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Hypnotic Land - The Atari Times

Hypnotic Land


You'll be stunned by Hypnotic Land
by David Sherwin

July 31, 2003
What do you get when you combine Klax with a pachinko machine? "A mess!", you might rightly think to yourself -- but that's only half the story. This is actually the premise behind Hypnotic Land, one of the more exotic oddities that was produced for the 8-bit (on cartridge, and in 1992) at the end of its commercial life in Europe by the mysterious Italian software house LindaSoft.

Hypnotic Land is a perfect example of why generic fusion sometimes just doesn't work in game design. Hypnotic Land tries to do too much -- and ends up offering too little -- in its attempt to combine novel aspects of both Klax and pachinko-type games in one title. The result is an unplayable gaming disaster that should be studied in game-design classes as an example of what to avoid when creating good games. Of course, the interesting failure that is Hypnotic Land merely ensures its attraction to 8-bit gaming collectors. Sadly [or maybe happily! Ed.], Hypnotic Land is no longer available from any commercial source, so the curious (or masochistic) will have to beg, steal, or download their copies from internet sources. 

Gameplay

My copy of Hypnotic Land is on cartridge (with thanks to computer whiz Nir Dary), and I can surely state that the game's instantaneous loading time is its one true high point.

The goal of Hypnotic Land is to move spheres along a Klax-like gaming board into a receptacle at the bottom of the screen. Unlike Klax, however, you don't then dump the sphere onto the screen's bottom to create interesting stacks of like-coloured tiles to rack up points and bonuses. In Hypnotic Land, you just drop the balls into the cup -- that's it.

The challenge here comes from the fact that you can't move the cup, and are forced to move the ball -- by placing directional arrows on the board -- into position. This is exceptionally difficult, as balls move quickly and it's difficult to place arrows sequentially on the board to direct particular balls across three or four board lanes. Players do get a number of "chances" per round, but these aren't nearly enough to be adequate. 

Players who are lucky (skilled?) enough to make it past the hard first round will be treated to levels of increasing difficulty, but gameplay doesn't change.

Graphics

Hypnotic Land doesn't make extraordinary use out of any of the 8-bits' special graphics modes, and the overall quality of in-game graphics is what you'd expect of a type-in game, circa 1985. The Klax-type board is rendered quite well, but the standard background is quite bland, and the movement of balls as they move down the ramp is pretty jerky. The title screen isn't wonderful, either, but at least you'll know what you're playing.

Sound and Music

A disappointment; POKEY might as well not exist. A few sounds effects liven up gameplay, but that's pretty much it. 

Summary

I'd like to be able to recommend Hypnotic Land in the "so bad it's good!" gaming category, but must save that cherished rank for terrible games that are at least playable, like the 8-bit version of Demon Attack, or InHome Sofware's Baseball.

Hypnotic Land is just terrible, but at least its designers can be satisfied that they've carved out a niche for their game as being (truly) the worst 8-bit commercial cartridge release of all time. 



I've seen 2600 title screens that were more interesting to look at!
Looks like Klax at least...
That's about the extent of the game, folks.
Hypnotic Land
System: 8-Bit
Publisher: LindaSoft
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 40%
Sound & Music Score: 25%
Gameplay Score: 10%
Control Score: 30%

Final Score: 10%



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