Just by chance, I happened across the new game, soon to be officially released by Psytronik, Steel Ranger for the C64. The game will be released on floppy disk next month, but you can purchase a download copy today; as well as a demo version to test out. And that's what I did today.
I didn't realize that the developers, Covert Bitops, was working on this game, but it was certainly a nice surprise. I just finished playing through the demo and it really looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I will now purchase the full version download and play the rest of the game in the coming days/weeks. I'll also give it a full review, once I have a chance to play more of the game.
Right now, however, I can tell you that the story is intriguing, the game play is very responsive, the soundtrack is fantastic and the graphic and effects are really well done. It reminds me a lot of Turrican or Metroid, but with some enhancements. A couple of these enhancements include an in-game map and the ability to save your game and pick it up at a later time. I really like this, as I don't have the time, like I used to in my younger days, to sit in front of the computer for several hours and play a game through from beginning to end.
Like Turrican, the game map is open; that is, you can return to a part you've already been through. Also, at one point in the game, you get a suite upgrade that allows you to transform into “wheel” mode. In this mode, you can drop mines and get into tight spaces - which usually leads to discovering secret areas.
The game developers are the same folks who did Hessian (which is also available for free download). I've played Hessian and thought, overall, it is a good game. However, the controls can be frustrating, especially when it comes to stair climbing, and shooting while crouching. Several of the enemies in Hessian are close to the ground, so you have to crouch and shoot. The problem is getting your character to do so, as I didn't find it all that intuitive to do it efficiently. You have to press down on the joystick and hold the fire button, then press in the direction you want to shoot (left or right).
Thankfully, the developers have addressed these issues in Steel Ranger, and have made the controls much more fluid and intuitive.
Be sure to check this one out! It can be found here: Psytronik Steel Ranger