Bob's Bad Day

Title           Bob's Bad Day
Game Type	General Action
Company		The Dome/Psygnosis (1993)
Players		1
Compatibility	1 Mb
HD Installable  Yes (With Patch)
Submission	RJP

Bob's Bad Day is a simple 2D maze type game where the objective is to
collect all the coins in a given level, avoid the traps and make your way
to the exit within a time limit. But that's like defining a horse as a
graminivorous quadruped.

You see, our spherical hero Bob eschews the usual translational movements
in favour of a radical method of rotating the entire screen about himself
and rolling towards its lowest extremity. By varying the tilt you control
Bob's direction and acceleration as he rolls along a platform, while the
complete inversion of a supporting surface allows free fall and thus
access to separate parts of the maze. Imagine holding one of those silver
ball puzzles in the plane of your screen and you'll get the idea. This
full screen rotation/scrolling effect was commonplace on the SNES, but
something of a technological breakthrough for the Amiga in 1993. The
graphics are fairly spartan but colourful and the whole thing moves with
such violent speed that any more detail would be scarcely perceptible.
(Having played a few games, this wordprocessor screen still threatens to
lurch sideways at any moment.)

Once you've built up some motion sickness tolerance it's not too difficult
to get your bearings. The problem is anticipating the effect of inertia
and modified gravity while everything's still moving. Just as with the
silver ball puzzle, you only have indirect control and if you lift your
hands from the joystick Bob will simply continue his existing trajectory
rather than coming to an immediate halt. It is difficult to judge certain
tight corners and this can be monumentally annoying when the clock is
ticking down and you know exactly where you need to go.

To complicate matters, most levels feature a number of unavoidable
gravity-changing switches. If Newtonian mechanics isn't tricky enough, try
dealing with a world where the natural tendency is roll upwards! Weight
defying thrust capacity is another common power-up and is often needed to
bypass a trap. The controls seem very counter-intuitive when you're using
it however, since pushing right rotates everything anti-clockwise (and
vice versa), which is the opposite of the Asteroids norm.

Ultimately Bob steers a delicate course between challenge and irritation,
and is perhaps best enjoyed during short sessions when the brilliant
novelty of the gameplay is foremost in the player's mind. Bob's Bad Day is
one of the very few instances of big name programmers using the extra
horsepower of the A1200 to move beyond long established Amiga gaming
archetypes. And that's reason enough to check it out.

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