Hunchback is an old C64 game dating back to 1983. The story comes right from the novel Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo. Although the romance is quite sad and doesn’t enjoy an happy ending, on the game we have a good final, although it’s quite hard to get there.
The beautiful Esmeralda has been imprisoned, and Quasimodo must rescue her. Quasimodo was a poor-looking man, known as the Notre-Dame Hunchback for his appearance, but he just felt in love with Esmeralda. At the end of the romance, they will find themselves together in an eternal love. A love which goes beyond the way Quasimodo looks like. But, their love will not be a thing of this world, sadly.
As for the game, you take control of Quasimodo who must reach the prison of Esmeralda. But evil knights, arrows, fire balls and other dangers are to be found in his path.
As the game is quite old, graphics is not that exciting. Sprites and objects are well drawn after all, but colours suffer from a wrong selection on most cases.
Animations are quite good, controls are fluid, but the coarse scrolling routine that moves between screens it’s just too inefficient. The result is that the scroll suffers from evident flickering.
Sound is essential, but still enjoyable. Quasimodo plays a bell at the end of each level. The triangle soundwave offers a simple yet nice sound. The intro tune is quite basic, yet catchy.
Difficulty is set to an extremely high level. The first screens are easy, but you soon realize that sprite-to-background collisions are set to quite narrow tolerances. So, a big amount of precision is required to keep Quasimodo safe. A super bonus is provided, so that you get properly awarded if you are very talented.
A chasing knight can be found on each screen, and you are forced to find out quickly how to pass obstacles and enemies.
On some screens you have knights and arrows/fireballs at the same time. A big amount of skill is required here.
The game just grows on you, and you always want to play it again to get a little further. It may be frustrating at times, but despite difficulty it’s a quite enjoyable title.
The intro sequence with Quasimodo happily jumping is lovely, but it can be boring in the long term. Furthermore, each time you start a new game, you are always allowed a few seconds to connect the joystick. I find that extremely boring, but with emulators we can always use warp mode.
Overall, I think Hunchback is a nice game. It’s not an easy trip, but the game is playable. It makes a technically acceptable Commodore 64 game for 1983, but we just have to forget its scrolling routine.