Sunday, December 6, 2009

Classic DOS Games: Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure

Partly fueling this series is the website They archive the shareware demos of classic DOS games, link to sites where you can buy the full version, and occasionally attempt to get the developers to release the full games under a freeware license. Many developers have cooperated. It's nice to see people preserving these games.

Anyway, on to Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure.

Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure title screen

The game: Link
If you don't already have it: DOSBox

Get yourself set up:
  1. Extract Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure. (Mine is in e:\games\cosmo)
  2. Open your DOSBox install directory.
  3. Copy dosbox.conf to the directory where you extracted the game and rename it to cosmo.conf.
  4. Open cosmo.conf and scroll down to the [autoexec] section.
  5. Copy and paste the following commands in there (after the line # Lines in this section will be run at startup.), then modify it to mount the directory you extracted the game to.

    mount c e:\games\cosmo
  6. Save and close the file.
  7. Create a shortcut to DOSBox and edit its target to have the following command line flags at the end:

    -noconsole -conf "e:\games\cosmo\cosmo.conf"

    Don't forget to put a space between the existing target and this text. Change the path to cosmo.conf to match yours.
Now that you have an easy way to run the game, let's get this show on the road.

Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure is a sidescrolling platformer. You play as Cosmo, a green alien with suction cup hands. While on your way to Disney World, you and your parents were forced to crash land on a strange planet. You went off exploring while your parents were repairing the ship, and when you came back you discovered that your parents had been abducted. So now it's up to you to go rescue them.

The controls are simple. Left and right move left and right. You can look up and down with, well, up and down. Jump with Control. Throughout the game you will find bombs, these can be used with Alt.

To kill most enemies you just have to jump on them. Some enemies will take multiple hits. There are things that can be blown up with bombs to receive health powerups and other goodies. If you want to cling to a wall, just push towards it while in the air. You can use this with the jump button to scale high walls or get powerups out of pits.

Speaking of powerups, if you're in a high place, try looking up. Often a powerup will fall down. While most powerups simply give you points, there are the occasional health powerups, stars, and bombs. Throughout the game you will find "hint globes" that give you gameplay hints. Press up at any one of these to read the hint.

The music is quite good for a game of this era. In fact, the bonus level background music has stuck in my mind to this day, I still find myself whistling it every now and then.

Even though it's shareware and there's only one episode of the three in the full game, the one episode is still fairly long and has plenty of difficulty. While most of the difficulty is simply trying to figure out where the heck you're supposed to go, the extremely varied types of enemies add to it.

There are secrets everywhere. Plus, there are bonuses that you get for doing various things. The only one they tell you about in the shareware version is that there's a bonus for bombing 15 of the eye plants. Every time you bomb an eye plant it gives you another bomb, so unless there's an unreachable platform right above that eye plant, go for it. If such an unreachable platform exists, the bomb that the eye plant drops will land on that instead of the ground next to you. You get the full list of these bonuses with the full version, though some of them are fairly easy to discover on your own.

Being a platformer means there's plenty of things for you to use as well. There are springboards around that you can use to jump very high. Some enemies are stationary and serve as a temporary bridge between high-up platforms so that you can jump from one to another. Some enemies can't be killed but can be forced to let you pass if you bomb them.

You can use enemies to reach higher places, but it's tricky to pull off. I have the easiest time with the ghosts in the cemetery that won't come after you unless you're facing away from them. They're pretty easy to lure to the exact spot you want them in since you can make them stop simply by turning around. Since they take several hits to kill, you can move them while jumping off of them.

Some surfaces, such as ice, are slippery. You won't be able to stick to them as well with your suction cups. You'll stick just fine, but you'll slide down the wall. This only really comes into play in the later levels.

Here's to hoping that Apogee (now 3D Realms) will release the full version under a freeware license. They've already done so with some of their other games...

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