Fans of the current generation Commodore 64 gaming scene have been spoilt with quality new releases throughout the past decade and Psytronik Software continues to lead way in 2018 with their release of Rocky Memphis: The Legend of Atlantis, the latest puzzle platforming game for the Commodore 64, designed by Trevor Storey and coded by Stuart Collier.
The Legend of Atlantis starts of with introduction screens explaining how the heroic adventurer, Rocky Memphis, is on his latest expedition in the jungles of Mexico when he comes across a marker pointing to a temple in North Africa that may be the path to the legendary city of Atlantis.
The introductory goes on to explain how Rocky has long sought to discover this great mystical land and is determined to investigate the lead as part of his next expedition, before moving on to the next scene showing Rocky flying in to the temple location by plane, ready to commence his latest adventure to uncover The Legend of Atlantis.
As you start to play the game, you find that the entrance to the inner temple chamber is blocked off and you have your first puzzle to solve. Fortunately, it is simple to work out that the symbol Rocky found back in Mexico is the key to opening up the chamber and you are off to complete your quest.
As you move through the temple, care will need to be taken to avoid the various booby traps contained throughout, such as floor spikes, flying arrows and falling rocks while at the same time you have to try to avoid coming in contact with deadly bats and scorpions. Given that you are only given 3 lives and that the game does not contain any save or checkpoint features, it is prudent to take a patient approach with each screen to study enemy movement patterns and hidden traps before making your way across.
The controls to Rocky Memphis are mostly intuitive. LEFT or RIGHT DIAGONAL UP to jump while the FIRE button will use a selected object. Pressing DOWN and FIRE will search and collect objects. Perhaps the inventory selection system, invoked by FIRE and UP, is the only control method that requires some getting used to and at times feels fiddly. It is great that the game is isolating control to be done all on the joystick but perhaps the option to use of spacebar or the F1/F3 keys may have resulted in a more fluid inventory control system.
The Legend of Atlantis features a broad range of puzzles for you to solve, which typically involve you finding an item and placing or using it in a specific spot. To help you along the way, you will find cryptic clues on stone tablets, found in multiple locations within the temple. Paying attention to detail and searching everything in sight is the key to progressing through The Legend of Atlantis. Combining found items with wall switches, pedestals and statues will often result in a closed section of the temple opening. But not all items found are going to be useful in helping you with your quest and herein lies one of the stronger elements of the game, the requirement for you to use your guile and logic to appreciate how items interact with fixtures within the temple. The puzzles throughout the game are quite enjoyable to solve and at no time did it feel that they were too obscure or unfair in anyway.
Eventually, Rocky will start to unlock passages and rooms that contain scrolls of knowledge. Upon trying to pick up these scrolls, you will find that what you see is just an illusion and it becomes obvious that you have to find some sort of way to be able to pick them up. The key to this puzzle is to figure out a way to make the temple descend into darkness and have its interior illuminated by nothing else than the power of the moon.
When you do figure out how to transform the lighting within the temple, the game transitions into the next phase with a darker look and alternative enemies to tackle, which include specters and ghost kings. While the temple is in ‘dark’ mode, you can start to physically collect the scrolls of knowledge. There are 10 scrolls to collect. It is possible to complete the game with less than 10 scrolls, but doing so will only give you the ‘bad’ ending where failing to uncover the full knowledge of Atlantis means that you are not able to produce evidence of your find, and you miss out on your opportunity on gaining ever-lasting fame.
The Legend of Atlantis features some beautifully drawn high resolution graphics, when blended with multi-colour produces a very impressive looking Rocky Memphis character who is very well animated and moves freely about the screen. The background contains some intricate detail and if very effective in replicating a temple theme environment. There is a far greater level of detail and variation throughout the temple screens compared to the recently released Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe, which makes it feel like a larger game even though it has about 30% less screens.
Having already composed ‘temple’ style music in games such as Joe Gunn and Sydney Hunter, I thought Saul Cross might have ran out of ideas when it came to providing the backing track to The Legend of Atlantis. Initially, I thought the music was lacking and repetitive, however, after countless hours of playing the game, the tune grew on me and I found myself starting to whistle and hum along to the track, which consequently added to the overall enjoyment of the game.
Game design is the key to any successful puzzle platformer and the non-linear nature of the game play, along with clever and fair puzzles and the ‘dark’ mode setting all combine so well to produce a long enduring and enjoyable game. The Legend of Atlantis rewards you the longer you play by gradually opening up the game world to you and always giving you something new to see and has somewhat of an addictive nature to it that will not allow you to stop playing the game until you have completed it.
There is no hesitation in recommending Rocky Memphis: The Legend of Atlantis. The game was a pleasure to play and provided an engrossing and addictive gaming experience. I would suggest that The Legend of Atlantis is one of the best designed games for the Commodore 64 and I can easily see myself returning to the game, time after time in future years. This one is a future classic.
Don’t forget to check out the video review of Rocky Memphis: The Legend of Atlantis (link at the start of this article).