Return to Cameltry (thing)

Name: Cameltry
Format: [Super Nintendo Entertainment System|SNES]
Developer: [Taito]
Publisher: [Taito]
Year: 1992

Introduction

Cameltry is an [obsucre] [Japan]ese [puzzle] game. The basic idea is to [maneouvre] a [ball] around a [2D] maze to the goal, within a [time limit]. The [player] does not interact with the game by controlling the ball though; instead, the player rotates the maze around the ball, with the [gravity] pulling the ball downwards*. The ball can be made to [jump], but this is very difficult to use correctly and is only for very skilled players. The rotating maze is represented smoothly on the screen thanks to the genius of the [Super Nintendo Entertainment System|SNES]'s [Mode 7] rendering system which can rotate and stretch a flat surface in any way. Other good examples of [Mode 7] in use are the [Boss] Islands in [Super Mario World], the floor in [Street Fighter 2] and the map screens in [Secret of Mana], [Seiken Densetsu 3], [Final Fantasy VI] and [Terranigma]. Most of these uses were purely cosmetic, though, but this is integral to the [video games|game].

The game has a number of different levels - at first four "[course]s" are available - in order of increasin difficulty they are [Training] (which includes screens with tips on how to play, but unfortunately in [Japanese]), [Beginner], [Expert] and [Special]. Eventually you can access the [Master] Course. Each round has anywhere from four up to about 10 levels, each increasing in difficulty, and once you have completed all the levles in a round you can pick a different one. You do not have to go through them in order, but it makes sense to. After you complete all four courses you are given a password - I will keep these below for anyone who wants them. This password, when entered, unlocks another set of four courses with completely different levels and much more difficult challenges. While the first "[field]" (the game's name for each set of four courses) is relatively easy and can be completed with few problems, the second field becomes nice and [fiend]ish by changing the rules somewhat. Some levels are the same as before but with more [intricate] layouts, while sometimes there is a limit to the angles at which you can move the maze, forcing you to use the hopelessly [random] [jump] button. Some EVIL levels reverse the [gravity], so that the ball falls towards the top of the screen. This is truly hard, and will take ages to get used to.

[Password]s

Password for each [field]:
  1. No password needed
  2. BIRTH
  3. BUILD
  4. SMILE

[Maze] [Item]s

Each maze is made up of roughly the same building blocks, but each time they arranged in a completely different way. You will [encounter] while playing...

[Background]
Although this serves no real [purpose], it is worth mentioning because it is so completely wierd and so very [Japanese]. There are aquite a few backgrounds which are re used all the time - one has a [fish] swimming around, one has a giant animated [sand timer], there is one which has an island which looks like it's out of the [Sonic the Hedgehog] universe with a person having a [picnic] on it... [Crazy Japanese|You get the idea].

[Wall section]
The basic grey wall is a [square] section which forms all the layout of the maze. Sometimes there are triangular sections half the size of a square or "[quarter pipe]" sections which let your ball roll along to build up speed.

[Goal]
A large [black and white] striped section which says goal. All you have to do for each level is get here within the time limit.

[Brick]s
These small brown squares provide paths for you to go around but if your ball has enough speed you can break them and earn yourself 1000 points.

Stones
These indestructible grey balls do the same job as wall sections, ie provide you with a path to follow, but they can do do more intricate layouts.

[Arrow]s
These, like, point the way that you go. But when you are constantly rotating the playing area, it is so easy to forget which way you need to head in. These arrows painted on the [wall]s let you know. There are also sometimes numbers on the walls but I have not yet worked out exactly what function these have, if any. They are possibly markers to count down how long there is to go untilt he goal.

? Blocks
These blocks, when broken with your ball, randomly either take from or increase your [time] remaining to get to the [goal].

+3 Block
Adds 3 seconds on to your time.

+5 block
Adds 5 seconds on to your time.

-3 block
Takes 3 seconds off your time.

-5 block
Takes 5 seconds off your time.

[Traffic Light]s
These blocks change every few seconds between "[Go]" and "[Stop]". If they are on stop when you hit them, they act as an indestructible wall, but if they are on go you can pass straight through them.

[Conveyor]s
These red areas [push] your ball in one direction. You can go through them the other way, but it requires a bit of speed. Sometimes they push you in the direction you want to go, sometimes they don't.

[Bumper]s
Slightly reminiscent of [pinball] bumpers, if you touch these you will get 500 points but be [bounce]d very hard in the opposite direction. These can be a help or a hindrance.

[Ticket]s
These yellow items simply give you 500 [point]s when you run over them.

Yellow Squares
As large as a piece of normal [wall], these are the things you have to watch out for most. They are placed all around most levels, and take off 2 seconds whenever you touch them.

Red Squares
Just like [Yellow] Squares, except these take 5 seconds off your time. Thankfully, these are quite rare.

[Graphics] and [Sound]

The graphics of the game are [functional] but not [excellent]. For the Mode 7 rotation to work so smoothly the [sprite]s which are rotated cannot be too complex, and that shows here. The music is quite good although can get repetitive after a while. The sound effects are very typically [Japanese], with random laughing sounds when you get [time] taken off. The [gameplay] shines through all this though, making the game well worth picking up.

[Engrish]

As with many Japanese games, for no [apparent] reason, some of the text is in English. It was clearly either translated by a person who had never spoken to an English speaker in their life, or, as I think is more likely, [Babelfish]. When you get a [high score] you are told that "YOU ARE ARTISTIC PLAYER!". After each course is complete you are shown a completely random picture which includes your [ball] and at least 1 of the following:

  1. [Frankenstein]
  2. An [Aircraft Carrier]
  3. An [anime] girl.
  4. A vase full of [Sunflower]s
  5. A guy wearing a [baseball cap] giving a [Winston Churchill|Victory sign] to the camera
None of the above were made up. What's more disturbing is the "[slogan]" which accompanies each one. It is the very [epitome] of meaningless garbage. One of my favourites is where after completing a particularly difficult level I was shown an [M. C. Escher|Escher] style picture of windows at every angle with loads of balls flying around in it with the slogan "[Don't be relieved]" underneath. I wasn't relieved. I was very, very disturbed. Another good one is a flaming man holding a [sword] with the slogn "[Yet to be seen try it]". Yes. Quite.

Overall, though, the Engrish does not really detract from the game, and the parts that are in Japanese such as the training text are not necessary - I have done fine in the game with no knowledge of the [language].

Overall

Overall I would highly recommend that people picked up this game. It is available as a reasonably small download from some ROM sites - it is reasonably rare in this respect, but I'm sure Google will provide some answers. The game is emulated perfectly in [Zsnes] and reasonably well in [Snes9x], although there are some graphical glitches.

The game plays like a dream, with an almost perfect [physics engine] which means that with practice you will be able to get the ball wherever you want it. The only probem [malcster|I] have is that the [jump] feature is random, but thankfully few levels really require it. I would recommend this game to any [puzzle] or [action] game fans.


UPDATE!!! Further [research] (I hate that stuff, but it has to be done) reveals that when I said it was only ever released in [Japan], I was wrong. It was actually released in [English], but it had it's name changed to [On the Ball], just to annoy me. And there is an English and a Japanese [Arcade] version, which is playable with [MAME] if you want to try it. Overall though, as I mention above, [language] is no concern in this triumph of [gameplay] over everything else.


[yerricde] notes that "So I guess I know where the [Super Monkey Ball] developers got their idea." - very true. When you think about it, the games are very very similar in overall design.

[Triften] says "but where did the name come from?!?!" - I am not too sure about this. The title screen of the game shows the ball rolling over two humps that are on the back of a [camel], and the title text incorporates a camel design into it. But as to exactly what it signifies, that's beyond me. Anyone?


* - Sometimes, that is...

Sources:
Playing the ROM in Zsnes.
Existing:


Non-Existing: