Escape from the Mindmaster (ColecoVision)

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This is a first-person maze game where you collect keys to escape a level that is haunted by a mysterious deadly alien. You have no defense except running away. The game only has 6 levels. It seems like the game was unreleased for the ColecoVision.

screenshot
Image source: mobygames.com

Analysis

  • Directionally Colored Walls First person maze games for 1970-1980s hardware were always very difficult to navigate due to all the walls and hallways looking exactly the same. It can even be confusing if you rotate 90 degrees and see the same type of wall ahead of you - did you actually rotate or not? This game has an incredibly simple idea that helps with navigation: North walls are green, East walls are red, South walls are yellow, and West walls are blue. It even looks a bit like a pseudo-directional light effect.

  • Immersion and Imagination

    I have a nostalgic fondness for first-person maze games, and all-but-dead genre that saw its heyday in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. You walk around abstract nondescript corridors, slowly and methodically exploring a maze.
    The actual game mechanics of these games vary - in common is the tile-based movement and 90 degree rotation, but apart from that you might be shooting monsters, picking up items, activating devices, communicating with NPCs, or simply perform the absolute essence of the genre - find your way out of the maze.

    The graphics (or lack thereof) play an interesting role. Firstly, the first-person perspective immediately places the player in the experience. Unlike most games from the era, players do not have to make abstractions to place themselves in the environment, they are just there. However, at the same time, the graphics are so incredibly simple that they most often convey the bare minimum of lines or flat-shaded surfaces to imply the 3D space that you are in. So while players become immersed, they still need to use their imagination to fill out most of the experience.

    What are the walls made of? What is the lighting in this maze? What ambience can be heard? Are we in an underground structure or in Cyberspace?

    Other genres such as traditional Roguelikes also require players to use their imagination also because the graphics is represented in a highly abstract form using ASCII art and the like, but in first-person maze games, the graphics exhibits a unique combination of being easily immersive while still being highly abstracted.

Log entries

    2024-06-05
  • I reached level 3. This game is very neat.


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syltefar.com v.2.3.4 2024-07-08