Archive for the 'Multi-screen Arcade' Category

Barbarian

Author: admin
December 6, 2010

Download Barbarian Dos Version (runs with DOSBox)

I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they have. Melbourne House has managed to faithfully convert one of my all time favorite Amiga games to one of the mist feeble computers around today. Barbarian Spectrum is just so wicked, it makes Eugene Lacey look poor in comparison. Barbarian Spectrum is just the slickest, bestest speccy arcade adventure ever, and that even rules out my old favorite, Firelort.

You a Hegor, the rootin’, tootin’, slashin’, bashin’, dinosaur-slaying Barbarian, who also claims to be the toughest son of a chicken ever, and you’ve been sent to take care of an evil wizard, who’s done something bad I suppose and (yawn), I guess he’s hiding somewhere down a dungeon with lots of levels and nasties. Oh, why should I carry on, you’ve heard it all before anyway…

So, off you trot, and before long you find yourself in a nice little field near the entrance to the dungeon, and this is where the game begins. As this first screen is completely void of any nasties and traps and things, now is a good time to hone your fighting skills. To perfect these, you have to get used to the icons at the bottom of the screen. Look at any convenient screen shot that happens to be near this review, and I’ll talk you through the icons, left to right.

First, you’ve got a group of four arrows pointing in the four normal directions. These are the commands to make Hegor walk left or right, and climb up and down ladders or steps. Next to that, you’ve got what looks like a VC. This means stop all actions, oh please, or for god’s sake stop, no don’t go there you’ll die, etc. Next to that you’ve got a badly drawn umbrella, which makes you somersault – useful for getting over collapsing bridges. Then you have the icon that looks like the rewind button on your video. This makes you run in the direction you’re facing. Next to that, there’s a picture of a sword. This means use the item you have in your hand. Then you’ve got another piccy of a sword, which means, curiously enough, do a backward somersault. Finally, you’ve got the two arrows that are cirling each other, this means drop everything and run away. This is not advisable because you drop everything and lose your weapon as well.

Right, that’s the confusing bit over with. The rest of the game is a regular hack and slash adventure through quite a large map. On various screens, traps will appear out of the blue and try and kill you. One nasty trap is the old “collapsing bridge” trick. Then you’ve got the “large door with spikes falling from the ceiling” jape. As well as traps, there are lots of different types of nasties, just waiting to eat you, or put their head up your bum – whichever is more painful.

Just like the Yellow Pages, not all the things in the game are nasty. There are some good things, as well, like blocked drains, broken windows and extra weapons. You can find a bow and a very limited amount of arrows in place of the map, and these are used to kill baddies at long range, as there are some that you just can’t get to. Also a shield lies hiddn somewhere, and it’s with this that you kill the Wizard, but I’m not telling you how.

The graphics have come down very nicely, and do bear quite a bit of resemblance to the original, though some of the animation is decidedly dodgy.

Thankfully, MH hasn’t tried to get the sound onto the humble black box.



Automania

Author: admin
December 5, 2010

Automania Spectrum is the first Wally game and perhaps that is why it is almost entirely an arcade game.

Automania Spectrum is a superior Manic Miner-alike, in that MicroGen has adopted the best features from the seminal precursor and added some originality of its own. You have to help “Manic Mechanic” Wally Week (a neat bit of graphic characterization) gather the six parts of a car from around his garage workshop, which is graught with the usual assortiment of weird and whackies, collapsing walways, and so on. There are ten cars to build, which works out at 20 screens, each scenario using two screens.

All Wally’s quest is against the time, and different moving parts of garage stuff. While you have to assemble a car, the program plays the “Laurel and Hardy” theme non-stop and… why are you looking so bored? Thankfully it can be turned off.

Good graphics and varied fun, Automania Spectrum is well worth giving a go.



Starquake

Author: admin
December 2, 2010

The people at Bubble Bus are probably very tired of having their games compared to those of Ultimate. If so, then they’re not going to like this review, because I’m going to do it again.

Just as their previous game, Wizard’s Lair, was a derivative of Atic Atac, so Starquake Spectrum seems to have been inspired by Underwurlde. Howeber, as with Wizard’s Lair. Bubble Bus haven’t slavishly copied Ultimate‘s games but have added to the complexity of the games so that they stand on their own merits.

In Starquake Spectrum you are in control of a Blob – a Bio-Logically Operating Being – whose task it is to reconstruct the core of a planet which is about to go “Ka Boomf” (that’s what it sas in the cassette notes) and suck up the rest of the galaxy into a black hole. The trouble is that as with Ultimate‘s games the instructions aren’t a mine of information. So it’s up to you to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing with all the features included in the game, and then to go and try to complete the game.

There are quite a lot of features to the game too. Wandering through the caves below the planet’s surface you’ll discover all sorts of floating thingies, that will of course attempt to destroy you. There’s a teleport system consulting of a number of chambers which allow you to beam into various areas of the planet core (provided that you can find the necessary code words). And there’s even something called a “flexible thingydoo”, but I haven’t figured out what it is yet (and I’m not sure that I want to either for that matter).

Blob is quite a cute character who can initially only wal left/right and zap things, but dotted around the caves are a number of hover pads and manoeuvre more fully as he attempts to collect the other items the needs to fulfil his task.

The controls are simple to handle and quite responsive, though you do have to be very careful when typing teleport codes as there doesn’t seem to be any facility for correcting mistakes. The graphics and animation are, if anything, a little clearer and neater than in Underwurlde. All in all. I found Starquake Spectrum an enjoyable and addictive game, and one which should be sufficiently complex to hold your attention for quite some time.



Game Over 2

Author: admin
December 2, 2010

Who remembers Game Over? Everyone. Why? Booby artwork. Thoroghly forgettable game. Not quite the same stroy with the sequel. Nearly, but not quite.

Your old drinking partner, Arkos the scientist, has been banged up in the intergalactic nick by the forces still loyal to Gremia (the shocking tart adorning the front of the box), it’s up to you to free him.

There are a couple of stages in Game Over II (or Phantis). You kick off in a fighter spaceship on an apparently impossible flight towards the center of the aliens’ prison complex. You can’t move too quickly, so you’ll have to gen an angle on the aliens’ attack waves if you’re to stand even the slightest chance of getting through.

Graphically things are pretty low-level. There has been absolutely no attempt to minimalise attribute clash and – with the exception of the explosions, which are great – it’s a teensy bit basic. Still, there’s no shortage of action. You can blast away quite successfully with your laser and enter into some reasonable skirmishy-dogfight with the bad guys.

The screen scrolls from right to left woth the standard fare: asteroids, stars etc. After a period of time you’ll find yourself in Zone 1 where there’s a floor to crash into and life becomes unspeakably difficult. Huge red balls shoot up from craters in the rocky surface and do their utmost to collide with you. Owing to the plain obstinacy of your ship on the movement front, you need to predict when one of these guys is about to appear, rather than merely reacting when one pops up.

As well as the red balls, blue bubbles fall from the top of the screen and hamper your progress. There are a number of aliens, too, which fly up from behind you and smash you to bits.

If you’re picking up the feeling up the feeling that Game over II is bloody impossible, well, you wouldn’t be far wrong. It’s all a bit erratic. The action is all there, but your spaceship is too big and you keep crashing into things. The aliens rarely pose much of a threat, except in unfair caught-up-the-backside sort of ways. It took me ages and ages to get through the open-air bit and 2 seconds to clear the following underground chamber section.

Zone 3 of the first part is the weakest point of the whole game. You climb down from your spaceship and climb aboard an absurd space-ostrich. Here you’ve got to walk along a riverbank combatting galactic toads and suchlike with an extremely hopeless boomerang item.

At the end of this stage, you are endowend with the mystical secret code number of Dinamic which lets you load and play Part 2, which is a whole lot more interesting. Map and explore, pick up items and gradually work your way towards the scientist (the one you’re rescuing – remember?)

Game Over II is by no stretch of the imagination a great game, but there is lots and lots of it, and there’s quite a bit of variety too. Coupled with the fact that you get the first game Game Over, imbecile – on the B side of the disk, it’s worth a look, but don’t expect lasting appeal.



Draconus

Author: admin
December 1, 2010

There was a new game in the office. The screenshots looked great. I smelt the work of Zeppelin games. “Great!” I screamed horrifically, I slammed the cassette into the tape recorder.

The game was for the Spectrum – 48K! Good! It wasn’t long before the game loaded. “Yoiks!” I roared. “I’m impressed!” Slobbering, I played the game. It was Draconus online. It was ser on an alien planet. “So what!” I shreiked. But this was different. I was a half-man, half-frog, it’s a good laugh. I made my way through the chambers. They looked fab. THe backgrounds were full of detail. The characters were well animated. And they were big, very big. Wrenching the joystick, I controlled Frognum. He’s the tall one. He can walk, run, jump, duck, breathe fire, and, best of all, punch! And he has to! There are loads of things to punch: giant rats! Bats! Sea serpents! Terrortoads! Catapelones! “This is great!” I bawled. Everyone came to have a look. They went mad! Everyone wanted to get to the final chamber, and kill the Tyrant Beast. But they had to wait.

There was a lot to do. I had to find the Demon Shield, the Necromancer’s Staff, the Dragon’s Eye and the Morph Heliz. “Hah!” I went, triumphantly. When I found the Morph Helix, I could change into Draconewt. I just had to find the Morph Slab. Then I could swim and spit water. It was as simple as brutally twisting the joystick. If I hit too many mosters or spikes, I lost a life. Mine! But I had three. And I returend to the last record slab I’d passed, not right to the start. So that was alright.

There was something else that was alright too. There were flasks of flame fluid to restore my bad breath, and energy packets for my strength. So it was good. It was more than good. It was cheap. There were lots of colors. They were in the backgrounds, but there was no attribute clash. There were sounds. There was no music! Good! You don’t need it for a great game like this!

I was hooked! It was the design. It was the originality!

It was the difficulty. It was the novelty! I was lots of other things I couldn’t spell! I went back to my desk, ready to punch anyone who disagreed with me. But no-one did! Official!



Abu Simbel Profanation

Author: admin
November 30, 2010

Download Abu Simbel Profanation Remake

To call Abu Simbel Profanation online a platform game is not strictly accurate. It is more of a cross between a platform game and an arcade adventure.

You have entered into the ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel built by Ramases II. All you have to do is find the way out. There is no scoring as such, no bonuses for collecting all the pieces in a given time. You just have to make your way through the various chambers and passages in search of your exit.

The graphics are superb. Instead of leaving you to work out the best route through a room, (such as in games like Manic Miner) your route is nearly always obvious. Large stone passages, spiders’ webs, assorted Egyptian pictures an hieroglyphics all add to the atmosphere. Your character, the explorer Johnny Jones, is a large lovable creature who looks round at the obstacles blocking his way – a nice little touch.

Getting through a room though is not so easy. Never have I seen a game where obstacle requires such split second timing. Ususually there are a few items with sufficiently long paths of travel for you to avoid easily once you have worked out the timing. But not here. Every jump seems to be a will I/won’t make it leap. Even the very first obstacle – a drop of liquid of which even a small splash costs you one of your ten lives caused a heated argument as to whether it was best to jump over it or run under it. One feature which I have not come across before allows you to make a normal jump or an extra high jump.

As you progress through the game, you find your way further hindered by large stone slabs, doors and statues. Finding the way to open these is one of the key parts of the game although you shouldn’t have too much trouble working it out. When successfully activated, the door slides open to let you through to the next screen. This is very smoothly done and again adds considerably to the atmosphere of the game. So, not only do yo have to make your way through the temple, you have to plan your route as well. Sometimes when you want to drop down a level, there are two paths to choose from. One will lead you successfully onwards, the other is a pit and you impale yourself on a series of lethal spikes with only a skeleton grinning at you as you die a horrible death. It took me many goes even playing the cheat version before I got anywhere near the end.

Abu Simbel Profanation online is an original variation on the platform game. Yes it is very difficult but it is well worth the few hours it takes to get onto the next screen and the next. A must for connoisseurs of good, hard, challenging games, but beginners should cut their teeth on something slightly easier.



Elven Warrior

Author: admin
November 10, 2010

My dears, believe me, it’s a terrible life being an elf. Not only do you have to fight off the mighty forces of evil armed with only the most twee weapons, but you never seem to be able to find a hairdresser when you need one.

Take this Elven Warrior affair. It was the usual tedious business: I had to find four potion bottles and return them to the cauldrons form whence they came (“From whence” – that’s the way elves are supposed to talk. In fact, we talk just like anyone else, my dears.)

Anyway, these pansy potions. According to Him Upstairs, the idea was to find them all and gain the Book of Immortality (and you can buy that at any branch of W.H. Dwarfs, as any fool knows.) But along the way there were the usual oh-so-dreary hazards to contend with: zombies, flying eyes, black knights, lizard men, deadly spikes and pits of water. My dears, my hair was simply RUINED! I suppose there was some excitement when secret doors opened and the landscapes changed each time I returned to a cauldron, but one has simply seen it all, too too often…

There were some consolations. The scenery was nice. You know, rolling hills, quaint cottages, vines to climb from level to level (when I could find them), broken-down crucifixes, dank caverns, sinister dungeons… wlll, those bits weren’t so charming. The background music was perfectly sweet, though. But the intellectual level of these zombies! I’m not sure not one of them would know Jean-Paul Gaultier from his sit-upon. I genuinely believe I was doing them a favor putting them out of their misery – shooting them with my meager supply of arrows, then swapping to more stylish weapons such as staffes and stealth axes which dispose of a handful of them without making an unsightly mess on the carpet.

Well, I might not have been able to find a hairdresser, but there were plenty of arrows, food packages and treasures along the way, and apart from tearing my tights leaping from plateau to plateau and dodging those flying eyes, mad skulls and energy balls, things could have been a lot worse.

But there must be more to life than this endless repetitious adventuring, so my friend and I are planning to run away to east-bourne and open a little tea-room. It should be a lot safer than this Elven Warrior malarkey, and about as exciting.



Rex

Author: admin
November 1, 2010

It had to happen. After years of being shot, stabbed, incinerated, blown up and mangled, the aliens have finally decided to get their own back. And what a spectacular revenge: Rex Spectrum is a splendiferously violent visual feast, a joystick-bendingly difficult challenge to the reactions, and an all-round jolly enjoyable experience.

Fed up with Earthmen refusing to pay their space parking fines, littering the asteroid belts and singing “I Should Be So Lucky” in the cosmic pubs, a confideration of aliens has sensibly decided to wipe out the whole lot of them. To do the job they’ve hired Rex, an alien mercenary who eats kittens for breakfast and who makes Kamikaze Bear look like Andy Pandy (GRRRRR…KB).

Rex is a high-tech rhinocerous armed with a formidable array of weapons, and his final task in the alien/human war is to destroy Mankind’s last stronghold, the lower Zenith. He takes on the job with relish (and a little mayonnaise on the side).

The game loads in two parts: you carry your score, weapons and attributes over to the second half using an access code.

Although the game features many of the attributes of Cybernoid, Exolon and several other recent titles, it looks quite different because all the graphics are on a small scale. This allows a huge amount of features to be packed into each screen. Fortunately, the characters and backgrounds are all excellently designed, so the sense of huge scale comes across very well.

Rex can walk and jetpack through the air, finally floating to the ground under the effect of gravity. Both he and the spacesuited humans are single-color, while the backgrounds are a riot of color and details: betching missile projectors, mortars, rock faces, equipment modules, tunnels, tube trains and the like.

Stage two, the Living Tower, also features revolting organic components including writhing pink tentacles which are deadly to touch. Rex starts his quest in an underground chamber, appearing in a teleporter and immediately blazing away to take out the nearby weapons systems. A small arrow indicates the exit from the screen (some have multiple exits), and as you appear on the new screen you should switch on your energy shield by pulling back on the joystick, in case a missile is aiming straight for your horn.

The shield runs out of energy as you use it. To recharge it you have to pick up energy bubbles left by destroyed emplacements and men. The laser-firing spacemen jerk backwards and expire messily when you shoot them; I must admit that this is one of the major fun points of the game. If you get killed yourself, the results are even more spectacular: an eyeball-quivering series of explosions which are worth seeing, even if it does mean losing a life.

Fortunately, there are lots of lovely weapons to be picked up from equipment holders, which let you stave off your inevitable destruction a little longer. Double and triple-firers, multi-way firers, and whirling defense pads help you to mow down the humans with even greater efficiency. The more energy you have, the faster/further/wider your weapons fire.

There are also Zaps to be picked up: these act like smart-bombs, clearing an entire screen of enemies, and so should be saved carefully. It’s tremendous fun working your way through the screens, using the anti-grav elevators, blast-away rocks and floating platforms to reach the Tower of Zenith and blow it to bits.

The only disappointment is the poor sound: there are no effects at all when you fire, and only a standard plip-plip-plip when anything explodes. Sitll you can’t have everything (unless you’re Jim Douglas trying to decide what to order at Macdonald’s). It’s also annoying that you restart at the start of a stage, rather on the same screen, when you lose a life. This means you have to renegotiate screens you’ve already completed, which I find a pain. Otherwise, Rex Spectrum is marvellous fun if shooty-shooty acrade adventures are your bag. Obviously the product of some well experienced programmers, but for the moment, the identity of programming team of The Light remains a closely-guarded secret. Look out for their next one.



Android One

Author: admin
October 31, 2010

If you get Android SpectrumThe Reactor Run – you can give up any hope of spending stress-free evenings with your Spectrum.

Your mission is to save the world by infiltrating a reactor complex which is guarded by four different types of mutants, and destroy the reactor – within a time limit.

To infiltrate the complex your robot, Android 1, must blast his way through the walls that surround each stage. But remember to watch out for the aliens. The farther you get through the less predictable the guards become, and the more difficult they are to avoid.

The graphics are colorful and the action is accompanied with well-thought-out sound effects. Android 1 runs, rather than glides, across the screen in an endearing manner.

There are five skill levels – the most difficult seems impossible, while the easiest is fast enough to be a challenge. There is a wide choice of keys but controlling the robot is difficult. Provision is made for the Kempston joystick.

The comprehensive on-screen instructions are attractively presented. The game loaded in five stages, which makes for a long wait, but there were no loading problems.



Joe Blade

Author: admin
October 27, 2010

Maybe there’s something about men with moustaches that means they make good games. The month before the release of this game we had Charles Bronson in Death Wish III, complete with moustache and bazooka, and this month we’ve got a dude called Joe Blade in a game called, well, it’s called Joe Blade actually.

So what’s it all about then, this new moustachioed game? The plot is about as interesting as sheep dip, but I’ll tell you anyway. The evil Crax Bloodfinger has kidnapped six world leaders, and is holding them to ransom.

You begin your mission just outside Bloodfinger’s base. As you move through the prison complex, you’ll come across various bits and pieces, most of which are pretty darn useful, and some of which need to be shot. Those that are useful include spare ammunition, lunch packs (tastefully arranged to include a bottle of wine and an apple, to build up your ever diminishing strength), cell keys to open doors, hostages to rescue, and the all important bombs to prime. Those that need to be shot are the stormtrooper guards (don’t ask me why they’re stormtroopers, I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, but I’m not going to devle into it now) and hunky men in vests with knives.

The twist lies in the bombs you have to plant. You can’t finish the game until you prime six bombs to destroy Crexfinger’s base.

But priming the bombs isn’t easy. Indeed it’s almost a game within a game.

First find your bomb, which is easy enough – a bomb in Joe Blade is nearly as big as your sprite – and then enter bomb-priming mode. Then you’ll see the letters A-E on the screen, jumbled up, and you then have twenty seconds to set the code in alphabetical order. Not as easy as it sounds.

It is actually this bomb-priming sequence which sets Joe Blade apart from all the other flipping arcade adventures around at the moment.

Two of the five letters are highlighted, and by using Fire, you swap these two letters over. If the order of the letters was DEBAC, and D and A were highlighted, those two letters would swap places. By using the left and right keys, you can widen the gap between two letters and then swap them. (You could highlight D and B, or D and C for instance. It needs a clear head to actually complete the task in the time allowed, and all too often you’ll find that the bomb self destructs and you go up with it.

It’s a good enough combination of game elements to please lots of people, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done Players. Tick. VG.