Prospector for DOS

Info Screen

Info Screen

Prospector was written by Lee Chapel back in 1991 as shareware. It is a single screen platform game similar to games like Chuckie Egg that used to run on many old systems in the 1980’s. It is an EGA game that uses the unusual high resolution graphics mode (640x350x16) that very few games used at all back when it was made. It was often supported by tools such as microsoft’s QuickBasic, and Borland Turbo Pascal, which is why that mode is often used most by the more amateur shareware game programmers.

Game Screen

Game Screen

The graphics are clean and take advantage of the higher resolution. They are reasonably attractive and it is pretty easy to tell what the sprites are supposed to be, but the animations for enemies are a bit jerky as there are not that many frames of animation for each of them. The players sprite moves much faster, but so much so that you can’t see the animation unless you are only tapping the keys and moving only slightly.

Sound is very simple and only offers PC speaker support. You basically get a bomb falling sound when you die as you fall towards the bottom of the screen.

Title screen

Title screen

The controls are ok, but take a little bit to adapt to. It is easy to over shoot a ladder or piece of gold because of how fast you move. Jumping feels a bit stiff, and have to move in the direction you want to jump to get momentum before you jump because you can’t change direction in the air. All this makes it harder to move around.

The game play is quite reasonable, but hampered by the controls. There are a number of different enemies that move around a level, some of which are more capable of chasing you than others. The levels start out harder than is necessary, but are a bit easier when you manage to grapple with the controls. Early levels are basic with only ladders and platforms.

The shareware version has only 10 of the 150 levels that the full version of the game has. Getting killed resets your progress through a level, so I didn’t get to see the other features of some of the levels as I was unable to get past the second level. From what we can see on the title screen there appears to be more features and hazards in later levels, with new enemies, elevators and conveyor belts. Prospector was fun for me despite it’s short comings, it requires a bit of patience, and may be difficult to progress very far, but it has some nice ideas and after a bit of practise gets a bit easier to control.


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