Possibly one of the videogames that I liked the most that I remember, is The Sentinel : Originally released for the 8-Bit computers some years ago (Spectrum, Amstrad, Commodore…) and counting later on with 16-Bit versions and sequels for PC. However, carrying a version of this game in your pocket on our iPhone is a real luxury that can already be done, even if they are remakes or “clones”.
The original game captivated me from the first moment I played it, on my old Amstrad CPC 464. Everything about it was a mystery: It was totally different from any other video game or genre known, and it created, on a computer of only 8-Bit with the typical memory limitations of the time, a whole universe of 10,000 different worlds and a totally immersive atmosphere. In fact, the Commodore version was rated by Zzap’64 (a highly reputable English magazine of the time) as an exceptional piece of software , and they refused to rate the game on the grounds that it was above any numerical score they could give, and it was up to the player to decide after their first game.
This mysterious game reached the highest scores in the rest of publications as well, and despite the difficulty, the game’s mechanics invited us to continue advancing and discover little by little how to defeat the Sentinel, a being created by pure energy that we would pursue through 10,000 worlds. With this entry I show you the two options we have right now to play it on our iPhones, iPod or iPad anywhere.
The rules in the Sentinel universe
There is no script. There is no plot, no characters with names or surnames. The universe we are in now is composed of pure energy, which creates the worlds and the objects that populate them. The only beings that inhabit it are The Sentinel (or The Sentinels, because there can be several), and ourselves: A Shinto, a kind of telepathic robot that cannot physically move, but only teleports to another Shinto.
The rest of objects (blocks, trees,…) are created or are created by a fixed amount of energy units, which we can dissolve to increase our own, or spend our own to create them. To move, we must create a syntoid like ours at a point in the world where we see land and teleport our consciousness to it. Once transferred, we can absorb the source syntoid and thus move through the world.
The goal of the game is to absorb the Sentinel, placing ourselves above it, and create a syntoid in its place to which we can transfer our consciousness. As soon as we take the Sentinel’s position, we can teleport to another world. The Sentinel, however, also defends itself: It rotates at a fixed speed scanning the world and absorbing the energy of all the objects it looks at – us included.
KotH, the clone
King of the Hill is one of the first clones of the original game that I found in the App Store. Despite its hideous icon and its vulgar title, it’s a good portrait of the original game, which we’ll remember mostly for its polygonal graphics and using a color palette very similar to the Firebird classic.
KotH (App Store, 1,59)
Capita, el remake
Capita lo podemos considerar más un remake, que un clon del original. Basado (tal y como sus creadores indican) en Sentinel Returns, una segunda parte oficial lanzada años después para ordenadores de 16-Bits, Capita nos presenta mundos texturizados y una interfaz evolucionada que veremos aparecer al mantener nuestro dedo sobre la pantalla.
El desarrollo del juego sí que es idéntico al original. La música y efectos sonoros han sido más cuidados que en KotH, y desde luego el estilo visual está más evolucionado con respecto al anterior. Una pega que le veo es que sólo se puede jugar en formato vertical, no en horizontal (en KotH pasa exactamente lo contrario), que en mi opinión es más cómodo para el sistema de juego.
Tenemos algún que otro “extra”, como la posibilidad de hacer zoom sobre una zona haciendo “doble click” sobre ella (ideal para descubrir bases sobre la que crear objetos de energía). En esta versión si que podremos teletransportarnos a otra zona de forma instantánea. Capita es una buena versión que también gustará a los seguidores de The Sentinel (incluso existe una versión en HD para iPad).
The game system is agile and we can move around the world in an intuitive way, moving with our finger the scenario that our synthoscope is showing. To absorb or create objects, we have icons always present on screen that will help us in the task. Perhaps a random teleportation button is missing, used by the original game to escape the Sentinel’s gaze in the midst of danger, or to jump to another area with more energy to capture if we are short.
The game shows us a view of the world we enter, just like the original, and is connected to OpenFeint, the online gaming channel that some iOS titles have to consult statistics, records and challenge other players over the Internet. The development of the game is almost identical to the original, although the graphics could have been improved: I’m not talking about filling the scenarios with textures, but I am talking about improving the resolution of the 3D world. In any case, it’s an interesting title for those who love the original game.