ScubaVenture and Mouser, both programmed by Nasir Gebelli, are very minimalist, enigmatic games. As Gebelli only had 8,192 bytes to fit the program in (they use 8KB cartridges), you can understand why they lack anything beyond the minimum necessary to make playable games.
Gebelli himself is something of an enigma, as he began programming games for the Apple II, then he did these PCjr. games and some years later worked for Square in Japan programming Rad Racer, Final Fantasy 1-3 and Secret of Mana. Thereafter, he quit video games altogether and has not returned to them, despite his obvious talents.
Gebelli's PCjr. games lack polish, which is very unusual as IBM released them and shipped them on expensive cartridges. ScubaVenture has some very impressive smooth vertical scrolling and supports two player simultaneous play. Mouser is more of a puzzle game requiring a fair bit of strategy. Both use the PCjr.'s 160x200x16c mode for colorful low resolution graphics and 3-voice sound.
Press F1 for one player and F2 for two player (That is Fn and 1 or 2 on the PCjr. keyboard). If left untouched, the programs will enter a demo mode. Both games use the keyboard by default. They can use joysticks by pressing the J key on the keyboard. You can return to the keyboard by pressing the K key on the keyboard. Press Esc to pause. Each uses the cursor control keys and the spacebar or the joystick positions and button 1 on the joystick. When your game is over, you will not be returned to the title screen, so press F1 or F2 to start a new game.
|Divers, Eel, Score, Fish|
|Keys and more Keys|
|Two Player Mode|
|I trapped a mouse!|
|Dark Rooms and a Female Mouse|
Two players alternate in trying to clear their rooms. If the player touches a mouse or runs out of time, he loses a life. Each player has three lives and the rooms are supposedly randomized every time the system boots the cartridge. When you start a new game, the same room layouts are used.
ScubaVenture was probably intended for younger players, as the game is much more simple than Mouser. While River Raid probably influenced the game's development, it quickly becomes repetitive in a way that River Raid does not. Each time you complete a section in River Raid, a new section appears. In ScubaVenture, each time you complete the section, the same section appears until you get all the treasures.
Mouser reminds me of Clu Clu Land for the NES, although Mouser came first. It is a very frustrating game due to the way the game moves the walls. You have to think about the direction the wall moves and hope you actually get it to move in the direction you want. The mice always seem to move in a pattern just one square away from being trapped. The timer runs down very quickly while you painstakingly try to manipulate the mice into your traps. Mouser is also buggy in that you can die upon entering a screen where a mouse happens to be in the same place as the entrance.