POLAR BEAR IN SPACE!
|POLAR BEAR IN SPACE!|
|Voting||8.67 points, 6 votes|
|Company||Unrolled Loop Studios LLC|
|Release||December 20, 2021 (digital)|
March 2022 (physical)
June 1, 2023 (cartridge)
|Gamemode||Single player |
|Information||Different versions available!|
Only works on PAL systems
Description[edit | edit source]
POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! is a single-player mixed shoot'em up and platform game released in December 2021 for the Commodore 64. It was developed by Unrolled Loop Studios LLC and published by Psytronik Software.
The protagonist, Polar Bear, is stranded in space. Having found a nearby alien space station, he must collect the 99 krystals scattered across its underground caverns. Once collected, he can then use these krystals to charge and operate the station transporter in order to escape.
Goal of the game is to help Polar Bear navigate the space station and its caverns, and to ensure his safe return home.
Polar Bear arrives defenseless and with the ability to run and jump. He can collect extras, such as a jetpack, shield, and smart bombs, which deplete with use, and weapons upgrades, which downgrade after a demise. These extras allow him to fly across the space station above ground and fend off the various alien enemies attempting to prevent his escape.
Along the way, Polar Bear can also pick up his companion, Snowball. When collected, Snowball deflects enemies by orbiting Polar Bear. With combined forces, Polar Bear and Snowball can also fire a high-energy beam that destroys all enemies in its path immediately.
Each underground cavern is guarded by a terminal, which must be deactivated to unlock the cavern entrance. Polar Bear can do this by unscrambling the visual pattern displayed by the terminal within a given time limit. The time limit decreases with each subsequent terminal, increasing the difficulty.
Once Polar Bear has collected all krystals, he can use them to charge and activate the transporter to return home.
Design[edit | edit source]
Graphics and Animation[edit | edit source]
The game consists of a side-scrolling above-ground level about 28 screens wide, and nine flip-screen underground caverns spanning a total of 40 rooms.
The background graphics follow a clean, technical look, occasionally broken up by more organic elements. They are implemented with multicolor character mode and use raster interrupts to display multiple color schemes on each screen.
The above-ground playfield scrolls smoothly at a full 50 Hz.
The main character is rendered as a combination of one multi-color fill and one high-resolution single-color outline sprite. Enemies display using non-multiplexed hardware sprites. Bullets and phasers are drawn using characters, and smart bombs multiplex one of the player sprites onto the screen.
Polar Bear's demise sequence is of note in that the game implements a particle system to render it. In this sense it is similar to Archer Maclean's Dropzone and Sensible Software's Wizball, which also go to great lengths to make that sequence as spectacular as possible.
Music and Sound[edit | edit source]
Only the (approximately 30-40) in-game sounds play during actual gameplay. They do make for an appropriate atmosphere, however, and provide a sense of connection between action and reaction.
The rich explosion sounds, paired with the respective visuals, give a dramatic flair to the use of smart bombs, and even to the explosion of the protagonist.
Hints[edit | edit source]
Startup Options[edit | edit source]
The 2021 (digital) and 2022 (disk, cassette) releases of the game have two options on the Photosensitive Warning screen to start the game:
starts the game in Regular mode
starts the game in Reduced Strobe mode
The 2023 (cartridge) edition adds a new Bearable Mode, which can be triggered by also holding thekey while starting the game from the Photosensitive Warning screen.
Game Options[edit | edit source]
swaps fire buttons 2 and 3
toggles between joystick and keyboard modes
pauses or unpauses the game
quits the running game, if it is currently paused
Joystick Mode[edit | edit source]
In joystick mode, the player can jump and fire shots with the first (or only) joystick button. When using a POTX/POTY multi-button controller, shield and smart bombs can be activated using the additional buttons (2 and 3). Otherwise, the keyboard can be used for this purpose:
triggers a smart bomb
toggles the shield on or off
Keyboard Mode[edit | edit source]
In keyboard mode, the game can be controlled via two separate key blocks, which allows both left- and right-handed players to play. The following keys indicate Up, Left, Down, Right and Fire 1, 2, 3, respectively:
Upgrades[edit | edit source]
Polar Bear can collect various extras along the way. With the exception of his companion Snowball, which appears by itself, extras appear randomly when dispatching enemies. A spare bear is awarded every 50,000 points, unless the player already has the maximum of three spare bears.
Solution[edit | edit source]
General Notes[edit | edit source]
- The game is easier to play with a multi-button controller or in keyboard mode, as shield and smart bombs are more readily accessible in those cases.
Caverns and Terminals[edit | edit source]
- The order of caverns is identical between games. However, the cavern entrances are randomly redistributed across the surface with each new game. Each subsequent cavern can only be entered after all krystals have been collected from the previous cavern.
- The unscrambled pattern is the same for all terminals. Only the scrambled pattern is generated randomly each time, so that the goal is to shift the tiles such that the top row ends up dark blue, the center row purple, and the bottom row light blue.
- Cavern rooms with a "radioactive" sign drain Polar Bear's energy. To make it through such a cavern without losing a bear, enter with full energy and shield. If necessary, collect these beforehand!
Extras[edit | edit source]
- Polar Bear is relatively helpless at the beginning of the game, so extras and especially weapons upgrades should be collected as early and quickly as possible.
- The shield should be used frequently, as it can be replenished easily and fends off many attacks. The probability of finding an energy or shield extra increases with decreasing energy and shield level.
- Smart bombs are more destructive whenever Polar Bear is not just hovering in position, but flying either to the left or to the right. In those cases, they will cause adjacent ground installations to be destroyed along with the first installation that is hit.
- The current jetpack level should be monitored particularly when flying over water, to avoid surprises.
Cheats[edit | edit source]
POKE 35942,128disables all terminal timers and gives you infinite time to solve the terminal puzzles.
- CSDb includes cracks with trainers
Voting[edit | edit source]
|Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):|
|8.67 points at 6 votes (rank 16).|
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
|K&A Plus||9/10||Issue 20, April 2022|
|ZZAP! 64||87%||Issue 6, January 2022|
|Reset64||8.5/10||Issue 15, January 2023|
|Retro Gamer Nation||82%||March 24, 2022|
Reviews[edit | edit source]
Retronerd: "PBIS! one of those games that will split the audience, but definitely among my absolute favorites for the C64. Its simple rules belie the fast pace and difficulty: you have to immerse yourself to master it. But I found my perseverance worthwhile: the less tentative you get about the controls, the more the game rewards with an engaging visual and aural response. The graphics are excellent, with smooth scrolling and colorful and beautifully drawn backgrounds. There's no in-game music, but the various tunes that play otherwise add to the mood, and the sound effects are plentiful and very fitting. A must-have for the C64 in my book."
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
ZZAP! 64 reviewed the game twice: once as a pre-release version in issue 4 and once at the time of release in issue 6. The final version included changes, such as non-respawning enemies and easier gameplay with reversed terminal controls and less persistent mine attacks, and received a higher score than the pre-release version.
The author of the game published an article in January 2023 discussing some of the details around the development of the game.
Cover[edit | edit source]
POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! was published as a digital release (D64, TAP, CRT) and as a physical release, including a Collector's Edition (disk in large cardboard box), Premium Plus Edition (disk in clear plastic case), Clamshell Tape Edition (cassette in clamshell case), regular cassette version, and Limited Edition USB version (USB tape in clamshell case).
2023 Game Updates[edit | edit source]
- A Bearable Mode with easier terminal puzzles and less dangerous enemies and obstacles
- Mechanics changes like a full jetpack from the start, easier liftoff, and larger flying area
- Changes to make underground levels easier to complete
Video[edit | edit source]
Psytronik: POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! Official Promo Video
Highscore[edit | edit source]
While the game does not track completion time, it is fun to speedrun it. If you add a completion time, please be honest and track it from the beginning of the first Polar Bear appearance to the beginning of the Congratulations screen.
- RetronerdDE aka Paulie - 189,570 - in 25m 37s (16.04.2022)
- Nobody - 0 (dd.mm.yyyy)
- Empty - 0 (dd.mm.yyyy)
Links[edit | edit source]
- Official Psytronik Website
- Official digital download at psytronik.itch.io
- Official disk and tape editions at psytronik.bigcartel.com
- Le Retroblog de Turk182: "Polar Bear in Space"; 29.03.2022
- Gamebase64.com - Game No. 30216
- ready64 - Game No. 5643
- indieretronews.com: "Polar Bear in Space! - An Action packed game through Psytronik Software and RGCD gets a C64 release"; 20.12.2021
- retrogamernation.com: "POLAR BEAR IN SPACE!"
Videos[edit | edit source]
- POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! Official Promo Video from Psytronik on YouTube
- POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! Playthrough on Real Hardware on YouTube
- C64 Round Up October 2021 featuring POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! by Retro Gamer Nation on YouTube
- POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! Preview by Saberman on YouTube
- Saberman & IndieRetroNews.com present: POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! on YouTube
- Top Commodore 64 Games for 2022 by Retro Gamer Nation on YouTube
References[edit | edit source]
- CSDb: POLAR BEAR IN SPACE!
- ZZAP! 64 (Fusion Retro Books), Issue 6, January 2022, pp 44-45.
- Reset64, Issue 15, January 2023, pp 38-39.
- Retro Gamer Nation: POLAR BEAR IN SPACE!, March 24, 2022.
- ZZAP! 64 (Fusion Retro Books), Issue 4, October 2021, pp 46-47.
- Polar Bear in Space! The Reality of Creating a Video Game for a 40-Year-Old Computer; Medium-Article, January 3, 2023
- Psytronik: POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! (C64)
- POLAR BEAR IN SPACE! Limited Edition White C64 Cartridge
- Polar Bear in Space! (Commodore 64) Review