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|Rating:||4.5 out of 5|
If you've ever suffered the quandry of whether to play Robotron or Venture... you might want to give Space Dungeon a whirl and play them both! With the dual joystick madness of Robotron and the maze of treasure rooms in Venture, Space Dungeon seems like a melding of the best of these games for a kick-ass mash-up. Released by Taito to the world's arcades in 1981, the game never reached epic success levels despite it's intense game play.
You'll see the resemblance to Robotron and Venture as soon as you start playing, but the rip-off factor is surprisingly low - even though it employs dual-joystick controls. Space Dungeon is such unique fun that you won't mind the "borrowedness" at all! Especially since both Robotron & Venture were released the following year in 1982! So who ripped off who? :)
In a world paralell to Earth, you have joined a space-bound archeological team as the Commander. The problem is this virtual world so like our Earth is gone. Your job is to gather the treasures left behind. this left over detritus may hold the key to Earth's survival. Collecting these samples (treasures) allows the computer to analyze them and send the data back to Earth. This date is vital research.
Gathering the samples won't be easy. An array of enemies, responsible for the death of this paralell planet, are poltergeists trapped in a space dungeon. They are determined to annihilate your team before you can locate the treasures scattered through various chambers.
Kill enemies, score points and collect the treasure. Sounds simple, but the pace is frantic from the start and doesn't let up. The "space dungeon" is a series of interconnected chambers that you must explore. With 99 levels, you have a daunting task ahead. You begin with 3 lives and accumulate extra lives every 10,000 points and when a level has been cleared.
The screen is divided into the play area, your treasure box and a map of the level you are currently exploring (surviving!). The red treasure box fills with the item you collect and the map gives you a sense of where you are on the current level. Each level has 1 "Collect Bonus" room. As you travel the level you'll see sign posts indicating the best path to this room. Fight the enemies and do your best to follow that path for it will lead to the next, more difficult, level. The value of your collected treasures is not reflected until you get to the "Collect Bonus" room.
If you meet your demise before getting to the Bonus room, all your treasure will vanish from the red box and the room you died in will show as a white square with an "X", on the map, showing the location of your treasure.
The map is hard to keep track of due to the intensity of the game, but it gives you a lot of information if you get a chance to glance at it. You'll see your position in the level as well as which rooms you have visited still containing enemies as well as which rooms have been clear of enemies. You can also see the location of the thief who's goal is to steal treasures before you can claim them and ge them stowed in your treasure box.
To clear a level you need to visit every room, but you don't need to kill all enemies or collect all the treasure. It's not feasible to kill all the enemies or gather all the treasure, so don't worry about that. The goal is staying alive. Your enemies will ofen return to a room you'd previously cleared!
The lack of fire buttons on the arcade version of Space Dungeon gives it a simple look, but this really adds to the game's complexity. Getting your brain to use the player 1 controller for movement while the player 2 controller shoots can be challenging when the pace gets fast.
The plastic conjoiner lets you secure two 5200 controllers into one package to allow easy use of both joysticks. This makes the control very similar to the arcade controlls for Space Dungeon. Plug in both controllers using controller 1 for the keypad functions.
Two player games let the 2 players take turns witht he conjoined controllers and can play until a life is lost. The keypad allows for player selection as well as a demo of game play.
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