Classic Game Review: Probe One

July 5, 2019

Probe one offers something for both the adventure and arcade-action enthusiast. In this science fiction based action adventure, you explore room after room of a space colony research centre. Your objective: find the transmitter and escape. As with most adventures, you go in compass directions, take, drop and use objects. In short, you try to figure out how to get from her to there without getting killed. Menacing droids that wander into the rooms spice up the adventure. And, if you’re not quick on the stick (joystick that is), they will knock you unconscious and drag you back to the antechamber (square one).

To make things a little more interesting, and a quite a bit more difficult, some of the droids are invisible. Invisible means they are the same colour as the background, so that you can see them only when they pass in front of other objects. Escape room The action part of the game consists of moving a gun horizontally across the bottom of the screen (just above the text window) and pressing trigger button to shoot at droids. These robots move onto the screen quickly, and then pause briefly before bumping you back to the ante- chamber. Sound easy? Wait until you try to type; keep an eye out for invisible droids, manoeuvre, and shoot within a few seconds.

The game greets you with a well- done high-resolution graphic of a planet- scope with animation of your ship landing on the planet’s surface. Unfortunately, the quality of this graphic is not repeated. You then select the reaction time of the droids at which you’ll be shooting. Selecting the slowest reaction time means you’ll be able to quickly dispose of the visible droids and you’ll stand a slim chance of knocking off the invisible ones. In fact, the game is probably best played with two cooperating players; one on key- board and one on joystick (or paddles). The game maker has included a feature that some adventurers find makes replays more interesting and that others find annoying: the locations of objects and the layout of the rooms changes slightly from game to game. This makes map making difficult if not useless.

The challenge of exploration is in- creased even further because of the “grey shafts.” You occasionally fall down de-activated grey shafts when going from one room to the next. An injury usually results; you can get yourself killed in just a few basic ways. Three falls down a grey shaft will do it every time, as will enough successful attacks by the droids. There may be other ways to do you in but, if there are, I have yet to find them. The game has what might seem as flaws; whether or not they are serious you should decide for yourself. First, after you die you must re-boot the entire program. This entails waiting for the nifty animation mentioned earlier, selecting a difficulty level, and then waiting for the main program to load. Since there is no “save game” feature, be prepared to die and reload the program many times before you find the transmitter and escape. Second, there appears to be no logic for using the objects, such as the translator or the crystals that you find. This means you don’t do a lot of figuring things out as in some adventures. However, the author has seen to it that the number of combinations that you must test is few. This is because the game accepts only a limited number of commands. Type in a “g” and the word “Go” appears on the screen.

Type “N”, “North” appears. For other commands, such as “Take” and “Drop”, the single letter command (“T” or “D”) must be followed by the name of the object. This makes inputting commands easy. Scoring for the game is based on the number of items you have in your possession at the end of the game (maximum four) and how many droids you knocked off. Additionally, you get one hundred points if you escape with the transmitter. (I never did, but I haven’t given up yet). Your score displays when you die or escape with the transmitter – there’s no way to find out how you’re doing until then. So, competition play for points is somewhat hampered.