Back Track, Dragon 32

Incentive Software‘s Back Track is a fun overhead maze game for the Dragon 32, first released in 1984.

It features a character called Eddie who has been captured by a mad professor who refuses to release him until he completes a sequence of five tests.

Each test requires Eddie to explore a maze, collecting a sequence of keys – in the right order – and escaping through the exit door before he loses the will to live (this is not me being daft – that is exactly what it says in the instruction booklet).

As Eddie moves from room to the room the screen scrolls up, down, left and right with the view shown in rather decent perspective. Aside from the brief cut sequences, all you see of Eddie is his red hair and his boots as they move underneath his head.

As Eddie explores the maze he must avoid hazards such as snakes (that will swallow him and immediately end the game), skeletons of previous explorers (because they will sap his will to live), and things that grab him through open windows. I say “things” because I honestly don’t know what they are, but they’re deadly. Snakes can be avoided if you see them in time (and make an about-face immediately), but the window “things” seem pretty much impossible to avoid (because there’s no indication that they’re there until it’s too late).

Finding the right key will restore Eddie’s willpower, and also finding fruit will increase his willpower, both of which are a good thing since his willpower is constantly dropping. Also: finding a map will make Eddie’s escape easier, although I never found one after a couple of hour’s play. Pressing the Reset button will re-start a level if you’re finding it all a bit too much.

The cassette inlay for Back Track says: “literally has taken the Dragon 32 to its limits“, which is pretty boastful, but was it true? Back Track is definitely a good game on the Dragon, but it’s no Atic Atac (which I feel is very similar). In the hands of a modern coder I reckon the Dragon 32 could be pushed harder, but back in 1984 this was probably as good as it got on the green machine.

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