This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
- Alan Hewston Bit and the attached pipeline, which extends outward, but
always remains connected to the surface (the refinery) at the
Let me first tell you that this series of reviews was originally top of the screen. Wherever the head moves, the body
published in the Retrogaming Times, and then continued into (pipeline) is laid down in the tracks. Upon touching any de-
the Retrogaming Times Monthly magazines. [Editor’s note: posits, they are instantly scored (and absorbed, back into the
Retrogaming Times Monthly is a GREAT magazine, check out refinery). You cannot move backward, but hit the fire button
Alan’s Bio on the contents page for the web location] to retract the pipe back in the direction it came from. So the
These are the Many Faces of the Classic ―Joystick Era‖, those drill bit backs up as you press the fire button, all the way back
games and systems prior to the NES and the PC. Now on to to the refinery. Each maze already has paths that are pre
the review. cleared, so you are not so much digging as you are just col-
―Oil‘s Well‖, by Sierra, is my most beloved classic era game lecting the deposits. You always extent at a constant speed
that most gamers have never heard of. From looking at the and likewise retract at a constant, yet faster speed. But why
details of the votes/replies to the Retrogaming Times survey of retract?
1983 classic video games, those who picked Oil‘s Well most
often had several other home computer titles on their list as You must retract as you cannot take just one path along the
well. So I‘m guessing that many of our readers have not maze. There are many spots and paths on the maze and
played it, but given a chance, they‘d find it to be quite an
impressive and fun game. you‘ll need to hit them all at least once. You‘ll need to retract
to protect yourself from or chase after enemies, get out of
I had a tough time wrapping up this review since I kept finding dead ends, snag the goblets and any enemies for bonus
more information about a similar game, ―Anteater‖, a 1982 points, and of course, the most important reason is that your
arcade game by Tago. Then, just as I was almost done, this pipeline cannot overlap itself. The enemy bombs or mines are
already long review was extended further upon discovery of
the missing link – ―Ardy the Aardvark‖, ‘83 by Datamost. deadly to your drill but are harmless if they touch your pipe-
From the ―Ardy‖ manual, it‘s a 95% match to ―Anteater‖. So line. All other enemies, despite differences in appearance (at
why would Datamost risk a lawsuit and copy ―Anteater‖? Even least 12+ types), are called Oozies and can be snatched up
the title is only slightly different, as an Aardvark is a specific and refined by your drill bit for bonus points. The Oozies will,
type of Anteater. Then I made the connection that the C64/ however, destroy your pipeline, so retract it. Oozies are worth
AP2 author is none other than Chris Oberth, who also pro- more points the deeper they are. The enemies are not af-
grammed the original arcade game Anteater. I‘d love to track
down Chris Oberth today to get the full (no doubt interesting) fected by the maze walls, but rather move at a given speed in
story behind the tale of these three video games. 1982 and a straight line across the same horizontal plane. They enter
‘83 marked breakout years for original games on home com- one side of the screen and if not consumed exit the other.
puters and I hope to salute several here in our reviews this Special oil deposits called Petromins (one per each screen)
year. slow all Oozies for about 20 seconds, and (save for the CV)
This 20th anniversary tribute for ―Oil‘s Well‖ would be more causes any Land Mines on-screen to explode harmlessly.
complete if combined with the ―Ardy‖ and ―Anteater‖ titles, but Every 10K earns another life (Drill Bit).
of the combined 6 versions, I only have the TI-99/4A port - so
that will not easily happen. Unfortunately the TI-99 port of ―Oil‘s Well‖ is easy to learn, contains sufficient randomness, is
―Anteater‖ by Romex is not very close to the same game as quick-paced, starts out slowly, and gradually builds in diffi-
the arcade. The only similarities are ants & anteaters inside culty, speed and maze complexity – making for a great classic.
an underground maze with things to collect & avoid. A better But if you are not a maze game fan, then steer your drill bit
description would be to say it plays like the ―Rodent & Cheese‖ elsewhere as your joystick will get quite a workout, from lots
stage in the home computer game ―Evolution‖ (a 1983 title I of maneuvering through this [dare I say it] ―severe‖ maze
hope to review later this year). I‘m guessing that the other game. You can pause the game at any time you want, but
Romex ports (Atari 8 bit & Vic 20) were probably made the when the action is live, you‘ll make more turns and moves per
same, that is, not like the arcade game. Let me know if they minute of play in this game than 99% of all maze games ever
were. Maybe some day I‘ll review them, or perhaps look for made. It‘s not quite white knuckle time here, but the harder
the C64, Apple II or Atari 8 bit version of ―Ardy the Aardvark‖ you steer, the better your scores.
in issue #154 of the Retrogamng Times.
Some suggestions for future programmers in a modern re-
OK, now we‘ll get back to focusing on Oil‘s Well and how all 4 make might be to add invisible enemies, or barriers, a lock
of its versions are so very similar to ―Anteater‖ as follows: and key, some leaking, or time-released explosive material
one at a time, you must clear out 8 underground mazes that you must avoid for awhile until it drains away. And of
(screens); movement is in 4 directions U/D/L/R extends your course, we always love simultaneous 2 player action! Fight-
pipeline, a la plastic man, or stretch Armstrong; move the ing over the oil deposits and prizes, yet still working together
drill bit into all the corners of the screen to collect all dots (oil to complete each screen before time runs out. Cooperate and
deposits), when completed, move to the next maze; some watch each other‘s back at times, or if your lives were shared.
enemies must be avoided specifically by your Drill Bit, while all
the rest must never make contact with your pipeline; collect a Arcade: None, but similar to Tago‘s ‗82 ―Anteater‖ by Chris
special power pill, bonus points, and earn extra lives; and Oberth, later seen in Stern cabinets.
most importantly, extend and retract your character/object as
necessary to keep it from contacting the enemies. Every maze Home versions: All in 1983 unless noted, by Sierra (Sierra
of ―Oil‘s Well‖ allows you only 99 counts on a timer to com- On-Line or Sierra Vision)
plete each maze, or lose a life. Each successive round has a
slightly more difficult maze to navigate and/or faster enemies. Commodore 64 (Thomas J. Mitchell)
In ―Anteater‖ the days get shorter and the nemesis, the Spi-
der, comes out earlier. Oil‘s Well has no equivalent enemy Atari 8 bit (Thomas J. Mitchell)
like the spider. A longer and longer series of pipes is more
realistic than to have an incredibly long tongue on an anteater. Colecovision (‘84 Don McGauflin)
Regardless, an anteater or a drill bit/pipeline is among the
most unique ever as a player character. You are both the Drill Apple II (Ivan Strand & Brian Strand),
20 | Video Game Trader Magazine | June 2008 |
Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52
Produced with Yudu - Publish online for free with YUDU Freedom -