Genre: Maze Developer: The Mojon Twins/Shiru Publisher: 1985 Alternativo Players: 1 Released: 2013
Uwol: Quest for Money is another homebrew game for the Mega Drive. Like SupraKillMinds, which I reviewed last year, it was released by 1985 Alternativo. The developer is not the same though, this one is made by The Mojon Twins (and ported by Shiru) and SupraKillMinds was by Jack Nolddor. Uwol: Quest for Money is actually a port of a ZX Spectrum game, and there are also versions for the Commodore 64 and the SNES.
Like the other 1985 Alternativo releases, the game comes in a cartridge shell that looks like a 32X game, in a glossy Famicom pirate box also used by Super Fighter Team. The layout emulates the black grid design quite well and the manual as well as the artwork look great and very professional. There is also a cheaper small box version of the game. Now, onto the game itself.
The story is not much to write home about, but it goes something like this. Uwol is eager for money and sets out to rob a pyramid owner of its euros. Inside the pyramid, there are many rooms, of which all are guarded by some bad guys. Once Uwol has 255 euros, he can buy Greece and go on vacation there. Okay, that last part wasn’t quite right. Nobody wants a vacation in Greece anymore.
The gameplay is a bit like Flicky, except the screen doesn’t scroll here. Though Uwol is simple and repetitive, it is still fun. You start at the top of the pyramid and collect the coins in each room. Once you have taken all in a room, an exit opens on the right and left sides for you to decide where to go in the pyramid (sometimes, rarely, there is only one exit). When you’ve reached the bottom of the pyramid, you’ll start over at the top, as you cannot possibly gather 255 coins in ten rooms. So this time, you’ll have to take another route, as the previously visited rooms are now empty. You have to take a few routes through the pyramid to beat the game.
Each room has a few monsters and a nigh time limit. If the time runs out, a ghost will appear and chase you, similar to Bubble Bobble or Snow Bros.. If this ghost or any of the other enemies hit you once, you’ll lose your clothes. An icon will then appear somewhere on the screen, pick this one up to not get killed next time you get hit. You have no weapons or anything to defend you with, all you can do is jump and run. As you progress in the game, you also get points, and these will grant you extra lives, which you’ll need.
Since this is a port of an 8-bit game, the graphics are rather simple. Though they are updated from its origin, they could probably be duplicated on the Sega Power Base without much loss. What you get is simply blocky tiles in the vein of The New Zealand Story and very small sprites with little animation. But that’s acceptable. The palettes look vivid, the backgrounds are varied and the characters are cute. The cut scenes add some extra flavour, but there could be a few more I think, perhaps in an intro.
The music is good! I’m not the best at describing genres, but to me it sounds like typical chiptune stuff, mostly in major scales and in mid-tempo. It fits the game perfectly. I didn’t think much about the sound effects, but they get the job done as well.
Some levels in Uwol are ridiculously easy while others are brutal. I had a bit of a problem with the hit detection, and the time you are invincible after a hit is very sparse, much like the timer. Once the ghost starts chasing you, it becomes much more challenging, especially if there are plenty of other enemies on the stage. With all this in mind, I realized I had to draw a map of the pyramid myself and mark down the difficulty of each level (see attached photo), because some of them were too hard for me. After trying a few routes on the pyramid, I was able to beat the game. Sometimes it was frustrating, but to be fair, the difficulty did more good than bad for the game. There isn’t that much content, though there are many levels.
While Uwol is a good game, it doesn’t quite reach the top tier. As with SupraKillMinds, I’d like a bit more meat on the bones. In this case, I’d like an option screen (with a sound test), perhaps a few more gimmicks on the levels and a slightly better presentation. But still, Uwol: Quest for Money is a fun game with good music, free from bugs from what I can tell, and another homebrew star in the Mega Drive sky. Give it a chance.
SCORE: 6 out of 10