What You Should Know about Gamestar Mechanic System Sprites

The designer of a Gamestar Mechanic game may sometimes put in secondary goals, which make the goal block untouchable until all other goals are completed. These objectives are provided in the Goals & Rules section of the level’s intro screen, and are represented as icons, or system sprites, at the top of the screen during the level. These secondary goals can change the overall structure of the game.

System sprites add conditions to the game that players must pay attention to in order to win the level. The six system sprites are described in this list:

  • Timer: This sprite has an alarm clock icon. It can have one of these two forms:

    • Time limit: This one shows a white digital clock that’s constantly counting down. If the clock reaches 0:00, the level is lost, so complete your objectives quickly!

    • Survival timer: Quite different from the time limit, the survival timer contains a white clock that counts up and a blue stationary clock. You can’t win the level until the time on the white clock reaches the time on the blue one. For example, if the timer says 0:00/1:30, you have to survive for 90 seconds before you can win the level.

  • Score keeper: This sprite is represented by a yellow and blue coin. It contains a white number representing your score. Your score starts at 0, and you increase it by moving your avatar over items such as coins, apples, or gold nuggets.

    You complete the objective when the white number matches or exceeds the blue number beneath it. Often, you need to find and collect every point in a level to win, so look for anything obtainable and grab it.

    Sometimes, designers do tricky things such as hide points behind blocks to ensure that players go where directed. You know when you’ve collected something if you see an animation of two spinning yellow rings, which appears in the place of the collected item.

  • Frag counter: Bearing a mechanical skull and crossbones icon, this sprite counts the number of enemy sprites you’ve destroyed — or, in gamer-speak, the number of frags (fragmentations) you’ve caused. Every time your avatar directly defeats an enemy, the counter increases by one. Damaging destructibles such as glass doesn’t count toward your frag score. The objective is complete when the number in white matches or exceeds the number in blue.

  • Health meter: This sprite simply informs you of how much health your avatar has. However, you can see this sprite in many games — it has a metallic heart with a red core as its icon. The health meter is the only system sprite that does not add extra goals or rules, because the avatar can lose health even without the health meter.

    The number in white represents the number of hit points the avatar has; this is how much damage your avatar can take before fragging. The number in white turns red if your health is low. The number in blue represents your original level of health. If you find an item that restores health, remember that the white number cannot exceed the number in blue.

    If the health meter is missing, your avatar can still lose health and be destroyed. If your avatar is damaged and ends up reduced to a single point of health, you hear an urgent whirring noise instead of the normal damage sound effect.

  • Energy meter: The energy meter is yet another way your avatar can be destroyed. This sprite consists of a continually decreasing number in white above a stationary number in blue. The number in white, which represents the avatar’s energy, turns red when your energy is running low and frags your avatar when your energy is fully depleted.

    Energy is different from health in that it can be set to extremely high values (and cannot be directly depleted by enemies), but its value is reduced every second, so you have to move quickly and eat to survive. You can replenish your energy level with items such as water, bread, batteries, and candy corn. You cannot increase your energy level above the value of the number in blue, however.

  • Population counter: This sprite’s icon takes the form of an enemy sprite in the game. The first number (in white) represents how many enemies of the type shown are in the level, and the second number (in blue) specifies how many such enemies you need to win the level.

    If the second number is 3, the level must contain exactly three enemies matching the sprite shown on the counter; if the second number is a range such as 2–4, there must be between two and four of them. You can have multiple population counters in a game at one time. You may win the game only when all population counters are satisfied at once.