Written by James Day and initially published by New Generation Software in 1984, Cliff Hanger is a Wild West-themed game based on the popular ‘Looney Tunes‘ cartoon Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.
Each screen plays like a scene from a film shoot, and the aim of the game is to use whatever objects are at your disposal to stop a bandit from walking though the scene unscathed. Basically, you have to squish him by any means possible – without killing yourself by doing something wrong. Which is clearly based on the misadventures of Road Runner and the aforementioned coyote.
If you miss the target, or come a cropper yourself, you then get another ‘take’ to try again, until all your lives are gone.
This was one of the first Commodore 64 games I ever played and I remember having fun with it, although looking at it now the gameplay is rather limited and can be a little frustrating. It’s more a case of trial and error to find the right process to execute the trap, then remembering what worked on which screen. Getting the timing right is pretty challenging, though.
Cliff Hanger is an interesting curiosity in the C64‘s huge library of games and still plays quite well to this day. It’s also still quite funny, with little animated characters doing silly things (like: hammering themselves into the ground). There aren’t too many games around like it.
The game was re-released a number of times, which accounts for the confusion online about it’s initial release date, which was definitely in 1984 (as can be seen by the scan of the original tape from New Generation Software).