ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games

30 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Brian Bloodaxe - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Brian Bloodaxe
Brian Bloodaxe was released for the ZX Spectrum early in 1985 by The Edge who had already gained success with games such as Starbike and Psytraxx.

Brian Bloodaxe is a notable ZX Spectrum classic game due to it's back story and off-beat humour.


ZX Spectrum Brian Bloodaxe
Anyway, the whole story of this platform game was that he had been frozen in an ice block for hundreds of years - sounds like the big freeze of 2009! Anyway, being that he was a Viking king, he decides to continue where he left off: conquering Great Britain!

The game had around 100 screens of platform action to play through - and to win you had to steal the crown jewels and get our Brian seated on the throne.

In usual platform style you could move left and right and jump, allowing our 'hero' to move around the screens by jumping over enemies, gaps in the floor and so on.

Although Brian had to evade most of the games surreal and bizarre enemies (such as the famous Daleks from Doctor Who!), it was possible to kill some of them by headbutting - which would stab them with the horns of his helmet.

There were also a few items to collect which would help you in your quest (such as keys and tankards of beer) - but the emphasis of this platform game was on evading the nasties and exploration.

ZX Spectrum Games Brian Bloodaxe - note the DalekOn load up you knew you were in for something a little different. The 'liberty bell march' was the title tune and as you started the game - well let's say the first time I ever played Brian Bloodaxe it fooled me for a second. I never 'blew' on the keyboard though.... honest!

This game is probably not as well remembered as other platform or arcade games on the ZX Spectrum, but it was pretty well received when it came out. Other platformers such as Manic Miner, Technician Ted, Dynamite Dan and Jet Set Willy became the kings of the genre - Brian Bloodaxe is more of a cult title.

On Release:
Brian Bloodaxe was well recieved when it was released for the ZX Spectrum and many enjoyed the slightly wacky humour within the game. Unfortunately it came out in the midst of other platform games, and it lacked the overall polish of a lot of these other titles. It was a decent enough game at the time and for anyone that was into platform games it was definately worth getting hold of.

The test of time:
Me and my fellow geek reckon that in the grand scheme of Spectrum Games Brian Bloodaxe has not aged at all well. The graphics are pretty basic and overall the game does lack a bit of polish. Mind you, it did make us laugh - the opening of it is still funny. Worth a look for nostalgia and for anyone that missed it first time around.

It should be noted that this game is currently being remade (it must have a cult following) - check out http://mremakes.free.fr/ for more information.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Brian Bloodaxe for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Platform game (Arcade Game)
RELEASE DATE: Early 1985
RELEASED BY: The Edge
DEVELOPER(S): Charles Bystram
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

The humourus opening to a lesser known yet classic game:

Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

27 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Uridium - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Uridium
Uridium was the game they said could never be converted to the ZX Spectrum. The Commodore 64 classic just could not be replicated on the Speccy, nope it just was not possible.

Up stepped Hewson Consultants (and developer Dominic Robinson) to prove that theory wrong.

This classic arcade game was finally released for the ZX Spectrum in December of 1986 to lots of high praise.


ZX Spectrum Games Uridium
The whole back story to Uridium (every good arcade game has one!) was to do with different battlecruisers (called Dreadnaughts) were moving into orbit around various planets to prepare for invasion.

Each Dreadnaught required vast amounts of fuel and would get it by tapping planetary cores and draining them of valuable minerals. Of course this would destroy the planet and no-doubt annoy the inhabitants a tad in the meantime.

To prevent the destruction of these planets, it was up to you (as always in classic arcade fashion) to take these giant space leviathans down.

The class and effort put into developing Uridium on the Sinclair Spectrum was apparent as soon as the game loaded. The way the text was displayed, the nice synth theme tune and the rather cool high score table all oozed class and polish.

The impressive title screen and high score table in Uridium:



Armed with nothing more than your trusty Manta space fighter (you had three to play with) you had to fly across each Dreadnaught inflicting as much damage as possible whilst destroying or evading the squadrons of enemy fighters sent to destroy you. The cards were dealt, the odds were against you, cue dark and forboding music.....

Your Manta was a nifty little beast. It was armed with front firing lazers and was incredibly fast and agile. It would zip across the surface of a dreadnaught at breakneck speed and you needed almost inhuman arcade reflexes to pilot it effectively.

Scrolling from left to right you had to make to the far end of the enemy cruiser, destroying as much of the surface of it as possible. You could make the Manta peform a nifty loop and turn allowing you to fly over the dreadnaught in both directions.

Skimming over a dreadnaught
Wave after wave of enemy squadrons would be sent to destroy you and taking out an entire 'wave' earned you bonus points. Some types of enemy fighters seemed to be more deadly than others - sometimes the best ploy was to 'loop back' and take them out from behind. Sneaky.

There were plenty of obstacles to avoid on the surface such as pylons, high walls and so on. In some areas you would have to fly through a narrow passage by making your manta turn onto it's side - it was too wide to fit through otherwise!

Homing mines would also launch from pods on the dreadnaught and chase after you - relentlessly homing in on your craft until they either self destructed or took you out. Fancy flying was needed to outwit these boys.

Each dreadnaught was named after a different element (the one they would drain from the core) so you be taking on Zinc, Copper, Gold etc. The final dreadnaught was the ultra-precious Uridium - and destroying it meant completing the game.

After destroying a certain on the surface of the dreadnaught (such as parked fighters, gun emplacements, domes etc) the signal 'Land Now!' would appear. Making your way to the right most end of the huge ship and landing on the strip there would ensure the destruction of the dreadnaught. After collecting your end of level bonus it was on to the next ship - and believe me each one was more difficult than the last.

On Release:
Uridium had been highly anticipated before it was released and many felt that it would not do justice to the Commodore 64 original. Well they needn't have worried as ZX Spectrum version was nothing short of brilliant. From the excellent menu screens right through the smooth scrolling bas-relief graphics and fast gameplay, Uridium was a top class arcade game. The gameplay was spot on and touches like your Manta's shadow on the surface of the dreadnaught demonstrated the effort that Dominic Robinson had put into the game. Class.

The test of time:
Okay, Uridium is a simple shoot em up. But here in Spectrum Games we reckon it still holds up pretty well. The scrolling is plenty smooth (and very impressive for a ZX Spectrum) and the gameplay is ultra frantic. There is a challenge in here and Uridium is still fun and full of action. A bona fide classic arcade game.

Go on, pretend you are Han Solo and stick it on. It's Uridillant!

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum Emulator and download Uridium for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: December of 1986
RELEASED BY: Hewson Consultants
DEVELOPER(S): Dominic Robinson (Andrew Braybrook developed the original)
PRICE: £8.95 - UK

The first dreadnaught meets it's doom in Uridium - classic arcade action:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

24 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Turbo Esprit - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Games Turbo Esprit
ZX Spectrum Games Turbo Esprit
Another winner from Durell (and the talent of Mike Richardson), Turbo Esprit was released for the ZX Spectrum in May of 1986.

Mike Richardson already had a glowing reputation as a Spectrum games developer due to his excellent previous titles such as Scuba Dive, Harrier Attack and Combat Lynx and Turbo Esprit was yet another great game developed by him. Let's go retro....

In the game (these cars were quite iconic in the 80's!) you were a special agent out to prevent an international ring of drug smugglers from delivering a huge shipment of heroin.

On load up you could choose from four cities in which to combat these dealers of drugs - once the choice had been made the only way to change cities was to reload the game. The game also allowed you to practise driving before playing the game for real. Neat.

In the game an armoured car was supplying the drugs to the centre of the city. Four delivery cars collected the narcotics from the armoured car as it drove around the streets. Your mission was to stop the delivery cars, (your best bet was to stop them after they had made their pick-ups) before they scurried away to the drug dealers safe houses.

Extra points could be earned if you stopped the armoured car before it left the city - it would do so after all drug drops had been completed.

The gameplay in this classic arcade game was viewed from the driving seat of your Lotus car - in much the same way as in Combat Lynx. The instruments on the dashboard included a speedometer, rev counter, fuel gauge and a temperature gauge.

Your car was shown on the roadway outside, so you could see the dashboard, speed, fuel level etc and also your car as it raced along the road. I like to call it remote cockpit view!


Turbo Esprit Cockpit view ZX Spectrum
This really was a driving game with a difference. Apart from being able to shoot the bad guys with your slightly dodgy sounding 'turbo cannon' you could also ram them repeatedly until their car was battered enough to force them into surrender. Ramming the bad guys was worth more points too.

Aside from these niceties, what really set it apart from other racing games on the ZX Spectrum was the fact that the city felt quite 'real'. Junctions had working traffic lights, pedestrians ambled along the pavements, workmen made road repairs and garages were open for business.

In fact you had to stop at garages to fuel the car up - running out of fuel resulted in the loss of a life. Other cars made use of the roads too and it was wise to avoid any collisions with them. These cars even featured working indicators - fantastic attention to detail (for the era).

Your car may have incurred damage through your encounters with the drug dealers too - so you would have to stop at a repair garage and have your engine fixed, otherwise your car would eventually conk out, losing you another life.

This release was a pretty tough game, but it was very playable and mighty addictive. Another great game from Mike Richardson.

On Release:
Durell were generally associated with quality computer games, and Turbo Esprit was highly anticipated in the build up to it's release. Fans of arcade games and driving games liked it and it was a pretty big hit. Little touches like the working traffic lights and pedestrians really added some atmosphere to the game. It ended up being popular - and rightly so.

The test of time:
Like many Spectrum titles this one has aged considerably over the last 20 odd years, but it remains somewhat a classic arcade game. The features in the game such as workmen and pedestrians, the repair garages all remind us here in ZX Spectrum games of a certain Grand Theft Auto. In a way this is a precursor to Rockstar's excellent series of games, and certainly expanded the whole driving genre when it was released.

Stick on a bit of Radar Love and give Turbo Esprit a go.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Turbo Esprit for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade game (driving game)
RELEASE DATE: May of 1986
RELEASED BY: Durell Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Richardson
PRICE: £8.95 - UK

Our man speeds around the streets in yet another classic arcade game...

Classic Games and Arcade Games...

23 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - 3D Tank Duel - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Games 3D Tank Duel
Realtime Software burst onto the ZX Spectrum games scene with this unofficial version of Atari's Battlezone, 3D Tank Duel in 1984.

This was the beginning of a long and successful series of games from Realtime, who became perhaps the premier developers of 3D games for the ZX Spectrum with classic games such as 3D Starstrike, Starstrike II, Starglider and Carrier Command.

ZX Spectrum Games 3D Tank Duel
3D Tank Duel was basically a copy of the famous arcade game, Battlezone and proved that a humble Speccy could be made to animate smooth moving vector graphics on a colourful backdrop.

The aim of the game was ultra simple: destroy an enemy tank before it destroys you. The view of the game was 'looking out' of your tank at the landscape which contained obstacles in the shape of oblong blocks and so on. Your radar at the top of the screen would tell you the location of the enemy tank, so you could home in on it for the kill.

You could move your tank to the left and right as well as backwards and forwards making it relatively easy to move around any obstacles in the playing area. Your display also had a square targetting reticle which would change shape and narrow if the enemy was in your sights.

In true impressive 3D, when you fired a shell you would see it flying away from you towards it's target, and would also see any shell flying towards you, getting larger and larger as it approached.

The enemy is in your sights in 3D Tank Duel The game was 'never ending' as in once you destroyed an enemy tank (which exploded in a nice scattering of vector graphics) another tank would immediately appear. Each kill made the next enemy tougher - they were better at evading you and seemed to have a better aim. Every now and again a UFO would appear which could be destroyed for a bonus points.

If the enemy landed a direct hit on you a huge crack would splinter across the screen and you would lose a life. Losing all three lives meant game over - and back to the beginning.

On release:
3D Tank Duel was one of the first 'good' 3D games. The enemy tanks were well drawn (at the time) and moved nicely and the hills in the background added a little variety to otherwise pretty plain landscape. It was nice to finally have a playable version of Battlezone for the Speccy and 3D Tank Duel was a pretty big hit, putting Realtime Software on the gaming map in the process.

The test of time:
Here in Spectrum games we realise that those once impressive 3D graphics are now very, very simple. You would never sit and play 3D Tank Duel for any length of time as it is far too repetetive and lacking in variety, but it is a fun way to spend a spare ten minutes. It must go down as a landmark vector graphics title though.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download 3D Tank Duel for the ZX Spectrum. You may even be able to play it online.

Ready, aim, fire!

GENRE: 3D vector graphics arcade game
RELEASE DATE: 1984
RELEASED BY: Realtime Software
DEVELOPER(S): Ian Oliver, Andrew Onions and Graeme Baird
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

Odd-ball takes out a couple of enemies before meeting his doom...


Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

21 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Trap Door - ZX Spectrum retro game

Spectrum Trapdoor
Trapdoor was released for the ZX Spectrum by Piranha software (I always found that name a bit strange) in 1986.

They had already released classic games such as Rogue Trooper and the developer of Trapdoor, Don Priestley became synonymous with 'big and colourfulgraphics' due to this game and Popeye.

Most of you will remember the children's TV programme Trapdoor the claymation style cartoon set in a dank, dark, mysterious castle. Well, the style and content of the TV show was pretty good material for a computer game, and Don Priestley did a good job of creating a game based on the show.
ZX Spectrum Games Trapdoor

In this game you played the character of Berk (the hero from the TV show). Berk had to move around the rooms in the castle collecting the objects required to feed the boss (an unseen impatient fellow who lived in the attic).

The boss (simply named 'Thing') would bark orders ('Berk: Feed Me!) and you would have to prepare whatever snack he desired - all within a time limit.

A large trapdoor nestled in the floor of the start location. Just like in the show all sorts of nasty beasties lurked in the creepy room below it. A specific 'trapdoor monster' was needed to complete each task, so it was up to you to open the trapdoor and trust in lady luck as to what creature would jump out. If the creature was not useful then you would have to usher it back down below (for example a ghost would not return to the trapdoor until you fed it) and then re-open the trapdoor to have your desired 'helper'.

Useful objects and cooking utensils were dotted around the castle rooms. Of course most of them were cunningly hidden inside other objects and Berk had to pick things up and 'tilt' them to get at whatever was hidden inside. By combining these objects and the correct trapdoor monster he could produce the right meal for Thing and complete the task at hand. It's all a bit too cerebral if you ask me...

If Berk lost a vital object by dropping it down the trapdoor then the task could not be completed, and you had to commit suicide by throwing him into the void below the trapdoor...Talk about harsh!

Trapdoor ZX Spectrum In Game Screen
Apart from the foes in the castle vaults, Berk did have some friends in the place. Boni the skull was quite intelligent - and could be picked up causing him to say something useful (giving you a clue - the downside being it would cost points grrr).

Drutt was a yellow spider that was basically a pest and did little except eat worms. Other creatures slithered and squirmed their way around the castle - some of them were actually ingredients for Things meals!

At the end of the week, if Berk had correctly completed all of his chores then he would get paid. Unfortunately, Thing was not a trusting soul and Berk's wages were sent down via the dumb waiter in a fortified safe. To get your pay you had to figure out how to get inside the safe - not a nice end to the working week.

On Release:
Trapdoor was a popular TV show, and the game was anticipated by many. When it arrived the reaction was positive - Don Priestly had managed to capture the atmosphere of the cartoon perfectly and the large and well animated characters were spot on. Not only that it was technically impressive - using full colour on the characters and the locations with barely any of the dreaded Speccy attribute clash was true brilliance. The concept of the game was pretty original too and solving the puzzles and making the strange meals for Thing was generally a good laugh.

The test of time:
Because Trapdoor was based on a show it doesn't seem too dated - the game matched the look of the TV programme perfectly. This classic game hits nostalgia on two levels, when you play it you remember the game (obviously!) as well as the TV show. The graphics still look nice - and stomping your way around the castle is a pleasant way to pass a bit of time (as long as you play it on learner level). Here in Spectrum Games we have a soft spot for it. Ahhhhhhh.

Open the Trapdoor and take a peek.

Don't you open that trapdoor, You're a fool if you dare.... Stay away from that trapdoor, 'Cos there's something down there....

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Trapdoor for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Puzzle Game)
RELEASE DATE: October of 1986
RELEASED BY: Piranha Software
DEVELOPER(S): Don Priestley
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Berk goes for a wander in Trapdoor in this classic game:


Arcade Games and Classic Games...

ZX Spectrum Game - Terrormolinos - ZX Spectrum classic game

ZX Spectrum Games Terrormolinos
Spectrum Games Terrormolinos
Terrormolinos was a humourous text adventure game from Melbourne House (who went on to become Beam Software).

It was released on the ZX Spectrum towards the end of 1985 and was a novel title as it was based around the traditional British package holiday (The title of the game was a play on the real Spanish tourist destination of Torremolinos located on the Costa Del Sol).

Anyway - this adventure game is well known for it's humour and gentle pokes of fun at the British holiday stereotype. It is also notable for being another successful game created by use of the Quill (a tool for creating text adventures developed by Gilsoft).

The aim of the game was to survive a two-week family package holiday (in the fictional resort of Terrormolinos) with your wife Beryl and the kids Doreen and Ken. They even got the characters names spot on for a Speccy game like this.

You began the game at home (your house in Slough) frantically packing your belongings - and a taxi was on it's way to pick you up and take you and the family to the airport. So the first problem to overcome was to collect all necessary items and make it to the taxi before the driver became impatient and drove away.

Command input was the usual text adventure method (N to move north, S for South, Get Snorkel, Examine sandals etc) which was familiar to ZX Spectrum adventure gamers.

The game displayed how many moves you had made (eg moving North to a new room etc was one move), and conserving your moves as much as possible was the key to a good holiday.

Throughout the game you would go through each stage of a typical holiday such as:

  • Flight to Spain (where you would meet fellow holidaymakers)
  • Checking into your hotel
  • Trip to the beach (where you had to avoid heatstroke)
  • Watch a bull-fight
  • A dip in the sea

There were many more locations in the game to visit, and how you acted in them had a bearing on completing the game.

To complete the game you had to take ten photographs (to prove you were there!) - allowing for a variety of snaps depending on when and where you chose to take them. This is where the real character of the game stood out; at the end of the game the photo's could be reviewed in a slide-show style giving you reminders of your trip. At points during the game you were bound to make a fatal mistake, and a nice snap would appear (perhaps of you being burned to a cinder by the sun) showing your error.

ZX Spectrum Terrormolinos
You only had a total of twelve pictures to take though, so only two pictures could be 'mistakes' (taking snaps in certain locations was a waste of film, but within the game it was usually pretty obvious when to take a snap and when not to).

Terrormolinos was funny from start to finish. Your house in Slough with it's tacky wallpaper and ornaments, the resort hotel, the nightclub complete with terrible dancers throwing their 'moves' and so on. The guys at Melbourne House paid a lot of attention to detail and got the tone and atmosphere of the game just right.

On Release:
Melbourne House had previously released a game in a similar format (Hampstead) which had gone down well with adventure game players so Terrormolinos was highly anticipated. The game did not disappoint and was a big hit - and was even pretty popular with those that did not regularly play adventure games (due to the fact that it did make you laugh and oozed charm). Crash magazine scored it with a Crash Smash award and it was a big hit.

The test of time:
We love a good text adventure in Spectrum Games and this is still a good un. This game is still good for a giggle and suits the era it was made in if you know what I mean. The photo's you have to take have the right look about them - resembling snaps you may get from somewhere like Blackpool seafront or good old Skeggy. If you like old school text adventures and a laugh then you could do a lot worse than Terrormolinos.

Grab your tanning oil and disosable camera, we're off to sunny sunny Spain!

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Terrormolinos for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Text adventure
RELEASE DATE: End of 1985
RELEASED BY: Melbourne House
DEVELOPER(S): Melbourne House
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Even the cassette packaging was suitably kitch in this classic adventure game:
Terrormolinos ZX Spectrum cassette sleeve

Classic Games and Arcade Games

19 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Target Renegade - ZX Spectrum classic game

ZX Spectrum Games Target Renegade
ZX Spectrum Target Renegade
How about a sequel to a fantastic beat em up? The original Renegade had been a roaring success for Imagine Software and the sequel to it, Target Renagade was released for the ZX Spectrum in April 1988.

In true arcade game style you were out for revenge - and would not rest until your brothers killer (Mr Big the gangland boss) has been defeated. But of course in this classic arcade game you had to fight your way through five levels to reach him.

As in the first game, each level represented a different part of the city. You had to battle Mr Big's minions in multi-storey carparks, lush parklands, seedy back streets, a shopping mall and finally Mr Big's bar.

Your character was well versed in martial arts and street fighting and could execute a wide array of moves such as punches, kicks, flying kicks and back kicks. Less refined moves could be used such as a knee to the groin and punching an opponent when they were down - the grittier side of the fighting added more depth to the game.

Many of the henchmen (and henchwomen) were armed with knives, clubs etc which they would drop if you knocked them to the ground. You could pick up these weapons and wade into them with glee. The bald headed snooker queue weilding thugs were particularly tough to overcome, but once you collected a discarded queue you could clean house if you timed your blows well.

ZX Spectrum our Renegade prepares to dole out some pain
As in the first in the series on the ZX Spectrum you began this classic game with three lives and each life had an energy bar. Taking hits reduced your energy and if it reached zero you would lose a life.

The game also had a two-player co-operative mode (a la Double Dragon) so you and a friend could team up and dish out justice - in co-op mode there were a lot more enemies to dispatch though, which was fair enough I suppose.

The game was completed if you managed to defeat Mr Big (after finally getting through his legion of bouncers and door staff) - not easy as he could 'bear hug' you to death. As usual for these games a certain strategy was needed to beat the big boss.

On Release:
Because Renegade had been so popular (and controversial due to the violence) a follow up was wanted by Spectrum gamers. Target Renegade was actually better than the first game and upped the ante in terms of fighting and violent content. The variety of enemies to fight and differing locations (which were all nicely drawn and detailled) were excellent and beating up the thugs (ladies of the night, hell's angels, bar bouncers etc) was great fun. This arcade game was another big hit for Imagine and received the seal of approval 'Crash Smash' award from the popular gaming mag, Crash Magazine.

The test of time:
I have to admit to loving this game back then, and I still enjoy it even now. It's a bit simple by todays standards but the playability is still there and it's not easy to make your way through the levels (although that maybe just because my reflexes are not as sharp these days!) You can't beat a bit of mindless punching, kneeing and headbutting to wind down at the end of the day. Anyway - here in Spectrum Games we reckon that this one goes down as a classic arcade game on the Speccy.

Your a big man but you're in bad shape, so stick this classc game on or I'll have to splap ya.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Target Renegade for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Beat em up)
RELEASE DATE: April 1988
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Lamb
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Our hero fights his way through the car park in classic arcade game...


Arcade Games and Classic Games

18 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Viper III - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Viper III
Every now and again we will have to look at a classic game that was, well let's say, a bit of a turkey. Well, Viper III has the honour of being the first game we look at that really wasn't good. At all.

Released by Mastertronic for the ZX Spectrum in 1984, this was another game in their large budget range that retailed at £1.99.

An evil race of galactic bad boys called the Quardons had invaded the peaceful planet of Nimea.

It was up to you to take your squadron of ace fighters and free the peace lovers from the clutches of tyranny. Apparently this was your hardest mission yet! Dun dun daaaahh.

ZX Spectrum Viper III
The loading screen is better than the game itself...
Because you had travelled far far away to save this troubled land you didn't have much in the way of fuel.

All of your skill and concentration was needed to manoeuvre safely through the attacking Quardons, using lazer fire in short controlled bursts. Ok, classic arcade game on!

This sideways scrolling arcade game used very basic graphics and sound effects to display the action. The aim of the game was to try and pick up the fleeing Nimean refugees whilst destroying the Quardon's base defences.

Once you had reached the end of the level it was a quick search and pickup of fuel in order to continue the mission (if you could be bothered).

The awesome detailed graphics of Viper III This game would have been acceptable in 1982 during the early stages of Spectrum games development, but by 1984 Spectrum gamers had been treated to the likes of TLL, Jet Set Willy, Lode Runner and other polished releases.

We have to cut it some slack as it was a budget release, and for £1.99 you never really expected much - and there were worse titles you could pick up in the same price bracket.

I remember owning this game way back when and it really was far too basic in every way (gameplay, graphics, sound) even then. It was games such as this that (somewhat unfairly) gave rise to the 'Masterchronic' moniker.

Mastertronic would improve their reputation ten fold over the next year or so with quality titles (such as the Magic Knight series of games).

Get yourself some Sinclair hardware if you can. If you want to try this game you could download it for a ZX Spectrum emulator. Perhaps you could even play it online.

Please see our other classic game reviews - all links are in alphabetical order. Cheers all.

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: 1984
RELEASED BY: Mastertronic
DEVELOPER(S): Mark Pollard
PRICE: £1.99 - UK
Mart tries to keep fast and low...


Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

16 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Stunt Car Racer - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Games Stunt Car Racer
ZX Spectrum Games Stunt Car Racer
This 3D racing simulator was perhaps most famous for the version that graced the Commodore Amiga - but Micro Style (and legendary 3D developer Pete Cooke) managed to replicate it very well for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum - considering the difference in capabilities of the two machines.

Stunt Car Racer was released on the Sinclair Spectrum late in 1989 (almost 20 years ago - I feel old!) and proved that there was still plenty of life left in the old dog.

This game was set in the future and was supposed to have taken over from Formula 1 motor racing; future racing fans craved more excitement and in the 21st centure Stunt Car Racing is introduced. Each race track was a large structure much like an old time roller coaster. It's definately brown trousers time.

The aim of Stunt Car Racer was fairly simple; rise from the depths of racing division four to the top of racing division one. Each division has two tracks to overcome:

  • Hump Back and Little Ramp in division four
  • Big Ramp and Stepping Stones in division three
  • Roller Coaster and High Jump in division two
  • Draw Bridge and Ski Jump in division one
The game was viewed from the cockpit of your stunt car (a powerful front mounted V8 turbo-charged dragster looking beast capable of 300MPH - Jeremy Clarkson's wet dream) which gave a drivers eye view of the proceedings.

The game allowed you to view each track from different angles (so you could have an idea of what to expect) and also to practice driving the tracks as much as you liked. Once you had the hang of the car and track(s) it was time to race for real.

Your car was winched up into the air and dropped on the starting line of the track, your front tyres and suspension bouncing as you were put in place. Already the game gave you a sense of height - each track was elevated quite highly from the ground.

ZX Spectrum Games Stunt Car Racing In Game
Once you were off it was high banked corners, bumps and dips in the track, and huge jumps that would send you soaring through the air. Your car was a tough old boot, but should you abuse it too much, a crack would appear (at the top of the screen) and would work it's way from left to right as more damage was inflicted. If the 'crack' made it all the way across the screen then that was it; your car was buggered and you were out of the race.

If you flew off the track completely then a lot of damage would be incurred and you would have to wait (what seemed for ages) whilst you were winched back onto the track.

Micro Style really managed to get the 3D perspective right in Stunt Car Racer - the sense of height as you sped over a jump and sailed through the air was spot on - it had that right 'roller coaster' feeling to it.

With eleven other racers to compete against and crazy tracks which got progressively more difficult, Stunt Car Racer was a white knucke ride that got your adrenalin pumping!

On Release:
When Stunt Car Racer was released Spectrum gamers loved the 3D action and sense of speed the game gave you. The action was fast and intense, and throwing your car around steep bends and over huge jumps was brilliant fun. The only downside was the simplicity of the graphics, and next to the Stunt Car Racer Amiga version(Amiga Games our brother site) well there was no comparison. Still, when you were burning along at 300MPH you didn't really have time to take in the scenery!

The test of time:
Here in the land of ZX Spectrum Games we reckon if you ignore the simple graphics then Stunt Car Racer is still enjoyable. The sense of speed and 'grabbing some air' is still in there, and racing round the tracks is good for a laugh. Nice and simple, Stunt Car Racer still works.

Grab a pair of driving gloves and your old BMX helmet and load up Stunt Car Racer - fans of racing games will love it.

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Stunt Car Racer for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: 3D Racer
RELEASE DATE: December of 1989
RELEASED BY: Micro Style
DEVELOPER(S): Pete Cooke
PRICE: £9.99 on cassette, £14.99 on disk - UK

3D driving action with Stunt Car Racer in ZX Spectrum Games:

ZX Spectrum Games - You are a programming genious - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum BASICYou are a programming genious
Yep - the famous 20 GOTO 10 loop that 99% of us typed into our ZX Spectrums. It was our 'hello world', our first foray into computer programming and we loved it.

Your name could scroll and scroll down the screen, as long as kept pressing 'y'.

Showing this technical feat to parents, friends, family members etc was probably the proudest moment of the week. Maybe even the month.

That was until you read an issue of input magazine or some programming section of a monthly Spectrum magazine. Now, with advanced techniques like variables and increments in loops, you were well on your way to writing your first game.

ZX Spectrum BASIC That was until you realised you needed to know about movement, collision detection, frames of animation....

Many of the 'bedroom programmer' brigade eventually made it commercially from roots like this - and that is what made the ZX Spectrum Games scene such a joy. On many (good) arcade games only one programmer did everything: graphics, logic code, sound effects, music, title screen...

The BASIC installed on the ZX Spectrum wasn't even the best around, but it was usable and relatively easy to learn, and it would sometimes even make you laugh.

"What do ya mean Nonscense in BASIC!" I was known to shout at my tv screen from time to time. Whoever programmed that little bit of the ROM sure had a good sense of humour.

Some of us (not me!) even made the leap to assembly language and developed smooth and fast moving classic games.

Anyway, simple little snippets of BASIC code like this could keep us amused for hours...

15 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Dynamite Dan 2 - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Dynamite Dan 2

Dynamite Dan had been a huge hit for Rod Bowkett and Mirrorsoft, so naturally a sequel was always going to be developed for the ZX Spectrum.

This one was released late summer of 1986 - and once again another D Dan arcade game was a huge hit.

Rod Bowkett created another fine platform game (and sequel) for the ZX Spectrum.


ZX Spectrum Games Dynamite Dan IIThe evil Dr Blitzen was up to his old tricks, and our hero Dynamite Dan was sent in to save the day. He had set up a new headquarters within a group of eight islands (The Islands of Arcanum) and in the usual mad professor megalomaniac way had laid dastardly plans for world domination. Muha ha haaa.

His latest idea was to destroy the youth of the world by planting subliminal sound waves in records (not CD's or MP3's - it was the 80's remember!)

Unaware of this deadly threat, those young folks would listen to their favourite songs on vinyl their minds being gradually destroyed. Without Dan, all would be lost and Dr Blitzen would take over. Another fantastic ZX Spectrum arcade game plot!

It was up to our Dan to infiltrate Dr Blitzen's headquarters, locate the record pressing plant and blow it to kingdom come. To do this Dan had to explore all eight islands (that made up Arcanum) which would give you the password to access the plant.

In a nice feature, a jukebox and record was present on each island and playing this record would reveal part of the password. You could then jump into the trusty airship and move to the next island. Breaking the game up into 8 islands (stages) was a great idea by Bowkett.

The usual nasties (usual for these classic platform games) were out to get you and make your life difficult. Robotic minions and monsters would attempt to drain Dan's energy level - some would even steal items from you. Dan could replenish lost energy by eating the bowls of fruit and drinking the cups of tea dotted around the levels.

As in the original game, Dan could walk left and right and perform pretty hefty jumps to negotiate his way around the levels.

ZX Spectrum Games Dynamite Dan 2 In Game
To improve on the original, various bonus items could be collected which powered you up for a while. Bombs could be used to blast away doors, and some levels had secret passages on them - finding these areas was not always easy.

In another improvement over the first game, the difficulty level had been tweaked. Dynamite Dan was an incredibly difficult game, and Rod Bowkett had taken this on board and made the sequel a little easier.

Dynamite Dan II was a very good arcade platform game that ranked alongside Jet Set Willy and Technician Ted. It had just the right mix of action, puzzles and wacky graphics. A good game.

On release:
This had been pretty highly anticipated because the original game had been so well received. Fans of the original needn't have worried, the sequel was even better than the first game. It was more playable, had slightly better graphics, great sound effects and more features. Once again, Rod Bowkett (and Mirrorsoft) had a Crash Smash on their hands.

The test of time:
Fans of platform games will still enjoy Dynamite Dan 2, and we here in Spectrum Games reckon that it is one of the better platformers you could get for the machine. Dynamite Dan 2 is still fun to play and has the right amount of 'wackiness' in it to make you want to have another go. Not bad at all. I don't think Rod Bowkett created any more games for the Speccy, which is a shame as the guy was obviously talented.

Give Dynamite Dan 2 a go - it's still a bit of a blast.

DAN!.... DAN!.... DAN!

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Dynamite Dan 2 for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Platform Game (Arcade Game)
RELEASE DATE: September of 1986
RELEASED BY: Mirrorsoft
DEVELOPER(S): Rod Bowkett
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Dan starts to exlore the first island in Dynamite Dan 2 - classic arcade action:

Classic Games and Arcade Games

14 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Yie Ar Kung Fu - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Yie Ar Kung Fu
Yie Ar Kung Fu was a famous arcade game that featured martial arts. Imagine Software were given the task of converting it to the ZX Spectrum, and they released this conversion early in 1986.

The original arcade game was by Japanese gaming giants Konami, and Imagine managed to re-create the same opponents and controls on the ZX Spectrum version as well as two of the backdrops from the coin-op version. Not bad going.

ZX Spectrum Yie Ar Kung Fu
The scenario of the game was, as usual, pretty simple. You took control of our hero, a master of Kung Fu called Oolong. To fulfill his destiny he had to follow in the his fathers footsteps and honour his family name by becoming a Kung Fu Grand Master. The only way to do this was to defeat the opponents who confronted him on this noble quest. Let the fighting commence!

One cool aspect of Yie Ar Kung Fu was the fact that some of your adversaries were a little bizzare. From huge giant fighters (who could defy the laws of gravity and fly across the screen at you) to cute female warriers who had a laugh trying to kill with razor sharp and very deadly fans.

Our fighter Oolong had plenty of Kung Fu moves at his disposal, sixteen in all. All moves were accessed via the joystick or nine keys, in a similar fashion to International Karate and Way of the Exploding Fist.

The usual moves were available to you, such as a roundhouse kick, leg sweep, body punch and so on. The moves were executed in a style of Kung Fu (rather than Karate which had featured in other fighting games) - and the slight fantasy element of the game allowed for more exotic moves. Aside from the 'usual' moves you could also perform huge bounding jumps, leaping punches and so on. As was usual for martial arts games, points were awared for landing blows and if you racked up 20,000 points then the game would give you an extra life. Nice.

ZX Spectrum Games Yie Ar Kung Fu Game ScreenWhen fighting you had the three different modes to choose from:

  • Walking mode - so you could erm, walk from left to right

  • Punching mode - so you could punch your opponent

  • Kicking mode - I'll let you work out the last mode yourself

You began each level in walking mode and when you moved into fighting range of your opponent you had the option of being able to either kick or use your fists.

In true beat em up fashion both you and your opponent were given a certain amount of energy at the start of each bout. The energy bar was shown on-screen which diminished slightly with each hit. Defeating your opponent was a matter of reducing his or her energy bar to zero before yours did.

If you managed to knock the crap out your opponent then you were moved to the next level to face a more skilled fighter - with your energy level restored to maximum. If you were defeated then one of your five lives was lost and you had to face the same opponent again.

Each combatant had a different style of fighting - and the whole 'philosophy' of tha game was that you needed to modify your fighting strategy in order to win each different bout. Some of the opponents (rather unfairly!) carried weapons such as throwing stars, shields, poles, sticks, and the aforementioned deadly fans.

If you managed to defeat the final opponent Oolong became a Grand Master. Rather than putting your feet up an sipping cold beers to celebrate, Oolong had to challenge the same set of opponents all over again - and as usual for these games they were a little more skilled and a little quicker.

On Release:
Yie Ar Kung Fu was a very popular arcade game at the time (although I always preferred Karate Champ) and a home conversion was always on the cards. Martial Arts games were very popular in the mid 1980's (and still are) and this was a decent one for the ZX Spectrum. Whilst never as good as the classic Exploding Fist, Yie Ar Kung Fu was a pretty good conversion by Imagine software. All of the opponents were in there complete with their respective weapons, and a decent version of the famous waterfall background from the original was there also. Plenty of gamers lapped it up and enjoyed the variety of opponents who all had a different set of moves.

The test of time:
Here in the land of Spectrum Games we reckon that Yie Ar Kung Fu has not aged at all well. It cannot stand against Melbourne House's classic arcade Karate sim (Exploding Fist), the simple animation of the fighting characters is the main drawback. At risk of revealing a spoiler here, you soon realise after a few goes that you can pretty much defeat each fighter with the same couple of moves. Yie Ar is worth a go for nostalgia - and it still side slaps Rise of the Robots into the gutter.

I would say give it a go for a laugh. After all, you can get medieval on each opponents asses with ease.

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting.... Those kids were as fast as lightning... etc etc

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Yie Ar Kung. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Beat em up)
RELEASE DATE: Early 1986
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software
DEVELOPER(S): Imagine
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Oolong kicks, jumps and punches through a few opponents in some classic arcade action:



Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

10 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Twin Kingdom Valley - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Games Twin Kingdom Valley

ZX Spectrum Twin Kingdom Valley
Twin Kindom Valley was a graphical text adventure game released for the ZX Spectrum by Bug Byte software in 1984.

Twin Kingdom Valley was a mythical place where two kings lived. In the game, both sets of royalty had a strong dislike for each other, and the details of this were given to you at the start of the game.

This ZX Spectrum adventure was notable for it's many options, allowing you to tailor the gameplay to suit your needs. You could have no graphics, always show graphics, only show graphics in a place you have not visited, long text descriptions of the location and so on. Impressive stuff.

The aim of the game was to make yourself rich by collecting as much treasure as possible and stashing it away in your rented hut. Simple enough to tempt even the novice adventurer.

There were touches in the game such as graphics of buildings getting larger with each move towards it (a bit like Lords of Midnight) and various characters wandering around the valley, going about their business. Some of these characters would attack you - so an early priority was to get yourself some weapons (broadswords and wooden clubs were pretty good) for offensive use.

ZX Spectrum Twin Kingdom Valley Start Location There were 150 locations in all, ranging from forests, caves, the obligatory maze, castles and even an inn. Visiting the inn could be fun, but repeated drinking of beer sapped your health (not as much as being hit with a sword though!)

Your health level could be restored by finding a safe spot and waiting - but don't wait around too long without some water to drink.

The usual commands were available, N,S,E,W, Look, Examing etc - the verb/noun parser was pretty good and didn't really hit you with any strange demands or wording to solve puzzles.

As usual, items collected would prove useful later in the game (keys to open doors, jugs to carry water etc etc) and the game had enough depth to keep you interested. With it's many locations, touches and humour and interesting characters, Twin Kindom Valley was a decent adventure game for the ZX Spectrum that was not overly taxing.

An interesting point was Twin Kingdom Valley supported the Currah Microspeech unit - it would read each location description to you as you moved around the game. Let me tell you it could get really annoying after a while!

All in all, Twin Kindom Valley was a decent adventure on the Spectrum and was perhaps suited to the more casual adventurer.

Another forest location in the classic Twin Kingdom Valley on Spectrum Games:
ZX Spectrum Games Twin Kingdom Valley

9 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Driller - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Driller
Driller for the ZX Spectrum was released by Incentive Software, who were already well known for their excellent programming utility 'The Graphic Adventure Creator' (GAC) and the brilliant arcade game Moon Cresta.

When this game was released for the Speccy in December of 1987 it was one of those games that everybody talked about. The true 3D playing area with freedom of movement was finally here.

The game took place on a distant moon called Mitral. This planet had (in the past) been mined by exiled criminals - and the mining had caused gas to slowly build up below the surface. Enter you, a space faring drilling expert (not Harry Stamper!) to draw the gas off and prevent Mitral from exploding.


ZX Spectrum Games Driller
A true 3D environment was here to explore...
 In this fine classic game you explored the deserted moon, locating pockets of gas and placing rigs in each of it's 18 sectors. The game was impressive and used the solid 3D, all-around-viewing system 'Freescape', which was used for the first time ever in Driller.

Freescape was promoted at the time as 'the new dimension' - and it was totally amazing at the time.

ZX Spectrum Games Driller In Game Screen
For the first time in ZX Spectrum gaming - it was possible to wander freely around a proper '3D world'.

The planet was represented to you in full 3D solid graphics which you could move around in (in the game you were manning an excavation probe) - allowing you to rotate around and view objects and buildings from almost any angle. This was the first time in 8-bit gaming where you were placed right inside a virtual world.

Not only was this world represented in 3D, objects behind other objects would be hidden from your view - a change from 'transparent' vector graphics - another jaw dropping feature.

Mitral was made up of large open squares. These square were surrounded by walls, block buildings, trenches, steps and acid rivers.

The whole planet was devoid of life, and this emptiness actually added atmosphere to the game. Automatic laser beacons fired upon you (if they detected you) and your vehicles defensive shield was depleted by repeated hits.

But this was Freescape - and you could retreat out of the lasers range or even get behind it - thus preventing it from shooting at you. Wonderful.

It was possible to hit back though if you fancied more than just being sneaky; your craft was also armed with guns so you could shoot back or even destroy the lasers power supply and render it useless.

An audible warning would alert you to the presence of an orbital scanner, and the only course of action here was to take evasive action.

For more mobile exploration you could dock with a reconnaissance jet, (not always easy to find!)
The jet was housed inside a hangar - and you had to solve a puzzle before being allowed to dock with it.

Once docked you could fly the jet over the surface of Mitral and land anywhere you fancied - making exploring the virtual world easier.

There were also teleports on the planet which you could use to move from point to point- again by the solving of a puzzle.

But the object of this classic game was unsurprisingly, drilling. When you located a gas pocket, a rig could be beamed down to Mitral's surface and positioned over the pocket where it would begin to syphon off the gas.

Once more than 50% of the gas had been 'sucked out', the current sector you were in was marked as safe.

Once a sector had been made safe the you could reach then next by travelling through doorways in walls, blasting away obstructions, or by teleporting.

The game was played against the clock. It gave you just four hours and eight seconds (stange time limit) to complete it - barely enough time to go sight seeing. Pah!

On Release:
As you may have guessed, this title was an amazing game when it was released on the ZX Spectrum. The whole '3D World' (and the Freescape engine) that you were immersed in was astounding - and in 1987 probably represented the pinnacle of graphical acheivements on the Speccy. Once you got over the landscape you realised that Incentive's program was a compelling and addictive game. It was regarded as an instant classic and was so popular that a sequel (the excellent Darkside) would be released a year or two later. Even at the high price of £14.95 gamers lapped it up.

The test of time:
I don't know about you, but I can still remember the utter awesomeness this game generated when it came out. Today 3D games are plentiful, but back in 1987 true 3D worlds were hard to come by! Of course that graphics are nothing special anymore - nor is the concept, but this game must go down as a pioneer in the field of 3D rendering, and helped to pave the way for future games such as the classic PC game Descent. Here in our own little world of Spectrum games we salute Incentive Software for what they accomplished.

Play it again, you too will feel alone in the cold blackness of a lifeless planet... A bit like my place of work!

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download this game for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: 3D Arcade Strategy
RELEASE DATE: December of 1987
RELEASED BY: Incentive Software
DEVELOPER(S): Major Developments
PRICE: £14.95 - UK

Mart explorers the lifeless Mitral...


A true classic game.

8 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Starglider - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Starglider
Starglider was a 3D vector graphics game released by Rainbird Software in December of 1986.

The developers of the game were those 3D specialists Realtime Software, who had already given Spectrum Gamers some excellent titles in Starstrike 1 and 2 and the classic arcade Battlezone type game 3D Tank Duel.

Anyway, Realtime and Rainbird did it again with the excellent Starglider, another brilliant addition to the ranks of 3D vector space games.

ZX Spectrum Games Starglider

There were two versions released, on for the standard 48K Spectrum and another (with enhanced features) for the Spectrum 128 and Spectrum +2. This review will concentrate on the enhanced '128' version.

Starglider had a nice backstory to set the scene in true classic gaming fashion:
For many years in a galaxy far, far away... the planet of Novenia was at peace. An automated defence system (The Sentinels) had kept unwelcome callers from outer space at bay. These huge sentinels had one policy - shoot first, ask questions later.

This rather ruthless policy worked well for a long time, until The Sentinels destroyed a harmless flock of protected interplanetary migratory birds known as Stargliders.

Under orders from Inter-Galactic green brigade, The Sentinels were immediately reprogrammed not to shoot down these harmless and gracefull creatures.

The ruthless Egrons hatched a plan to finally conquer Novenia. They disguised some ships as Stargliders and used them to bypass the Sentinel defences. With no other armed forces at all Novenia soon fell under the rule of the evil Egrons. Which was no doubt a bit of a drag.

Two Sentinel repair workers (Jason and Katra) witnessed the attack on Novenia from the safety of one of Novenia's moons. Our two heroes embark on a mission - to destroy the invading aliens using an obsolete museum fighter equipped with lasers and the capability of carrying two missiles. This is where you come in...


ZX Spectrum Games Starglider Cockpit View
In this (another of our classic ZX Spectrum Games) there were more than sixteen different types of enemy craft to destroy. Each craft had to be dealt with in a slightly different way.

The action took place over the now barren land of Novenia. You had to guide your antiquated fighter around the dusty atmosphere using a co-ordinate system which divided the surface of the planet into a 100X100 grid.

The game had plenty of options for you to get your teeth into before commencing the game.
Two types of gun sight were available to you which were fixed or floating.

Before starting the game it was up to you to choose which one you desired. Floating sights affected the control of the ship - it 'followed' the sights as you moved the sight around.

Fixed sights (like a classic WW2 fighter) remained in the centre of the screen, and the ship had to be manoeuvred until the enemy craft appeared inside the target square.

An optional centering system could also be enabled or disabled at the start of the game. Automatic centering could be set on either the vertical or the horizontal axis, in all directions, or not at all.

Fully automatic centering was handy for the player as it returned your ship to straight and level flight when you left the controls alone.

This enhanced version of Starglider also included digitised speech (which would inform you of events as you were mid-mission), a superb three channel title tune and extra missions that either involved destroying an invader or picking up some extra powerups for your craft.

Custom add-ons included super missiles which had a longer range, power packs which temporarily negated the need for you to refuel, and a rear view mirror (being able to 'see' the action behind you was very impressive at the time).

Once you made it to the latter levels you needed these extra power-ups as the enemies were more deadly than in the standard 48K version.

Repair depots dotted the Novenian landscape and you could enter them with careful flying to fix up your craft and pick up a missile (as long as you didn't already have two fitted).

Your ships instrument panel displayed horizontal bars showing shield strength, power reserves and a fuel guage. Two vertical indicators showed how high you were and how fast you were travelling. The height bar would warn you and flash red if the craft went too close to the ground - hitting the ground was a quick way to drain your shields.

In another smart piece of coding the game would switch to 'missile view' whenever you fired a missile. You had to 'home' the missile in on target before it ran out of fuel - which could be a little tricky. The 'super missiles' gave you a longer flight time to find your target.

Three missile hits were required to destroy a main enemy fighter, and when you did an instant replay of the destruction was showed to you - yet another great touch by the programmers.

10,000 points later and you were onto the next level and the game became more difficult...

On Release:
Starglider was heralded on it's release due to it's polished presentation (the cassette was even accompanied by a 64 page novel), supberb sound effects (including speech you could actually understand!), smooth and well animated vector graphics and excellent gameplay.

This game had a perfect mix of arcade action and tactics - you had to plan your routes across the planet and know where to pick up your repairs and extra missiles. The 128 version had worthwile enhancements over the 48K version - using the extra capabilities of the machine well. Crash magazine awared (the 128 version) an overall score of 97%. Even though Starglider retailled at a whopping £14.95 the depth of the gameplay and bundled novel justified the high price.

The test of time:
Your humble reviewer here remembers Starglider very well. In amongst the vast ZX Spectrum games that are available, Starglider remains one of the best vector shoot em up's you can get. The animation is still pretty good and the game moves along at a fair old pace. Still playable, Rainbird's classic is worth digging out again. Oh, and the digitised voice is pretty sexy too.

This classic game is definately worth playing after all these years.

Give this one a go and glide again.

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Starglider for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: 3D Vector Game (Arcade Game)
RELEASE DATE: Christmas 1986
RELEASED BY: Rainbird
DEVELOPER(S): Realtime Software
PRICE: £14.95 - UK

Mart tries to recapture his youth (and fails) in Starglider - Classic Gaming:



Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

6 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Chuckie Egg- ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Chuckie Egg
Chuckie Egg for the ZX Spectrum is widely regarded as a cult classic platform game.

Released in early 1984 by A&F Software, Nigel Alderton (who was only 17 years old at the time) had created a game that was one of the better titles in the genre as soon as it was released.

Nigel would go on to work on other classic ZX Spectrum games over the next couple of years including the excellent arcade conversions of Commando and Ghosts n Goblins.

ZX Spectrum Chuckie Egg
In Chuckie Egg, our hero was a portly little dude sporting a big hat named Hen House Harry (you'd only get these names in the 80's eh?) You had to work your way around the game screen collecting the dozen eggs as you went whilst avoiding the roaming and agitated chickens.

All of this was done against the clock, which counted down relentlessly as you ran around the screen.

The screens were nicely designed at the time, putting many of the eggs in hard to reach places. The screens were drawn with combinations of short platforms, ladders allowing you to move up and down and elevators which you could step on to and off with good timing.

You would begin the game with five lives and you would lose one of these by touching a hen (how did hens become so deadly?) or by falling through a gap at the bottom of the screen (some platforms had gaps in them which had to be jumped across.)

ZX Spectrum Games Chuckie Egg In Game Screen
There were piles of bird-seed dotted around the screens which could be collected for bonus points. Collecting the seeds also paused the countdown timer for a few seconds - which could make all the difference to you on the more difficult levels.

A hen would also stop and eat any seed it walked over, which could be advantageous for you as the hen would stop and eat whilst you went around collecting the eggs.

Hen House Harry had the usual platform moves, go left, go right and jump. There were eight levels to play through in total all which had a caged duck at the topmost area of the screen. If you managed to complete all eight levels then the game would go back to level one, this time with the now un-caged duck chasing you as you attempted to collect the eggs. The duck could move around more freely than the hens - it was not affected by the layout of the platforms at all.

On Release:
Chuckie Egg was well received when it was released. ZX Spectrum gamers enjoyed the tricky screen layouts and the fast paced action. Each level took a fair bit of planning to play through, the design of the screens was pretty impressive. This gameplay coupled with the bright colours and nice animation ensured that Chuckie Egg was an instant hit. One drawback was the relatively high price of £7.90 - but the game went on to be a big hit nevertheless.

The test of time:
Here in the our homage to Spectrum Games we reckon that Chuckie Egg remains a platform / arcade classic. Of course it is a very simple game, but the action is still pretty fast, and you have to work out how best to beat each level. Once the duck is released things heat up a lot - I can't believe I used to be able to beat it! As far as platformers go, the later levels will scramble you. It may even make you crack up. Whilst not on the same level as Manic Miner or Tecnhician Ted, Chuckie Egg remains a cult classic platform game.

This classic ZX Spectrum game is definately worth cracking after all these years.

Give this one a go and bring it home to roost. Try not to get too egg-sited though.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Chuckie Egg for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Platform game (Arcade game)
RELEASE DATE: Early 1984
RELEASED BY: A&F Software
DEVELOPER(S): Nigel Alderton
PRICE: £7.90 - UK

Hen House Harry ambles around level 1 in Chuckie Egg - classic arcade action:


Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

4 Jul 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Pac Man - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Pac Man
Pac Man is probably one of the most famous arcade games ever, and this conversion by Atarisoft was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1984. The arcade game had first hit Japan in 1980, with units popping up in the USA shortly after. For the ZX Spectrum (and general home gamers) the 1984 release was probably a little too late.

Almost everyone in the known galaxy knows the PacMan game, but for those of you who have been living on Dantooine for the last thirty years, here is a quick rundown:

ZX Spectrum Games Pac Man
The player controlled Pac-Man through a maze eating pac-dots. If you managed to eat all of the dots Pac-Man was taken to the next stage. All the while, four ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) roamed the maze trying to catch Pac-Man. If a ghost touched Pac-Man, a life was lost. Once all lives had been lost the game was over. Pac-Man could be awarded a single bonus life at 10,000 points - if you were a competent player.

Near the four corners of the maze were larger flashing dots known as power pellets. These pellets empowered Pac-Man with a temporary ability to eat the ghosts. When this was active the ghosts would turn a light blue (cyan) colour, reverse direction, and usually move more slowly.

Pac Man ZX Spectrum
When a ghost was eaten, its eyes returned to the 'ghost home' (in the centre of the maze) where it was regenerated. Blue ghosts flashed white before they turned dangerous again and the amount of time the ghosts remained vulnerable varied from one level to the next. The time period generally became shorter as you progressed through the game.

In addition to Pac-dots and power pills, bonus fruits appeared near the center of the maze which could be munched for extra bonus points. These items increased in points value throughout the game.

On Release:
When Pac Man was released for the ZX Spectrum, the arcade game had already been on the go for around four years. Whist still popular, arcade goers and Speccy gamers had been treated to far more advanced offerings, and Pac Man was unfortunately a little bit 'old hat'. Still, it was nice to have an official conversion of the game - (there had been blatant copies of Pac Man such as Munchman) it's just a shame that the ZX Spectrum could not quite capture the magic of the original game. The famous Pac tune and sound effects could not be reproduced which was (and still is) part of Pac Man's charm.

The test of time:
Unfortunately old father time has not been kind to the ZX Spectrum version of Pac Man. Here in the land of ZX Spectrum games we acknowledge that Pac Man is a landmark in gaming history - but this version here is not a landmark in ZX Spectrum gaming history. The version was barely adequate at the time, and these days it really does not hold up. Worth a go purely for nostalgia.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Pacman Game)
RELEASE DATE: 1984
RELEASED BY: AtariSoft
DEVELOPER(S): AtariSoft
PRICE:?

The Speccy version of Pac-Man does not quite manage to capture the magic of the arcade game:



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