Addressing the Bentley Bear Backlash|
(Is It Hard to Jump Over Jive? Read This All the Way Live!)
Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest was a marvel when it was released in 2014, and it continues to be universally regarded as one of the top 5 games available for the system. Atari 7800 hobby programmer Bob Decrescenzo (aka Pac Man Plus), known for his excellent maze game remakes (Pac Man, Super Pac Man) and obscure ports, (Astro Blaster, UniwarS), atypically created this Run N Gun platformer out of thin air. It features a colorful world filled with many heroes and enemies (largely from the arcade game Crystal Castles), power-ups, secrets, warps, big jumps, tricky jumps, boss battles, and incredible music. It's truly a massive accomplishment and in Funkmaster V's terms: a High Fivin' for Jesus Good Time.
So what exactly is this backlash I am referring to?
When the game was released, Atari 7800 emulation was not that terrific, and most people played their Prosystem games on an actual Atari 7800 console. And that was great. You see, Bob made Bentley Bear CQ with the unique Atari 7800 joystick in mind. In fact, this was the first game in the Prosystem library that caters to the Pro-Line Controller's unique side button design: the joystick rests in the palm of your hand, and the buttons are between your thumb and index finger.
Bob utilized the unique controller to create a very easy to pull off "C Button" for a third input. I was told by a good friend (Zylonbane) that pressing two buttons at once to get a third result is called "chording".
Back to the game and the issue at hand: To make some of the harder jumps, the "run" button needs to be already held down while the "jump" button is pressed (reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers for the NES). This can be done easily by holding down a button on one side of the Pro Line while pressing the button on the other side. This means Bentley can pull off Michael Jordan-esque "super jumps". If you remember, this lard-ass bear in the original game, Crystal Castles, jumped like Evel Knievel on a motorcycle. He had major ups.
For all of the complaints about the Pro-Line controllers, they are the best option around for a third input from a two button controller. Squeezing the two buttons together is more intuitive than having to "chord" on a gamepad. I remember some beat 'em up game for the Genesis that required "chording" buttons together for extra inputs, and I just quit playing it. It was way to cumbersome, even with that awesome Genesis controller.
For a long time, all was well and good with Bentley Bear. But now, new players fooling around with the game with emulation or alternative hardware are getting confused because of the programming choice. If someone is playing Bentley Bear on a Fight Stick, a java based emulator, or even with the Seagul 78 adapter where they can use more conventional (and less painful) controls, they are probably gonna run into some control issues with the game. This makes that "super jump" situation counter-intuitive just because hitting multiple buttons on most controllers and/ keyboards is awkward.
Bob is a very smart cat. He included an option in the game where peeps could use the ole Atari VCS joysticks (CX40) with the one button instead. All you have to do to use these is flip the left difficulty switch to the left, and you are rocking the one button drip, where pushing up jumps. This may be the best solution for emulation and Genesis gamepad wimps. Emulators and Fight Sticks usually have difficulty switches somewhere in their coding- you just have to find out how to "flip" them.
So, there you have it. If you play this game and you think the controls are awkward and it is too hard to jump, horse around with the options. For the first time in its history, the ole Atari 7800 Pain-Line controllers had an advantage over other joysticks and controllers. This simple "C Button" was an option no one thought of for the 7800... but leave it to good ole Bobby D for the next level love on figuring out how to make that unique 7800 controller actually useful and not just painfully painful.
***It has been brought to my attention that the 2022 homebrew "Wizard's Dungeon" uses this 'squeezing C button" input for bringing up the game's map and to pause the game. Nice job, BydoEmpire! Hopefully more cats will start using this idea for their projects in the future.
I would like to thank Tebor's Stuff for the use of the screenshots used in this article.