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Oil's Well

Sierravision (Sierra Online) 1982



Strange little maze game from Sierra on-line, who would go on to make several quintessential point and click adventure games in the late 80s and early 90s such as the Kings Quest and Quest for Glory series. This particular game is a quirky little maze game where you're in charge of an oil well drill. The point is to eat up all the dots (which I suppose is the oil) in the underground maze while avoiding various insects that encroach from both sides. If the insects make contact with the arm of the drill then it's game over. You're also doing this under a time limit as the "oil level" meter is constantly ticking down, once it reaches zero you lose.

As you proceed through the twisty maze the arm of the oil drill wraps and twists around, and you cannot pass through the arm itself, thus you have to think ahead of where you're going in order to do it all in the time limit. The arm moves pretty slow as well, however pressing the fire button makes the arm fly backwards pretty quickly. There is also one flashing oil pellet-thing that slows all the insects down sufficiently to allow you to eat them or the rest of the oil dots in the maze.

Apparently the concept for this game was taken from an obscure arcade game called "Anteater" that no one's ever heard of.

Problem with this game is that it's just too easy. Anyone with decent reflexes will be able to excel at it without really trying. It's a unique twist on the standard Pac-Man maze game that was so popular at this time, however there's only so far you can take the concept. I mean, oil drilling? Can we think of a premise with a little more excitement in it next time?

Graphics: Very clear, although the color palate is a bit drab. The sprites seem to be made up of all one color. The mazes do get more interesting as you go on, eventually showing ancient ruins and such, but they're still not much to look at.

Sound: A sort of "Blonk!" when you eat something. There is at least opening music at the beginning of the rounds.

Gameplay: Sort of like Pac-Man mixed with Snake, kind of. The game has a good learning curve but even the "harder" levels are too easy.

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