Review by Dave Giarrusso



Graphics: ?

Sound: ?

Gameplay: ?

Overall: 7

“Venture into the depths with Winky… and a bow and arrow. Recover lost treasure! Beware of creatures in each room and Hallmonsters™ in the dungeon passages!”

The attract mode text sums up just about everything quite nicely. The smiley-faced, bow-n-arrow toting, hero of Venture is Winky. That’s right, Winky. Winky never even actually winks! Maybe he was given an upbeat name to balance out the dreary dungeon setting, and Blinky and Pinky were already taken by Pac-Man?

Exidy might be best known for their excellent lineup of arcade shooters including Crossbow, Chiller, and Cheyenne. Before they got into the shooter-groove though, (or rut, depending on what side of the fence you’re on) Exidy tried their hand at several fun non-shooter games, including Fax, Pepper II, and Venture. While Venture had a strong cult following in the arcades, it didn’t really become a household word until Coleco ported it to their ColecoVision. Coleco’s home version of Venture is so close to the original that at a glance, any gamer might have trouble telling the difference between the two.

Winky needs to put the smackdown on (or avoid) monsters in his quest to retrieve lost treasure. It’s often better to avoid the monsters, since they are difficult to hit, they offer few points, and hunting them wastes time, thereby reducing the bonus multiplier. On the other hand, thwarted monsters look funny with Winky’s arrows stuck in them! The hallways also pose a threat to Winky - he is forced to dance with the Hallmonsters while running from room to room. Like middle school Hall-monitors, any contact with them is certain death, so it’s good to just steer clear of them.

Venture’s series of dungeons sit atop each other like a three-story basement of Indiana Jonesian adventure. Each dungeon contains four rooms, and each dual-doored room, with the exception of theWall Room, contains a different flavor of monster. The monsters, including Goblins and Cyclops and Trolls (oh my!), dance around their respective chambers in an attempt to protect the treasure from, and generally annoy Winky. Each room has its own excellent theme music that greatly adds to the atmosphere of the game.

There are only minor differences between the arcade Venture and Coleco’s outstanding translation, none of which tremendously affect the game play. Winky can touch and shoot through the moving walls in the arcade version’s Wall Room, but he cannot touch, nor shoot down the moving walls in the ColecoVision port. The arcade version’s Snake Room is filled with very thin, very horizontal snakes, while the ColecoVision’s “S-shaped” snakes make better targets. Coleco added a third Troll in the Troll Room in the home version, and generally, the arcade game’s monster AI is tougher than on the ColecoVision. The monsters on ColecoVision do not dissolve when hit, but they do stick around for a while and regenerate when hit again.

Venture’s only sore point is its decidedly herky-jerky control scheme. It’s meant to help the gamer, (tap the stick to aim the bow, hold the stick to move) but there’s too much of a lag between aiming and moving. In their valiant effort to keep the gameplay true to the original, Coleco included this stilted control scheme in the home version, but overall, the ColecoVision version control is better and leaves the gamer with a more satisfying experience.

You know it, you love it (unless you hate it), and you may have even played it buried beneath blankets, couch cushions, and whatever other items were at your disposal for creating your very own “dungeon.” In any case, Exidy’s arcade sleeper hit, Venture, is the most fun you could ever have strolling through dingy dungeons wearing nothing but a bow and a smile, and like many contemporary Namco games, Venture plays even better at home.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:35 PM