This game came to me when I purchased an ECP compilation pack way back in... the mid-eighties, I believe. It was probably one of the first platform shooting games I ever played. And it had me hooked right from the disturbingly simple title-screen that says CALVIN with a little box below, telling you: ďLEFT 1 PLAYER / RIGHT 2 PLAYERĒ. Simple as that. So - pushing left on the dark-beige Commodore-patented joystick and off we went... into a world of flying robot hats, dinosaurs/dragons, jump-pads and tractor beams. And the only thing you had to defend yourself with was... nothing!
Calvin is much like the hero from Impossible Mission. He wears a sexy, sleeve-less body suit but has neither the charm, sophistication nor amount of frames in his animation to pull of the amount of ďcoolĒ that Mister IM just oozed. Also, Calvin canít scream when he dies. He just drops to his knees and disintegrates like all good men should. Calvin begins life in a blue suit, which means the only weapon he has for defence is - his good old white fist! And let me tell you, kids - this fist ainít doiní a thing! You can stand there and punch until Jesus returns and you will NOT hit, much less kill anything! And if you hold down the fire button, old Calvin just holds his fist out as if to say, ďcome on... you want some?Ē. Silly bugger. But once you step on a flashing block, you get a new spunky RED suit. Now you can shoot white lengthy bullets. Awesome. Thatíll be good for killing the flying robot hats and the occasional green dinosaur. But what about when you get to a LOT of hats... or the big green dinosaur at the end of the level with one arm that shoots huge balls of boogers? Well, my friends... thatís when itís time to gun down a little dinosaur (about your size) and pick up a flashing P-block. This P-block will give you a limited run of both a) a flashing body suit and b) a conical pulse-rifle (at least, thatís what I call it). This CPR wipes out almost anything in your path... almost.
Thatís pretty much your lot from this game. You can climb the occasional hanging vine, bounce upwards on jump-pads to reach higher platforms or even squat do avoid a low-flying robot hat. But donít get too cocky with this games restrictions, for later on youíll meet tractor beams that freeze you so that anyone can have a stab at lilí olí Calvin. Or maybe that innocent looking plate on the wall is actually a booger-shooter!
Yes, folks... Calvin is a platform shooter in the simplest, rawest sense of the word(s). Jump, punch, climb, duck, shoot... thatís about it. Now normally... a game could get away with this if the atmosphere was worthy of mention. And it is... thereís NO music (save for the title screen), no ambience (save for the soup-sucking sounds of gunfire and sprite collision) and ultimately... nothing to keep you going. Unless, that is... youíre just dying to see the new patterned background awaiting you on the next level! In that case, I say GO FOR IT!
However, at the end of the day, despite all itís shortcomings... Calvin is a game that I will always treasure. In the old days, I remember this game as being one of the all time greats of shoot-íem ups. But these days, thanks to C64 emulators... Iíve realised just how bad this game is. Nevertheless... if you can find it, play it. Itís fun! Really, it is! Because I truly believe that a C64 game is only as good as you remember it to be! Seriously... !
|GRAPHICS - 5/10|
|Our protagonist, Calvin, is very reminiscent of the Impossible Mission guy, wearing a fetching blue lycra jump-suit. Heís the only sprite in high-res. The rest of the graphics are very small and deformed-looking. Except the green alien dinosaur thing that is about ďtwice the sizeĒ of you... anyone remember the ďbigĒ bad guys in Double Dragon? Other than the poor sprites, the backgrounds range from colourful and interesting to just... well, DULL really.|
|SOUND - 3/10|
|The music is restricted to the title screen. Even then, itís a looping of a mere ten seconds of upbeat jolliness that should make any SID-lover cringe in pain. Other than that, the sound effects consist of you shooting your gun and colliding with enemy sprites, both of which sound like someone sucking soup through their teeth!|
|PLAYABILITY - 6/10|
|Iím being quite generous with that six, because this game (however bad it may suck today) - still holds a very, very fond place in my memory when I first owned it. Back then, it just couldnít be beat. I played it non-stop for days on end and, well... think about it - the early eighties didnít exactly REEK of platform shooters. That was saved for the nineties! So, to be in control of someone who could shoot both bullets and conical blast-waves, bounce on springboards, climb vines and destroy tractor beams and dino-dragon-saurs was pretty damn cool! Hell... it still is!|
|OVERALL - 7/10|
|Yes, the music sucks donkeys! Yes, the graphics were probably designed five minutes before the game was packaged and yes... the gameplay gets painfully repetitive within five minutes... so why give this game SEVEN when thereís so much Wizball, Last Ninja and Crack Down to play? Well, as I said - Calvin is an old flame from way back. And to not honour itís memory with a bit of respect would be a blasphemy in the eyes of the C64 game-playing public. Because... today it sucks - but then... it was a semi-masterpiece!|