Earth Shaker is a pc remake of an old Spectrum game of the same name. It is quite similar to Boulder Dash, but I find this is a lot more fun. The idea is to collect all the diamonds on a level, and then head for the exit door, before the time runs out. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, as each level is littered with objects that may help or hinder you.
As you move around the screen, you will gradually clear away the coloured background, leaving empty 'pathways' behind you. If you walk under a rock, then the path under it will be clear, causing it to fall down. You must be quick to move out the way, or it will crush you, and you lose a life. You could use this to your advantage, clearing a path to switches that can turn off forcefields. On the other hand, if you are not careful, you can easily be trapped by a pile of rocks. Fire works in much the same way as rocks, and it will burn you. Air bubbles can extinguish fire by pushing the bubble onto the fire. However, each bubble can only extinguish one fire, so think carefully before using it. Occasionally, you may find arrows pointing upwards. These arrows can reverse gravity - simply walk over the arrow, and everything will float upwards instead of falling downwards. This only lasts for a short time, and the amount of time remaining is shown at bottom of the screen. Jumping beans can extend the time you have left, but use them wisely, as they are in very short supply. As you progress through the levels, you will find more obstacles to make things more awkward, but I will let you discover them for yourself.
Earth Shaker is controlled entirely by the keyboard, and you can redefine the keys to suit your preference for Up \\ Down \\ Left \\ Right. There are 32 levels in all, and each level has a password, so you can jump straight to any level you wish. You can see the password via the in-game main menu, so take note of them. Like I said earlier, the idea for each level is to collect all the diamonds, and then proceed to the exit door. However, it is very easy to get trapped, and when that happens, there is no quick 'escape' button. You must simply wait for the time to run out, before losing a life, and starting that level again. The levels get progressively harder, with more and more obstacles to overcome. You begin the game with five lives, but if you are crushed by rocks, burnt by fire, or simply trapped, then you will lose a live. When all five lives are lost, then the game will end.
There are two 'modes' of gameplay for Earth Shaker. Original graphics are just what it says - original graphics that look just like the original Spectrum game. Large, colourful, blocky graphics that have a wonderful retro feel to them. Enhanced graphics are slightly more polished, with more colour and more detail in them. It's up to you to choose which style you prefer. I love how your character's eyes and legs move continuously, as though it is eager to get on with things. Jumping beans jump up and down very smoothly, and fire flickering is very effective. Diamonds are very sparkly, and keep changing colour, which is lovely to see. The Exit door beeps, and starts to flash when you have collected all the diamonds. All the essential information, such as the level you are on, the diamonds for that level, how many lives you have left, and your score, is shown along the bottom, as well as the time remaining to complete that level.
MUSIC & SOUND EFFECTS
The sound is very basic, just as you would expect from an old Spectrum game. Music is very... beepy. But bubbly and fun at the same time. You can hear different beeps as you collect diamonds, get hit by a rock, reverse gravity, run into forcefields, or even run out of time. However, the sound can be turned off via the game's main menu screen, for those who don't like it.
The game needs DosBox in order to run. It can be downloaded from our site here - http://www.reloaded.org/utility.php?UtilID=1 . I recommend you crank the cycles up to around 12000 to get a decent speed.
This game is fun to play, and will keep you entertained for hours. It's a complete recreation of the old Spectrum game, but this version is programmed for the pc. It's quite addictive, trying to collect all the diamonds, and get to the exit before time runs out. The retro style graphics, and familiar beeping are just right for this kind of game. It took me right back to my childhood! But you also have the option to choose enhanced graphics at the main menu. Levels can be deceptively hard, which can be frustrating, but it can also add to the challenge. Thankfully, you can enter passwords, so you don't have to go right back to the beginning every time. One minor niggle - when you are trapped by rocks, and there is no way to complete the level, there is not an option to restart. You must just wait until your time runs out. All in all, a fun game.
Review by: Frodo