21 May 2015


Publisher/Developer:  Sega/Parker Brothers(Robert Jaeger)
Format: Cartridge
Game Size: 128K
Rarity:  6
Game Type: Side Scrolling Action Adventure Game
Region: USA
Other Ways to Play:  Apple II, Atari 2600, 5200, and 8 bit Micros, Colecovision, Commodore 64, PC Booter, Windows 9x (original version as an unlockable in Montezuma's Return), PC Remakes, Game Boy/Color (partial remake), Mac/Windows 7 (Spiritual Remake with level editor:  http://www.actionsoft.com/games/midnightmansionhd/ )
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 button controller NOT COMPATIBLE.

Price I Paid: 15 Dollars maybe?
Price I Would Pay: 15 Dollars.
Condition: Game, Case, Manual
Game Rating: Good*
Game Completion/Desire to: Sorta?/ Kind of? 
My History:  Wanted to play since early 80s ads in comic books plus programmer interview in the only issue of Electronic Games I had the chance to read.  Played it on the Apple IIs at school in the late 80s.  Bought the SMS port in the early 00s some time.

  Made by a high schooler in the early 80's, Montezuma's Revenge is one of those classic flick screen side scrolling platform action adventures that were all over the computer and console systems of that timeframe.  And while not perfect it might be one of the best of the genre!

Colecovision version on BlueMSX emulator.  I have this version on the Colecovision Flashback.  Generally most MZ ports look a lot like this.

  In this game you play PANAMA JACK (as opposed to the poncho wearing Pedro from the original unreleased 48k version on the Atari 8 bit computer family) who explores the 11 pyramid tombs (in this SMS version) in Mexico and surrounding locales searching for loot.

  You know the drill.  You have 5 lives to complete the tomb you are on before going to the next one with a single continue on the first tomb only.   The basic layout stays the same through all of them though new rooms and elements show up in later pyramids.  Like many games of this era your character can only jump a certain height with no mid air control before going splat.  (About a single Joe height.)  Some things like one way sliding poles and ropes will let you go for further distance.  Conveyor belts, burning ropes, disappearing chain walls and platforms all show up to help and hinder you.  Oh, and darkness which requires one of your 5 precious inventory slots to hold a torch that you eventually find as you explore each pyramid layout.  (And later levels add more and more darkness.  Its why my DID COMPLETE bit doesn't say YES.  It just gets too damned tough later on with the darkness.)

  See to get through the tombs you need keys of three colors, one use upon touch of a monster swords, or activate on button press monster harmlessness items.  You also are trying to collect treasures for your score and precious extra lives.  If you have a full inventory you can't pick up anything else including treasures.  So sometimes you will either intentionally have to waste a sword or monster avoider thingie just to get more treasure since that is the whole point!  Otherwise you sometimes have to backtrack just to grab more stuff.  Or risk precious lives to get the score higher.  Risk and Reward.

  While most obstacles just don't go away, losing a life to one of the monsters helpfully removes that monster from the tomb as a tiny mercy.  And here in the SMS port there is a glorious cheat which mostly is useful to an emulator player:  PAUSING THE GAME MAKES THE PLATFORMS AND WALLS THAT PHASE IN AND OUT KEEP DOING SO.  This can help you make it through those really tough spots where your timing needs to be perfect.  And given that the later levels add in bats who show up if you dawdle on a screen and will grab you and take a life away you need every bit of help you can get.  Oh, and if you die on a screen your replacement life pops up by whichever way you entered that screen last.  Which can be good or bad depending on the layout of said screen.

  Control and graphics are pretty good, this SMS port being probably the best version of the game and generally larger and more forgiving compared to the original 83 Crash era releases.  Its just hard as hell unless you do the odd save states or the pause trick.  See you can only start on the first 6 tomb pyramids and even if you map the levels out it will take you quite some time to get through the later levels that can have around ONE HUNDRED screens to navigate to reach the treasure room endpoint.  Though at least the general layouts stay mostly the same.  Mostly.  This is also probably why a mere 128k port of an originally 16k (smooshed from the Pedro 48k original) game has such a massive level of content.

Next twelve screenshots are from Kega Fusion emulator.
 The title screen

 In the original releases this is the title screen.  Here you can select one of the first six levels and where you get a little bit of text telling you about the tomb.  

 The legendary opening room.

 A room showing lots of elements.  Roaming skulls!  Snakes!  Blinking walls and floors!  Fire!  Doors!  Ropes!  Treasure!  Conveyor Belts!  An open blue door!  My collection of keys!  A sword!

 The higher tombs have more and more of the rooms in pitch black darkness if you don't have a torch.  
 Spiders are annoying little SOBs who will randomly climb ladders.  Sometimes you can go in and out of a room and they won't climb the ladder this time.

 This is why you pause cheat.  Your timing has to be perfect.  And stuff like those snakes can make it even harder to deal with.

 I found the torch!  Getting it is a "Miner 2049er" level of challenge.  Almost.  Jumps and platforms are a tad more forgiving in this port than the originals.  This just makes it very hard...

 Vampire bats will give you a fright, eating your Panama Joes both day and night.

 Yep this room seems fair....

 Flaming ropes (that reset if you go out the room and re enter) with skulls and spiders and this game aint got no love for you.

A treasure room!  The tomb is complete!  On to a bigger and harder one!  

Three Power Base Convertor shots through composite cable/monitor.

 There are a number of room layouts repeated throughout the game.  A couple tweaks and its almost a new room.  Almost.  Sorta.

Game contents.  Mine was well loved before I got it.  Or was shoved in a moldy basement.  

Master System Play:  Works fine.  Again, slight graphical bleed but the level of detail on the graphics means the Power Base Convertor versus SMS versions are not too different.  While I haven't tested the 3 button Genesis controllers, the SIX BUTTON DOES NOT WORK ON THIS GAME.  Keep it in mind if you go for this one.  The SMS pad works fine as does the Control Stick and the Epyx though the Stick has a tiny bit of issue climbing ladders but it might just be me.  Again though given the way the pausing works on the original hardware and how damned hard and long a complete playthrough of this game would require playing it on emulation or a flash cart with save state options is probably a better bet.

The next three shots are from an actual Master System through a composite cable through a monitor.

 Grab the diamonds and fall to the treasure room!

A little fluff text before the stage level.

Rating:  Hmm.  With an emulator and that funny trick I mentioned?  GOOD.  It will be a tough challenge but one anyone with half an ability at videogames can eventually triumph over.  Without it is merely OK because your lives are limited and the levels just get too massive and difficult.  Technically you can start at each of the pyramids with five lives but it is just a little TOO brutal in the later ones when those damned bloody bats show up!  So play it in an emulator and use the odd save state and the little pause trick when things get too hairy and it is a heck of a great game.  Without not quite as much but still worth a good look.

Next Time: As June is my birth month and I am lazy, this month is RPGs I Already Completed Month!  Thrill to me talking about games I have already finished so I just need to spend a couple hours taking screenshots and writing about them.  Though if my first customer Ys The Vanished Omens is anything to go by it will still take me the same time as a normal review!

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