Wetspot II

When it was released in 1998, everybody praised Angelo Mottola's Wetspot 2... and for good reasons. As far as late 90s amateur QuickBASIC game goes, it's great! There are some frustrating issues here and there, but still. It's great.

The gameplay is based on Sega's classic arcade game Pengo. You control a small crab wandering maze-like arenas and pushing blocks against its opponents. You move to the next level when all enemies are destroyed, collecting power-ups (such as speed boots, time-stopping clocks and clear-all thunderbolts) and plenty of score items along the way.

The program is packed with content and it's a rare sight in the QuickBASIC gaming landscape. Only Hack-Man 2 and 3 could rivalize with Wetspot 2's features: there's a password system to skip levels (there are 50 of them divided in 10 distinct areas,) cheat codes, digitized sound and music (featuring midi renditions of Take On Me by A-ah, Close To Me by The Cure, and more,) flickerless graphics with colorful tiles and smooth animations, high score table, built-in custom levels selection (level editor included as a separate program,) joystick support and customizable key bindings, a demo preview, plenty of enemies, power ups and levels. It is more stuffed than (redacted joke about hookers) a Thanksgiving turkey. This is partially explained by the equally stuffed credit page; Wetspot incorporates what years of QuickBASIC programmers have been doing on their own.

As of now, I still can't tell whether or not Wetspot 2 is my all-time favorite QB game, but it definitely earned its place in the top five; I don't think it'll reach number one because there's something sluggish and clunky about the controls that I can hardly explain. The main character is just slightly too slow, takes slightly too much time to push blocks, dead enemies take too much time to vanish, etc. The first Wetspot was faster and more responsive. Maybe it's due to the number of frames of animation, maybe it's the usage of the ON TIMER(1) event trapping instruction, maybe it's just me. I don't know. The point is, it is disturbingly slow and that's the game's only true flaw. There's also something weird going on with the timing system: ALT-TABbing outside the game for a while increases the game speed as if trying to catch up missing updates (the two might be related.) Finally, the game timer relies on the system clock, which means that even though the game is playable on moderately slow computers, levels cannot be completed as time runs out too quickly.

If I want to nitpick, I'd point out some truly dickish levels here and there, such as The Castle Of Illusion tile set with its push-able walls looking nearly identical to unmovable blocks. I get it's that area's gimmick and it IS possible to tell them apart if you pay enough attention, but you likely won't have the time to. There's also one or two levels specifically designed to be a race against the clock and the sluggishness of the character makes them a grind.

To wrap it up, Wetspot 2 is a great continuation of the first game: it's well-made and doesn't lack polish, although it can be frustrating at times. It's a good example of what one can achieve with time and dedication. If you want a slightly faster gameplay, try Wetspot 1. If you want a cleaner rendering and extra flexibility, go for the second game. Or do both! Why not? You could be playing far far worse.

The following file contains both Wetspot 1 and 2, the level editor and the source code.