Its time for the second game in my exciting review of East German video game system Poly Play.
Hase und Wolf (Hare and Wolf) is a maze game based on Pac-Man. The player controls the hare (represented by a hare head) and must eat all the food on each level to complete it and progress to the next whilst avoiding the wolves (represented by a wolf head). The food consists of peas (guess what Pac-Man feature those replace), carrots and pears which can be collected for bonus points. To be honest, the Hare was probably eating a better diet than most of the people who originally played this game.
Gameplay is almost-exactly like Pac-Man; the player moves around the maze collecting the dots – sorry peas – pursued all the time by the wolves. The wolves are actually quite effective opponents and genuinely seem to try and home-in on our hero which surprised me as, after the programming “expertise” shown in the previous game I’d played, I was expecting them to just wander around the maze at random. The carrots seem to have taken the place of power pills and collecting them turns the wolves red and makes them jerk around a bit rather than try and pursue the hare. Annoyingly, though, it doesn’t seem to make it possible for the hare to eat them – colliding with a red wolf still causes the loss of a life – which would have been a terrifically world-turned-upside-down version of nature.
Graphics and sound are still fairly lame but an improvement over Hirschjagd with the hare head having two frames of animation (which give it one twitching ear and a flashing eye giving the impression that the dear old hare is on drugs) and a suitably demonic-looking wolf (which also has two frames of animation). The peas and carrots are recognisable if somewhat out of proportion (unless the East German government was trying to insinuate that Marxism-Leninism had given the German people giant peas) but the pear looks rather, erm, odd. More like a hanging yellow bogie than anything else. Sound is some very simple blips and bloops which at times even seem to be trying a valiant attempt at a tune; it reminded me a lot of early ZX Spectrum stuff so I found it quite endearing.
As for the important thing, Hase und Wolf actually plays okay. It doesn’t have Pac-Man‘s smooth control because, unlike our yellow pill-popping hero, the hare doesn’t move continuously and so getting him around corners is a bit more tricky at first because if you press a direction too early the hare will stop rather than wait until turning the corner; but its fast enough and you soon get used to it. The wolves, as I said before, are actually quite worthy opponents and increase in number as you progress through levels so, unlike Hirschjagd, things get trickier as you go along. The carrots are more of a deterrent than a way of munching the enemy for bonus points, but the player soon learns to adapt. After playing a couple of games of this I actually felt no trepedation in playing it again which is much more than I can say for that deer-hunting atrocity.
I give Hase und Wolf three Karl Marx’s out of five.