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Abandoned Homebrew

Genre: Action/ Puzzle

Awards: None
Apples Taste Better When They Are Underground, Ya Know. Pros: Charming, Great Sounds, New Take on Boulder Dash
Cons: Only 4 Levels are Completed
This Might Be a Boulder Dash Clone, But Its So Good

Overview: Silverback and I took turns taking dumps on Mark Ball's (Groovybee) Atari 7800 Homebrews this week. Man... they were really bad. But I wanted to also show some of the positive stuff he was working on, as well. I won't get into how this Mark Ball fella was a dirtbag again, if you wanna read about that, read the WASP! review. I want to focus on this interesting, but sadly incomplete 7800 original title he and others were working on that borrows heavily from Boulder Dash, but has a gameplay wrinkle that makes the game brand new. It can be found online in 7800 ROM packs and is quite playable.

What We Gotz Here: For the uninitiated, Boulder Dash looks and sort of plays like Dig Dug, but is more of a puzzle game than a pure action title. You are underground, and the boulders you disturb can cause quite a problem for you as they fall. You can be trapped or crushed by these things in your quest for diamonds.

Apple Snaffle is pretty much Boulder Dash, save the diamonds are apples, and there's a caveat or two that makes the game interesting on its own. The well animated protagonist, who features a spinning drill and a brown bag lunch sequence when you leave him still, has a hard hat that must be pretty special indeed. Our hero never gets crushed by boulders, but when they fall on his head, the TNT hat causes an 8 block explosion around the player sprite. This is quite awesome. This ruckus can open up new paths, destroy boulders, or free yourself from being trapped. On the flip side, it can also vaporize apples. Every apple must be collected to clear a level, so even one lost fruit will make you have to reset the screen again. You also do not die in this game, you simply run out of time. You can reset the current level as many times as needed. The animations in this game are great, the sounds are charming, and the gameplay is fun. There are only four completed levels (out of an intended 40), and the options screen is blank. There is a high score table (even though the score tabulation is broken at this point) and a title song.

Verdict: Mark Ball stole a lot of people's money who were investing in his homebrew games and lied a lot. You can say he was a sinner. The original sin was in the Garden of Eden and involved an apple. All three Groovybee games that we have reviewed on this site are filled with apples galore: Wasp! Worm! and Apple Snaffle. HE WAS TRYING TO TELL YOU WHAT HE WAS! YOU WERE JUST TOO BLIND TO SEE! Anyways... this game is great and I wish it was completed. Apple Snaffle is definitely a MUST HAVE!

Additional Information: I would like to thank myself for the screenshots used in this review, and Trebor for his compiling of all available 7800 ROMS in his ROM pack.