The Game: You’re in charge of a getaway car loaded with crafty criminals. Your job is to sneak around the maze, avoid four colorful cops who are hot on your trail, and grab all the dough – and, of course, to escape so you can steal again another day. But the cops can trap you with a series of doors that can prevent you from getting away… (M Network [Mattel Electronics], 1983)
Memories: Released early in 1983, this version of Lock ‘N’ Chase further proves my “M Network theory,” which is as follows: somehow, no matter what hardware platform it’s on, an M Network game always winds up somehow looking like it’s a port of an Intellivision game. Not that this detracts from the fun factor of having a decent maze chase game on the Apple II, mind you.
No, what detracts from the fun factor is the control scheme; Lock ‘N’ Chase uses the dreaded “IJKL” key combo as a kind of squished compass rose; the “S” key closes doors behind the player’s thief, and the space bar stops him in his tracks. It’s a clumsy, counterintuitive control system that really trips up what should be, and could be, a great gaming experience; otherwise, I can’t find fault with anything else in the game. Audiovisually, it’s as spot-on as any version of Lock ‘N’ Chase is going to get on the Apple II.
Mattel’s foray into producing third-party software for competing computer systems proved very short-lived; M Network, the Intellivision division and indeed the rest of Mattel Electronics lost epic amounts of money in the video game industry crash, so Lock ‘N’ Chase turned out to be one of very few M Network floppy disk games on the market.