FORGOTTEN GAMES - VOLUME 2:
Lazy Jones (Terminal Software, 1984)
Sometimes, on a rainy Saturday afternoon when there was nothing to do, my friends and I would gather around the Commodore 64 to enjoy many of the varied game offerings. As we munched away happily on Doritos and drank whole 2-liters of Coca-Cola, we would load games via the 1541 disk drive and engage ourselves in strange and wonderous worlds all day long.
In those days, it wasn't uncommon for a game to take between five to ten minutes to load. So, in order for a game to be worth the time and effort, it had to be
interesting and different. And the game I review today definitely fits that bill...
Lazy Jones is a very interesting game, in that it is a video game about playing other video games. The game itself sports a nice number of mini-games based loosely on other popular arcade games at the time, some more difficult than others, but each of them different...to a degree...
The story of the game is a little strange. You take the role of a lazy guy (who we will assume is named Jones) working at a fancy hotel. Rather than do any of his work, he'd rather sneak into the various hotel rooms and play video games without getting caught.
Standing in his way are the hotel manager (on the top floor), a cleaning cart (on the third floor) and the ghost of the previous hotel manager (on the bottom floor).
Touching any of these three enemies will cost Lazy Jones a life, but don't worry,they are easy to avoid by jumping over and Lazy Jones has 5 lives to start with.
Most of the rooms that Jones enters will offer him a game to play. You never know which game is going to appear until Jones activates the machine, so trying to find your favorite game and avoid the hard ones isn't something that's easy to do. Each of the games is unique, but some are better than others.
The games really serve no purpose other than to add to the overall score. Some games allow you to score ridiculously high amounts very easily, while others
make you work really hard to score a very low amount of points. There's no real balance.
Let's take a look at the mini-games:LASER JONES:
Nothing more than a simple knockoff of Space Invaders, Laser Jones is one of the better games. It is much faster paced than the original Space Invaders and quite
frantic. You work against time to shoot the approaching aliens, killing as many of them as you can until time runs out. I love this one.
Can you say Space Invaders, boys and girls?JAY WALK:
Very similar to Frogger, though a lot harder. You're trying to cross the road to reach the lady standing on the other side. Unlike Frogger, you will lose the game if even
one car touches you. The cars move much quicker than you imagine and there are a lot of them. I personally have never reached the other side, making this one of
the more difficult games (or making me really lame, you choose).
Why did the idiot cross the road?99 RED BALLOONS:
Here's another game that makes you work really hard. You have to grab two balloons as they rise from the ground. This is a lot harder than it sounds; because if you're off by even a fraction of a second, you will miss the balloon and have to wait for the next one to arrive. Once you grab two balloons, you float to the top very slowly to reach the woman in the corner while a floating crossbow tries to kill you. After you reach the woman, you then have to grab another balloon to float back down to the bottom. This game drives me crazy.
Wouldn't it be easier to use a ladder?OUTLAND:
A very easy shoot-em-up. You defend against a bunch of spaceships that descend upon you. Shooting them is fairly simple and they're hard to miss. Despite the name, it is not based on the Sean Connery movie from the 80s, which is too bad.
Generic Shoot-em-ups!THE HILLS ARE ALIVE:
Taking a cue from Defender, The Hills Are Alive is very similar to Outland, except you attack the ships horizontally instead of vertically. Just like Outland (and unlike Defender), this game is pretty simple and allows you to score pretty high in the time allowed.
The hills are alive...with the sounds of laser fire!THE REFLEX:
For some insane reason, you are being bombarded by flying bones. They come down on you, three at a time, and you have to reflect them back. The good news
is that missing one doesn't cause you any trouble...and the bone is replaced by a new one almost immediately. You only gain points when you bounce the bones back into the air. It's very quick-paced, not as hard as it sounds, and makes for some easy scoring.
Is this what the Duran Duran song is about?
This is a clone of Breakout (or for those of you who don't remember that game, think Arkanoid). The idea here is to make contact with the ball so that it bounces into the bricks and breaks through them. Unlike the standard Breakout game, though, you do not lose the ball if you miss it (which is good, since the little paddle you have to hit it with makes it really hard not to miss). But, even though the ball bounces up into the bricks, it won't break them unless you made contact with the ball. This game requires a ton of work to make any points, and isn't a lot of fun.
Like Breakout, minus the fun factorTHE WALL:
I've seen many games of this type, including Surround (for the Atari 2600) and Snake. The idea here is to build the biggest wall you can before time winds out without
running into yourself. If you cross over your own wall, you lose and the game ends. It's not as hard as it sounds, but it was better implemented in versions of the game
where you had more of a playing field. This one can be fun.
Didn't they do this in Tron?THE TURK:
This one is a bit strange. Turkeys make their way across a conveyer belt heading toward a trash can. Your job is to shoot a fork at the turkey and stop it before it lands in the trash can. This is made more difficult by the fact that telephones seem to appear out of nowhere to stop you (yeah, I can't make sense out of the game either). If the telephone touches your fork, it's destroyed. Honestly...this one is kind of a turkey...if you'll excuse the pun...
Weirdest mini-game everRES Q:
Similar to an activision game called "H.E.R.O.," you guide a hovercraft around a cave in order to rescue trapped miners. All you have to do is touch them to set them free. You have to do it without touching the cave walls, which is a lot easier said than done.
Help us! Get us out of this game!SCOOT:
Much like Res Q, in Scoot you guide a hovercraft in a cave, but this time your job is to land on the glowing landing pads. If you touch any of the walls, you are sent
all the way back to the beginning, which costs you a lot of time. Even still, this one really isn't that difficult, and while you won't score very high, you will probably clear the stage a few times before time runs down.
More fun than a rectal itchSTAR.DUST:
As silly as it sounds, this is a straightforward shoot-em-up where you shoot balls of dust. It's very easy and one of the better mini-games in Lazy Jones because of it's ease.
Attack of the Dust BunniesWILD WAFERS:
Looking a bit like a Grid Runner clone, Wild Wafers is another simple shoot-em-up. You blast away at the spinning wafers as they move toward your ship.
Missing them has no ill effects and neither does running into them, but you only seem to score when you shoot them. Another easy stage.
I'm getting dizzy!
There are other rooms in the hotel that Lazy Jones can find while wandering around. Many of them are totally useless, and one is a mini-game of it's own.THE HOTEL BAR:
The only mini-game that takes up the full screen. In this game, you hop over the angry drunk who moves along the bar and try to make contact with the bartender in order to score points (and one assumes, a drink or two). Not
hard to do at all. Why this wasn't presented as a game is unknown...it's almost like the developer was going in multiple directions at once.
This is not a Tapper cloneBEDROOM:
This is one of the useless rooms. Lazy Jones lays on the bed and has a nightmare about evil Hotel Managers or something. It's over quick and gives you a chance to
rest your hands. Although, now that I think of it, isn't it kind of silly to only have one
bedroom in the whole hotel? What kind of hotel is this, anyway?
So, is this the only bed in the hotel?BATHROOM:
Lazy Jones finds a toilet. Oh boy. Might have been considered taboo in 1984, and for all I know is the first appearance of a toilet in a video game.
Pretty big restroom for such a small toiletBROOM CLOSET:
Lazy Jones can also locate a broom closet, which is probably where he's supposed to be working.
Get to work, Lazy Jones!
Even if the mini-games don't sound all that exciting, Lazy Jones is actually quite fun to play and the variation on different themes makes it more interesting than it sounds. My friends and I wasted hours on this game, which really seems not to have any set goal...and yet somehow was quite addictive to just run around and play different games.
They definitely don't make them like Lazy Jones anymore.