Tag Archives: Thief

Raffles, Atari ST

Known as Inside Outing on 8-bit home computers, and Raffles on 16-bit computers, this excellent isometric platform game translates very well to the Atari ST.

The name change was because someone at publisher The Edge obviously thought that it would be a good idea to name the central character (he didn’t have a name in the original game), so they called him “Raffles” and the rest is history. Except it isn’t. US publisher Epyx later changed the name again, to the ludicrous “Debon Aire in the Hidden Diamond Caper“, when releasing in North America.

The name confusion is a pity because Inside Outing/Raffles – whatever you want to call it – is a brilliant little self-contained adventure game. The aim is find 16 jewels hidden inside a big house, and return them one at a time to a woman who resides in a particular room in the mansion.

A lot of the puzzles in Raffles are physics-based, or involve stacking items to reach higher places, but the extra ‘pull’ mechanic really brings the game to life, allowing you to completely rearrange the furniture in most rooms.

It has to be said, though, that Raffles has some of the most annoying enemies of all time… Usually either innocent-looking mice or birds. But both can move furniture and items and deplete you of your energy if they touch you. So you have to avoid them. But that’s easier said than done when you’re trying to move a load of furniture away from a blocked doorway. You can lose a couple of lives easily by being harassed by a single bird. Thankfully some rooms don’t have any enemies in them so you can grab a breather and think.

The Atari ST version of Raffles has extra rooms, and extra diamonds to collect, compared to the original 8-bit versions. The pool table room, for example, now has a door in the top right hand corner, leading to a series of new rooms. And – thank God – this time you get three (count ’em!) whole lives to play around with, instead of the single one you got in the original. How generous.

Note: One thing I didn’t like about this (and the Amiga) version: candlesticks now hurt you when you stand on them. Whichever ‘genius’ decided that was a good idea deserves their qualification for video game development revoking! 🙂

More: Raffles on Wikipedia

Inside Outing, ZX Spectrum

The ZX Spectrum conversion of Michael St. Aubyn‘s Inside Outing was programmed by Pamela Roberts with graphics by Mike Smith.

It has to be said that this version lacks the visual appeal of the Amstrad original. In fact: it’s quite ugly. The lack of colour doesn’t help. Also: the main character is drawn quite strangely, and the perspective on some of the furniture looks wrong.

Gameplay is relatively intact – you’re still a thief, searching a big mansion for 12 gems while avoiding all the mice and birds that sap your strength. You only get one life, so keeping that life bar topped-up is imperative.

Given the choice, I would play the Amstrad or C64 versions of Inside Outing, over this one. It’s just not as appealing as the other 8-bit versions.

More: Inside Outing on Wikipedia

Inside Outing, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 version of Inside Outing features graphics by the game’s original designer – Michael St. Aubyn – although the coding itself was done by Timedata/Pamela Roberts.

Gameplay is identical to the Amstrad original. You play a thief exploring a big mansion, looking for 12 hidden jewels. Finding them is not entirely straightforward as some of them are hidden in nefarious ways. For example: in the pool table room you must ‘pot’ (ie. kick) the balls into the pockets in the right order to make the jewel appear, and even then it materialises under the table so is hard to spot.

Isometric action/adventures are not particularly fashionable on the Commodore 64, but Inside Outing is an example of one that works. Granted: the enemies are extremely annoying, but otherwise the game is very good.

More: Inside Outing on Wikipedia

Inside Outing, Amstrad CPC

Inside Outing is an interesting isometric action/adventure game initially published by The Edge in 1988. It was designed by Michael St. Aubyn and converted to a number of different platforms, with this Amstrad version being the original.

The story is: an eccentric millionaire has died without leaving a will and has hidden 12 gems in strange places around his large house. The millionaire’s widow has hired a professional thief (you), to explore the house and find the fortune. Unfortunately the millionaire’s pets have now overrun the mansion and are waiting to attack any intruders, so it won’t be straightforward.

The gameplay in Inside Outing is fairly simple exploration, object manipulation, jumping, puzzles, and the game of ‘fetch’. Of course it owes a debt of gratitude to Knight Lore (as every other isometric action game does), but in general it’s reasonably original, and – in places – quite surprising. For example: in this game you can pull objects, as well as push them. Which might seem quite minor, but Inside Outing was one of the first games of its type to actually allow that. It actually makes it seem more natural to play than something like Knight Lore or Batman.

I love the colouring and design of the Amstrad graphics in this game. They’re chunky, but beautifully-drawn. And the rudimentary physics in the game give Ultimate a run for their money. Overall: the presentation is top class, and the gameplay isn’t bad either, in spite of the annoying enemies. Inside Outing is a classic Amstrad game and still deserves to be played now.

Inside Outing was also converted to the C64 and ZX Spectrum, and later appeared on the Amiga and Atari ST under the name “Raffles“.

Note: in the USA the game was published by Epyx under the frankly horrendous title of “Devon Aire in the Hidden Diamond Caper“.

More: Inside Outing on Wikipedia

Lock ‘n’ Chase, Intellivision

An American conversion of a famous Data East coin op, Lock ‘n’ Chase is a stand-out title on the Intellivision, predominantly because of its solid gameplay and colourful visuals.

Lock ‘n’ Chase strikes a chord with me because it was the first Intellivision game I ever saw, running on an actual console (demonstrated at our local Asda, some time in the early Eighties), and is a compelling and challenging maze game where you play a robber on the run from the police, trying to steal as much loot as you can. It’s a very easy game to pick up and play, but not so easy to put down again…

The original arcade game had a vertical screen and this version adapts it to horizontal, which works fine.

Lock ‘n’ Chase on the Intellivision must be at least half decent, because it keeps getting re-released in various guises. I see it around more often than the arcade original.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_%27n%27_Chase

Lock ‘n’ Chase, Arcade

Yes, Data East‘s classic 1981 arcade game does feature a policeman called “Stiffy”. The other three are called “Scaredy”, “Smarty” and “Silly”. And together the four of them chase you – a thief – whose mission it is to collect the coins in the maze, and any other treasure that appears, before escaping.

Lock ‘n’ Chase is hardly ‘high-brow’ gaming, but bare in mind that this was made in 1981. And back in 1981, dinosaurs still roamed the planet…

Anyway. Lock ‘n’ Chase is simple but fun. It’s an early colour video game that does alright under its own auspices, even if it is – in essence – something of a Pac-Man clone.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_%27n%27_Chase