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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Number 2.

The Sentinel (Commodore 64)

If you've been playing games for any length of time, then the name Geoff Crammond will likely mean something to you. Responsible for some legendary, even revolutionary racing games, he's provided more computerised speed thrills than maybe anyone else. But if you look down through the list of games he's produced, one name, like the character in its game, stands alone: The Sentinel.

It's a bit odd that a man that loves fast things produced one of the slowest-moving games of all time. But just because things aren't motoring on the playfield, doesn't mean you don't need your brain in high gear.


The start of what you hope will be a long and epic journey.

It was with some trepidation that I first played The Sentinel for the blog. I'd briefly played it on the Commodore 64 back in the day, and got absolutely nowhere. I think that was because I didn't have the original, and had no idea what to do. It was really frustrating.

Playing it "properly" this time around (via the wonders of a cracked and emulated game, with instructions), my eyes were opened. It was still really difficult, but it was also doable once I knew the rules. And it gave me some of the most intense gaming I've had for some time, as I tried to plot my way across the landscape, figuring a way to stay out of sight of The Sentinel whilst accumulating enough energy to mount an attack. And all the while he's turning, turning...


That's where you need to be. But he's got his evil eye on you...

The Sentinel really is one of the best games ever. It's not to all tastes, but it's got 10,000 levels of brain-melting strategy, and it's incredibly satisfying to complete even one of them. The atmosphere is amazing too... although it's mostly silent, that just ramps up the tension, and the sound effects, although nothing spectacular, do a good job of unsettling you just a little more. It's a shame in a way that it's not more immediate... that's bound to be off-putting to a lot of people. For the rest, there's a lifetime of mentally challenging gaming ahead.

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