The Game: You’re Mr. Cool, an ice cube who chills out while hopping around a pyramid-shaped series of platforms. Fireballs streak across the pyramid from time to time, and they’ll melt you if they touch you. If you can stay cool long enough, you can advance through the game by changing the color of every platform to your target color by hopping onto each one – though in later levels it’ll take more than one hop, putting you in the path of more fireballs that could cause you to lose your cool. If you have one meltdown too many, the game is over. (Sierra On-Line, 1983)
Memories: A classic case of making the best of a system’s limitations (and missing out on the official license for a popular arcade game), Mr. Cool is an unlikely collision of the game mechanics of Q*Bert and Frogger. And yet it works. In the company’s early days, Sierra was great at producing “near beer” games such as Mr. Cool and Crossfire (which approximated the game play of arcade cult classics Targ and Spectar).
Add to this a very nice system allowing you to customize the controls to your liking, and graphics that are perfectly designed not to overreach the Apple II’s capabilities, and Mr. Cool is an outstanding little game. There are some charming touches – Mr. Cool’s slow, painful transformation into pixellated ooze melting off the screen if he gets hit by a fireball – that help the game transcend its “love child of Q*bert and Frogger” origins and gives it a unique character of its own.