zx spectrum

Horace Goes Skiing

looking back at Horace Goes Skiing now it’s amazing to think just how simple games used to be. The game was basically in two parts: in the first part, Horace had to cross a busy road (a la Frogger) to get to the ski rental shop, and the second part featured Horace skiing down a mountain with his newly rented skis. And that’s it. When Horace gets to the bottom it all starts again, but this time with slightly more traffic and more gates to ski through. [...]

Super Mario Pac

So as you can see in the video you just fly around and shoot water at the turtles as you try to kill the Piranha plant, it’s that simple, but in that simplicity it’s actually fun and it’s free so why not and you get the music and graphics of Super Mario (with a bit of haze in some spots) so why not. [...]

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t even be sure that we’re playing the game as Buck! Oh well, whoever may be at the controls, it’s your job to guide their ship through a tonne of dangerous stuff, and the best means of doing this is by blasting the crap out of it all. To this end, the ship offers unlimited use of its cannon, and you can also move it around the screen freely and increase or decrease its speed as you see fit. Each round is divided into eight stages (or sectors) of which there are three types – trench (as seen in the screenshot to the right), open space (next shot down), and planet (bottom shot) – but the object of each is the same; namely, to either fulfill an enemy quota or to finish within the time limit. [...]

Gauntlet

There are six types of enemy altogether – Grunts, Ghosts, Demons, Sorcerers, Lobbers, and Death. All of them except Death are created endlessly by generators placed all around the maze-like stages which have three strength levels with each monster they create being of the same level. The generators can be destroyed in the same way as the monsters they produce – either by shooting or fighting them one at a time or by collecting potions and using magic which clears some or most enemies on screen in one go. [...]

Renegade

The four stages take place on a subway platform, a harbour, an alley, and the gang’s hideout, and each is home to unique enemies. The amount of energy their attacks cost you is dependent on what they attack you with. Some have only their fists but others are armed or even riding motorbikes. Thugs wielding knives or guns can even kill you outright with one hit, and this makes an already rock-hard game harder then ten adamantium-coated diamonds! You only get one life, you see, and unusually for an arcade game you don’t even have the option of adding coins to continue. [...]

Alien Syndrome

Part of the reason for this it that the aliens are defeated by a single shot from whichever gun you’re carrying at the time (even the one you start with) but it also helps that their movement doesn’t seem to conform to any repeating patterns. Their appearances are apparently random and their movement is seemingly dependent on your own, so your progress is pretty much just down to your own ability. Accompanying you on your refreshingly-unfrustrating mission are some tunes and sound effects which aren’t too bad, although not especially memorable, but about the only thing I don’t really like about Alien Syndrome is its graphics. [...]

Jetpac

Developed by Tim and Chris Stamper, the founders of Ultimate, Jetpac is a simple game as you might expect, and it stars Jetman. It’s your job to guide him around the single-screen stages to reassemble his rocket and then refuel it by collecting the fuel pods that fall onto the screen one by one. On most stages after this he’ll just need to refuel it but every now and then there will be a new rocket to reassemble and he’ll have to repeat the whole process from scratch. Jetman can fly using the titular device for indefinite periods and is also armed with a laser to take out the endless swarms of aliens that drift across the screen attempting to stop him from half-inching their resources (such as precious metals and gems), which also drop onto the screen periodically and can be collected for bonus points. [...]

Torben Larsen: Cope-Com

Cope-Com was founded in 1987 by Martin Pedersen and Torben Larsen with the aim of making great Amiga computer games. With the award-winning game titles Hybris and Battle Squadron they successfully proved the capabilities of the Amiga home computer. Martin Pedersen started out with a ZX81 (actually an upgraded ZX80) in 1982 and later switched over to the ZX Spectrum, which was eventually exchanged with an Amstrad. In 1985 he did the game “The Vikings” for the Amstrad. At the same time Torben Larsen was doing the graphics for the same game on the Commodore 64. This was how the two met. [...]

Guerrilla War

The freedom fighter, and communist leader connection was due to the original Japanese version of Guerrilla War, titled, Guevara. The Japanese game was based on the exploits of the revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the Cuban commy leader, Fidel Castro. Fearing extreme anti-Communist sentiments in the West, SNK did a regionalisation of the game’s dialogue and instruction manual for its US and European releases. [...]

The Interview: John Wilson – Zenobi Software

The ‘Zenobi Love’ .. just what the f*ck is that? Zenobi Software was a part of my life, is still a part of my life and always will be a part of my life – it has nothing to do with ‘love’ it was (and still is) the ‘driving-force’ behind my existence.It was a dark rainy night and Balrog was slumped over a plate of mince & tatties when there was a gentle ‘tap’ on the kitchen door. “Bloody visitors .. and at this time of night as well!” growled Balrog as he flicked the errant pea(s) back on to his plate and shuffled off in the direction of the knock. “John Wilson ?” enquired the chubby-faced gent stood in the pouring rain. [...]

Lode Runner

Lode Runner has been considered a classic for some time. It made #80 on Computer Gaming World’s 150 Best Games of All Time list, and was mentioned in 2003 as one of the best games of all time by Gamespot in their The Greatest Games of All Time series. The creator of Tetris, the classic puzzle game that all puzzle games are compared to, was quoted in a 2008 interview with Edge Magazine that he considered Lode Runner to his favorite puzzle game for many years. There was even a 1986 Lode Runner board game created by Donal Carlston (the creator of the still-popular board game, Personal Preference)! [...]

Exolon

The marine is outfitted with the snazzy Exolon suit, a powerful exoskeleton equipped with a hand blaster and backpack grenade launcher, and it is these that will facilitate your progress. The screens, or ‘zones’, are occupied by a mixture of targets. Some feature aliens themselves who swarm from right to left across the screen indefinitely. These can be taken out easily with your hand blaster but there are also ground-based guns and missile-launchers which can only be taken out by grenades, and it’s the same for the non-hostile but still inconvenient obstacles which appear to consist of hardware such as satellite dishes as well as strange alien structures. [...]

The Spectrum Games Bible

Having already missed the apparently excellent ZX Spectrum Book – 1982-19xx book, I’m more than excited to have been timely informed about the incredibly ambitious Spectrum Games Bible 1982-2008 project, that’s already spanning two books and covering more than 500 games. What’s more, at least four more books will soon be released, hopefully reviewing every game ever released for the gloriously humble Speccy. Now, that’s what I call ambition. Possibly a worthy cause too. Well, almost. Anyway. [...]

Game Gallery: Arkanoid

As with many games of its time, Arkanoid was born in the arcades, but the version I spent by far the most time playing is this fine conversion for the Speccy. It doesn’t look quite as nice, as you might expect, but it’s got it where it counts. All stages and features from its arcade parent have been squeezed into the 48k of memory and mercifully it’s even a little easier, awarding the player with four lives from the start rather than two. Having said that, I still doubt that I could’ve finished this game without the aid of the ‘PBRAIN’ cheat. So, thanks to that splendid bit of foresight by the programmers, I can present all 33 rounds of Arkanoid! [...]

The ZX Spectrum Bible

Actually, more of the ZX Spectrum PDF emulation Bible, but this would be too long a post title… Still, oh wise and cheap-ass retroheads, just click here and you’ll get yourselves the brilliant 82 pages long PDF of the aptly (and rather eloquently) named The ZX Spectrum on your PC. Brilliant, educating, handy, quite free and sporting a nice cover, this is as retro as an ebook can get. [...]

Deviants

In order to accomplish your mission, you must locate and arm each bomb whilst avoiding or shooting the green, zombie- like creatures (presumably the Deviants themselves) wandering around, going about their dastardly business. The rapid- fire assault rifle-type gun you’re equipped with takes them out within a few shots (which sees them crumble to the floor in a pile of dust) but it has a finite supply of ammo, so keep an eye out for the extra ammo icons dotted around here and there. [...]

Eric and the Floaters

I personally hadn’t even heard of it until recently and I’m a big fan of the series, but yes, this is the first ever Bomberman game! However, rather than taking control of White Bomber, or indeed a bomberman of any colour, you must take control of Eric, an explorer attempting to plunder treasures from ancient underground caverns. At least, that’s the story with regards to this version, the only one to find a release outside of Japan. [...]

Bubble Bobble

One of this game’s many memorable points is that it jointly holds the record with its own sequel as one of the most fruit laden game ever (this is a good thing)! Items are spilled on a platform somewhere in the level every time an enemy is vanquished and other items appear seemingly out of nowhere now and then. There is an enormous amount of them to be found, some of which are very useful, particularly the umbrella which skips several levels, and there are power-ups and various kinds of screen-clearing smart bombs too. [...]

The 8-bit Book 1981 to 199X

As is the case with the rest of the books of the series, each page of The 8-bit Book covers one game and presents it complete with all the relevant info you might care for, a description of the game and an eclectic selection of pictures covering everything from screenshots, to game boxes, to cartridges and loading screens. As for the accompanying text itself, it’s very well written and higly informative, not only describing the game itself, but also (among other things) providing behind the scenes information, mentionig reviews of the era, sequels and even remakes. [...]

Maziacs: The Boardgame

The question though is whether Maziacs: The Boardgame, a boardgame based on a rather ancient and definitely simple CRPG, is worth your time, effort and paper. Well, I’m pretty sure it is. The rules are incredibly simple, smart, fun and versatile, and the game can be played both in its standard single-player mode and cooperatively. I’m actually pretty sure it could be run with a Game Master too. As for its aesthetics, simple as they are, they remain true to the original source and evoke a certain retro feel. Definitely worth a try. [...]

Exploring the Commodore 64: Part 1

My original idea was to ask my fellow Retro Gamer Forum members to vote for a single game that they felt best represented the old beige breadbin, and then do a detailed report on that, but I was soon besieged by many suggestions covering a great variety of genres. So, instead I will have a quick play of some of these titles and present my first impressions of both the games themselves, and the system generally, here in this series of features. [...]

Shinobi

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, there are far more enemies to deal with than just the Ring of Five. The stages are set in such locales as city streets, dockyards, warehouses, etc, and each is predictably populated by many lesser-skilled goons too, initially consisting of gun-wielding thugs, baldy-musclemen who fling their scimitars at you, and even a few spider-men (although these are probably just ninjas in coincidentally-coloured outfits). [...]

Chase HQ review

Before the days of polygons, it was pretty rare to find a decent driving game. Even in the arcades they were pretty rare. If you asked any gamers around my age to name their favourite, most would probably say OutRun, and with good reason – it was a revolutionary game that made a huge impact. There was a few other good examples from around that time as well though, and one was Chase HQ. [...]

180 Darts

There are eight humorously-named computer players in all who you’ll face in a random order with the exception of the final opponent, Jammy Jim. Apart from him, none of them have set skill levels and the difficulty will gradually increase regardless of who you’re facing. It’s also possible to play against a human opponent or ‘tune up’ which is basically a ’round the clock’ training mode to get you used to the controls. It’s a good idea too as the disembodied hand you use to throw your darts is constantly moving and can only be moved in the four diagonal directions. [...]

Frank Campbell: First Planet Company

I played Jetpac on my very first PC, the ZX Spectrum. Suddenly I wasn’t restricted by how long my pocket money would last in an arcade. I could assemble rockets and fight off aliens as much as I liked from the comfort of my own bedroom. The rubber keys, cassette loading and quaint 16k system requirements were all part of the charm, and every release from Ultimate Play The Game couldn’t come fast enough. [...]

Rick Dangerous & Rick Dangerous 2

I realized I cannot review Rick Dangerous without taking a look at Rick Dangerous II – as these games are like Star Wars – sure, you can watch one and have fun but until you’ve seen them all you know nothing of the dark side… Or until you’ll push some LSD with magic mushrooms and few nicely rolled fat spliffs, but that’s just sliding a bit to much of topic here… ^__^ [...]

Ghouls N Ghosts

The game is extremely fun to play, but it can be very unforgiving at first, but once you learn your jumps, attacks and timing you can make it through the game without too much trouble. I can say this now, but when I first played it I had an awfully hard time and ended up punching my poor Genesis to death. [...]