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|First Person Shooter Games
This game lives up to its name, both conceptually and graphically. Described on the box as "A New Age Challenge," Accolade designers specifically sought to counter the destruction that typifies many games. Not that things don't go blooey all over the place in Harmony; they can and do. But the object is to minimize uncontrolled devastation, and this is best done by calm, harmonious manipulation of the game elements.
Floating on-screen are energy spheres of various sizes and colors, frequently connected to each other by elastic strings, which let them share or transfer their momentum. There are also fixed barriers off which the colorful balls bounce. Push one ball and others attached to it also move. The player uses a hovering disc with a pointer on it to herd the spheres in the desired directions. It, too, may be connected to one or more of the spheres.
All the action is accompanied by music appropriate to the New Age concept, created when the balls interact with each other. (You might call it the Music of the Spheres.) The software supports Roland, AdLib and OMS sound boards, and any MIDI device.
There is more to Harmony than just pushing colored marbles through space. When two like-colored energy spheres collide, they harmonize; the docs describe this as a "grateful, musical sigh." The player must bring this happy oblivion to all spheres on screen in order to move to the next level.
If two balls of different colors bump into each other, they create a third, smaller sphere, called a pod. For the first three seconds, the player may gobble it for added energy; after that it expands into a new sphere. Things could get cluttered, except for one thing: pulse time. If energy spheres are not united within a certain time limit, they begin to pulsate, faster and faster, until they explode. This is, of course, nonharmonious behavior, and the player loses energy (measured on a gauge across the top of the screen.)
The player wins bonus points for getting through each level, and there are bonus levels with special instructions and challenging arrangements of pods. The player starts with four lives and earns an additional life for every 20,000 bonus points. Unfortunately, the mechanics leave something to be desired. The controller disc is driven by a method similar to Space War or Asteroids. The pointer is turned the desired direction and then given thrust to move. Only practice makes this approach comfortable. Either joystick or keyboard may be used.
Accolade uses the copy protection technique of printing look-up information on red-chocolate paper (so it can't be photocopied). This is difficult to see in normal light, even for players with reasonably good vision. It's bearable when the information is text or numbers. But in this case, Accolade presents 24 screen pictures of energy spheres and pods. To boot the game, one of these must be identified by number. This is extremely difficult, especially since there are several with quite similar appearance.
Once past the copy protection gauntlet, when the techniques of maneuvering the seeker are mastered, the player begins the learning curve. Over and over, the player is urged to relax, to seek the elegant solution: tension leads only to disharmony. Try it. You may learn to like a little more harmony in your life!