SUPER BAGMAN / Stern / Arcade

Super Bagman is like a mishmash of Burgertime and Spelunker, but with none of the better qualities of either of those games. I get the sense that the complexity of the design ended up being beyond the ability of the programmers, but that didn't stop them from going for it anyway, and what comes out is a tedious mess that is way too frustrating and clunky to be enjoyable.

You play as an escaped con who somehow got himself into what appears to be a gold mine. The prospectors aren't too happy you are there, however, and will actively chase you (later in the game they take shots at you as well.) You have to navigate through this maze of ladders, pitfalls, escalators and elevators, with the main goal being to haul bags of gold to a wheelbarrow at the surface before time runs out. Each bag of gold buys you more time, and I assume the ultimate goal is to get all of them out, but I never even came anywhere close to doing that.

A nice touch of the game is that each area seems to be spread across four full screens, and the enemies will sometimes follow you from one screen to another. This leads to incredible complexity in the maze, however, and makes for a tremendously long haul to bring each of the bags to the surface (and you aren't given much time to do so.) Compounding the problem is that Bagman is equipped only with a very flaky jump that sometimes doesn't work right, and if you fall any length at all, you die. Also, once laden with a bag of gold, you can no longer jump. In addition to all this, Bagman also often has trouble getting onto or off of ladders unless you are in some rather arbitrary position. The prospectors aren't very numerous or bright, walking short patterns and getting left behind you easily, but they clog the available routes to the top just enough to force you to take some complicated route that usually eats up way too much of your limited time.

The concept was actually pretty good, and goes well beyond the usual simple maze-chase games of the early 80s, but the actual gameplay just ends up being tiresome due to the flaky control and extreme difficulty.

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