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Midas Maze Review

Atari 5200 Guy

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Take Atari 2600's Dodge 'Em and mix it up with Super Pac-Man and what do you end up with?  Midas Maze of course!  Originally appearing in Issue 52 of ANALOG Magazine, this 1987 Action! made program took the original developer 5 years to make according to the magazine's article unless I didn't understand the article correctly.


Midas Maze is a maze game similar in fashion to the original Pac-Man, has game play mechanics of Super Pac-Man, and dropped in the cars from Dodge 'Em.  Seriously...this game is almost like a dot-munching racing game where you have to grab keys to open up new pathways.  And you do have to unlock new paths to complete a maze.


For a program that was not done in Machine Language the controls, sounds, and game play are good.  Once the game starts it is a non-stop race to collect all the dots, which are suppose to be pieces of gold, with these vehicles that look like go-karts.  The controls are simple as all the player has to do is push the joystick in the direction they would like their car to go in the maze.  The car's movement, other than direction control, is automatic and moves like Pac-Man; as long as the player character doesn't bump into a maze wall or ghost the character will continue to move in any one of four directions.


The object of the game is to collect all the gold pieces.  Doing so will advance the player to another round with more gold to collect.  During the game play the player picks up keys to open up areas of the maze including tunnels, for lack of a better word, not only on the sides like in Pac-Man (I refer to that game often in this review don't I?) but also at the top and bottom of the maze. Shortly after collecting a few gold pieces a money bag will appear in the area where the computer cars start.  This can be a death trap as you will understand why in a minute.




Collecting gold pieces sounds like fun but the job is made difficult by the four other cars in the maze to keep you from collecting all the gold pieces.  At times these "robotic cars" seem to move at random until they get close to you.  After that it's like watching an old black and white car chase movie.  They can be relentless and ruthless but this computer AI is very good and keeps the challenge of the game interesting.  The player has power ups they can pick up, like gas cans for example, that will turn all the computer cars a single color where they can crash into the cars and send them back to their starting point in the game.  This is similar to Pac-Man eating a Power Pellet, chomping a blue ghost to send him back to his ghost home for new clothes.  This is a limited invincibility and the cars will return back to their normal appearance after flashing a few times to warn the player.  


The only aspect of the game I thought could have been different is the colors used.  The red maze, while different, is nice but after a while becomes hard to look at.  It also doesn't help when some of the items the player can pick up matches the maze in color and becomes completely camouflaged and difficult to see.  Otherwise the game is fun and the sounds are of arcade quality.  The color of the maze is the only complaint I have about the game but it is also one that can be overlooked as the game is addictively (is that even a word?) fun to play.  I couldn't put it down.


Overall Midas Maze is a perfect example of a homebrewed game (in this case meaning that it was for a magazine where the source code is shared) showcasing that not all fun games have to be made in machine language.  This is a very well made and thought out game that mixes together two well known and fun games into a single game idea.  It works, it's great fun, and should be tried out on real hardware.  


Midas Maze could be seen as a sleeper title if no one knew about it or didn't have the tools, nor time, to type the program into their computer.  You know, some of the games by those individuals that make games out of pure love and enjoyment of the machines that they own are just as good, if not better, than commercially-made games.  Midas Maze fits in that category.  If you can find the time download it and give it a go.



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