Monday, 3 May 2010

Video Game Time Machine: Rick Dangerous 1989

After a random Google browsing section I found myself being dragged in a figurative Delorean past 88mph and back in time to the land of gaming nostalgia. Thanks to a great website, I have rediscovered one of my childhood favourite video games: Rick Dangerous.

Rick Dangerous was a platform action puzzle game originally released in 1989, which not only toyed with plagiarism, but openly flouted it. Undoubtedly based largely on Raiders of the Lost Ark, even the Front cover of Rick Dangerous looked suspiciously like Indiana Jones. If the game had been made now Lucas Arts would be suing for copyright infringement, however, as it was made before the fiscal power of the games industry had been discovered, it passed by unscathed.

Much more cartoonish than Dr Jones, Rick Dangerous was a British agent who travels to the Amazon to find the lost Goolu tribe. His plane crashes and he parachutes into the jungle. The beginning of the game sees the fedora-sporting Rick running away from a giant boulder (just like the opening sequence of Raiders) and negotiating a maze of traps, triggers and Amazon warriors. The game was very clever too; although armed with 6 bullets, 6 explosive charges and a stick for stunning opponents, players would need to pick their battles, decide who to shoot and who to avoid in order to conserve the valuable arsenal, as reloads were few and far between.

A thinking kid’s game, Rick Dangerous played out over 4 levels; the Amazon, Egypt, Castle Schwarzendumpf (a Nazi stronghold) and a Nazi missile base, where Rick must stop a deadly missile attack on London. Some of the traps had no visible warning so the only way to progress the game in many areas was through trial and error, something that would annoy many but which I found to be one of the great draws of the game. The graphics and gameplay were in keeping with other games of its time, 2-dimentional and comic with individual screens that needed to be negotiated one at a time in order to progress the game. The music (midi files of course) was comic and, bizarrely, very appropriate to the gameplay and the setting.

I was ten years old when Rick Dangerous came out on the Amiga 500 and it was addictive. Like Super Mario Bros mixed with my all time hero Indiana Jones (was then, is now), it’s clear to see why it had such appeal at a time when video games were becoming a much larger part of our lives. Anyone who is interested and has some spare time should visit the website where a full version of the game is playable on your web browser for free.


  1. It is amazing how much I can remember about the layout of the levels.
    I had forgotten how annoying it can be when I press up when I think the button is pressed, instead of shooting the guy I just jump for his amusement before joining the Choir Invisible.

  2. I was amazed by how much I remembered too, including which way to press when falling in order to avoid the unseen spikes on the map below etc. Something you would have only known if you had gone through the process of trial-and-error. What astounds me most is that I have retained this knowledge for 20 years and that it seems far shorter a time than that. My life is speeding away from me.

    Thanks for visiting.