Along with adventure games, Sierra’s early years also involved action titles like 1983’s Oil’s Well. Like the ad below says, it came out for the Apple, Atari, Commodore 64, and the ColecoVision at the time.
This was an arcade-styled title with a very simple objective: you’re running an oil well and it’s your job to clear out eight fields of black gold to either retire rich or hit up the next level of difficulty. To help out, you’ve got a drill bit that you drive around a series of underground mazes gobbling up oil drops and avoiding the monsters that live down there. A long pipe also tethers your hungry bit to your base on the surface which you also have to watch for. Monsters crossing that umbilical cord will wipe out one of your limited number of bits.
If you’re thinking that this sounds like Pac-Man with an extension cord attached to his backside, you’re not far off. And if you really want to make a comparison, Oil’s Well comes off as a strong clone of Tago Electronics’ Anteater in the arcades. But instead of an oil plant, you’ve got an anteater and its tongue.
A few tricks would slightly even the odds. Your bit can be quickly retracted and it can also munch on most monsters down in the depths for points. There’s also a “power pellet” near the bottom of the vertical maze, a globlet of oil, that can slow enemies down for a few precious moments of breathing space.
The bad news is that there are a lot of enemies and not all of them can be munched on by the bit. You’re also working against borrowed time – each drill bit only has so much life to it as a relentless clock displayed on the plant at the top of the screen ticks down.
Oil’s Well didn’t have much of an ad, though it did have some art to go with it along with the rendition of the actual game screen which may or may not look exactly like what you might get on your platform of choice. Not quite one of Sierra’s better known games, it was an amazingly tough arcade-like title that provided some simple fun for when you just wanted to take a break.
Sierra would remake this in 1990, though if you want to give it a spin, an updated of this classic was made for a retro-remake competition in 2006. Afterwards, it was made available for download as freeware which you can snag at “Classic Retro Games” along with a few other fan-made creations.