11
Mar
13

Hubie For DOS

Hubie Title Screen

Hubie Title Screen

Hubie is a puzzle platformer game released in 1996 by Serendipity Software. It was made at the end of the DOS game era, but is simple and reminiscent of many earlier puzzle platformers. For such a simple game, it requires more processing power than it really should. I had to set DosBox to 7000 cycles to get the animations and game running smoothly, which roughly equates to a reasonable 486 machine. These faster DOS machines were common by this time, so it isn’t surprising, but is an example of many wasted CPU cycles.

Practise Screen

Practise Screen

The graphics of the game are very colourful, but when I first looked at them I thought they were EGA graphics. They are actually in VGA, and unsurprisingly the game doesn’t support any other modes. The graphics are not unattractive, but they don’t make good use of the VGA palette as they overuse many bright colours. The animations however are smooth, and work quite well, it’s just a shame they  take up so many CPU cycles.

Near the exit of the practise level

Near the exit of the practise level

Sound comes in the form of digitised sound from a sound blaster card, and ad lib/sound blaster music. The sound effects are quite reasonable and not too distracting, but the music is a bit annoying and quite repetitive. It is almost as if it was added as an after-thought.

The second easy puzzle

The second easy puzzle

The controls are designed around the numeric keypad, although if you don’t like them you can customise the keys yourself. There are more keys requires than is usual for a platform game, you have the usual four for movement, another two for pushing and crushing objects, and an extra two for flying a short distance and climbing. Fortunately the controls are not that hard to get used to. Moving around a level is very simple, but you can only move one complete tile at a time, so you don’t always stop when you release the key.

It's curtains for me!

It’s curtains for me!

The puzzles themselves are fun, and can take a little bit of working out. You can retry them as many times as you like so there is no problem with getting killed and it is safe to try different solutions. The puzzles are sorted into categories of difficulty, easy, medium, hard and bonus. This makes it easy to pick the level of puzzle that suites you. Like many modern games, you unlock levels as you play and can start at any level you have already unlocked.

About Serendipity

About Serendipity

Whilst the game has its flaws and a unusual control scheme, it was fun to play. The puzzles can get rather complex and require many steps to complete, so if you like puzzles you’ll like this game. That being said once you play a puzzle there is little to encourage you to play it again, and I found it frustrating sometimes when it wasn’t clear which way I should go to solve a puzzle. Today I played the shareware game which comes with 17 puzzles. The registered version comes with 100 puzzles and a level editor, so you may get much more mileage out of the registered version.

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