Dungeon Jukebox

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blort II (1987) Hennsoft

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would achieve a first in internet history.  Let alone that, I never thought that first would involve my little, rarely read video game blog.  But here I am, on June 21, 2013.  The first day of summer.  It's currently 10:32pm, EST.  And I am making obscure video game history.

So what is it, you may ask, that I am writing about that could possibly deserve such a hyped up introduction?  What on Earth could possibly merit such pomp and circumstance?  What's with all the fanfare?  Well, I will tell you:  Tonight, I am reviewing Blort!  A 1987 DOS game by John Rudzinski of Hennsoft.  I have searched high and low on the great world wide web and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I am the first person in the history of the universe to review this game.  Take a minute to soak that in......

Now that I have you whipped into this frenzy, what do you say we continue on in this carnival like atmosphere......

Blort II is a simple shooter written in 8088 assembler and was assembled in Eric Isaacson's A86 Assembler, which apparently was a public domain utility available in the late 80's.  Blort II was released as shareware, with a the option to send five bucks to John to help him keep Hennsoft afloat.  If you were interested in the Source Code for the game, John would send you a floppy disk containing the files BLORTII.ASM, BLORTII.COM as well as files for the original Blort!, BLORT!.ASM and BLORT!.COM.

Speaking of the original Blort!, it appeared as a type-in program in the magazine Computing Now!

Okay, that's enough history and tech specs.  Let's get down to it, shall we?  We get a little backstory when we first boot up the game:

Okay.....so let me get this straight:  I work for NASA and was sleeping on the job, which led to someone or something named Sludge stealing a shuttle and accidentally shooting down a UFO?  Okay, I'll buy that for a dollar.  What's that?  The shuttle is out of control and it's hopeless, so I should just shoot the rest of the UFO's that appear?  Alien genocide.....check.  No problemo.  So let's jus-wait a second.  What the hell?  Am I reading this right?  Aliens will use landmines in level 2?  Landmines.  In outer space.  They're going to use landmines in outer space.  Screw it, let's just roll with it.  Off we go!

First things first, because I was playing this in DOSBox, I had to slow my CPU cycles WAAAAAAAAY down because the ships were appearing as little more than a flicker on the screen here.  While I was slowing my CPU cycles, I accidentally hit the space bar and shot down my first UFO!  See?   100 points, all for me! I didn't even mean to do it!

Anyway, the ship slides back and forth along the bottom of the screen all by itself.  By pressing either Z or X on the keyboard you can force the ship go either right (X) or left (Z), unless of course you are at the edge of the screen.  Spacebar fires your weapon, as mentioned.

The UFO flies up at the top, back and forth, back and forth.  So what we've got here, is essentially an extremely simplified version of Space Invaders, with only one UFO to contend with.  Now adding to the difficulty is the fact that each UFO flies at a different speed and you have to learn the timing to shoot them down.

Alright.....So there's the landmine in the middle of the bottom of the screen, there.  Just sits there, effectively cutting your play area in half.  However, if you press L, the landmine will detonate and you'll be clear to roam the lower playing field as before.

Don't run into the landmine, because this will happen.  I blowed up.  

There are only two levels to the game and it it repeats over and over again, but as I said the UFO's fly at different speeds, which you have to learn to time for and there's the always pesky landmines, which are a huge pain in the neck when you're not paying attention.  You get three shuttles (lives) before it's game over.  

Blort II is a fun little time waster.  It's got that "I'm just going to give it one more go" quality to it.  I started to play the other night and before I knew it, an hour had passed.  It can be addictive when you're trying to beat your old high score.  I'm aiming to become Blort World Champion! I would recommend it to anyone who's into retro arcade style games.  You can download it from Abandonware and Old PC Gaming.

Well, there you have it, the world's first on line review of Blort II!  I hope that you've enjoyed this little bit of pixilated history making.  I think I may have tracked Mr Rudzinski down on twitter.  If it is indeed him, we'll see if we can get an interview and pick his brain about all things Blort and Hennsoft and find out if he ever completely the promised game Protek, which was set for a May 1987 release.  Keep your fingers crossed!

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