Screenshot of Bump Set Spike!

Bump Set Spike!

(Entertainment USA, 1987)

There aren’t many volleyball games for the Amstrad CPC, and this one is very poor. You play a game of doubles volleyball against the computer (there’s no two-player option), and the first team to score ten points wins. The graphics are basic; the players look and behave more like robots than humans, and the overuse of blue doesn’t provide any realism. What is even worse is the control mechanism. Instead of a fast-paced game, every time a player touches the ball, the game pauses while that player positions a marker around the court to indicate where to aim the ball. It totally disrupts the flow and ruins any potential for enjoyment. It’s also impossible to aim the ball diagonally. To borrow some volleyball terminology, spike this game into the bin!

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Screenshot of Bumpy


(Loriciels, 1989)

Guide Bumpy around each of the many levels in this game (I don’t know how many there are) and collect all the items. Each level consists of walls and platforms and you just have to bounce from platform to platform, but it’s not as simple as that; some of the platforms disappear when you bounce on them, while others force you to bounce in a certain direction. You’ll also need to break down some walls and put out fires, but you must have the right power-ups! It’s one of those games which has a simple concept but is ridiculously addictive – I love it! While it can be initially frustrating, practice makes perfect, and the graphics and sounds are pretty good as well.

See also: Bumpy’s Arcade Fantasy, Pop Up.

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Screenshot of Bumpy’s Arcade Fantasy
Screenshot taken from Plus version of game

Bumpy’s Arcade Fantasy

(Loriciel, 1992)

This time, Bumpy is at a fairground consisting of nine attractions, and each attraction contains either twelve or fifteen sub-levels, very similar to the levels in the original Bumpy, and there are over 120 levels to complete! Fortunately, there’s a password system to let you skip the attractions you have completed, and you can attempt any of the levels on an attraction in any order. Also, there are far more different types of platforms and walls, although you soon learn how they work. The graphics are much more colourful too, but while this game is still excellent, it doesn’t seem to be quite as addictive as its predecessor.

See also: Bumpy.

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Screenshot of Bunny Bricks

Bunny Bricks

(Silmarils, 1992)

Breakout meets baseball in this rather nice-looking game. Instead of having a bat to prevent the ball from falling off the screen, you control a bunny with a baseball bat who must hit the ball whenever it comes near. The advantage of this is that you can control where you want the ball to go – upwards, or to the left or right. There are all the usual bonuses to collect, and there are 22 levels to complete. Graphically it’s impressive, albeit a bit garish, although I didn’t like the music much. It’s not a frustratingly difficult game, either, unlike certain other Breakout clones I could name...

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Screenshot of Buran


(OMK, 1990)

Reviewed by Robert Small

I’m not sure how many people know this, but the USSR was developing their own version of the Space Shuttle, and you get to pilot it in this game. Let’s start with the good parts. It offers variety. First you’re tasked with the launch procedure. You will go through pre-flight checks against the clock followed by another mini-game that simulates the stresses of the launch upon the human body. Finally if you’re successful, there is a satellite launch. At this point the game takes an abrupt turn into an arcade shoot-’em-up, first scrolling vertically, followed by a maze-like section. Graphically it isn’t great. The astronaut and space shuttle graphics early on are nice but the arcade section suffers from flicker and choppy scrolling. Original idea; shame about the execution.

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Screenshot of Burnin’ Rubber

Burnin’ Rubber

(Ocean, 1990)

This is the game that every Plus and GX4000 owner has, because it came free with their respective machines. It’s an endurance race where you must stay on the track for as long as possible without running out of time, but first of all, you must qualify to determine your grid position. This game makes full use of the extra capabilities of the Plus and GX4000 machines and it has some beautiful, crystal-clear music on the title screen. The sky even changes from day to night to show your progress! It’s touches like these that make this game better than others like it.

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Screenshot of Buster Block

Buster Block

(Kuma, 1986)

Can you become a bionic block buster by exploring all 400 rooms in a maze full of monsters? The aim in this rather boring game is to explore as much of the maze as you can. Each room contains lots of monsters and lots of blocks which you can push to destroy the monsters, although there are several types of blocks and they all behave differently. However, the monsters can push blocks as well. 400 rooms is a lot, and you’ll become bored long before you reach them all. The graphics and sound effects are nothing special, either.

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Screenshot of Butcher Hill

Butcher Hill

(Gremlin Graphics, 1989)

Reviewed by Piero Serra

Possibly inspired by the wave of Vietnam war films made in the 1980s, Butcher Hill puts you in charge of a group of soldiers navigating the rivers and dense jungles of Vietnam. Sadly, it’s much more like playing a bad computer game than watching a movie. The boat section is first and it feels interminable. When you finally reach a dock, it’s on foot into a 3D jungle section – possibly one of the strangest gaming experiences I have ever had, and not in a good way. The final stage is a third-person shoot-’em-up in a village. The gameplay throughout is leaden and although the graphics are colourful they are often too chunky to see what’s happening. The only reason to load this game would be the atmospheric title music by Ben Daglish, but even this has not been ported over well from the Spectrum original.

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Screenshot of By Fair Means or Foul

By Fair Means or Foul

(Superior Software/Alligata, 1988)

This game was also released on budget as Pro Boxing Simulator. Anyway, beneath the intriguing title is a boxing game where you are allowed (and encouraged) to cheat. There’s an indicator for each player, showing the number of chances they have – when this reaches zero, they lose. If the indicator is red, it means the referee has his eyes on you and you’ll be caught if you foul, but green means you can get away with it. The graphics are great and the characters and referee are well animated, and the sound of the crowd roaring is nice – their comments are even better! However, the controls are too tricky, particularly with the keyboard, and selecting the right moves seems to be a matter of luck most of the time.

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