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Usually with games from the early 80’s you can either claim that they still retain a basic charm – or you can dismiss them as utterly archaic and not worth playing nowadays. I’ll do the former.
Venture hasn’t aged as badly as you might expect though. Sure, the graphics are incredibly basic, but it’s compulsive structure is timeless.
A basic dungeon crawler at heart, the game has two main styles of play. The first is a large view of each level (see screenshot below) where you control a tiny dot.
Even on a huge television this dot is tiny – but once you figure out where it is (it’s at the bottom in the middle of the screen in the picture above) you’ll be fine.
Each level has four rooms for you to explore, which you enter using white doors. At first entering these rooms is easy, but the further you progress in the game the more aggressive the green squid-beasts that patrol the corridors become.
One touch from them and you lose a life, so when you exit rooms you have to be very careful not to immediately bump into them. There’s no way to fight back against them either.
This is contrasted by the challenges within the rooms themselves, where you can actually fight back (see top screenshot).
In these you are a much more distinguishable entity, taking the form of a smiley face with an arrow launcher (its name is Winky – no i’m not kidding).
Within each room lies a treasure which you have to grab and escape the room with.
There’s always an obstacle to avoid or defeat in each one though, and most of the time it’s a group of enemies – which can either already be in the room or appear once you grab the treasure.
Sometimes there are other traps to avoid, such as tidal waves (blue rectangles – you have to use your imagination) and disappearing walls.
There’s a basic thrill to be had not knowing what’s waiting behind each door, and the way enemies take a second to appear once you’ve entered a room only adds to the suspense.
The sound and music is also excellent, and not just for the time – it may consist of basic bleeps and blorks, but it’s genuinely charming and adds a lot to the old school atmosphere.
Although Venture isn’t a must-play by any means, it’s well worth a look if you ever get into the ColecoVision scene – it’s gameplay may be simple but it’s still a enjoyable slice of old-school action.
It even has a solid amount of content thanks to its range of difficulty settings and a serviceable two player mode.