Reviews Archive
Jetpac   Jetpac
  This was an important early arcade style game for Spectrum that's kind of like a mix of Defender and Joust. It was actually the first game to be made by a company called Ultimate, who later changed their name to Rareware/RARE and achieved much fanfare on consoles like the N64 (and in fact this game was included as a mini game in Donkey Kong 64!). Jetpac has you picking up objects to rebuild and refuel your spaceship before taking off to the next level. Like all the best game's of its era its a simple idea that results in some compelling gameplay. The game spawned its own comic strip in Crash magazine, and two sequels, one a great Thrust-styled NES game called Solar Jetman, the other the disappointing Lunar Jetman.
Daley Thompson's Decathlon  
Daley Thomson's Decathlon
  This was Ocean's popular clone of Konami's Track N Field arcade game, a button mashing sports title where you have to alternate between pressing buttons as quickly as possible, as well as timing the angles of jumps and such. Ocean slapped the title with a Daley Thomson (a Black English athlete of the day) license, but made the sprite white! leading to some criticism at the time (oh well, maybe the race swapped character in Mikie kinda' makes up for it?!). It does the gameplay of Track N' Field well, and even includes the Pole Vault event from the game's sequel.
Cobra on Spectrum
  Jonathan Smith creates a unique game here with this early platform shooter. Cobra followed his port of Green Beret, and you can see that game's influence here. You start with just a melee attack (a head butt), but pick up projectile weapons along the way. The aim is to kill all the bad guys, collect all the weapons, and get the girl. The game is tricky to control at first but worth persevering with, its a technical tour de force for the system, with parallax scrolling and numerous sprites on screen at any given time. Getting the machine gun and laying waste to scores of enemies was an exciting experience at the time, and Jonathan used the film license well to create a pastiche full of humour and surreal elements.
Cyclone on Spectrum
  Another Costa Panayi game with an isometric view. The game has you piloting a helicopter rescuing people from a cyclone and picking up crates. Pressing the "M" key brings up a map to show you where to go, and you have to try to avoid the titular Cyclone along the way. Cyclone is actually a sort of follow-up to the game TLL, which is also worth checking out but was a bit on the difficult side, this did a great job of polishing up the gameplay and making the whole thing a bit fairer and more accessible.
Boulder Dash   Boulder Dash on Spectrum
  Boulderdash is a classic puzzle game ported from the Atari XL computers where the aim is to dig through the levels collecting gems, being wary not to undermine rocks and have them come tumbling down and crush you. The game was popular at the time for its smart mixture of puzzling and action. The Spectrum port is a good version of the game but is slightly weaker than the original, not quite using the system to its max. Any fans of the game should also check out the free covertape game "Earth Shaker" an update of the Boulderdash concept released very late that does a better job of using the hardware.
Roller Coaster   Roller Coaster on Spectrum
  Here we have a really manic flick screen platformer from Christmas 85' set in an amusement park. The theme park gimmick is a really great hook here, resulting in loads of moving platforms zipping you around the screen as you leap about trying to collect all the tokens. Its a tricky but fair game, and I wonder if some elements didn't go on to influence Rare's theme park levels in their second Donkey Kong game. Roller Coaster is a great game that nicely bookends that era of platformers, before the rise of the scrollers.
Renegade on Spectrum
  Excellent port of Taito's genre-defining beat-em-up. The game takes place in a set of small three screen width areas and the aim is to simply defeat all the enemies, either by beating them down or, better still knocking them off the platform. The Spectrum game plays well and whilst the characters are all transparent the game's graphics are very detailed and charming, and there is a lot of attention to detail throughout.
  This is the first game on the list from one of the most notable Spectrum coders, Julian Gollop, who was known for his excellent and imaginative turn based strategy games. Gollop went on the create the very popular X-Com series of games. Rebelstar is the sequel to Rebelstar Raiders, its a turn based game where you're allocated a set of points each turn which you use to move your team and shoot at enemies. This game in the series introduced the option for choosing "Snap" or "aimed" shots which allowed you to risk missing a shot in order to save points. Rebelstar was one of the best, if not the best tactical strategy game of its era, an elegant and accessible title with lots of depth.
Academy   Academy on Spectrum
  3d shoot-em-up Sequel to earlier Spectrum classic Tau Ceti. Academy sees you starting out as a new recruit, and has you partaking in lots of mission based blasting. You now get a bunch more customisation options, with a choice of craft each with different strengths, and piles of weapons and upgrades to buy. Excellent and reasonably fast and smooth blasting action in 3D.
Auf Wiedersehen Monty   Auf Wiedersehen Monty
  The fourth game in the Monty Mole series, which was a popular series of platformers back in the day starring a Mole Miner collecting items. Auf Wiedersehen expanded on the earlier games in the series, tightening the gameplay by removing many of the often unfair elements the series was known for, and adding plane journeys to allow Monty to shortcut his way around the map (press Caps Shift at an airport). The game also hugely improved the presentation, adding foreground objects to cut down on colour clash, and treating 128k users with one of the defining tracks for the sound chip. One of the most influential of forgotten series'.
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