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Dossiers > Articles and Reviews in English > Games > [ENG] 1982: The first three MSX games ever...

[ENG] 1982: The first three MSX games ever...

Reviewed in March 2003

Introduction:
A bit different from all other reviews we are looking this time at what we believe are the first three MSX games ever released: Night Flight; Saurusland and Star Blazer. There is no real or official source that can confirm these were indeed the first games on MSX but they are the only ones that are namely released in 1982 - probably developed a few months before the official release of the MSX in early 1983. The gameplay and graphics are very limited in these games, explaining why we review all 3 in one go.

Night Flight (Colpax / Tomy):
Probably released for the Tomy console originally, the MSX version looks very similar. Upon launching the game you immediately notice how basic this game is by the standard of its graphics. The game objective is very simple: draw squares with your plane without being hit by the lightning or shooting star - once you complete 80% of the screen you move on to the next stage. The game can be played in 1-player mode or 2-players (each plays in turns) and you have the option between Amateur mode (pretty slow) or Pro mode (little faster, no big difference). Tactic wise I only encountered two enemies in the 5 levels or so I played. The lightning is always present and moves randomly around the screen, bumping against the filled blocks you formed. I advise you isolate the lightning from the beginning of the stage by building a wall of blocks so that you can concentrate on filling blocks in other parts of the screen - watching only for the shooting star that shows up from time to time. I personally did not notice any increase of difficulty when moving on to higher levels in the game but it might be that you have to fill up a larger part of the screen to move on.


Night Flight: Objective 80%!

Scoring points is easy, for each dot your plane draws you get one point and you receive a bonus for each block you complete - the bigger this block is, the more points you get! Some boring music and sound accompanies you during the game and the only real thing that seem to change during play graphic wise is the colour of the buildings each time a block is completed. In fact the most funny part of the game is when you are hit - you get a chance to rescue your life by jumping out of your plane in parachute and hope to land into a passing friendly plane... it's a random thing like you often find in pinball games but it's nice the developper thought about it to bring some spice to Night Flight. Overall I will conclude that Night Flight's concept is nice but there is not much to it to keep it entertaining enough.


Saurusland (Colpax / Tomy):
The action takes place a couple thousands years ago and you play a caveman trying to save your life from dinausors and erupting volcanoes. As in the previous game, everything is relatively basic with the possibility to play in 1P or 2P mode, this in two difficulties: Amateur and Professional.
I started the game straight in Professional mode, and in 30 seconds you have almost seen the full extend of the game... it's easy and not even the lava scares you. When you die, you go to paradise, if that is a consolation. Music and sound are worse than in Night Flight and I will quickly conclude this is one of the worse MSX games I've ever seen - but you might want to give it a try just to remember what a bad video game was for 1982 standards!


SaurusLand: Back to the Stone Age.

Star Blazer (StarCraft):
In Star Balzer you pilot a jet fighter in seek to fullfil the mission assigned by the commander of your batallion. This is one of the early shoot'em ups with horizontal scrolling on MSX and has an interesting scenario by assigning you to a mission for each level. For instance, your first one will be to destroy a radar, in level two you should attack the tank that is always in front of you and I bet there are more than a dozen other missions in order to finish the game. Of course, it's not that easy - you have limited fuel and limited bombs. Only when you run out of fuel, you lose a life - you can run out of bombs but that gives you still a chance if you are lucky... from time to time a supply is sent to you (you still have to catch it) allowing you to make more bombardements, and also do not forget to take the fuel supplies when they show up!


Star Blazer: one of the (very) early shoot'em ups

This is a nice game, not very sophisticated but the missions are challenging and frustrating enough to restart game after game so you can finally see what the next mission will be - and of course this goes on and on. On the minus side is that there is no music and the sounds are really boring (especially the shooting). Graphics are below average for a MSX1 game with a few trees, cactuses, oil reserves and various masts here and there that you can destroy for your pleasure or for the sake of the mission. To make your task a bit more difficult the more you advance in the game the more opposition you will get - your attacks being taken with much seriousness by the enemy!

Pros:

  • All three games are very simple to understand.
  • Star Blazer is the best of the 3 games.
  • Nice to see what 1982 MSX games are about...


Cons:

  • They are really far from being good (except Star Blazer).
  • Graphics, sounds and musics are poor.
  • Not so much fun at all, little imagination from the developers.


Game Specifications:
MSX1 - Night Flight and SaurusLand are tape games in Basic. Star Blazer was released as a ROM.

Where to get them from:
Discontinued games. Buy second-hand on Auction Sites (if you can find them, I doubt they are very common) or just search for them on the web, they are easy to find.


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