I'm kicking off what I hope will be a flurry of posts today with an Unsung Classic on the Commodore 64 - R.I.S.K.. It's nothing to do with the famous board game, but is actually a shoot 'em up with a surprising amount of depth, and one that I very much enjoyed back in the day.
R.I.S.K. stands for Rapid Intercept - Seek and Kill. Inexplicably, there's another version of this out there called K.R.I.S.. Being a bit dense, I can only presume that this might be a foreign version and the letters make sense in that language, but I honestly haven't got a clue. As well as seeking and killing, though, you have to rescue stranded scientists from every level. Videogame scientists are hopeless, aren't they?
Yes sir, that one comes in a range of colours. You fancy the green? Certainly, sir.
The game starts a little differently to most shooters, with you and your ship still in a compound. You can wander around here... if you log into the computer, you can change the colour of your ship, or those of the game's borders and menus. It's a nice little touch, and I appreciated being able to cater somewhat to my own personal taste.
There's also a shop where you can upgrade your ship. Naturally, at the beginning, it's only worth visiting to see what you might be able to get later, but as the game goes on you're really going to need to make the most of this place.
Get the capsule! You'll be able to buy upgrades with that.
Once you've finished pottering around, it's time to take to your ship and do some blasting. But first, there's a map to have a look at. Will you ever get to play the game? It turns out that the map just gives you a choice of levels, which is another cool feature.
When you're finally thrown into the action, you're in for a bit of a rude awakening. R.I.S.K. is a difficult game. It's got elements from games such as Dropzone, Wizball and even Chopper Command on the old Atari. The most obvious initial problem you have to overcome is your bouncy ship. When you start out, your ship doesn't have anti-grav, so what goes up must come down. It makes control trickier than you'd like, and forces you to keep your concentration level up. Your ship also feels heavy, which is interesting, and it wobbles quite worringly if something hits it while you're moving at speed. Lovely touches, these.
Oi! Bloody hooligans!
As you fly about, shooting little jetpacked fellows and ground craft, capsules will fly by. These can be collected, and serve as currency once you head back to the shop. The first thing you'll want to buy is the anti-grav unit, but once that's in place you can upgrade all aspects of your ship. You'll certainly need to, because the game gets more difficult all the time.
R.I.S.K. was well reviewed at the time, from what I remember, but I think I'm the only one I know that really played it, having picked it up for cheap at the local bookshop. It's a game ahead of its time, really, being packed with so many good ideas and actually carrying them off pretty well. I've had a few problems with the game crashing, which is a shame, but otherwise I've thoroughly enjoyed this revisit, and it's a game that I think it ripe for a modern remake.