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Updated November 20, 2004

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Martian Venture

"Mr. Martians says it's time to take out the invaders!"

Decades have passed since the Evaals invaded the Martian people, and since then the martians have advanced in peaceful technologies, including special teleporters and nuclear reactors. In search of new energy sources, the Evaals invade the Martians again, easily taking their space stations over and covering the martian's precious nuclear reactor with traps.

The only martian to courageously stand up for the Martian race, Mr. Martians picks up his martian gun. He knows that the crystal poles are the way the Evaals block the transporters and gather energy for their wicked purposes. If he can avoid the traps and destroy the crystals, he can free his martian friends...

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Martian Venture's graphics are rendered and well-executed, featuring detailed tilesets, technically impressive scrolling, and flicker-free character design. New enemies also get introduced as the levels go on, while the level of quality  stays intact. Joakim obviously worked on this project with the same fervor from beginning to end.

On the bad side, Martian Venture suffers from a shortage in graphics. The same background and tileset is used for all of the game levels, which start to get tiring on the eyes when the levels get more difficult. It would have been nice to see some occasional changes in background, in order to keep the game fresh.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Good. Martian Venture is proof that you don't necessarily need a big soundtrack or a lot of sound effects to muster up a good Sound/Music score, because Joakim is able to take what sounds there are in Martian Venture and use them effectively. Explosions are synchronous, the Martian Guns are nice and loud, and the use of a popping sound when you explode is a charming addition to the game.
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
Martian Venture is a fairly simple-structured platform game, with smaller worlds and an emphasis on precision and good timing versus action. The goal of each level is use your martian gun to shoot down all of the energy shields so that the level exit will open. Enter the level exit to beat the level.

Sounds simple enough? Think again. Even though your gun shoots at rapid fire, the enemies are fairly efficient shots as well, and a head-on battle just doesn't work. Instead, a little cunning and evasion has to be used. Jumping over enemy fire or retreating to ladders to reach upper ground at times is a must. That, combined with time limit, auto-save, and unlimited lives for each level, pretty much make up Martian Venture's gameplay.

Joakim does a great job in familiarizing gamers with Martian Venture's gameplay elements by including a tutorial level, complete with in-game text hints that pop up as appropriate. The tutorial even reacts when you do something that doesn't correspond with the text hints, in order to keep you on track with the game lessons. This is a very nice touch.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
If you don't read the Readme files that come with PC games, you might have missed Martian Venture's storyline altogether, since that's the only place you can be introduced about the game's plot. Because of this, Martian Venture feels like one of those games where the story was just slapped onto the game at the end so that the game could have one. It's a shame too because the story is actually pretty well-written, if it's given the chance. Better integration between story elements and the in-game action would help to boost this score.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
Many of the later levels in Martian Venture can get very frustrating, and the game's auto-save feature makes it impossible to backtrack to an earlier level without having to start a new game. However, Joakim solves this problem by throwing in a level editor, which allows you to play any level in the game (including levels you haven't beat yet) and make your own levels at the same time! This extra feature not only added to the replay value, but it also helps vent our some frustration by making some "kinder" levels to help alleviate the challenge level.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
If you like dodging and jumping over lots and lots of obstacles, then you'll either love Martian Venture for having a lot of it or dislike Martian Venture because it features too much of it. Shooting down enemies isn't too much of a problem as long as they're within range and sight of your gun, but trying to get the momentum necessary to jump over some areas properly without overshooting is the true test of skill that makes up the bulk of this platformer.
Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Despite the multiple levels and enemies, there seems to be something missing from Martian Venture. The engine itself is top-notch, but the level layout is tortuous, and develops from dull to annoying very quickly. It's almost as if the level order was chosen at random!

Platform jumping is also quite a chore; oftentimes the hero is either jumping into areas he can't see, or trying to build momentum off a very thin pillar. The number of times I either built too little momentum and fell of a hole or built too much momentum and jumped into the next hole is so numerous that it's tiring just remembering the sheer number of practice and guessing games it took to get past all of Martian Venture's levels.

That said, the level editor is a bit of a boost, but it doesn't allow you to make Martian Venture into the intense shooting game it ought to be. One of the reason platform/action games like Contra work is because the kick you get from blowing things up, and being able to use your weapons for senseless acts of carnage. Martian Venture has the firepower to handle a game like that, which is rare in QB.

Martian Venture is probably one of the best platform game engines made in QB to date. At this point, some extras would take Joakim's game over the edge. If there was a high score system, some different graphics, some zippy music, and a more forgiving level and enemy design, this game could turn out to be a real classic. But as of now, the first chapter in the Martian Venture saga emphasizes too much on enemies that are difficult to shoot down, and tight levels that have too much time pressure to enjoy.

Martian Venture Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Platform Game
Rating To solve: 4 hours Final Rating: 15/35

To download Martian Venture (200KB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
wTo play Martian Venture, unzip the file and run "GREEN.EXE".

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Game Summary
Coding Group
Homepage URL
1 player
Final Rating
15 out of 35 points

The Highs: One of the most versatile QB platform engines to date, and a built-in tutorial level pulls you into the game quickly.
The Lows: Very little ambiance; graphics do not vary from level to level and Martian has no music.

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