Oxyd

Oxyd screenshot (hi-res VGA, identical with color Mac).

What is it?
A puzzle game that requires some skill, 1990, Atari ST (hi-res monochrome), ported to several platforms 1992. This game is from Germany.
What computer or emulator will it run on?
The Macintosh version will probably run on any Mac with at least 1MB RAM, The DOS version on a 286 when run in EGA. A mouse is required.
Tags
Hercules.

Welcome to the world of Oxyd. Investigate the unknown world of bits and bytes in your computer. In the guise of a small black marble you will wander through landscapes with manifold types of tokens, landscapes full of uncountable objects. And truly fascinating landscapes they are…

But this world is threatened. overnight the mysterious Oxyds, which provide the world with vital oxygen, have closed themselves. Now the entire world threatens to suffocate. Only you can rescue this digital world.

Your task is to find all Oxyds in a given landscape and to touch them. Two of each of these Oxyds have the same pattern or color and must be touched one after another in order to remain opened and to give out vital oxygen. If it was only as simple as it sounds! Unfortunately the Oxyds are scattered far and wide through the landscape, and you must frequently think carefully indeed, before you can get to them. In addition, most of the other tokens and objects in this would have completely unknown effects. Every token and every object has its own particular characteristics and is connected in a complex fashion with the other tokens and objects. Besides courage and talent you also need a good deal of scientific curiosity.

Not until all the Oxyds have been opened can you reach the next landscape. The Oxyd world consists of 100 different landscapes. You have a long way to go before you can rescue all landscapes from suffocation. But it pays off: as savior of the Oxyd world you will have ample rewards.

Oxyd was released by German developer Dongleware for most of the platforms of the time: Atari ST, Amiga, Macintosh, PC/DOS, and even NeXT.

Oxyd has been described as an adventure game with action elements. It does test manual skills more than logic, but patience is more important than quick reaction. In German (it is a German game after all) you might call it a Geduldsspiel, a patience game. The English language has no real word for this.

In Oxyd, you control a black marble with your mouse. It follows the mouse movements, but also the laws of physics. It will bounce off walls, it is subject to momentum and friction. On some levels, the movement will be reversed. A trackball might be useful.

On each level (they are called landscapes in the game) you will find blocks that, when bumped with the marble, reveal a color or, in the black and white version, a pattern. You must find the pairs and bump them in succession. Of course, there are obstacles and even enemies. Sometimes you cannot reach the blocks directly and have to activate them with a laser beam, sometimes you have to render your marble weightless with an umbrella to cross an abyss, sometimes a rotor will follow it and try to destroy it.

And while skill is required, there is no particular hurry. The levels have no time limit, and if you are followed by an enemy, you can always retire to a safe place. Add to this that the levels are really beautiful, and you have a truly unique game experience.

In early 2002, Dongleware stopped selling and supporting their games. They are now a web design company.

Screenshots

Oxyd was available for a wide variely of platforms, but there were basically just three graphic styles, therefore I will seperate the screenshots from the version list. The screenshot at the top of the page shows the 640×400 16-color graphics as they were used on the Mac, for hi-res VGA on the PC and later on the Falcon.

Hi-res Monochrome

Oxyd screenshot (hi-res EGA monochrome).

This screenshot was taken under monochrome EGA hi-res mode (Fh), a mode rarely used in games. Actually the colors are not black & white, but black and some sort of blue. I edited it to black & white for better visibility, and to give you a feel what the original looked like.

16-Color Lo-res

Oxyd title screen (hi-res VGA).   Oxyd gameplay screenshot (hi-res VGA).

These screenshots above were taken in lo-res VGA mode. On the Amiga and the Atari ST color monitor, the title/menu screen and the palette were a bit different:

Oxyd title screen (Atari ST color).   Oxyd gameplay screenshot (Atari ST color).

Platforms

Atari ST

This is the original version, from which the others were ported. The Atari ST had the peculiarity of having two different monitors, a low-resolution color one mainly used for games, and a high-resolution black and white one mainly used for office applications. Unlike most other games, Oxyd made use of the black and white monitor, because resolution was more important than color for this game, or because it aimed at a different audience.

Originally, Oxyd was for the monochrome monitor only. A color version was created in 1992, along with the ports to other platforms.

Atari Falcon

This version had the same 640×400 16-color graphics as Macintosh and DOS/VGA.

Download Oxyd for Atari Falcon (566kB)

Amiga

It was this peculiarity that handicapped Oxyd on the Amiga, where high-resolution graphics were almost never used for games (the only exceptions I know are Dark Seed and Hannibal, that is, previous to 1996 or so). Thus the game was redrawn for the 320×200 resolution. It still looked rather good. Daniel Barrett, who wrote a review for comp.sys.amiga.reviews, liked it, but would have preferred a higher resolution. He also mentioned that it seems to disallow multitasking:

Another problem with Oxyd was that it seems to disallow multitasking. I tried the typical Amiga-M and could bring up no other screen, nor could I pull down the current screen to access others. I consider this a serious shortcoming and would haved called it a major dislike, but it just fell short of that category, since it didn't interfere with actual game play.
Macintosh

The Macintosh version comes as two seperate executables, 16-color and black & white. There are different graphics for 640×480 and for 512×342 monitors, the latter perhaps only in black & white. The 16-color version I played on my Performa 630 and my Macintosh IIcx with equal enjoyment, and the black & white version looked rather nice on my Macintosh SE. Personally I rather play it in color.

It is impossible to take screenshots of the Macintosh version the usual way. Function keys are essential to the interface, on the Mac they are replaced by command+number combinations. Thus an attempt to take a screenshot is always interpreted as restart landscape.

Oxyd ported well to the Macintosh. To me, it always seemed far more at home there than on the PC. It is not only the mouse interface, it is something about the atmosphere, something that reminds me a bit of the way Ishido surrounds itself with mystery. Of course, as platforms, the Atari ST and the Mac were always rather close.

DOS

The DOS version from 1992 can be played under Hercules, EGA, or VGA. I could not get the Hercules version to run beyond the initial logo, but I could conclude from that that it uses the same graphics as EGA (and, I suppose, the original Atari ST version).

The EGA version, which runs in 2-color hi-res (astonishingly not black & white, but black and 168,168,255) ran fine on everything from a 286 with DR-DOS to the 1MHz Duron with Windows 98 that was my main machine in 2004, when I first wrote this. You get a warning that the program might not run well under Windows, but you can safely ignore it, though quitting the game with F10 can be dangerous under Windows. The game recognizes the Windows mouse driver. A mouse is absolutely necessary, apart from being unplayable the game will behave rather odd if no mouse driver is loaded. Try it out once for fun, you can always exit with F10. Interesting enough the game uses only 300 of the 350 pixel rows.

The VGA version is rather tricky. It runs in mode 12h (16-color hi-res), which tends to be problematic. It needs at least a 386. It immediately locked up the Duron. It played well on a Pentium 120, both under pure DOS and Windows 98, but I could not take a screenshot Windows-style, that's why I had an EGA screenshot on this page for some years, till I ran it in DOSBox.

There were several DOS versions between 1992 and 1994. What you can download here is version 3c from November 1994, the latest I could find. It has executables for the abovementioned three video modes, and for lo-res VGA, which may be less problematic.

Download Oxyd for DOS (1.2MB)

Sequels and Clones

Due to the success of Oxyd, there were a number of official sequels:

Apart from the official sequels, there have are a number of fan remakes, most of them rather new, all of them GPL'd:

Links

Similar Games

Oxyd is often compared with Marble Madness, probably because you control marbles in both games. Since I have never played marble madness I cannot say if there are any similarities beyond this. But anyway Marble Madness can be played on surviving hardware platforms only with the help of an emulator: the DOS version was crappy, and a port to the Macintosh has never been made.

What rather comes to mind is Glider, which similarily combines puzzle elements with skill of the hand, though the latter is more dominant here. And people who like Oxyd might like Chip's Challenge, though the atmosphere of the game is quite different.

Then there are Soko-ban and the Puzznic, but both completely lack the skill element (except for the level time limits in Puzznic). Finally there is Oh! Hajiki, which is definitely an arcade and not a puzzle game, but where you control a marble in exactly the same way.

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Last modified 2008-09-10