In the Modern Classis series, I take a look at the many new games that have been released since roughly 2005 for the Commodore 64. Most of these games have been given a real, proper, commercial release on disk, tape or cartridge. They are in way, the next generation of C64 games.

In this edition of Modern Classics, I'll be taking a look at two cartridge games: Assembloids by Enthusi & iLKke and Get ‘Em DX by Georg Rottensteiner. One is an action puzzle game where you build robot heads and the other is a shoot-em-up maze game with procedural level generation.
The packaging for Guns
Above: the packaging for Assembloids & Get ‘Em DX.
Assembloids
Above: a video showing the increasingly hectic gameplay of Assembloids.
Assembloids is a fun arcade puzzler, where having fast reflexes is a big plus. In the game, you assemble robot heads made up of four individual pieces, each representing one of the four corners of a square. These pieces appear in a central area and need to be moved to one of four assembly zones.

There are four different robot heads to assemble in the game: a red, green, grey and blue/red one. Robot heads can be assembled in any order and with any of the colours, but the player gets bonus points for completing a head using pieces of just one of the colours. To add to the challenge, the player has limited time to choose an assembly zone to move a piece to and moving a piece into an already occupied spot or running out of time means losing a life. As the game progresses, the time limit gets ever shorter, leading to a game which starts easy and can get very, very hectic indeed.

When you inevitably reach 'game over', Assembloids presents you with a code. This code is used for a rather unique feature: entering this code and the score you reached into the code entry field when you later restart the game after turning off the C64 allows you to set the high score back to the one you noted down.
According to the manual, the code can also be used to verify high scores online, but no site is listed for doing so.

Graphically, the game has great charm. While played on a single screen, the screen is designed very well and has a high level of detail. The robot heads are also very nicely done, with each of the different combinations leading to a unique creation that somehow still makes sense. One of my favourite combinations is the green top half and grey bottom half.
Sound-wise, the game has good design, with a nice and mechanically sounding title track and a nice collection of sound effects and a more ambient style background during gameplay.
While simple on the surface, this game can get quite addictive. In no small part due to everything working just right. Every single error the player makes is clearly one the player made and not in any way created by the game. The controls are snappy and precise, the graphics clear and the sound supporting in a great way.

Overall, the game is great fun and super hectic. Recommended for those who like their puzzlers high on action for sure!

Assembloids is published by RGCD / Psytronik and is available on cartridge from
rgcd.co.uk and on tape from the Binary Zone retro store at binaryzone.org

8½ / 10

Get ‘Em DX
Above: a video showing Get ‘Em DX in action.
Get 'Em DX is a procedurally generated action game for one or two players. It features gamplay most accurately described as Pacman with lots and lots of guns and explosions, where the player(s) have to collect all the dots while avoiding or shooting the many respawning baddies.

There are some fundamental differences between Pacman collect-all-dots and Get 'Em DX's collect-all-dots gameplay, which are worthy of being noted. The first is that unlike pacman, the playing field allows for mazes that are not limited to hallways. Squares and rectangular hallways also exits. The second is really quite obvious: you have a gun. With rapid fire. And you need it if you're to finish the levels. Blasting enemies is often the only way to survive. But beware, most enemies are real bullet sponges that take lots of hits.

The third being that after collecting all the dots, the player is not done with a level. At this point, a key will spawn somewhere on the level. Collecting that spawns a lock, which if opened ends the level.

The game features a bunch of different enemies to deal with, including basic trolls, snakes, bombs and enemies who put extra dots on the screen. Unlike Pacman, you have a gun and can collect all sorts of upgrades, such as speed ups, shields, better guns etc. However, getting an upgrade is not so easy. Each of the upgrades requires you to pick up ten of the same power up icons in a row to activate. Multiple of these power up icons drop whenever a monster is killed and stay on screen until collected or blown up by a bomb exploding.

Graphically, the game features cute, well animated enemies and player characters and interesting, if somewhat basic looking mazes. Sonically, there are effective sound effects and absolutely wonderful music. The music fits the game perfectly and there are a whole bunch of different background tunes tracks to listen to while playing. The title track is a real highlight and sets the tone of the game perfectly.

Like most procedural games, it can be both very easy and very hard depending on your luck.  If you can live with this, however, there is a lot of gameplay here and the ever changing levels mean you can go back to the game time and time again.

Get 'Em DX is published by RGCD / Psytronik and is currently available on tape and disk from the Binary Zone retro store at
binaryzone.org

7 / 10