Friday, 17 August 2012

8 bits, 1 byte - Part 2 (2/2)

*This isn't anything new, but just improved upon.*

Now for the games – or more accurately, what games I played and there’s a whole plethora of brilliance, awfulness and legacy.

The names and ideas of some would border on insanity and like the Speccy, had many exclusives and were multi-ported to other systems.

Those who created these mind-boggling messes were subject to much drug-taking.

Naturally, every game mentioned won’t be a classic and I question why some could be any good at all.  Maybe it was their obscurity and/or title but rest assured – they were horrendous.

Expect Thalamus and Rainbow Arts to be mentioned ‘occasionally’...

As with the Speccy feature, this is in no particular order and all kinds of comments will follow...

Shift and Run/Stop
C64 Playlist

Some or most may well have been available on other mediums (such as disc) but I only had them on tape.

Jaws, A.S.D 1989

What a great idea.

Adapting a video game from an absolute classic movie, 14 years after it was released.

So I’d expect it to be some kind of strategic survival horror, nervously plotting my next move against three tonnes of instant white death.... The result however, was very obscure.

I think you were supposed to be Brody, in some kind of non-featured submersible, hunting the depths of the ocean for some gun parts needed to kill Jaws, who was prowling around the surface.

If underwater creatures flashed, that indicated they were invincible unless you had a special weapon.  Enemies sprayed bullets and had easy to work out attack patterns.  To fight back, you too had similar firepower and I think had different variations like bouncing bullets.

So remember all that happening in the film?

Rest assured this game was awful, the shark sprite was even worse and the main things I remember were sounds of constant air breathing and the terrible Jaws theme.

That’s a bit harsh, as it was sort of recognisable.

Smile you son of a bitch.

Tiger Road, Capcom 1987

This was fairly standard stuff and pretty tedious.  Ported from a Capcom arcade, hack and slash platforming action with a ninja theme.

Denaris, Softgold/Rainbow Arts 1989

Before getting to the game, this was first released as Katakis in 1987 but it was later re-released as Denaris due to legal problems with Activision labelling it a blatant rip-off of their release of side scrolling shooter R-Type.  But of course, no other game in history has ever ripped off anything from another game...

It would later be referenced in Turrican 2 as before the game turns into an epic shooter, after some mystery you’d emerge as a spaceship and you could also see a force hanging about.  Also, 'Katakis Lives' was shown when a special enemy was shot...

So back to whatever you want to call it.

Denaris was simply fantastic and was a string of brilliant games entirely done by C64 Gods Manfred Trenz and Andreas Escher, with music by Chris Huelsbeck.

Its graphics blew you away, had great sound, an endless array of enemies and brilliant bosses.
There were many nods towards R-Type as it had a force and a charge beam.  The force appeared when you shot a shuttle and then (like R-Type) got better as you collected further power-ups.

The weapons included blue stars, lazer, additional homing missiles and a reflection lazer.

It had a really novel simultaneous 2P mode as one player controlled the force and the other, fairly obviously the ship which led to some interesting early co-op play.

Your shoot weapon started as a basic pea-shooter but collecting red spheres (left by enemies) which turned your current bullet white and then upgraded to a more powerful weapon.  After countless upgrades, it turned into a white fireball which really kicked arse.

Other similar spheres rewarded bonus points, smart bomb and a temporary shield, in the colours of grey, yellow and blue respectively.

From the outset I knew I was in for something really special as the first stage featured an asteroid field, awesome music and a great looking, albeit very easy boss.  It didn’t let up as the bosses just continued to impress, and then some.

Many backgrounds were multi-layered parallax so unlike so many others, they created a feeling of depth.

Astonishing stuff!

The music was sometimes very moody and suited the level it was set against.  Level 8 was suitably menacing.

The attack patterns and enemy placements got nasty, as did the randomness of certain enemies and bullets.  I always remember level 4’s boss having unpredictable movement and was just pot luck if you lived or died.

Speaking of bosses, especially in the later levels - if you didn’t anticipate the position, it was bye bye baby.  Fairly unfair to me that, and then even if you got the latter right, bullets that weren’t supposed to appear, would.  Nightmare.

What was even more fucked up, is that you had a time limit on some if not all and they launched an unavoidable charge resulting in certain death.

Not stopping there, for some unknown reason - Level 11 nicked your pod off you.  Why?

Stage 5’s music sounded very familiar to the not so good film franchise, Delta Force starring Chuck Norris.

Stage 6 featured a mothership and while it didn’t do much, OMG the graphics were amazing.

Level 7 had a flea boss that looked identical to the front cover of Sidewize.  I’ve no idea if it was a boss for that game or just artwork but nevertheless, a total rip off.  In fact, I don’t know who ripped off who as Sidewize was also released in 1987.

Anyway, Sidewize totally ripped off another game called Sidearms.  Confusing stuff eh!

The end boss was a shameless rip-off of Alien and the ending was pretty good.

Turrican 2 would have a similar ending and also feature The Machine...

The ending had some odd things.

MT and AE thanked you for playing it to the end.

Hi to all people who produce good arardes.

'Arardes'?  Brilliant proof-reading there as it should have been arcades.

So it had 12 very short stages, 12 pretty simple bosses and some unfair elements but that’s irrelevant as it was definitely one of the best shooters on the C64.

If I could change one thing, apart from the obvious faults, I’d shrink your main sprite a tad and increase the level length.

Finally, here’s a cheat I found out by a total fluke.  If you paused the charge beam, just before the resulting 'white' flash on a boss, it’d automatically die, no matter if it had taken little or no damage.

It was more like a bug but seems I discovered it, it’s a cheat.

So a 16 bit game on 8 bits.  Legendary stuff!

Rick Dangerous, Core Design 1989

Indiana Jones in a different hat but a pretty good arcade puzzle adventure.

The very first thing you had to do was outwit a boulder and from then on, avoid traps and kill enemies with a huge white bullet.  Trust me, that bullet was huge.

Of that boulder, nothing like Raiders of the Lost Ark then...

You could also use dynamite and stick to destroy and/or kill and paralyse respectively.

It had a very awkward scroll as you fell down that triggered a slight pause.  Avoiding death at first was pure guesswork.  Also, the same could be said on avoiding traps...

When you died, your sprite flew off the screen and grew into a blocky mess

I never completed this four staged insanity test as its design proved ultimately too frustrating.  

There was a sequel and never bothered with it but I know it was set in London.

Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, U.S Gold 1989

A very famous 80s Capcom arcade franchise and was the sequel to Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins.

I bought this as a multi-buy when I bought Myth years ago in 1989, each for £9.99 in WhSmiths.  Wow, I remember some strange things.  I also recollect people saying that I was mad to pay a tenner for a game.  Okay, that was very expensive back then but I didn’t care.

So the game itself was a very decent arcade port and was best known for some incredible Tim Follin compositions.

It remained very faithful to the arcade but was very buggy and the signature skeleton death could float in mid-air.  The chances of making it through the gargoyle tongues on level 3 was just pure luck as you tended to fall through a seemingly solid platform.

Despite being fairly broken, it was a great game.

Hunter’s Moon, Thalamus 1987

A strange shooter with the purpose of warping to other systems when you collected sparkle dust, which was protected by background that was constantly being remade by an orb.

These orbs would sometimes go ape shit during a sub-game....

Operation Wolf, Ocean 1988

It’s the Wulf, yes that’s really what your C64 found when you set this to load.

Why?  Who knows?

This was the port of the classic Taito lightgun shooter and pretty good.  You inevitably controlled a crosshair, shot and/or blew up soldiers and stereotypical army hardware such as tanks and choppers.

In order to progress, you had to take care of a set number of enemies.

As with all 8 bit arcade conversions, apart from the graphics there would have to major cutbacks with no level complete screens, the intro was missing, accompanying speech and everything was naturally scaled down, including the omission of animals and other chars.

Still, it did have all the levels.

The power ups just occasionally appeared on the floor and the visuals had a certain blocky charm to them too.

Oh, the last level was changed as the final helicopter was missing but if you didn’t know any better...

Of course, the main thing missing was the chunky lightgun.

In the arcades, it was awesome to play but also a tough cookie.

Fuck, that trigger made your finger ache.

The control could be quite fiddly too as it was sometimes awkward to shoot enemies.

Like the arcade, there was kind of a cheat and although dangerous, it was very effective when it worked.

Kill everything apart from a single soldier and wait for the animals and/or power ups to appear and stock up for the next level.  Of course, it was very dangerous because if you were nearly dead, you were forced to take damage and could easily die.

The arcade had a strange ending, there was this guy in a blue suit stating “Splended! You are a real pro.”  Ha ha.

Paradroid, Hewson 1985

Here’s an all-time classic.

Your goal was to destroy all enemy droids by linking with them and effectively taking them over.  Each droid had a three-digit number which represented their energy.

A droid was taken over via a mini-game involving circuit diagrams and logic gates.  The key to winning this fight was to do with power supplies connecting circuits.

Of course, if you took over a higher powered droid, you assumed that droid, together with its weaponry.

Destroying a droid also worked but the other way was more effective.

Innovative and brilliant – a true classic and proof you don’t need HD graphics to make a great game.

Shanghai Karate, Players 1988

From classic to catastrophe - an appalling fighting game!

Mercs, U.S Gold 1991

This was the sequel to Commando and while other arcade ports may have been good, this wasn’t one of them.

The thing that really spoilt it was the shit coloured landscape, why did they choose such an unattractive colour?  Also, it had awful music and it just looped.  I think the FX were non-existent.

It did have some redeeming features, it was 2P simultaneous and the bosses were nice and chunky but even then, the damage was done.

Insector Hecti in the Interchange, Hi Tec 1991

This was a nice little strategy game.  You were a butterfly and you had to destroy other insects in a single screen maze but there was a difference.  You could alter and swap the background to meet your needs.

Good stuff!

Head the Ball, Hewson 1989

This was a fucked up platformer as you was simply a head who had his true love kidnapped by masked heads with feet (of course nobody knows why).

You constantly bounced and shot a ball in an odd angle and that’s about it.  I remember there was a strange shoot ‘em’ up section too but largely, very strange.

Turbocharge, System 3 1991

A great racing game featuring superb intermissions, music and excellent graphics.  It was basically a SCI clone but was more interesting because of its story.

The head baddie met his fate in the chair and meant the ending was shocking.

Terrible loading though.

The Last Ninja, Last Ninja 2, Ninja Remix and Last Ninja 3, System 3 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991 respectively

In some eyes, possibly the C64’s most famous franchise and the precursor to many next gen ninja games.

Last Ninja games were awesome, incredible and downright amazing.  In that order.

The goal of these babies was to take out the nasty Shogun but it was never easy...

Each combined a blend of puzzle solving, combat and exploration, all gloriously portrayed from an isometric perspective.

The player and enemies energy was displayed on the interface as a maze and also showed inventory and weapons you were holding.

In combat, you could aim for various parts of their body and could attack unarmed or with a variety of staple diet ninja weaponry such as shuriken and staff.

Each level had a number of screens and each had a number of obstacles, puzzles and enemies to overcome before progressing to the next.

I don’t remember the first very much but my grey matter remembers the sequel.

Central Park featured cops, deadly jugglers, bees and awful jumps involving a moving boat.

The Street saw you find a manhole tool to open it to allow access to the next level.  It also had a nasty woman chucking plant pots from a window.

The Sewers saw you avoiding rats and light a petrol bomb to bring heat to an alligator.

The Basement involved avoiding fast moving trolleys and opium.  You got a chicken leg and used opium to drug a panther which led you to...

The Office which had a fan that threatened to blow you away and eventually a chopper would drop you off at,

The Mansion saw you infiltrate the level’s namesake via a roof and alter some steam; and
The Final Battle saw you capture the Shogun’s evil spirit.

So that’s LN2 done and was the best out of the four games bar none.  There was more to each of the levels but what I’ve mentioned is what happened (apart from other enemies) in a nutshell.

Last Ninja 3 had an awesome intro and really set the scene for more of the same.  But while looking better, it was lazier than LN2 and becoming familiar.

Sandwiched in and between Last Ninja 3 was Ninja Remix.

Apart from the packaged goodies, it was just the same game as LN2 but with an intro, tweaked graphics and remixed soundtrack.

So where do you start?  How about with highly detailed graphics, an awesome soundtrack and very clever, but not overly cryptic puzzles.

One thing about those graphics, they had to be generated from screen to screen so a slight delay prevented instant gameplay.  Still, it was only seconds and not minutes...

One thing that was annoying though was the pin-point jumping required to get to certain areas.  You really had to be precise or you died.  Also, I believe it was possible to complete a level w/o acquiring an essential item from the former level, hence making progress impossible.

Aside from very minor, though important quibbles, I can’t describe how important and truly brilliant this series was.

Arcade Force Four featuring Road Runner, Gauntlet: The Deep Dungeons, Metrocross and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, U.S Gold 1987

As you can probably gather, all these featured on a compilation and was a mix of decent, good and good.

First with the decent in Road Runner, this was a good representation of what the classic cartoon was about.  The Coyote does his level best to make the Road Runner a tasty meal using his inventive gadgets and for you to avoid that.

You basically ran away, and ate bird seed to keep your energy levels up.  I died most of the time but good fun.

Gauntlet DD was just an expansion to the original but didn’t detract so good stuff.

Metrocross was a bizarre beast but was very addictive.  A guy with a helmet had to reach the goal before the time ran out.

There were all sorts of obstacles to hamper your progress including electrified floors, enemies and unstable tiles.  You could use springs, speed tiles and even a skateboard to help you along.

Addictive, frustrating but fun and very playable.

Indy TOD was the awful and I only remember one level and it may have been the first and that was the process of rescuing kids.

Firstly, the kids were never caged in the film, had no snakes (apart from during that ‘meal’) and what the fuck was Indy doing dressed in a ‘white’ hat and ‘white’ clothing?

Yes I agree, none of the above happened in the film.

Arnie, Zeppelin Games 1992

While not awful, this wasn’t good either.  This was an isometric Commando with decent enough visuals.  Fairly forgettable though.

The Legend of Kage, Imagine 1987

This game harboured a legend, a legend of shitness.  A truly terrible action game and unintentionally amusing.

The animation saw sprites perform a bizarre and stuttered Russian kozak dance and the enemies seemed to fall from the sky like leaves from trees.  Finally, what was going on with your sprite?  Ha ha!

Phobia, Mirrorsoft 1989

Uh, oh – one of the very best shoot ‘em’ ups ever, yes I really mean that.

Its subject matter was totally unique and yes, involved you fighting your very fears.
It was up to you to prevent your fears from defeating you?

In brief, this was a multi-loader but it was soooo quick, you didn’t really notice it.  The graphics were brilliant and virtually glitch free, it was two players simultaneous, it even threatened Denaris’ originality in 2P mode and finally - it was fucking brilliant.

Each level (apart from the first) could (if available) had a moon to enter and the point of that was to basically destroy a tough enemy in order to get orb(s) which improved firepower, you then had another level outside the planet’s atmosphere, and then the main fear of that level began. 

Not stopping there, the nerve centre of that planet followed and you had to collide with a ? to destroy that planet and complete the level.

Oh, that ? was hidden within a giant egg or sometimes two eggs.  Can I have some of their drugs?

So that’s up to five parts (okay I know one is optional) so really four parts to each level.

When in 2P mode, you could shoot the other player and he’d gradually change colour and then could unleash a nuke.  Wow!

Also, in 1P, you could press the space bar and another ship would appear for more firepower but if that 'ghost' ship was destroyed, so would you. It’s a double-edged sword but only further adds to the originality.

The enemies were just so innovative and I really couldn’t believe how incredibly varied they were.  That’s just the standard enemies but the bosses were nearly as mental.

Honestly, the lines snorted to draw inspiration...

It was absolutely relentless, rarely glitched and was definitely the most active C64 shooter ever.

This obviously wasn’t your average shoot ‘em’ up and although there were many levels, each didn’t just follow on to the next.

I’ll explain, the game revolved around the ‘System of Phobia’ and as you conquered each phobia, you had the choice of which planet you were adjacent to and venture next.

This was extremely important as you couldn’t double back on already completed levels and therefore if you didn’t work this out correctly – you’d be trapped and that’s that.  Here it is:


There was no music as such and each main ‘part’ was accompanied by a haunting murmuring sound which just added to the horror.  There was sounds for explosions, collecting and other strange bits but little else.

Each phobia had unique objects dotted about that you needed to destroy and if you didn't, the game would tease you into thinking you'd reach a boss but instead, you’d just die.

So think of any ‘thing’ you’re scared of (within reason) and this game would probably have a level based around it.

Snakes, Spiders, Death, Water, Darkness, Enclosed Spaces, Birds, Dentists and many more...

Disturbing bosses included a sea horse, a man stuck in a gelatinous ball, door locks, an eyeball onion and the Grim Reaper.

The way that enemies acted and were even drawn just added to the chaos and this stands out on its own as the most originally themed shooter ever.

Unquestionably, it was and still is superb.

Flimbo’s Quest, System 3 1990

Well this is just a cuter and similar game to Hawkeye.  It involved a big-headed Flimbo shooting flashing enemies to get scrolls, who would then would take it back to a wizard, then each would turn into a letter.

The wizard’s store was also a shop as the enemies left gold for you to buy whatever.  You could even buy scrolls and even a super scroll that automatically completed the level.  This lazy way out would be taken by many...

The loading music was memorably jolly fairly but enemy placement pissed me right off.

Fairly good fun though.

Turrican, Turrican 2: The Final Fight, Rainbow Arts 1990 and 1991

Unfathomably brilliant.  Simple pimples.

It was Manfred and Andreas at it again and this time, they really took C64 gaming to the next level and while much brilliance emitted from their talented souls, these were their undeniable masterpieces and more awe-inspiring than the Great Pyramids themselves.

The first blasted onto our CRT’s in 1990 (well the demo in 1989) and before it had chance to become a classic, it already was.

In case you’re still chipping away in your gaming caves, here’s the deal.

Turrican had underlying problems with Morgul and the Machine.

Morgul (Multiple Organism Unit Link) was seriously pissed.  In truth, it is a three-headed, ugly looking cubical beast that is making Alterra a bit of a shit place to live.

Turrican would next meet the Machine, an extremely large Turrican wannabe.

They were both intense, no-nonsense, platforming, action exploration bad boys and defied the limitations of the C64 by producing incredible graphics, huge levels and kick-ass bosses.

The design of the levels was superb and non-linear, so you could make them as big or as short as you wanted.

Those (like me), would want to investigate every area to hear that wonderful sound of diamond smuggling and the satisfaction of collecting 1UPs (weights or icons).

Depending on how you jumped or even shot, hidden items would make themselves known (the most common being item bricks or segments), you could shoot these multiple times and watch items flow until they’d dry up and explode.

Speaking of diamond smuggling, collecting a century rewarded you with an extra life.

Each game had a nice slice of worlds and each were divided into parts (two or three).

All weapons could be powered up that ranged from pea shooters, lasers and bouncing balls.

Not stopping there, you had many sub special-weapons as they were only available by collecting them from item bricks/segments such as power lines, horizontal grenades, shields and mines.  You could also find health power-ups too. 

The most useful thing to me was a 360 degree lightning laser, or a stream of bullets.

If that wasn’t enough, I have to mention one final thing and that was the gyroscope.  This was some kind of bladed ball, that bounced and was indestructible.  You could also lay mines and unleash a nuke.

In the first game, you only had a limited supply but in the sequel, you wasn't so hampered...

You survived by keeping your energy to a premium but once gone, a life was gone and falling down a deep dark chasm killed you instantly.

It was totally fair, never simple and flowed more gracefully than well choreographed dance routine.

As you hopped around the landscape, I expected glitches and invisible walls, but no, it was pretty much flawless.

It was so good, I believed that MT and AE could walk on water, and that’s before the sequel.

For all its genius, nothing is perfect.

When you were searching for hidden lives and secrets, if you saw a life and then it went out of view, it would disappear.  I’m not sure if this was done on purpose as a punishment but I’m calling it a glitch.

The next thing was the unnatural bouncing of the gyroscope and was most proven when you took a jump of faith into a seemingly guaranteed death pit.

This is me being really critical and splitting the thinnest of hairs but even so...

So that’s a detailed synopsis of the games and while the principal largely remained the same, each had some unique gameplay elements....

Wonderful enemies, amazing level design, nippy loading, stupendous graphics, subtle sound, occasionally great music, addictive gameplay, is there anything more I can say?

Well amazingly yes.

Honestly, I can’t give them much more superlatives so let’s get to the bosses of the first game which, just to mix it up, didn’t necessarily appear at the expected end of each part.

All were stunning to look at and huge but sometimes, not so in their animation.

You would come against a giant robotic fist, a huge fish, a faced pyramid block and various mechanical beasts.

You’d even activate a jet-pac and become vertically scrolling shooter.  WTF!

Then you’d thrust downwards... can you even do that?

Towards the climax of this epic, it’s Alien time... where you’d meet the most visually stunning boss of the lot – a fantastic three-headed Giger alien, which when faceless and helpless, I almost felt sorry for it...

I’ll never forget the final level and what an original design it was.  You’d be met with a seemingly endless maze of indestructible and destructible blocks.  Using your 360 stream, you’d have to chisel your way out and find the exit.  Your reward would be Morgul...

After taking care of that, you’d conveniently find a spaceship and escape....

For your efforts, a brilliant end screen and waffle followed.

Marvel at its beauty and the warrior needs to rest... he would do so, but Manfred and co would awake him from his mini hypersleep.

After a few Red Bulls, he would be suitably be refreshed for Turrican’s final mission (on the C64 at least).

This is the best gaming sequel ever made.

I don’t care about yer’ Resident Evils, Street Fighters, the latter’s endless ‘updates’ and Samuari Shodown, and no doubt you could mention many others but this is the daddy of all follow ups.

Turrican II – The Final Fight, so ‘final’ in more ways than one, an unsubtle lump appears in my throat....

Even the title screen showed off with great music and the credits appeared via a mirror effect.  Again, mainly the brainchild of Manfred and Andreas...

This game just took the piss, it was somehow far superior to the original.  Even more inspired level design, far better graphics, bigger, better and badder bosses and became arguably better than Denaris (in the same game)  Ridiculous!

It even injected humour (Turry gets dizzy) and death sequences – for you and bosses.

Bosses included a gun-toting robot, spaceship, giant laser spewing head who belched pelicans, a robotic eye, a multi-screen robot who threatened to digest you got in on the action and after the wind, then, oh then....

After an unexpected makeover job (with force and all), don’t change the tape, it’s uber Denaris time.

The next three levels were just simply nothing short of sensational.

Was this really a C64 game?

Well yes it was, but I still have my doubts.

Each were different – standard horizontal scrolling fare, then all over the shot and finally, high-speed.

Disgracefully unbelievable and each even had the cheek to boast unique boss(es).

The gaming gods even had their names engraved on the third boss and although that’s a narcissistic touch, I’d do the same.

Amidst all this, a swipe at the name change to Denaris could be revealed [Katakis].

These stages and design wouldn’t look out of place in an arcade and after picking my trailing jaw from the floor, I’d be happy that the game was finished but it just went on...

Back to familiar roots and that’s a bad thing?  Stop taking those drugs...

Apart from more supreme level design, you’d come up against a fire-bombing, wind creating dragon, cogs and a barrage of ED-209’s.

Again, we’d be in Giger land... for the game’s finale.

After experiencing the varied delights of aliens and even becoming a meal, you’d don thrusters to eventually fight the end boss which couldn’t even fit on the screen, and still couldn’t, even with a shrink-to-fit tool.

Destroying the Machine would lead to a similar, but far better animated and static conclusion.  Naturally this time, you’d escape with a jet-pac.


Yeah, I think that's how the sound could be best described before the epilogue to ending music.

In my world of course, have a try???

Blah , blah, blah...

“Nobody knows if there will be a brave warrior again.”  “We all should think about it!”

Did they ever think about it?  Amusingly, the public made threats.

Essential C64 magazine resource Zzap 64 once had a letter threatening Manfred and co with a visit from Arnold Schwarzenegger if they didn’t make a third...

Turrican II was designed and developed on the Commodore 64.

The graphics were pixeled on improved versions of the Katakis-development system and improved versions of Koalapainter and Paint Magic +

Turrican II will be ! HIS ! last game on the Commodore 64.

This is definitely THE END.

While I worship the very ground he walked on, after twenty one years, I remain bitter that the ‘official’ trilogy was never brought into existence on the C64.

That remains scheisse.

Before I robotically wrap up, the soon to be released Gunlord by the NG:DEV.Team made for the now defunct Neo Geo and Dreamcast is horribly familiar.

I hope for their sake, it’s in homage....

Later, odd things would happen - Super Turrican would be made exclusively for the NES and be solely made by Manfred.  Mega Turrican for Megadrive and more confusingly, Super Turrican and sequel would be released for the SNES.

While they had the look, they didn’t have the ‘classic’ look, while the Amiga ports were just too bright.

Super Turrican did have some fantastic tunes from Chris Huelsbeck.

My favourite German, Manfred is still around as in 2004, he created his own company - Denaris Entertainment Software and made games for the GBA, PS1 and even the DS.

Why not Katakis?  I guess he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.

Here’s the website

What happened to fellow German Andreas?  Pass!

Superb, awesome and bloody marvellous.  That goes some way to describe Turrican and its sequel on the C64, and then some, and more, more and more.

But wait, Thalamus made Creatures lol....

But wait again, was Manfred teasing us?

Swiv, The Sales Curve (Storm) 1991

Special Weapon Intercept Vehicles – that’s apparently what it means but it’s basically a ghostly sequel to Silkworm and follows a similar format albeit vertical instead of horizontal.

A good, solid shooter and was 2P - one as a jeep and the other as the chopper.

Nice graphics and did what it said on the tin gameplay.

Turbo Kart Racer, Players 1990

This was a decent, awful looking but very playable racing game.

Proof before Lego Star Wars, blocky graphics could be fun.

Double Dragon II, Virgin 1989

I didn’t even own the first and that was enough as it was fucking abysmal but this was a very decent and solid arcade port and I know I keep saying it, was 2P.

Although the sprites were a mess, it featured nice animation, a good variety of moves, backgrounds and enemies and took a while to play through.

I remember using the combine harvester to my and friends’ advantage and fighting my own demons at the end.

But strangely, I recollect the ending as the girlfriend created The End with a teardrop, together with particularly muted speech and a depressing ditty.

Double Dragon III, The Sales Curve (Storm) 1991

This one was dubbed the Rosetta Stone and had the most interesting, if virtually pointless story of the three.

The title screen was very nice and the intro explained things.

Again, it was 2P and was the same principle only this time you could buy weapons and special moves (tricks) from a shop.

You did this using coins but I found this to be a waste of time as the coins also represented lives so instead, I just stored them up.  Your energy was a number and went down greatly depending on what hits you took.

The sprites were drawn totally different and were pretty awful, but again, featuring some nice animation.

The backgrounds really improved as you progressed, as did the variety of enemies.

Eventually you’d get to Egypt where you’d fight the old crone from the beginning, a mummy and even have to negotiate your way past a tile puzzle.

The end boss was the quite famous Cleopatra herself.

So apart from some awful sprite graphics, everything else was good and played really well.

Short Circuit, Ocean 1986

Two things I remember about this, a really good title screen and the park stage – now really what the fuck was going on there?

The title screen was a really nice still of the movie poster with Johnny 5 getting struck by lightning and now to that park stage.

I believe you just had to survive and then go backwards but every living thing was out for your mechanical blood

For whatever reason, you were equipped with a freeze laser.

Enemies included various droids, okay that’s fair enough, but here’s when things got really strange – a miniature Dumbo, yes that’s right, the flying elephant from that boring Disney film.
Frogs, birds, snakes and bunny rabbits.  Yeah right, what the fuck did you do to these creatures?

Hazards included deep hedgerow and holes which were only there to piss you off, there’d even by shark infested waters.

Seriously, we are in the countryside and there’s sharks swimming about in a pond.... OMG!

The true head fuck moment would come when a gun-toting lab guard would appear and shoot you.  When you blasted him, his pants would fall down and show his bare arse.

Two things I must ask.

Why do his pants fall down and why did the programmers feel the need to disgust you even more by showing you his booty?  He makes no attempt to pull them up either, maybe he was as stunned as I?

Suffice to say, the game was truly horrendous.

Tusker, System 3 1989

This was a really cool action adventure game, a bit like a side-scrolling Last Ninja but with Indiana Jones.

The graphics were really nice, had some great music and while the puzzles were innovative, they were also really cryptic. 

Spoiler alert cos’ I'm about to describe the true guts of the entire game.

You’d start in a desert and Arabians would turn into skeletons when you killed them, hmmm. 
It’d also feature caves and a jungle.

You had two types of energy, physical and water (yes you were in a desert) and essentially you needed to find a knife to replenish your water energy.  Why?  Well you’d have to stab cactai and have a drink – brilliant idea.

Other baddies included natives, whirlwinds and crocs.

The whole point was to find acid and release a giant slug thing by burning its chains....

Next you’d emerge on an empty screen and then from nowhere, this bastard beast would jump from the ground and take you out.  So fair and if you was lucky to avoid that, other natives would come to make your energy a misery.

Oddly, these new enemies would also be skeletal but these would flash and die differently, why?  Oh is it because they’d later regenerate?

Anyway after dodging bouncing skulls and a face spewing spirits from his mouth?  Oh this has taken drugs too.  You’d please a witch doctor by bringing the dead back to life.

What follows is when System 3 decided to go insane and transport you back to the dinosaur age as you’d meet flying dragons, ugs (in word that I use for cavemen) and these dudes would die like the Arabians but with ‘grey’ skeletons – yeah!

Oh just for good measure, Nessie would also feature...

Further time travelling would see mummies, and man-eating plants.  To finish the game, after an amount of cryptic and help-free puzzles, you’d need to place a gold ingot on a pair of scales and then you’d fulfil your destiny.

How?  By placing some gold on some giant scales and that’s what you went through all this shit for?

So a good game, and nearly a classic.

Twin Kingdom Valley, Bug-Byte 1984

This was a classic graphic/text adventure game and I’m not gonna lie, I never got really far as its understanding interface (like all games of this type) just really pissed me off.

Professional BMX Simulator, Codemasters 1988

This was an overhead sport game and fairly playable.  The trouble was that each course looked virtually the same.

Psycho Pigs UXB, U.S Gold 1989

Put it this way, the sleeve art made this game look scary but in reality, it really wasn’t but was an okay little game that involved you picking up bombs in the hope of blowing up other pigs.

Purple Heart, CRL 1988

A Commando and Ikari Warriors rip-off.  It looked decent enough and was 2P.

Rastan, Imagine 1987

A scrolling action game as a Conan wannabe would satisfy his blood lust by chopping down everything in sight.

3D Pool, Aardvark 1989

Even to this day, I question why I bought this and nope, still can’t think why.

Maybe I expected advanced ball physics and realistic ball reaction or really I bought it for horrendous gameplay, unnatural response and complete frustration.

I swear, it would be easier sticking your trouser snake in a honey nut loop than potting a ball in this steaming shower of horse manure.

Sensitive, Public Domain 1992

This was one of those cover tape games that you got free when buying one of many C64 mags and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The aim was to guide your ball to each exit but on doing so, you had to make sure you destroyed every destructible tile on the level.  It was easier said than done and was pretty addictive.

Kwik Snax, Codemasters 1990

Get this proof read cock up – on the tape it was spelt as ‘Kwick Snax’.

Wonderful stuff but thankfully, the game was better.

It was one of those Dizzy spin-off games and you had to collect and guide fluffles to the exit before the enemies got hungry.

There was a fun little bonus game that involved you catching fruit in an extendable fishing net.

Pretty good fun but what mind thought of calling them a fluffle?

Still, they could have been called fluffers.  Now that would have been extremely funny...

Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road, Virgin 1990

This was a great conversion of the arcade game and featured addictive gameplay and very good graphics.

The basic idea was getting beefed up via the shop using money to just keep winning and winning.  I remember courses in reverse messing with my head.

Retrograde, Thalamus 1989

This was simply awesome and featured level upon level of side scrolling, underground and boss mayhem.

It started out as a pseudo horizontal scrolling game and it was a never ending story la la la.

Shooting enemies awarded diamonds (money) which you used to buy weapons.  Every level also had a stationary enemy that spewed endless homing missiles.  These were easy to avoid at first, but later was spewed with deadly accuracy.

Weapon buying was arguably the best bit as depending which weapon you had, you could assign it to various parts of your body and with it, that’s the direction it’d shoot.

Some fired all around, others would be in one direction or up and down.

They were many types and were all upgradable.  You could flog them but they’d be bought at a second hand price which was a great idea.

I only remember a few but there was radion, zenith and the much sought after laser.  In my typical humour, I called radion - radion automatic.

You’d need to do some serious weapon house-keeping.

Obviously, the more powerful the weapon, the easier life became but that’s just the tip of this epic iceberg.

Below the madness of above ground, you could access the ground level and instead of shooting, you had a power-fist to take out the baddies and finding a glowing enemy was the key to progressing.

Destroy one of these would leave a ‘planet buster’ and then you’d trip off back to the shop and ‘prime’ it (at a cost).  In the shop, you could also upgrade the power and length of your fist which believe me, was essential.

So once ‘primed’, back to below level and now somewhere they’d be an open door for you to access.

The game would now revert to downwards scrolling action and you’d let your fist do the talking.  Many of these would have its own boss and even linked enemies which you’d have to kill to destroy otherwise indestructible types.

Conquer that and it’d back up above for more of the same.  I believe you’d need to repeat it up to three times and all ducts would be unique.

So after completing every duct, it’s proper boss time.

These beasts were awe-inspiring and each part had to be destroyed in a specific order.  Then after much firepower, cue fireworks.

Then you’d repeat the process until there was no more to complete...

It was ever boring as the action never let up and it would get progressively difficult.  Honestly, if you tried to whizz through it, which in theory you could, you’d regret it later on as your weapons would be virtually useless.

I also recollect that the money left became really tight so this punishes the impatient.  My feet would be kept warm on my power pack for many hours....

Each level featured a huge variety of enemies, each with different attack patterns and wonderful animation.

The visuals were outstanding and you couldn’t ask for much more as this a shoot ‘em’ up and platform game.  I guess a sort of precursor to Turrican 2?

You were even rewarded with a great end sequence.

It demanded a sequel but sadly, it never materialised.

An incredible game!

Rimrunner, Palace 1988

I can’t really remember much about this one but I know you were an alien that rode a dinosaur with great animation.  The point – I have no fucking idea.

Rolling Thunder, U.S Gold, 1987

This was a strange one, a sort of Mission Impossible clone with blocky but nicely animated sprites.

Rubicon, 21st Century Entertainment 1991

Despite promise, it was pretty boring but it did have loads of bosses.

You shot a few enemies, the screen scrolled and repeat.  Good music though.

Rainbow Islands, Ocean 1990

This was probably the best arcade conversion for the C64.  Although not obvious in name, this was the sequel to Bubble Bobble and wow, this was great stuff.

It was upwards scrolling platform game and the point of it was to simply get to the top.

The loading screen was the best ever and the Ocean loader music just added the cherry on this already magnificent cake.

The theme was Somewhere Over The Rainbow from Wizard of Oz and admittedly, did get slightly annoying but the boss theme was different.

Each island had so many cute enemies and had a theme to each which was reflected in the enemies.  Insect, Combat and Monster Island featured bees, spiders crows, helicopters, trucks, cannons, bats, werewolves and skeletons.  You could also expect a boss too.

As before, enemies would get mad if left for too long and if the water came, this would trigger the same effect

The principle weapon was a rainbow (which was created by a star), but there were many, many more ways to skin a cat.

So many weapons and power-ups could be found including falling stars, running sandals, lightning crosses, multiple rainbows, faster rainbows, wings and more, more, and more.

At each goal a huge treasure chest would open and out would be much fruit.  I found that if you ‘rainbowed’ out of view and held ‘up’, just watch the points rise....

The graphics were amazing, colourful and played largely brilliantly too.  The variety of enemies, power-ups even surpassed Bubble Bobble and that was no slouch in that department either.

I know that this was reduced from 10 to 7 islands but nobody could or can complain, hey other versions suffered the same too.

Another stupendous game and every C64 tape deck needed to load this.

Rambo III, Ocean 1988

Pretty awful stuff and all I remember is using rubber gloves to get by an electrified gate and I don’t even know if that’s right.

Predator, System 3/Activision 1988

This could be potentially a great game but not so.  You just ran through a jungle, shooting bats and occasionally got targeted by the predator.  I never reached the end as it was just unforgiving and awkward to play.

Still, the setting was authentic and the predator vision and its weaponry was pretty cool.

Airborne Ranger, Microprose Soccer, Microprose 1987 and 1988

Let’s get the funnies out of the way first.  AR boasted ‘endless hours of constructive entertainment’ and MS had ‘good documentation’ and ‘realistic movements’.  I’ve quoted that from the back of the boxes.  People had such humour then...

So, to each game!

AR was a war simulation and wasn’t your standard run of the mill shooting game, although you had to do a lot in it.

Several missions had a strategic element to them and involved taking photographs and blowing stuff up.

The first thing I found funny was some awful portraits of game designers.  Of course, digital photography didn’t exist then.

I’m been mean here as it was a really good simulation game and difficult to fault it.

On selecting a mission, it gave you an outline and also described what terrain it would be against.  One thing, memorise that objective as you’re not gonna be reminded (to be fair, it does warn you of this).

As with many Microprose games, the manual was your friend as it asked you a quiz question and the answer lied within the latter material.

Then you’d control a plane, flying over a detailed map of that mission, during which you could drop off supplies and then, of your choice be parachuted.  Again, you could control this.

So you’d go off on your merry way and attempt (memory permitting) to complete that mission.

The map screen could be brought up at will and was really useful when prepping any future movement.  This could be scrolled and also displayed weaponry information, supplies and time left.  Of those weapons included grenades, time bombs and law rockets.

Using weapons and the satisfaction of their effect was, well, ‘satisfying’.

Your char could walk, crawl, run and mostly die.

The most ridiculous thing of all was when you completed a mission, via the cardboard key layout – you had a ‘Call’ button which was basically a cry for a rescue chopper.

After a short tease, a chopper wouldn't appear but instead – a ladder out of thin air and it was just stupid how you grabbed it (again into thin air).  It was also followed by a cheerful ditty.

So great game, but some odd things abound.

Now we have MS.  This was playable but at the same time, was unintentionally funny.

We’ve had the box boasts, now the game would be even stranger.

The title screen was normal enough albeit with an out of place jolly tune but just leave it for a few seconds...

The screen would go to a blank screen, apart from presumably, the referee.  Why was this poor guy relegated to billy no-mates status?  Even more strange is that he wouldn’t be seen in the actual game.

You could choose from various ‘favourite’ options including World Cup Tournament, two player friendly and why would you, but a demo game.  I seem to remember there was a five-a-side too.

The game was pretty to look at and had nice weather effects as when it rained, you could see rains splats on the pitch, together with thunder and lightning sounds and flashing respectively.  It did have a good whistle sound too.

It also had perspective, as during a throw-in the ball would enlarge and shrink.

It was however, totally unrealistic as it was impossible to foul and therefore meant, no free kicks or penalties.

The manual even boasted fact, as it showed you exact pitch dimensions, a history of the World Cup, venues from 1930-1986, winners and even current rankings – at the time of course.

Pointless but interesting!

It would turn into a comedy – for a tetralogy of reasons.  Well at least I thought so.

We’ll start with the sprites, as it was viewed overhead, this meant limited animation and when you scored a goal or the keeper jumped, the animation was exactly the same and was frankly awful.  It must rank as the worst goal celebration ever in a video game.

At no point did the audience cheer.

Next the weather effects and these effects was the funniest of all.  If you turned the weather on, it was raining and then you’d inevitably tackle.  This would trigger among the most ridiculous animation I’ve ever seen.

You would spin, slide and sometimes, off the screen.  You had to witness this....

It boasted realistic movements, but if Microprose really believed this, they’re a wave short of ocean.

Ah a bug, it’s definitely not a cheat as you didn't have to activate it but anyway, this was only useful if you were winning.  I found you could guarantee winning (this worked against any team) as if you stood in a specific place, nobody would tackle you and the game would effectively stop (but importantly the timer wouldn’t).  It was somewhere near the throw-in line.

Finally, it’s not so much the idea, but with its execution.

When you was getting near the goal, a hooter sounded, or to me someone farted to signal danger that a goal could be scored.

Just imagine if these funnies happened during a real professional football match.
You scored a goal and every player would celebrate the same as the goalie would jump.

Get to a certain place on the pitch, and everybody would remain stationary, stare until the time expired.

When it rained, the players would unnaturally spin and slide and sometimes, down the tunnel.

There was only one type of tackle and was never punished as the referee was invisible (apart from the ghostly presence of his whistle).

Despite desperate tackles, the footballer was approaching the opposing keeper like an on-rushing train and when in range, a chilling hush was sparked among both sets of supporters and instantly cease their noise pollution.

Then, every man, woman and child would all fart, signalling the danger.  Or alternatively, use thousands of portable car horns, and altogether – HONK.

So despite all these criticims, it was a pretty good game.

Spike in Transilvania, Codemasters 1991

This was wrong on so many levels but this wasn’t even the game.  Confused?  I would be too.

Firstly, the game art spelt the setting as Transilvania and not correctly as Transylvania.

Its loading screen simply called the game Spike the Viking.

The title screen amused with Spikey in Transylvania and the game art showed Spike or Spikey as a young man, wearing a helmet with a broken horn and with blond/brown hair.

Returning to the loading screen, it had him as a Hagar the Horrible lookalike, with ‘red’ hair.

It also featured Scrappy Doo?

The actual game sprite would have him look like the loading screen but he’s now dyed his hair brown.

So how many fuck ups can you have, w/o even starting on the game?  Mamma Mia!

Ironically, the game was pretty good and was much in the style of Dizzy and Olli and Lissa.

The game art boasted ‘lots of puzzles’ (ha ha) and its death screen saw our hero being beheaded.

Batman, Ocean 1989

This was really Batman: the Movie, the Michael Keaton and Jack Nick one, but was simply called Batman.

It had an awesome loading screen and was very faithful to the film featuring the Batmobile, Batwing and Cathedral scenes.

The worse level was the chemistry bit where you had to find a matching combination.  I’m sure there was a method but I just guessed and hoped for the best.

Very good movie tie-in though.

6 Pak Volume 3, Elite 1988

A compilation of games featuring Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, The Living Daylights, Escape from Singe’s Castle, Dragon’s Lair, Enduro Racer and Paperboy

GG was a fairly good port from the classic Capcom arcade.

TLD was based on the Bond film and I remember you had to select gadgets including x-ray specs, hard hat and a pen which were essential to progress.

EFSC – wow what a frustrating pile of addictive horseshit.  I frighten myself to say it but it was addictive.  The first stage saw you in a boat and you had to avoid rocks and whirlpools.  You had three movements.  Up, made you go in the middle, left or right – self explanatory but that’s if you was lucky as the controls were so fucking awkward.

Make it past this and you had to jump and avoid various obstacles, otherwise the pursuing boulder would make you a pancake.  After that, you had to somehow avoid an electric hand.  This was impossible and that’s when I shed its addictive skin.

I got soooo fucking frustrated as how could you make a game so fucking unplayable?

Who knows?

DL is the same shower as the Speccy, only with more colours.

ER was a pretty shitty motorbike game and PB, same good stuff as the Speccy.

World Games, Epyx 1986

This was a sport game with various events to compete in, some where awful and some were pretty good.

The main things I recall:

Hovering over a country’s flag resulted in a brief national anthem.

Each stage had a loading screen, detailing the history of the event.

It injected humour into weightlifting as when participating, you would change colour, drop the bar and could even fall through the floor.

I really still believe that sumo wrestling and log-rolling were unplayable, with skiing been a right bitch too.

So nice presentation and pretty frustrating but compared to Singe's Castle, its gameplay was amazing.

Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine and The Revenge, Hewson 1987 and 1988

There wasn’t a great deal of difference between the two but both were multi-screen shooters and using certain weapons would result in a big explosion.  Good graphics and music for both though.

Silkworm, Mastertronic 1990

I’ve already covered its sequel so this was similar but horizontal.  I believe the bosses just repeated themselves but nevertheless, it was pretty good.

Myth, System 3 1989

Before God of War, there was Myth and with it, more genius from System 3 and touched a subject I have a great interest in.

'Welcome to Myth' was actually spoke by some woman in a very muted tone.

There were only four stages, but these were packed with puzzles, exploration and a huge variety of enemies.

The graphics were superb, it had atmospheric sound, featured tough puzzles and challenging, albeit sometimes frustrating gameplay.

The jumping animation was amazing, but unfortunately this contributed to movement being quite sluggish.

Each lengthy load of each legend had the same out of place, but jazzy loading theme.

Here goes – the enemies and other stuff, in brief and as best as I can.

Greek - skeletons, harpies, the devil, trident, chimera, Achilles Heal, shield, soldiers, Medusa and even the Hydra.

Norse - Soldiers, a crow (not sure of its name or purpose), coin, gremlins and ogres? Spirits, Joan of Arc, Nidhogg, Odin, Thor, mini dragons, castle eyes (all in a floating world).

Out of the levels, I think some stuff was made up?

Egyptian – Snakes, a huge pyramid, mummies, Egyptian warriors, a whole load of traps, canopic jars, Anubis and King Tut?

The Final Confrontation – This threw the normal gameplay out of the window and turned into a shoot ‘em’ up featuring jellyfish, bubbles, spirits, spaceships, devil statues with Dameron posing the final challenge.

This beast had heads for hair and looked incredible.  As a nice touch, on destroying each of his heads, fire erupted from each hole.  As a challenge, he wasn't much of one though.

It was a fantastic game and despite its faults, another System 3 and C64 classic.

The Running Man, Grandslam 1989

Well it’s sure not a Grandslam game, to say this game was shit was like paying a compliment to shit.

Based on the Arnie film, which was loosely based on Stephen King story, but w/o getting into that, all I remember was kicking a dog and there might have been a stalker too.

It was appalling, it was so awful, it was.... you get the picture.

Rygar, U.S Gold 1987

Pretty decent hopping along tree action game, I think you had some kind of buzz saw throwing weapon.

The Sacred Armour of Antiriad, Palace 1986

This was great stuff as you played Tal, a sort of ug lookalike whose aim was to find the Armour of the title and blow up the joint.  Incidentally, this was aka Rad Warrior but I had the Antiriad name variant.

Animation was really nice as I remember a monkey throwing shit and dragon heads breathing fire.

There was more to it than that but I don’t recall much more.  I do however have to insult the box art – terrible.

Saint Dragon, Storm 1999

Good solid shooter as you played a mechanical dragon (with a curling tail) destroying anything in space.  I only remember the first boss which was a huge cow spewing all sorts of shit.

Nice graphics and playable so ticked all the right boxes.

Salamander, Imagine 1988

This a confusing one, it looks very similar to Gradius and that’s because it was a spin-off from Gradius but then had it had its own sequel Salamander 2 (in arcade and other consoles) to make it look like it was a unique game, if you didn’t know the history.

In addition to this, it was actually a sequel to Gradius, and Gradius was released as Nemesis on home computers.

Whoah, quite a headfuck!

So the game was criticised for omitting 2P simultaneous and two levels but even so, it was an excellent arcade port featuring horo and vert levels.

The graphics were very good, as were the weapons so handshakes all round for this effort.

Samuari Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo, Firebird 1988

I just called this one Samurai Warrior and you controlled a bunny ninja.
The most vivid aspect that sticks in my memory is that if you killed an innocent, you committed suicide.  To put it better, perform an honourable death.

SAS Combat Simulator, Codemasters 1989

This was a fairly awful combined rip off of Green Beret and Ikari Warriors.  Fairly decent graphics though.

Sex Games, Landisoft 1985

Well what can you say, I never owned this but knew of it so that counts as a memory.

It was full on pixelated pornography, applied by joystick killing – what stick you used was up to you...

It was naturally terrible but wow, all the kids hid this from their parents.

Daley Thompson’s Super Test, Ocean 1985

Another joystick killer, but at least had a variety of events including shooting, skiing and cycling.

To me, a blatant rip-off of Hyper Sports, or perhaps it was vice versa.

Death Wish 3, Gremlin 1987

This had good music and remember prostitutes being portrayed.  These street walkers even found the time to scratch their ass.  It was also gory as you murdered old ladies and blew baddies up with rocket launchers.

Manhunt and MK are kids games compared to this.

Deliverance: Stormlord 2, Hewson 1990

Remembered by most because it had boobs on show.  They were on statues but even so.  It was a good action game with nice but challenging gameplay.  You had to avoid all kinds of shit including flying things and bubbles.

Dragon Breed, Activision 1989

Take heed, it’s Dragon Breed – awful tag-line eh?

Sort of a pre Saint Dragon as you actually rode a dragon but same sort of game.

The dragon had this sort of shimmering effect which really bugged me but its good, outweighed its bad as it had some awesome graphics, great music and disgusting bosses.  Some were more than a screen high.

The dragon could breathe fire and curl its body like a shield and/or weapon so like R-Type’s force.  It was also invincible as you could only die if your rider was hit.

You could also dismount on a platform but I’m not really sure why.

The best boss was a brain that turned into a skull.

Pirates, Microprose 1986

Another great and complicated simulation from the masters and saw you sail, plunder and rob on the high seas.

Action included swordplay, sea battles, treasure hunting and bustling towns.

While sometimes it could be sluggish and tiresome (it was most irritating when random battles happened), it was extremely in-depth and potentially get lost in it as your aim, like Elite was to increase your reputation.

Do it well and you could even get married.

In typical Microprose style, the contents of the box was epic.  Apart from an in-depth manual, educating you about all things ooh arr Jim lad, you had an authentic looking map which actually was accurate to the actual game.

This swashbuckling yarn was huge and why it was probably not the nicest looking game.

I never completed it but that’s because I wasn't that great.

Armalyte, Thalamus 1988

An excellent 2P shooter with awesome graphics, mid and end level bosses and levels that each lasted longer than the equivalent of three or four of Denaris’s.

It had pods which you could anchor, charge nukes, a supreme variety of enemies and together with inspired level design and great bosses, what more could you ask for?

Well to be honest, not a lot.

But as usual, there is something to complain about.

The attack patterns were fairly predictable zig zag affairs and oddly, the enemies’ explosions continued to travel as if they were still alive which signalled a programming fault.

Star Trek: The Rebel Universe, Firebird 1988

This was out a year earlier on Atari ST but oh well.

It was a largely a strategy game and don’t remember much apart from turning on battle stations at will, even if there wasn't a Klingon attack and had fairly authentic looking, pseudo digitised char portraits.

Run the Gauntlet, Ocean 1989

It was a sports game, which included an assault course and a variety of racing events.  A fairly decent effort that was at least playable.

Operation Thunderbolt, Ocean 1988

I don’t care what it was like in the arcade, this port was awful compared to Wolf.  Everything was considerably worse and was a waste of loading time and electricity.

DNA Warrior, Artronic 1989

I swear to this day, I still have no idea what the fuck you had to do on this shower of shit?

No help, no clues and no mercy.

How can a spaceship shooter be more puzzling than the female of the species?

The Untouchables, Ocean 1989

I got this for Christmas one year and it was pretty great stuff.

The loading screen was awesome (with a spooky faceless guy) and was up there with the best but the game was even better.  Its first stage involved shooting these white coated guys who on sight, would run away like chicken shits.

If you lined them with the necessary lead, they left evidence and yes, you needed 100% to progress.

This was nightmarishly frustrating as if a white coat or enemy touched you, it died and with it, any items or evidence.  I believe you could pick up extra ammo and there was a time limit too.

What I definitely know that your energy was represented as Ness, then turning into Al Capone on receiving damage.

For no reason, there was a death jump you could commit and I just used to do it for fun.

Its stage music was an old fashioned rag time theme but can’t put my finger on what it was.  When you died, a newspaper stated ‘Ness dies in bloodbath’ or something like that.

So that’s just the first stage and was it epic, but although tough, it was more frustrating.

Other stages included alley gun fights and protecting a baby.

It climaxed with Capone who ended in a bloody mess on a car.

Brilliant stuff!

Midnight Resistance, Ocean 1990

This was given away with the newer models of C64's in an attempt to shift more units.

It was a decent enough port of the arcade and had nice weapons and visuals.

I most remember the weapons room where you could swap and choose whatever weapon you fancied, but I think you needed to buy them.

Hammerfist, Vivid Image/Activision 1990

Male and female holographs featured here and each had strengths and weaknesses.

The guy was stronger, had the 'hammerfist' and lightning bolt projectile, with the woman being able to cartwheel and kick.

You had to destroy everything to progress from each screen and eventually you came to a boss and these beasts looked great.

There was an ant, plant and a octopus and these took some serious punishment before yielding.

While looking more attractive than a leggy blonde, it was very demanding and more soul-destroying than watching the England football team attempting a penalty shoot-out.

Your sprite could get trapped between enemies and you literally felt like a pinball machine.  You were the ball and the other party was the flippers.


Mr Heli, Firebird 1989

A great shooter which you bought weapons and fought your way through well designed levels.

Viz, Virgin 1991

Another controversial idea as this was based on the crudely funny adult comic.  It had all your favourite chars including Roger Mellie, Johnny Fartpants and Biffa Bacon.

It was basically a bunch of mini games but at least the chars looked authentic, as was the language.

Reading such extreme profanity at such a young age was quite a buzz and remember, no age restriction back then...

Blood Money, Psygnosis 1990

Another great shooting game and each level had a different sprite to use, which included a submarine and a helicopter.

As the title suggests, you gained money to buy weapons and boasted loads of enemy types, multi-directional scrolling levels and 2P action.


Uridium, Hewson 1986

Another great shooting game!  Highly addictive, fast and relentless.

You had to flip the ship in certain situations and I would go on but just know it was one of the best.

Vampire, Codemasters 1987

Had extremely camp game art and was much in mould of Cauldron 2.

Despite the difficulty, there was much fun to be had from this.

In true C64 style, the artwork was nothing like the actual game sprite and was a shameless rip of Spellbound.

Vendetta, System 3 1990

Very similar to Last Ninja but to me, not as good but arguably better to look at.

Platoon, Ocean 1987

The first casualty of war is innocence and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

Oliver Stone's film was consistently brilliant.

In pixels, it succeeded as an arcade adventure and remembered for three reasons – the moody silhouettes on the title screen, those knife guys in the tunnel sequences and jumping higher than a guy with springs in his trainers – ON THE MOON.

Scott Adams’ Scoops, Master Games 1987

The frustration of fuck sticks!  This mind-bending 4 game compilation of text adventures just did everybody’s head in.  Typing obvious commands that were constantly met by “I can’t do that now”, “I can’t do that yet”, “Don’t know how to [insert here]” just sent my frustration thermometer through the qwerty roof.

It sounds strange but I really liked the concept of a text adventure but having been told I can’t do something which I obviously could for the billionth time was when I just can’t fucking take any more.

What was the ‘strangest’ thing about these games is that only Pirate was called an adventure and every other ‘didn’t’.

Strider 2, U.S Gold 1990

“No limits, no mercy, no surrender”

‘No limits’ to how bad this game was.
‘No mercy’ to its ‘goodness’.
‘No surrender’ or should that be ‘Surrender to its shitness’.

Suffice to say, after the slight fun of cart-wheeling had quickly worn off – I never played it again.

Creatures and Creatures 2: Torture Trouble, Thalamus 1990 and 1992

Drum roll time – possibly the greatest set of C64 games ever.  The only true contenders in rivalling Turrican and for many reasons...

Clyde Radcliffe Exterminates All The Unfriendly Repulsive Earth-Ridden Slime.

Clyde Exterminates And Blows Away The Competition

Although if was called CEBATC, I don’t think that would wash.

So that’s enough hype, so what’s the deal?

The story goes something like the Demons have kidnapped your girlfriend and when Clyde wakes up with a breath that could burn through steel - it’s time to claim her back...

Before the actual game starts, the loading was the most peculiar of all, as in yes, it had a loading screen but nothing else.  Was it even loading?  You just didn’t know but if you were lucky, it did.

So two baddies walked on the screen (backed by a whistling noise) they looked at each other and gazed above.  To their horror CREATURES would fall and squash them, swiftly by multi-coloured credits and Clyde dancing to music during the high scores – WOW!

The main part of the game was a scrolling action platforming game and had such an inspired charm to the design and enemies – they were so cute.  As with Retrograde, some enemies were invincible and linked to another.

Weapons included a flame breath (thanks hangover) and various projectile weapons (others could be bought a shop).

Eventually you’d get to a boss (and sometimes could also be linked) but had a main enemy you’d have to destroy and with experience, the rest could be ignored.

So you’d get to the third part of a level and then the game would change things dramatically.

These would be a known as a Torture screen and involved you working out how to save your fuzzy friend.  It was not immediately obvious and after a bit thought – lightbulbs would be switched on in the old grey matter.

Before illumination, if you took too long – your mate would meet a very grisly and gory fate.  Chainsaws, giant industrial saws and machine guns all had a novel use.

The brilliant animation just added to the charm and terror.  Usually you had to kill an enemy, get or manipulate an item and either free or kill the would-be evil masochist.

The scrolling levels just continued to impress and you even had a spot of swimming to do.  The humour and graphical touches were genius and there was just so much to admire.

I remember rocket-launching birds, waterfall and balloon lunacy.

A perfectly balanced difficulty curve, hugely enjoyable gameplay, brilliant graphics, awesome sound and to round it off, a great end sequence!

Finally, a cheat could be activated if you left the title screen for a while and the music would stop, and with it, the fuzzies dancing.  Using a button command and holding them would reward infinite lives (I think they had to turn grey) to confirm the cheat was active.

This demanded a sequel and unlike Retrograde, one would follow...

Creatures 2 was almost a totally different game.  Sequel suicide or majestic masterpiece, read on?

It abandoned the brilliant side scrolling escapades and replaced them with a series of mini-games – but the torture screens would be back, with an almighty bang.

The new ideas were (in my own words) bed bouncing, island hopping and demon slaying.

Each Island had two torture screens and were obviously the most fun part of the first game so why not expand and give fans’ what they wanted.

After all, it was called Torture Trouble.

Before the actual game began, you had the choice to turn the tape over and watch the intro.  With a carrot dangled like that, how could you resist?

So after some pretty screens...

Clyde Radcliffe in


Creatures 2 Torture Trouble

It didn’t mask the fact that this was a parody of T2 or Terminator 2 Judgment Day.  It was a stroke of genius as C2 and Creatures 2 Torture Trouble clamped together – just like the blockbusting film.  Even the music was in homage to it.

For the main title screen, the ‘Torture Trouble’ writing was recognisable as how Indiana Jones was written too.  So two brilliant film franchises used to great effect and if that was the start, what the heck would the rest be like?  Leave it and huge pixeled Clyde would dance and even a fountain of fuzzies would be sprayed.

Unfortunately, while very good – it wasn’t as great as the original.

The trouble was is that while the torture screens were still great, the originality had gone and just weren’t fresh as what they once were.  Just like MK fatalities.

The mini-games were ok and quite fun but I really missed the scrolling levels.

So in brief, the new ideas involved:

Bed bouncing – You had to bounce your fuzzy to the other side, w/o letting him drop or get picked off by a feathered friend.  Humour featured medical orderlies carting off a dead fuzzy.

Apart from changing the background, which were very nice (especially the one with snow flakes), it was pretty boring.

Island hopping – Ripped from the original but instead you had to escort your friend to safety as they hopped from island to island.  Enemies were there to stop you but again, was fairly lacking.

Demon slaying – Using a bug-matic and acme vac, you had to kick bugs which would shoot out and if timed correctly, would hit the flying demon.  The demons did get better and even huge but just repeat.

Out of the three, the island hopping was the best, but still boring.

So the torture screens had to save it and they did.  New torture devices included axes, acid, crocs, fire and a hydraulic press.  Mr Chainsaw would return....

I am being harsh but it’s just that the new ideas didn’t really offer much but the torture screens were still largely great.

The end sequence was better than the first as there was just one demon left.... and he met with a supremely grisly ending.

An awesome and classic original, followed up by a very good sequel, but Turrican needn’t worry, as his second outing remains the best C64 sequel and dare I say it, the best sequel ever.

Samantha Fox Strip Poker, Martech 1986

Only one purpose here and that was to learn poker to see Sam get her famous jugs out.

In truth, you didn’t really need to as it was fairly easy and her puppies would bark wonderfully...

On success, they were sort of visible and you had a good rendition of the famous David Rose stripper theme.

Vixen, Martech 1988

Here’s a very good example of how a front cover doesn’t mean a good game.

In short, Rygar with a whip.

Summer Camp, Thalamus 1990

Excellent cartoonish graphics and frustrating gameplay is the best way to describe this platformer featuring Maximus the mouse.  It was flawed basically down to respawning enemies and the point of it?  Don't fucking know, don't fucking care!

Winter Camp, Thalamus 1992

How did its sequel fare?  Well it was far better to play and involved racing and ice skating, I can’t really remember.

Oh, Maximus would not return to camp again, i.e. Autumn and Spring and consigned to C64 and retro history.

Who knows, maybe he stumbled upon a trap or became the filling of Tom’s sandwich.

I'd like to think this is his legacy.

The mouse that became a slave.  The slave who became a gladiator.  The gladiator who defied an emperor.

Target Renegade, Imagine 1988

A nice scrolling beat ‘em’ up and I remember a few things, the eyes that reacted with a situation, those eyes wincing in pain when kicked in the bollocks and being throttled by Mr Big.

Way of the Tiger, Gremlin 1986

Odd, odd fighter!  You fought a floating shadow, together with other oddities.  You could get a stick too.

Weird Dreams, Rainbird 1990

I have no idea with this one, was featured as part of a TV show and hence, made into a game.  It was some kind of puzzle adventure but my mind is blanker than a non-functioning television on this one.

Wizball, Ocean 1987

This was probably the most innovative shoot ‘em’ up ever.  Yes I know I said that with Phobia but only with its subject matter and not concept.

This baby was a shooter but you had to collect colour and effectively paint the level (which started monochrome).

You could access various levels to gain primary colours and these were your goal.  There was also a cat to help you out who could only collect droplets and trying to out do Denaris, in 2P, one controlled the ball and the other, the cat.

Also, on shooting enemies, you can power yourself up by using tokens.

I’m not saying it’s the best, but certainly the most original shooter I can think of as there’s nothing quite like it.

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: The Coin-Op, Konami 1991

This was an unwise idea as the 1989 arcade was a manic and frantic 4P simultaneous classic.

So on the Commie, it was never gonna work.  It certainly tried as it had a sort of look of the arcade but wasn’t even 2P (this was alternate) and we all knew that the C64 was capable of simultaneous action.

It was okay and the best I’d expect but in truth, it should never have been made.


Time Machine, Activision 1990

Drew graphics just like Last Ninja and looked great.  I know it had puzzles but I can’t remember what you had to do or what happened next.

Trailblazer, Gremlin 1986

A racing game with a ball - fast and fun and even better with 2P!  It did have a sequel in Cosmic Causeway but never played it.

Wonderboy, Activision 1987

Another arcade port but pretty good, frustrating fun.  You hopped your way to victory, chucked a hammer to kill baddies and even could ride a skateboard.  Big and colourful sprites helped make it look good.

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior and Barbarian 2: The Dungeons of Drax, Palace 1987 and 1988

It’s the Wolf, yes I’m not doing an Op Wolf job here, years before Gladiators – pantomime villain, Gladiator Wolf (real name Michael Van Wijk) modelled for notorious decapitation classic Barbarian (and its sequel) cover art, alongside page 3 beauty model Maria Whittaker.

The game was criticised for consumers focusing on the eye catching packaging rather than the gratuitous and gory beheading violence.

So let me get this right, protestors took most offence to Maria, rather than bloody violence.

In years to come, that would dramatically change.

So getting away from the prudes of the 80s, what’s the game like?

Well it was basically a pre-cursor to Mortal Conbat but with a sword, and someone’s for the chop.

Conbat was not a typo...

8-way d-stick was available so there was a wealth of moves with some cool sounding names from flying head chop to web of death.  You could also attack unarmed – kick, head-butt, jump and even roll.

When you stuck one on a shiny forehead, a satisfying noise would be heard but the opponent would soon jump up faster than Balboa.

There were a few nice little touches as every time you suffered a blow, the respective snake would open their mouths and upon each victory, a gremlin would drag the body away, laugh at the camera and exit.

If the ultimate insult occurred, as in a decapitation, the gremlin would repeat but kick the head off screen – sweet.

The bloodshed was staged against a few backgrounds ranging from good old-fashioned arenas to forests, all under the watchful eye of Drax and the Princess.

Sadly – the enemies didn’t as the only thing that changed was difficulty.

Also, a fairly memorable ditty played throughout too, but ultimately got repetitive.

So to progress, you had to sap energy dry or perform an instant kill – in the way of a decapitation, with a well-timed flying headchop, resulting in a gory blood fountain and the victim slumping like a jelly on a wet mattress.

It was limited fun until you got to Drax and this is when it turned into a fucking nightmare....

This necromancer just fired magic blasts in a fucking random fashion so good luck.

If luck was on your side, behead him and you’d win.  The princess would state (albeit in a speech bubble) “Thanks Big Boy!”

In the sequel, moves were sacrificed for exploration and a large variety of enemies, but let’s face it, improving on the original’s enemy variety is about as troublesome as unzipping a trouser fly.

Before play commenced you were treated to a nice representation of the sleeve art and later, you could choose to play as either the Princess or guy.  Oddly, the geezer swapped his weapon, and gave it to the woman as he now prefers an axe.  So could he now participate in axeplay?

Well he could, if that expression existed.

To get around, a sword acted as a compass and wow, could you jump further than Jonathan Edwards.  Only a few moves survived such as a kick, low chop and the flying head chop.

It was split into four levels and to escape, some items had to be collected and when done, an alarm would signal and to the exit Batman.

The backgrounds were good and had subtle touches such as chained innocents moving about, eyes appearing/disappearing in the darkness and other animated objects.

Apart from the enemies, each level had a few irritating hazards including lava, acid and bottomless pits.

Humour prevailed though as your char would look around, try to regain balance if you were on the edge of a pit and enemies would chortle upon success.

Death scenes included different forms of losing heads and the best being a pit thing grabbing you and spitting your skull out.

The bestiary – as best as I can do...

Mutant plants and skinless chickens, ugs, dinosaurs, bugs, crabs, apes, sting ray things, medusa wannabes, lunging wolves, orcs, squid things, fat dungeon masters and grubs.

There’s probably more but I think that’s great from memory and I’m not done yet.

The final level was a serious of bosses and a strange demon would look at the camera when hit as if to say “How dare you hit me you nasty creature.”

So you’d get to Drax again and after another decapitation, the cheeky fucker would simply pop it back on his head, escape and give you the 'wanker' sign.

I really remember that as I couldn't quite believe it...

So to sum up, a great sequel and some will probably prefer it to the former because of its humour.

I do have to say that it was obvious why other colours' were used as blood splats.

Project Stealth Fighter, Microprose 1987

To me, the most ambitious and most complicated game ever on the C64 and although the heart was there, the C64 just didn’t have the tools.

It was a flight sim and the familiar qwerty layout was just bewildering, making Ranger’s looking like a child stumbling in a playpen.

You got some pretty screens, an in-depth manual featuring of course real-life crafts and other shit.  These crafts could be selected and also its weapons.

I’m not gonna spin you a yarn as I can’t really remember a great deal as I’m sure there was missions but the application of the graphics was seriously limited.

It was basically wireframe time and was seriously slow.  It may have had weather effects such as light and dark but wasn’t fun to play.

International 3D Tennis, Palace 1990

A tennis sim now and it’s dreaded wireframe time again.  This was just so unplayable and I was almost more helpful of hitting a ball as much as I was potting a ball in 3D Pool.

There’s a pattern here, 3D and C64 = Disaster.

X-Out, Ranbow Arts 1989

Alert, it’s another shooter and it’s by Rainbow Arts so it’s gonna be better than Denaris?  Well, I didn’t really think so but it was still very good.

Similar sort of stuff but did feature a shop which was very, very the same in it’s set up as in the Amiga classic Xenon 2: Megablast...

Bosses were good and looked nice but it just wasn’t as memorable as Denaris.

The only boss I remember was a skull bug thing with a tube and your sprite was like a beetle.

Oddly, the main thing that sticks out in my mind is the arcade style intro.  It looked good but I really wanna know, what the FUCK did that bloke say?

The Young Ones, Orpheus 1986

“Once in every lifetime, comes a game like this, oh I need this, like I need shit, oh my God can’t you see this game’s shit, oh baby it’s so shit (oh ohooo) and real shit, shouldn’t be afraid (oh hoooo).  I can’t, describe (cuckoo), how good it really was, but persevere, and you may not be a gamer, for very long.”  Duh nurrrr.

() = backing vocals and/or sound effects.

Super Space Invaders, Domark 1990

Space Invaders with backgrounds, different formations, weapons and bosses!  How could you go wrong?

You couldn’t really and it even had this strange Cattle Mutilation bonus stage which involved, yes – protecting cattle from alien saucers.  WTF?

The loading was ‘wonderfully' speedy and even rivalled Phobia.

Trashman, New Generation Software 1984

Well everybody’s heard about the bird, don’t you know about the bird, and everybody knows that the bird is the word.

Oh that’s Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen and this is Trashman.

This could only be made in the 80s wrere innovation was ridiculously unique and really was about a dustman, or in this case, a trashman.

It involved collecting trash and getting tips.

Imagine a version today as you could maybe get a bigger tip from a lonely housewife... lol

Delta, Thalamus 1987

Well this was hardcore and if you’re memory was shot to fuck, forget playing this unforgivable classic.

It was a shooter and featured a great Rob Hubbard theme.

The loading screen was just nothing short of unique as you choose your own variation on the music.  Yes I’m being serious, dead frigging serious.

Drums, bass and lead, maybe more?

The scoop:

Destroy an attack wave and then a weapon square would become collectable, repeat and more and defeat a boss.  The weapon squares could be chosen to be stored up...

If you didn’t collect the right weapon or power-up (speed or whatever), that could be fatal.

The pillars of death were the main problem here as if you didn’t become speed, R.I.P my friend.  These nasty fuckers would even bounce...

There was all types of shit to worry about - jellies, asteroids, spaceships, party rings, various types of snakes and more....

These things shot, moved in ‘convenient’ formations and were there to show you hell.

Totally unfair, horribly unforgiving but very addictive!

A true nightmare...

Sanxion, Thalamus 1986

First off, the title screen treated you to a truly great and recognisable theme of Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights.

From then on, it was high-speed shooter marred by some ‘gravity’ gameplay issues.

CJ’s Elephant Antics and CJ in the USA, Codemasters 1991

From the title, it looks like you could be an elephant trainer in a circus, pampering Dumbo’s every need, but no, as you were the namesake and was an elephant.

They were both action platformers and to me were a huge rip-off of Taito’s The NewZealand Story.

The first game featured a great intro as you jumped out of a plane.  Why was an elephant on a plane and how did it learn to safely use a parachute?

Maybe it gave a stupid explanation but I don’t have a clue.

The second may have had a similar great intro but dunno?

You shot peanuts (of course), threw bombs (not of course) and made your way to defeat a boss.

Good graphics, 2P and great fun to play.

Cheats I remember was typing in hairy arseholes and I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts for each game respectively for infinite lives.

The NewZealand Story, Ocean 1989

In case you're wondering why there is no space between New and Zealand, it's because that’s how it was written...

So I’ve described the rip-offs so this was based on the 1988 Taito arcade and was a great conversion.

As a kiwi and your trusty arrows, you could gain other weapons as you bumbled your way to the goal to rescue a caged buddy.

The levels were maze affairs but arrows helped your cause by acting as a guide and you could nick enemies balloons along the way.

Bosses included a whale and a walrus.

It was basically a scrolling Bubble Bobble (which is no bad thing) and featured very cute enemies and even EXTEND.

If you don’t know what that means – play Bub Bob he he.

Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top ‘O Fun, Mindscape 1990

What a title and what the fuck.... do I remember?

Not much apart from it was in a circus, it had a scary art sleeve and maybe you performed tricks.

Was it maybe an inspiration for the futuristic Aero the Acrobat?  Who knows?

Fist 2: The Legend Continues, Melbourne House 1986

Another scrolling expansion and this was weird.

It was an action adventure and apart from fisticuffs, I remember walking around a jungle, caves and praying in some kind of temple???

Its purpose or goal - no fucking idea?

The repetitive but classic music still haunts me now.


Live Action 5 All-Action Computer Hits, Ocean 1987

Another compy with Great Escape, Top Gun, Green Beret, Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Army Moves.

GE – not revisiting the roll-call nightmare.

TG was based on the hit Tom Cruise 80s classic and was certainly really ‘playable’.

Green Beret (originally released as Rush ‘n Attack) was based on the Konami arcade and for better or for worse, it looked really different when compared to the Speccy port (previously described).

When you died, a commiserating tune occurred and although in reality, it only lasted for about 10s, it felt like forever.

Why do I want to hear the same tune over and over again – it was just rubbing your fucking nose in it.

RFBP2 – Had a scrolling jungle stage (which encouraged your knife) and a helicopter stage.  Awful stuff but at least the music sounded like the anti-Russian film.

AM – Stages included using a variety of army vehicles including a jeep, chopper and on foot.

The jeep stage was good, but a pain in the ass due to strategically placed holes and it did have a really good version of Hitler has only got one ball, which was (back then) sang to the tune of The Colonel Bogey March.

GB and AM were the pick of an average bunch.

Black Lamp, Firebird 1988

Not much recall on this one apart from a great orchestral like theme.  I’m sure it was a platform game but not much else.

180, M.A.D 1986

A darts game, more playable (thank goodness) than most sports efforts and with practice you could achieve the namesake.  The bosses were:

Made in the era when darts really was darts with Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson (R.I.P) et al ruling the roost and the above names were obviously hilariously tacky.

Even more funny was the CPU controlled sprites of throwing – unintentionally awful.

To those who remember, the digitised speech of ‘180’ was great.

Aaargh, Melbourne House 1989

The title just about sums this game up.

How about FFFFUUUUUCCCCKKKKK, as this was game was HORRENDOUS.

Ugs and dinosaurs scream the namesake on how truly aaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh it was.

Alien Storm, U.S Gold 1991

Port of the fun Sega action arcade which was colourful, playable and was as good as I could have expected.  Graphics and bosses were given a thumbs up.

Alien Syndrome, A.C.E 1989

A maze game with aliens (but not the Giger type).  Pass!

The Astonishing Story of Mr Weems and the She Vampires, Piranha 1987

A truly astonishing title but was it truly an astonishing game?  Well it involved Mr Weems, finding keys and killing lady vamps.  If that’s right – I am finding a chair and falling off it....

Attack of the Mutant Camels, Llamasoft 1983

They really were serious with this one; a spaceship shooting giant chameleonic camels against a blatant rip of a Defender style environment.

Rip or not, I want to score some of their drugs....

Baal, Pysgnosis 1989

Great sleeve art and was some kind of platform shooting game which I remember to be awful.

Blue Angel 69, Magicbytes 1989

It was a puzzle game in which you had to gain a higher score than your opponent by using numbers.

Hajime Sorayama was a Japanese artist who drew many sexy robots....  I bet no credit was given for the cover art.

Blood ‘n Guts, Action Software 1986

A ridiculous sport game in the form of Hyper Sports et al.

Back to the Future, Electric Dreams 1986

A very odd but original take on one of the many games based on the classic 80's time travelling film.

As Marty, your job was to make Lorraine stick to George (literally) while avoiding Biff.  This was more difficult than what it sounded...

Sticking Lorraine and George together prompted a crude The Power of Love theme.

Also, there was a digitised face of Marty, your photograph that could be ‘erased from existence’ and the ending saw you shooting off in the DeLorean.

I’m sure Marty was dressed in red....

So bits and bobs threatened to be faithful but couldn't save it from forcing a battery change to my yawnometer.

Bangers & Mash, Alternative 1992

Platform game with witches and apes.  Collect the fruit to reward a balloon ride?

Who Bangers and Mash were?  Help?

Barbarian, Melbourne House 1987

No I’m not going over old ground nor making it up as this was a totally different game to Palace’s effort.

Apart from some kind of confusion over coincidence on the title, this scrolling action effort sucked greater than constipated vacuum cleaner.

The Bard’s Tale: Tales of the Unknown, II: The Destiny Knight, III: Thief of Fate, Electronic Arts, 1985, 1986 and 1988

Well that was bitch to type but these were classic graphic adventures.  Dare I say it – even RPGs.

Many dungeons, puzzles, guilds, levelling up, magic and drawing a map was essential.

They had great music and I’d love to harp on about all three but I really can’t, due to memory restrictions...

So I’ve mentioned magic, levelling up and guilds.

Take a deep breath and inhale this...

Was this the first real RPG?  Did Final Fantasy (possibly the most famous RPG ever) rip this off?  Did the idea of having guilds originate from this and not World of Warcraft (WOW)?

Think about it?

But further think and throw all those digestible thoughts and decide that even the Bard’s Tale was ripped from the ancient Wizardry games by Sir-Tech in the early 80s and 90s.

Other convenient looks, layouts and theme include the Might and Magic series.

So that’s much to chew over... chomp, gulp and swallow.

Batman: The Caped Crusader, Ocean 1988

A comic book adventure and it tried to look like one too as each screen remained in the background.

I don’t care about its look as it was absolutely......... shocking.

Battlezone, Atarisoft 1983

A port of a very early arcade and despite the awful vector graphics, was a fairly playable 3D shoot em up.

Get the enemy tank in your sights and shoot through the crosshair.

I got this a few years after it was released but it still looked awful so it must have been amazing in the arcade.

Beer Belly Burt in Brew Biz, American Eagle 1985

Despite the title, this didn’t encourage alcoholism.

Releasing this game today would of course fuel the fires of all those who practice teetotalism.

It was a platform game and had keys.  You might have had to create beer while destroying recovering alcoholics for all I know.

Better Dead than Alien, Electra 1988

A space invaders clone and your sprite looked like an ill condom.

It also featured the Brain Eaters.  'Original' stuff!

Forbidden Forest and Beyond the Forbidden Forest, Cosmi 1983 and 1985

I have psychological scars of the disturbing soundtrack and gory gameplay.  This was a survival horror as you used your trusty bow and many arrows to take out various bizarre and creepy enemies as you entered a certain foreboding forest.

Spiders, frogs, snakes, bees and more would attempt to send you to an early grave.

The music was scary, high-pitched and memorable.  The graphics were blocky but had a certain chime to them – rather like the later Op Wolf.

I quiver with fear even now as you’d be gored and crushed in various ways.

Another horrific journey to a forest, and appallingly – it dared, double dared and triple dared you to venture beyond it.

It was dubbed utilising OmniDimension-4D which meant you could move in and out of the fore and background at will.

Those who thought that Fatal Fury was the first to use this viewpoint are sadly wrong.

So, with many pairs of brown trousers packed, you would scamper off beyond and the deaths were even more gruesome.

Drained dry by a mosquito, mauled by a scorpion and eaten by a Tremors worm were some of the ghastly ways that would seal your fate.

The freaky and psychedelic music during these fatalities just made it even worse.

Remember, these were released in the early 80s....

Both classics and dead scary too!

Forgotten Worlds, U.S Gold 1989

One of the few Capcom arcade classics that was more 'forgotten' than most which saw flying dudes shoot their stuff in space.

It was a mighty fine stab on the Commie and featured some excellent graphics.

It was pretty annoying to play though as the angling the gun didn’t really do as it was told.

As with all good C64 efforts, there was 2P action.

Money was left by baddies and as you floated through the air, a shop seed would sprout a building and as per usual – you could use your cash to buy power ups.

The main boss I remember was a huge dragon.

I also seem to recall it had great loading screens and the dudes looked like something out of Contra or Final Fight.

Fungus, Players 1986

This was fast frenetic action and was some kind of jump ‘em’ up as you hopped from floating ground to the other, together with of course collecting fungus and avoiding baddies.

It was decent to look at and playable, so good stuff.

Blade Runner, CRL 1985

Yes this was another game based on a now cult classic film and to think, it was largely ignored upon release.  Criminal!

Anyway, this was much in the mould of Alien on the Speccy and featured the blueprint look.  What you did?  No freaking idea but the Vangelis theme was pretty nice.

Bombuzal, Mirrorsoft 1988

An excellent puzzle game which to progress saw you having to detonate bombs on each of its many levels and fuck, did it get tricky.

All bombs were on tiles and there were many different types of these to make the gameplay interesting and tasty.

Ice, switch, teleports, and rail tiles all featured.  Some are common sense in their use but the rail tiles allowed you to pick up bombs and move them along other connected rail tiles and switches saw a role reversal such as bombs shrinking.

There was more but I don’t know.  I know there were different sizes and types of bombs and in effect, destroyed a greater amount of tiles.

Finally, a small bomb was the only bomb that couldn’t kill you.

An ingenious puzzle game and back to reffing – and although a totally different type of game, did Bomberman nick from this?

Bomber, Active Developments 1992

Got this on a cover tape as I don’t think it was a commercial release and mashed your brain with its simplicity.

All you did was move a decidedly bomb proof bucket from left to right to catch bombs that the mad bomber was mindlessly chucking down.

I’m sure there was ‘Bomber’ splatted on the wall as graffiti.

Boulder Dash, First Star Software 1984

A definite cult classic which saw Rockford dig his way through caves, dodge enemies, smuggle diamonds and when enough was got, the exit loomed large.

The constant dangers of being crushed and falling rocks added to the tension (and frustration).

There was a second, third and even a Construction Kit which permitted your own level design – great!

There would also be an unrelated shoot ‘em’ up kit.....

Bounder and Re-Bounder, Gremlin Graphics 1986, 1987

These were both tough and incredibly addictive.

The idea was simple but effective by controlling a constantly bouncing tennis ball and judging the bounce of the ball was the key to avoid obstacles.

Considering that other bouncing ball nightmares like Cauldron 2, these were actually fun.

Realm of Impossibility, EA 1984

Mazes, a stick man and smacks of Ant Attack.

One thing’s for sure, it’s impossible for me to remember this obscure oddity.

Buck Roger: Planet of Zoom, U.S Gold 1983

Awful title and an equally awful game!  Honestly, this could have been about anybody as you were stuck in a spaceship in a terrible 3D landscape.

You could get this on cart too.

By Fair Means or Foul, Superior Software 1988

Fun take on boxing as you could perform illegal moves when the ref was looking the other way.

Red Card years later would do the same with football.

Also, Ali was on the front over.

Cabal, Ocean 1989

Great war shooter using a crosshair to kick enemy ass (touched on in SNK war feature) but was a great game as the backgrounds could be destroyed and had intense 2P action.

So to repeat myself – Nam 1975 would expand but undeniably be the same sort of game, together with Blood Bros by TAD.

California Games, Epyx 1987

Another sports event ‘em’ up featuring skateboarding, surfing and BMX riding.

What I can remember, it was very playable.

Exile, Audiogenic 1991

Remember this well due to its awesome animation on was definitely a pre-cursor to Metroid.

Gravity really can work in the tight hands and is a timeless arcade adventure with brilliant physics and there was always something new to do due to its hugeness.

Maybe not everybody’s taste but nevertheless, brilliant!

China Miner, Interceptor Software 1984

Oh my word, an incredible rip off of Manic Miner and how this didn’t go down The Great Giana Sisters route blags my brain.

Truly and utterly..... AWFUL!

Clean Up Time, Players 1986

What did you on this, it suggests some kind of spring cleaning game but then again, it could be anything.  I know there was a sequel in 1987 called Clean Up Service but never played it.

Cobra Force, Players 1989

A colourful shooting game, featuring an oversized helicopter and it was similar to the chopper level in Army Moves.

Hacker and Hacker 2: The Doomsday Papers, Activision 1985 and 1986

These were like no other games.  Trial and error was the key and I remember not knowing what the fuck to do but did manage to control robots.  The sequel was more of the same and those security cameras did my tree in.

Totally original and imagine games like these today?  Highly unlikely.

Cuthbert in the Jungle, Microdeal 1984

A totally terrible Pitfall clone!

Hysteria, Software Projects 1987

An action platform game and don’t remember much apart from the gay half naked guy on the front cover.

Zamzara, Hewson 1988

Got this baby on budget and was a sort of Cybernoid clone but with a strange alien instead.  It boasted loads of huge enemies and blasted them with a reflection lazer.

You couldn’t crouch which made it TOO hard but persevere and you’ll see some nice beasties.

Zynaps, Hewson 1987

Scrolling shooter time again that looked sometimes like Delta.  Hard but fun.

IK+, System 3 1987

Nice one on one fighter with up to 2P fighting against a CPU or alternatively against 2 CPUs.

You couldn’t really knock people out, but planting them certainly helped impress the stereotypical on-looking master.

The bonus round was hugely fun and tested your reactions as you had to deflect oncoming bouncing balls.  It certainly got fast.

Your pants would fall down prompting embarrassment.  Strange!

Killed until Dead, Accolade 1986

Brilliant detective drama stroke murder mystery which saw you have to gather clues and interview suspects.

When questioning suspects, they’d either display nervousness or asking too many wrong questions would result in death.

I wish I could remember more but know it was very good and original.

Knightmare, Activision 1987

Remember the classic TV show.  I swear I never missed an episode as over the watchful eye of Treguard and donning the Helmet of Justice, this was brilliant stuff.  A slot was always made after school on Friday afternoons for this one.

So expect super advanced computer graphics from the Travelling Matte Company on the C64?

Yeah and I can predict six lucky balls every week...

Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO... on the first screen?

All that happened was an old man would shuffle from one end of the screen to the other, stop and then repeat.


Back to the TV show, as it went on, it got worse as they introduced more actors including a very irritating elf thing by Treguard’s side who obviously tried to be funny.

Unsurprisingly due to its layout and mechanics, it was inspired by text adventures and even Speccy classic Atic Atac.

Spellcasting T-U-R-N T-H-I-S I-N-T-O A G- O- O- D G- A- M- E

Exterminator, Audiogenic 1990

Very good graphics as you were a floating hand and your job was to ‘exterminate’ bugs from various rooms.

Cyberdyne Warrior, Hewson 1989

A nice little platform shooting game and I can’t remember what its goal was.  But I seem to remember when playing it with my mate, we were so bad at it we decided to make a map.

You'd think a sensible course of action but usually, I could never be bothered.

Careful creation meant an impressive result - we finished it.

Elidon, Orpheus 1985

FUBAR game.  The only thing I recollect is losing your fairy wings.


Garfield: Big, Fat Hairy Deal, The Edge 1987

Despite having big colourful chars, this game was a big fat hairy pair of balls.

Gemini Wing, Virgin 1989

A vertical shooter ported from the arcade port and was okay to shit.

Gerry the Germ Goes Body Poppin, Firebird 1986

That has got to be the best title in video game history.

It was a fairly sick idea because as Gerry, your mission was to move around various parts of the body and to kill the unfortunate host.

Pancreas, Kidneys, Bladder, Heart and more.

Does that mean every time I need a Wii, there’s some evil bastard germ attacking me?

Thankfully, he hasn’t been successful yet.

Golden Axe, Virgin 1990

It was fairly boring due to taking on one enemy at a time but still a good port from the Sega classic.

The char select screen was very good and the magic effects were authentic.

Great Gurianos, Encore 1987

Freaky scrolling beater, featuring huge sprites and saw you hack colour blocks off enemies.  

Yeah I know...

The Happiest Days of Your Life, Firebird 1986

Those titles keep coming and your aim here was to nick a teacher’s wallet – WTF?

Hardball!, Accolade 1985

A very playable baseball game and thanks to my keen eye for gaming and film related knowledge – the grandson (Fred Savage of The Wonder Years fame) was playing it at the beginning of Rob Reiner’s delightful film fantasy – The Princess Bride.

Hawkeye, Thalamus 1988

This was a good run and gun platform game, featuring great music, animation, eagle faces and dinosaurs.  Don’t know what you did but a cute version would later be Flimbo’s Quest.

Hyper Sports, Imagine 1985

Another sports game but was good fun and saw you participate in events including skeet shooting, archery and swimming.

My stick never forgave me for the latter event...

Mermaid Madness, Electric Dreams 1986

Had a nice theme of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker but that was fairly normal compared to the rest!  You were a salad dodging mermaid who couldn’t get the hint that her human ‘lover’ just wanted to get away.

So you had to get to solve puzzles to achieve?

Yes I really don’t know how it ended...

Narc, Ocean 1990

More arcade port lovelies in the form of a side-scrolling shooting game.

Tonnes of sprites on screen and relentless action made this a hit.  Golden Axe take note.

Having said that, it did become boring pretty quickly but strangely, its blocky sprites made it look great.

Nemesis, Konami 1986

Remember the earlier Salamander confusion, well this was Gradius released under a different name.

Kicked ass though and up there with the very best of arcade ports.

Nemises the Warlock, Martech 1986

A totally fucked up game as it saw the Nemises taking out terminators but as he got hurt, there was a hand that squeezed his heart, until eventually he’d die – in a very gory fashion.

To progress, you had to destroy an amount of terminators and could even be used as stepping stones to reach new heights (sometimes the exit).

I recall that killing the baddies would sometimes prompt a demon or was it a zombie to rise and always freaked me out.

This was adapted from a char in the classic fantasy comic 2000 A.D.

North and South, Infogrames 1991

A war strategy game which tried to inject humour to the American Civil War?

Parallax, Ocean 1986

This was a strange, but original and forgotten classic shooting game featuring over and under action, hence its name. 

It had a sci-fi theme too featuring aliens and scientists, but the selling point was its EPIC soundtrack.

I can’t talk more as I don’t know.

Bubble Bobble, Firebird 1987

Now, it is the beginning of a fantastic story!  Let’s make a journey to the cave on monsters! !Good Luck!

That is what you were presented with when beginning the game and your bubble would burst, many times.

As Bub and Bob, the bubble blowing dinosaurs would attempt to trap enemies and them go pop/

100 screens, packed with a variety of annoying and cute enemies, ranging from springs, marshmallows, judges and onions.  Some decided to fire projectiles such as boomerang hammers and fireballs.  There’d even be an end boss.

This was the basic way but like its future sequel, Rainbow Islands there were so many others, together with power ups to help your cause.

Umbrellas, sandals, water eggs, fire bombs, lightning strikes, speed bubbles and many more.

Umbrellas were the most sought after item as these skipped levels (colours skipped more than others).

Your bubs would even be useful as these acted as platforms if jumped correctly on but jump straight through them and they’d be popped.

2P simultaneous action was important and that’s how it must be played, as between you – taking out whatever enemy was always a premium delicacy.

So that’s the game, so how’s the graphics and music?

The visuals were up there with been as good as 8 bit possible and apart from the colours been inferior to its arcade parent, it looked outstanding.  No glitching and smooth as silk too.

Audio on the title screen was brilliant and in-game, possibly the most memorable themes of all time.  It was fabulous at first, got a bit less so and after playing so long, it became marmite.

No matter what your opinion was on the music, nobody could deny it stuck in your grey matter...

Again, not totally perfect as jumping was a bit dodgy and the preciseness meant frustration.

Up there with the best C64 arcade port and to me, only Rainbow Islands beats it (and that had missing levels) so one helluva achievement.

Sheep in Space, Llamasoft 1984

Remember camels, now enter the baa baas...

I wanted elephants, coyotes or crocodiles in space.  I really didn’t.

More drug related mayhem.

Night Shift, Lucasarts 1990

Brilliant stuff here as it involved you fixing machinery which got really tricky later on.

Ninja Spirit, Activision 1990

A tough and addictive arcade slash ‘em’ up port with a multi-armed boss and intimidating music.

Shinobi, Virgin 1989

Today you have Shinobi games with super advanced graphics, but back in the 80’s – you had this.

It wasn’t shit though and was a supreme port of the Sega classic featuring all the ingredients.

Shadow Dancer, U.S Gold 1991

Sequel to the former and you had a darling woof woof to assist you.  Good stuff, playable but had some bad design flaws, mainly respawning issues.  It did have a good ending which could be watched as many times as you wished.

Slap Fight, Imagine 1987

What sort of title is that?  You'd think a fighting game but no as it was a shooter, with graphics very similar to Uridium.  It had interesting attack patterns and distinct weapon upgrades.

Slayer, Hewson 1988

A fairly tiresome shooting game, not much more to say.

IO, Firebird 1988

Now I’m really confused, this is a blatant rip off (in looks) as the above but was a far better game.  I can’t believe it’s a sequel as Firebird and Hewson were not parent or sister companies.

Enforcer, Computec 1992

This isn’t a very well known fact but it’s official - Manfred you are a liar as in this you made a sort of sequel to Denaris and Turrican 2 shum up stages, as an entire game.

Graphics were good but were mainly recycled from Denaris and T2, trust me I know.

As its interface was largely nicked from Turry 2, it suggests the genius was either been lazy or nostalgic?  

I hope it was the latter.

Anyway, this really was his last game on the C64.

Spiky Harold, Firebird 1986

Before Sonic, we had this prickly hero.

Well this senseless mess opened up with a hedgehog pacing relentlessly left to right to the theme of Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.

To be fair, it was at least recognisable and the game basically involved finding and consuming apples.

While some hedgehogs are insectivores, they could also be described as omnivores as some species, amongst other things, feast on insects, snails, mushrooms, berries and melons.

Do these spiny creatures actually eat apples?

Maybe if it went on a forced fast and was hypnotised by a horny lover but I reckon not. 

This hedgehog is obviously a Granny Smithivore.

Why is Harold white?

Is that really the best colour they could come up with on a C64, why not brown or how about been really dangerous and a combo of colours.

Also, why is it filmed in Spectrum vision?

So it was a platform game, a bit like Dizzy w/o the puzzles and your giant sized hedgehog jumped and tried to squeeze into impossible spaces trying to feed his addiction.

Coins reaped extra lives and why is he so fucking big – it makes the game ridiculously hard to an irritating degree.  Why does he die when any other stereotypical insect or animal touches him and finally he suffers with a social anxiety order of grinning.

There are many other ways to portray cuteness and smiling is not one of them – it’s just fucking creepy.

Could have been great but was frustrating, ported lazily and sucked hard.

Spy Vs Spy, First Star/Beyond 1984

Remember me chatting about Feud on the Speccy, well I reckon this was its inspiration as it was the same sort of idea, but with rival spies.

You basically had to set traps, ambush and kill the other spy (white or black).

There were two sequels in The Island Caper and Arctic Antics – different settings of course but same shit, different games.

Street Hassle, Beam/Melbourne House 1987

This was like Apollo Creed in its amount of names as it could be known as Street Hassle, Bop ‘n Rumble and Bad Street Brawler.  I had it as Street Hassle.

Obviously it was a hassle to stick to one name, the only reason I can think of why it was released under so many different names were small changes and to make it more well known across Europe.

So whatever name, it was a comical scrolling fighting Final Fight and you could grapple baddies and beat up the elderly.  Why was they even featured as an enemy?

Again, the blocky graphics suited the style and while limited, its fighting humour and moves at least made it fun.

Street Sports Basketball, Epyx 1987

This was a very playable sports game and the selectable chars actually played differently on court and not just a set of Mortal Conbat ninjas.

It had a pretty good selection of courts too including a schoolyard and the city.

Other Street Sports games would appear including baseball and football.  I suppose the same idea and mechanics but no idea as I only ever shot hoops.

The following games were only available on floppy disc and suffered from much pain in the arse disc swapping but hey, so did Amiga games, so let’s type LOAD “*”, 8,1 and fire these bastards up...

Ski or Die, EA 1990

Well what a pleasant title.  Actually that title was pretty confusing as it suggested only skiing but in truth there was also snowboarding and even snowballing.

This was good stuff and featured a shop owned by the freaky Rodney.

FYI, this was actually a sequel to Skate or Die and apparently was a better game.  I can’t comment.

Project Firestart, EA 1989

Right, before Resident Evil and more importantly Dead Space – you had this nightmarish journey into space hell.

This was a true horror classic and pretty terrifying.  I’ve already detailed it in my Films sequels rant but in case you missed that, it was set on board a research vessel, the Prometheus.

Project Firestart's aim was to produce mining labourers who were able to work under extremely rare conditions to graft on asteriods.  So basically create extra strong mining vegetables and whilst doing so, it was essential they was not capable of replication or cloning.

But of course, things would go wrong, big time.

Suffice to say, Promiveriates would unleash horror and chaos.

It had a great cinematic intro and it only got better.

Superb sound, a kick ass atmosphere, a puzzling environment, gory and really shit yer’ pants scary.

A true milestone in retro gaming and still maybe possibly remains unknown even to this day.

It was based on one of the very best films of all time – Aliens.

Maniac Mansion, Lucasfilm 1987

An overriding and absolute classic!

They were text adventures, then graphic text adventures and then there was this that slammed it altogether in one delicious package.

Its interface was basically a text adventure but was so much better as you could combine commands as they were already there and wasn’t just a headfuck of guesswork and frustration.

‘Walk to’, ‘Open’, ‘Close’, ‘Push’, ‘Give’, ‘Unlock’ were just some of the commands essential to your quest.

Like I’ve mentioned, you could combine these like ‘Push’ and click on whatever and create a combined command.  Get it?

You chose three out of seven chars and all had unique knowledge so I suppose strengths and weaknesses.  Dave was pre-selected and choosing the other two was essential as I believe you could only complete it using these other two chars.

Was it Michael and Bernard?  I think so.

The plot was that you had to rescue a kidnapped girl from a creep mansion inhabited by equally ‘sane’ hosts.

It thrived on humour and just oozed quality throughout in graphics, subtle sound effects and many great in-game cut scenes.

Puzzles I remember was getting strong on a Hunkomatic machine, smashing developing fluid, escaping from a prison using a secret panel, running from Edna, befriending a tentacle and giving Weird Ed his package.

I did have a tiny gripe in an otherwise near perfect game, was that the controls could be sluggish at times and that selecting the wrong chars rendered it impossible or certainly prevented you from progressing.

I’m sure there were enough hints to prevent this but again, I’m splitting the minutest of hairs.

A genre defining classic and its sequel, Day of the Tentacle was later released on the PC.


Defender of the Crown, Cinemaware 1987

This was an excellent action adventure.

A number of chars could be selected and I always chose Wilfred.

You could build up your rep of jousting, gold and leadership in your quest to rule the kingdom.

Other gameplay elements included laying siege to a castle and destroy its wall using a catapult, after which swordplay followed and on success, saw you rescue a princess.

Jousting looked the best as it was portrayed in a sort of 3D perspective.  Do it right – earn respect but do it wrong and you’d dismount your gee gee in disgrace.

The basic idea was building an army to take over other castles and conquer the kingdom.  This became easier as you and your army became stronger.

A map screen made all this possible as you could freely select various actions.

Careful though, if you left your only castle unprotected and it was attacked.  You were dead.

This was really frustrating as ‘Battles raged across the land’.  At almost random intervals, this would happen when you really didn’t want it to….

So overall, a very good game featuring excellent graphics, good gameplay, and some good if repetitive music.

Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon, Cinemaware 1988

Only remember this one as it featured these HUGE lips when you rescued a princess.

Was it any good?  Well it had excellent graphics but was far too unforgiving in its gameplay as it really punished you for fucking up.

The Guild of Thieves, Rainbird 1987

An amazing looking graphic adventure!

I seem to recall that you could even type complicated commands that wouldn't normally be accepted in text adventures.

Frustrating as it is, I can’t remember a good example although it was possible to bet on a cock fight.

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Lucasfilm 1988

This wasn’t the sequel to Mansion but featured the same gameplay interface, so obviously that’s already great news.

Can’t remember quite as much but retained the same wicked humour and classic gameplay.

Along with Mansion, and Monkey Island, this was the epitome of point and click adventure games.


And so we come to cartridges or carts…. Nearly instant loading and near brilliance – hmmm?

Apply them to the expansion port (with power off of course) and we’ll find out.

Navy Seals, Ocean 1990

A fairly standard run of the mill arcade shooting game, based on the mediocre film.

The arcade levels were basically The Untouchables with terrorists and like ‘that’ level in the other Ocean effort, was a hugely frustrating chore and a right pain in the booty.

It did expand slightly as you could monkey swing and I think the aim of each level was to disarm bombs.

As with all cart games, there were some very nice static screens.

Robocop 2, Ocean 1990

Welcome to possibly the funniest game ever made.

Like MP Soccer, it wasn't supposed to tickle your ribs but unintentionally or not, ho ho ho, green giant.

Firstly, apart from Nuke and Robocop 2, what did this have to do with the film?

It was an action scrolling adventure and involved collecting enough Nuke to progress, otherwise you’d be forced to repeat the mission.

It described it as destroying Nuke but I’m not buying it as in this game, Robo was as much of a junkie as Cain…

The funnies would come thick and fast, genuine chuckles, chortles and guffaws aplenty here:

1.    The title screen – why was a static Robocop shooting and ejecting orange cartridges?    His ‘human’ face was blue and why was his robotic body also ‘blue’?
2.    Why during the mission briefing did Robo sparkle?  Did someone polish him with Mr Sheen beforehand?
3.    Your bullets were balls
4.    The enemies and innocents were largely hypnotized and intent in committing suicide.     Nothing would stop them.
5.    Robo would slide and jump to the point of illogicalness.
6.    Each enemy or innocent would fly off the screen.
7.    Later innocents would have their arms flail.  Why not move and why did they fly off the screen when ‘rescued’?
8.    The sound FX was laughably awful, especially that screech on rescuing hostages.
9.    Why on reaching the end of a stage was there a strange sonic afterthought?
10.  The stage completion screen had poor Robo having marbles as fingers.
11.  The death screen saw Robo garbling nonsense and even seemed cheeriful about been dismantled.  After starring in this game, who could blame him?
12.  Upon completion, Robo’s face looked suitably amused

So twelve aspects of purposeful piss-taking, I’m sure they knew what they were doing…

On a positive side, Robocop 2 did look pretty cool.

Shadow of the Beast, Ocean 1990

This was ambitious to say the least as it was destined never to outdo the original Reflections/Psygnosis Amiga game which came out in 1989.  Even with cart power, this was still only a C64…

That sounds really mean, but let’s be honest - the Amiga was a much more powerful machine and SOTB looked incredible.  It had amazing backgrounds, huge sprites and fantastic David Whittaker themes.

I remember reading from a review in ZZap that it boasted 132 monsters.

The downsides would come in the form of incredibly limited combat, 99% of enemies suffered from rigamortis and it was tougher to play than trying to crack the combination to a consignment of reject briefcases.

Its gameplay was about as forgiving as a stubborn elephant.

Twelve hits are all you had and the attack patterns let up less than a charging rhino.

But cast those aside, as it was all about the graphics - they were nothing short of jaw-dropping.

It was only superior to the Amiga because of instant loading compared to hard disc but there would be many cutbacks…

The graphics were of course pretty basic, especially the backgrounds as some were relegated to being just dots and those areas that did have something to look at had been stripped more excessively than a eager scrap yard merchant.

Loads of monsters were missing too.

The tunes were ok and the death screen remained fairly authentic but one thing that made the Amiga game less of a chore was hits increasing from 12 to 25.

So if this was a C64 exclusive, it would have been fantastic but even a C64 worshipper like me can’t help comparing it to the Amiga game as it was one of the few ports that many will feel compelled to do so.

Maybe they should have bitten the bullet and made it totally different in look.

SCI, Ocean 1990

Special Criminal Investigation (in full) was the sequel to Chase H.Q and was based on the Taito coin-op.

The usual occasionally pretty screen would be seen and the gameplay was chase and shoot.

Fairly playable and the first cart game I owned.

Toki, Ocean 1991

A run and gun or action shooting game which saw an enchanted ape take on numerous enemies by spitting fireballs.

It was always difficult to port an arcade to an 8-bit and this effort was a decent stab in doing so from the original TAD coin gobbler.

Not the best arcade port as that tag surely belongs to Rainbow Islands.

So all of above apparently featured instant loading but this wasn’t strictly true as if you listened really carefully, (especially in Robocop 2) - there was some kind of loading noise.

The carts in my opinion didn’t really improve upon what we already knew the C64 could do, but more proving that the C64 could load games quicker.

This wasn’t even new technology as other systems (like Atari) and even other C64 games were instant years ago but still, these games were C64 exclusives.

Final thought

The C64 proved, liked the Speccy that sometimes you didn’t need billions of colours, trillions of polygons and 500 fps to make a very good and playable game.

Many games of today would become merely super advanced C64 games as many references proudly boast.

It was and still is host to some of the most wonderful and original games you could ever hope to play and even today, most easily hold their own (on playability at least).

Being a retro beast, they still have a distinct charm and providing they weren’t 3D, look tastier than a kebab after a hard nights drinking and sound better than a fruit machine paying out.

The SNES had Konami and Nintendo.  The C64 had Thalamus, System 3 and Rainbow Arts.

The perfect C64 game:

Manfred and Andreas at the graphics and design helm, the humour and charm of the Rowland Brothers and Lucasfilm, tunes belted out from music maestros Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin, David Whittaker and Chris Hulsbeck, and made by Thalamus and/or Rainbow Arts.

My favourite game?  A difficult question with an almost impossible answer!

Turrican(s), Creatures, Maniac Mansion, Retrograde, Phobia, Rainbow Islands, Bubble Bobble, Paradroid, Denaris etc etc.

I could never give an absolute determination.

My ancient machine died about five years ago after Rainbow Islands crashed (I had a PS2 at the time)…

After failed acts of resuscitation, its elderly circuitry had sadly flat-lined.

Suffice to say, it bowed out with unreserved dignity.

It gave so many fantastic hours and an almost unlimited supply of memories.

The Speccy and C64 were the shit compared to the machines of today.

While that sounds crazy to say, you just had to have first hand experience to understand.

This is an excellent C64 reference source.


This is ! DEFINITELY ! the ! LAST ! part

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