Aztec Challenge (c64) review by Honorabili
One Sentence Review:
“Apocalypto, the game”
8 out of 10
You take the role as an Aztec going through the worst trials possible (everything you touch kills you instantly), trying to survive to become the new ruler of the Aztecs. There are different stages composing of different run, jump, duck, cover, timing puzzles and reaction tests. The game mainly is a reflex game of reacting correctly to the environment.
You can play the game single player or two player, alternating in between players to give you a bit of rest from the tension this game gives you. Everything kills you in one hit so you will find yourself grabbing your head saying “I can’t believe that shit just happened!”
The music for the game is interactive (one of the first games that had this, other than Forbidden Forest, also by Paul Norman). Look below for an extensive look at the music.
When I saw in the movie Apocalypto the scene where they are in the Aztec capital and they are throwing spears at the main characters, I immediately though of Aztec Challenge! (check out that great movie if you haven’t already done so)
The original game came out on Atari, later on the c64 (this review), on to an Amiga port, and there is a PC remake as well.
Everything kills you in this game, so you need to pay attention at all times. Tension is always existent and then entire game feels like a gauntlet.
This is a video showing a full playthrough of all the stages in the c64 version:
I always find the unforgiving kill factor a lot of fun, every time I play this game. This game has a Fun Factor of 9 out of 10.
The game keeps getting harder after you beat it each time. All the stages recycles per playthrough and that’s where the challenge lies for me. Some stages are really easy and others are extremely hard. You can’t set the difficulty from the start but the game is hard enough for most people. In the later playthroughs the game is simple ridiculously hard. Difficulty Versatility gets a 5 out of 10 because you’re forced to start out on “easy”.
Since the game came out so long ago, it’s mainly available through emulation, therefore free. The full game can be downloaded here: http://www.c64.com/games/download.php?id=338
Just fire up your favorite c64 emulator and load the D64 file.
If you’re a c64 collector, it’s very likely you already have this game in your software collection. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.
The game gets repetitive but considerably harder the longer you replay it in one sitting. If you like a challenge then the game is worth replaying often. Others might find themselves bored. Replayability gets a 6 out of 10.
The sound effects are pretty average. Some stages have no sound effects, with the only noise you hear being the interactive music in the background. The best sound in the game is in the swimming stage when you die, the noise of the piranhas eating you. Because of the sparse lack of sound effects in most stages, Sound gets a score of 4 out of 10.
The music is what everybody always remembers from this game. It sounds like tribal techno and it changes depending on how well you are progressing in a stage. It also starts out with a thump thump which reminds me of a heart beat and a little bit of the beginning part of Queen – Flash Gordon.
The music for Aztec Challenge is so great that it’s often remixed by the c64 remix scene. Here is one of my favorite clips from the Press Play On Tape metal version:
Here is another video with a more techno version:
As you can hear, the music for this game is pretty epic and one of the most remembered songs for the c64. Music gets a 10 out of 10.
The Graphics are rather simple but this is an early c64 game. For its time the graphics were pretty impressive vs other c64 games. I like the variety of different environments that they included for the game, although some of the stages are rather spartan. The most impressive graphically are the first stage, with you running to the pyramid, and the last one where you run across a broken bridge in between two mountains. I give Graphics an 8 out of 10.
C64’s don’t crash unless running poorly cracked games. I’ve never seen a bad copy of Aztec Challenge. There are also no bugs or parts in the game where you can’t continue. Stability/Reliability get a 10 out of 10.
Basic and obvious joystick controls. The fire button usually either makes you jump for some of the stages. Some stages have different kinds of jumps that vary in height/length. These are done by pushing the joystick different directions to vary the jump. In the traps stage, you press the fire button to stop running and up to jump. In the piranha stage, you press the fire button to dive for a few seconds, to prevent being eaten alive. Controls get a 7 out of 10 because the game doesn’t explain in game what you need to do and you might die the first time playing.
There is no lag on the original c64 nor the emulators on any modern PC. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.
My history with this game:
This is a game from my childhood that has always blown my mind. I’ve probably played over 120 hours of this game as a child, maybe more. This is the game my cousins, friends, and I would fire up when somebody used to claim c64 games were easy.
I’ve played it many times, when I was younger, simply to hear the music. It’s not the most relaxing game but I do enjoy a good challenge so sometimes I want to fire it up to put my nerves other the edge. Give it a go and see how far you can go before getting the game over screen.