Night Stalker (video game)
Intellivision cover art
The player controls a man trapped in a hedgerow maze with no exits and many threats, some natural such as bats and spiders, others artificial in nature and much more deadly. The player starts out in a bunker in the middle of the map completely defenseless. A gun icon flashes at 1 of 5 random locations which he must pick up to arm himself. Each gun has 6 bullets. Once out of ammo, the gun icon will appear again and the player must move defenselessly through the maze to pick up a new weapon.
There are five different robots that you go through in accordance with your point total. The terrain is filled with corners and ambush points that players must use to full effect. There is also a spider web in the northwest corner where the Spider enemy spawns. Player movement is severely hindered here, and all firepower is heavily suppressed within, making it a strategic location. Also of importance is the player's bunker, in which the player begins each life. The bunker is a safe zone and the player is impervious to damage while inside, though the more advanced robot adversaries have the firepower to destroy your safe haven.
The game features only one unchanging level and no music, instead having a pulsing background beat playing back at a set interval that signals the speed chosen by the player.
The Robots are the main antagonists of the game. There are five different robots, each one increasingly more difficult to destroy and avoid.
Grey Robot The first robot enemy you face, the Grey Robot lacks in intelligence and durability, requiring only one shot to destroy. It makes very little effort to track the player. It will fire at the player if it sees him in plain sight, but spends most of its time wandering the maze and firing randomly. Destroying a Grey Robot is worth 300 points. After the player reaches 5,000 points and either of the two Bats are destroyed, they will be replaced by Grey Robots for the remainder of the game.
Blue Robot Appears after the player reaches 5,000 points. The Blue Robot is smarter than the Grey Robot, and makes a determined effort to track the player through the maze, though this behavior makes it vulnerable to ambush as it is no more durable than the Grey Robot. Blue Robots are worth 500 points per kill, and will be supplemented by Grey Robots as the Bats fall.
White Robot Appears after the player reaches 15,000 points. The White Robot behaves almost identically to the Blue Robot, but is considerably more threatening due to its shield. The player must score three hits on the White Robot in order to destroy it, forcing the player to quickly adopt new strategies and secure replacement ammunition. The player receives 1,000 points for felling a White Robot.
Black Robot There are actually two versions of the Black Robot. The first appears when the player reaches 30,000 points. It has all of the behavior characteristics and shielding of the White Robot, with the added advantage of firing a new type of bullet. This bullet is larger than the standard, and has the ability to absorb player fire, making direct assaults all but useless. Upon reaching 50,000 points, the Black Robot's firepower becomes even stronger, and it can destroy the player's bunker. Both versions of the Black Robot are worth 2,000 points per kill.
Invisible Robot The last and most difficult adversary, the Invisible Robot appears at 80,000 points. In addition to having all of the Black Robot's powers and advanced weaponry, the Invisible Robot sports a cloaking device that renders it completely impossible to see. The only methods of pinning the robot's location are drawing its fire and noting the point of origin, noticing the shadow of other adversaries that pass through it, and by the brief periods of time that it glows after being struck by the player's shot. Destroying an Invisible Robot nets the player 4,000 points. They will continue to appear for the remainder of the game.
Bat The game begins with a pair of Bats lurking the maze, both roosting at various points. They fly around the maze in a random pattern. They will temporarily paralyze the player upon contact, and have a tendency to make several attacks at once to keep the player stuck in place long enough for a robot to have an easy shot. Once the Blue Robot appears and a Bat is destroyed either by player or robot fire, the bat is replaced by a Grey Robot drone and does not appear again in the game. Bats are worth 300 points if killed by the player. No points are awarded if a bat is killed by a robot.
Spider The Spider spawns in the spider web in the northwest corner of the maze. Its behavior is identical to that of the Bat in that it moves at random and causes paralysis to the player. The Spider, however, will appear throughout the entire game, and is worth only 100 points per kill. It tends to favor the spider web as a haunt, as its movement is unhindered here and therefore poses a greater threat to the player in this area.
Night Stalker was also released on the Atari 2600 under the name Dark Cavern. In order to compensate for lower-resolution graphics, Dark Cavern featured faster game play and the ability to carry more bullets. While it still had robots and spiders, the bats were replaced with blobs, which would take away your bullets if it attacked. The game was later ported to the Apple II in 1983.
The Intellivision version will be made available for the PlayStation 3 through PlayStation Home in fall 2012 in a collection titled Intellivision Gen2. In addition to still being filled with bats and spiders, it now has a greater variety of killer robots, each more challenging to confront, along with a variety of maze structures.
- Blue Sky - Night Stalker