

Go and give it a try, if you do not know it yet!


Translation: Sim / Wanted Team, Lamers, Resistance, Titan...