01
Sep
14

Skunny: Lost in Space for DOS

Skunny the Mercenary

Skunny the Mercenary

Skunny: Lost in Space is another game featuring Skunny the Squirrel and was made and published by Copysoft back in 1993. I vaguely remember playing this game for a very limited amount of time, and I played Back to the Forest earlier this year, so I didn’t have high expectations today. Lost in Space is based on an arcade game called Moon Patrol, a classic Williams game that was ported to many systems in the early 80’s.

What is a Shoola?

What is a Shoola?

Once again the graphics are in VGA and support parallax scrolling. It seems many assets from earlier games have been reused where possible, so the artwork is similar quality. The animations are however better, as they seem to have more frames of animation and are smoother. The graphics performance is also better as it appears to run much better on the equivalent of a 386sx in Dosbox fine.

Title screen

Title screen

Sound comes in the form of PC Speaker, Sound Blaster and Adlib support. I couldn’t run the game with Sound Blaster support under Dosbox as it locked up the game, but given previous experience that may not be a bad thing. The PC speaker noises were fairly simple, but they were a bit annoying although not really bad. The game has Adlib music that you hear only in game and was loud, very loud. It is a fairly simple tune that repeats over and over, so it’s probably best to turn it off as it gets annoying quickly. It is best to turn off everything except the PC speaker sound (it as well if you don’t like it) otherwise your ears will bleed.

Strange story

Strange story

The game-play of these older DOS games is usually their redeeming feature that makes them worth returning to, no so with Lost in Space. It is brutally difficult, and not in a good way. Enemies have longer range guns than you, making it near impossible to avoid taking damage. You have a limited amount of ammunition which can leave you vulnerable when you run out. You can fortunately pickup more ammunition and health, but these are uncommon and spaced too far apart.

The controls also contribute to the difficulty. Moving around isn’t so bad, but it is quite difficult to jump over the various holes in the terrain. At first I thought the height of the jump was almost random, but I worked out that to jump over the larger holes you need to be moving faster. This can be achieved by moving towards the right until you speed up, the downside being you need quite some space to achieve this longer jump. This makes it quite difficult to jump a large hole that you didn’t know about or didn’t have space to prepare for.

Sweet Death

Sweet Death

The difficulty is very punishing as you have to start the level from the beginning every time, unlike the arcade game which had many checkpoints along the way. You can go through your three lives very quickly and there is no option to continue from where you left off. This results in playing the same segments repeatedly for a long time.

I only attempted the first two levels as they were too difficult to beat in the short time frame I had this week. I suspect the reason I didn’t play this much was because of the difficulty, and it seems to have deterred many other players not only from this game, but other Skunny titles.

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