This game came out a bit too late for me to play back in the 80s. I was all absorbed in my Amiga 500 by this time. Still it seems to rank high among C64 gamers so I had to try it out since I like the Indiana Jones theme of it. There is no denying Rick Dangerous is inspired heavily by this except set from a british point of view. Core Designs did this game a company that is still very active today. Of Firebirds finest collections, this game will be high on the list.
The game is a fun platformer where you control Rick Dangerous through 4 levels, each with many scrolling screens (up and down). Rick is equipped with a stick, a gun and dynamite! But ammunition and dynamites have to be used wisely or you might end up stuck or having to sacrifice a life. Fortunately, Rick starts off with 6 lives although he could do with 100 more because this game is veeery hard. Before I go into that I will also say that Rick can also run, climb stairs/walls and jump. The stick is used for poking things to trigger many things. The dynamite is used for blowing away walls, rocks or traps. But it can also be used to kill enemies, which is also what you use the gun for. Although the gun is also used for triggering things. The controls are easy to get into and you can control Rick through his jump or fall somewhat which is handy for landing him somewhere safe.
The first part you have a classic Amazon temple setting where Rick has crash landed and need to get away from the amazonian villains. After that he is requested to go to the pyramids and get back a stolen gem. The third level he needs to rescue some hostages in a german castle (I assume its the WW2 setting here in good old Indiana Jones style). The fourth mission he has to go into the base of the enemy and destroy it before it launches an attack on London. The fifth mission does not exist but a teaser screen tells us that the Barfian Empire are about to invade the earth... :) A fun little ending there.
Well, I mentioned that this game is hard. There is no way I could have completed all 4 levels without going nuts or without Vice emulator and snapshots. :) The screens are filled up with traps you cannot even see, yes there is no indication of the trap until Rick triggers it and dies! A good old "Crocodile in the bathtub" case this one indeed. This makes the game a trial and error thing you have to learn where the traps are. Not only that you will often jump down into areas you cannot see until its too late. Many screens often require quick reflexes also and you have to act immediately or enemies will be in a position that makes the screen impossible to get through. The first screen already starts off with the good old Indiana Jones running away from a rolling boulder cliche, but you cant really see the boulder coming at you, its suddenly there and then its too late. After dying some times you understand what to do. This isnt so bad, after all its the beginning of the game. But its almost the same thing on level 4, only 10 times as hard. With the help of Vice snapshots I could get through that first screen of level 4 after some 30 tries! Imagine that if you had to play through it from the beginning. There is also no indication where you should poke your stick or shoot a gun to trigger something on the screen to open up or remove traps. You end up wasting ammo on walls just to see if they help you getting somewhere. Frequently you have to learn some serious timing on your jumps as well as landing on the correct spots... these will also take quite a few lives to get perfect.
The graphics are fun and works nicely, as well as the music and sound effects. Rick himself is not the typical multicolor sprite with 2 pixels per color, they have used several sprites in layer to get more detail which is nice. He also walks in front and behind objects on the screen. The scrolling is not as good as it could be since you frequently feel that you would want to see a bit lower or higher. It scrolls up and down in larger steps depending on how close to the top or bottom you are. But all in all, its a fun platform game, but I wouldnt want to play this without unlimited lives or Vice snapshots. :)