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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
The Sentinel
1986 Firebird
Programmed by Geoff Crammond

"Beyond your wildest dreams, in a world where the only force is pure energy, stands the Sentinel. Battle against him through 10.000 lands, in the most original, compelling and addictive computer game ever devised. Firebird issue the challenge, and the Sentinel awaits."


I usually don't bother actively participating in the emu scene in any way, but when I read that you guys are looking for contributions to your "Game of the week" column, I just had to give it a try. The reason is simple: "Sentinel" has changed the way I perceive games.

Until I first put the disk in my 1541, I had always preferred games that have shiny graphics, some good music, and easy gameplay so that I could play them for half an hour, before I was off to do "80's teenager stuff" (don't ask). Because of that, "International Karate +", "Z", and "H.E.R.O." were among my favorites (the only exception being Mastertronics "Master of magic", which I loved and completed). Where was I? Oh yes, "Sentinel". Written by Geoff Crammond, who wrote some of the most startingly original and technically innovative C64 games (I would like to do a column on "Revs" in the future, if possible), "Sentinel" is so radically different that most people (including me) would've dismissed the idea as "impossible to pull off on a mere C64".

It goes something like this: You are put on a vast checkerboard landscape, where each piece of the board can have a different height, forming an array of pedestals and valleys. You start at the very bottom, and it is your task to get to the top spot and eleminate the Sentinel, an entity that continually rotates and zaps the energy of everything it has in its view. You climb the pedestals by rotating until you can see the top of a nearby pedestal. You then build a dummy versions of yourself there, and transfer your consciousness. To retain some energy, you should then absorb your old shell. While trying to make your way to the top and avoid the Sentinel's gaze, you can absorb rocks and trees to boost your energy (helpful if the Sentinel zaps some).

Well, it sounds esoteric, but what makes this "impossible to pull off on a mere C64", I hear you ask? Well, chew on this: It is in 3D, meaning you are watching the checkerboard through the eyes of your robot. I have yet to figure out what kind of graphic engine Crammond developed for this baby, but it is astonishing for a C64, and totally addictive. Also, it has 10.000 levels! Yep. You don't have to play them all, thanks to a brillant way of adapting to the skill of the player: The faster and more energy efficient you complete a level, the more levels you can skip. Let's say you start off in level 1; if you barely survive and capture the Sentinel with your last energy, you might be transferred to level 3 or 4. If you are really good, and gather lots of energy on your way up, your might be transferred to level 8! And you get a code for each level you enter, meaning that (in contrast to most other C64 games) you can always start where you left off. That's the kind of "user friendliness" that even some PC games today don't offer.

Another thing that sets "Sentinel" apart from the competition is its combination of chess, checkers and realtime strategy elements. Let me tell you, this sucker can wreck your life! For me, "Sentinel" defined the term "addictive". Okay, so it does not have sound, and the graphics look slightly clunky (even though the scrolling is incredibly smooth) - so what? This is a masterpiece, and everyone who wants more than shoot 'em up action should check it out.

There was a PC version ("Sentinel: The Return") two years ago, but I have never played it. I heard it's pretty mediocre. Odd thing though: The music was composed by feature film director John Carpenter!


Submitted by Torsten Dewi (20 August 2000)

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