Screenshot of Cosmic Shock Absorber

Cosmic Shock Absorber

(Martech, 1987)

Strap yourself into your CZ Neutrozapper space fighter and prepare to travel through the many dimensions of the universe in order to save it. There are two rather worrying problems, though; the fighter is in need of repair, and you forgot to bring the servicing manual with you! This is a basic 3D shoot-’em-up; blast some aliens, then go to the next level. To make things slightly more interesting (but only slightly), every so often, your fighter will suffer damage, and you must repair it by replacing components on a circuit board within a time limit; if you run out of time, the ship explodes. There are no power-ups to collect, the frame rate is slow, and blasting alien after alien soon becomes very dull – and it doesn’t help that the game itself crashes after a few levels.

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Screenshot of Costa Capers

Costa Capers

(Firebird, 1985)

Ted Blewitt is going on holiday to Spain, but all his luggage has been stolen, so he must find his credit card and buy all of it back, and take and develop 36 photographs to prove to the staff at the Chip Factory that he really was away in Spain. You might remember Ted from his previous outing in Technician Ted. Well, this sequel looks and feels very similar indeed, although you can pick up and drop objects, and get drunk as well, which can sometimes prove useful... The graphics are still primitive and haven’t been improved at all, the music is very annoying indeed, and the difficulty level is again much too high – and you can easily lose all your lives if you jump to another screen incorrectly. This is a game to avoid.

See also: Technician Ted.

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Screenshot of Count Duckula

Count Duckula

(Alternative Software, 1989)

Reviewed by John Beckett

Anyone who’s played the travesty that is Count Duckula 2 will wince in fear at the prospect of another Count Duckula game. But thankfully, its predecessor is not quite as awful! Based on an episode of the dire cartoon series, the aim is to wander around a huge pyramid, find keys to unlock doors, solve basic puzzles and get the magical saxophone at the pyramid’s peak, which can transport Duckula back to his castle – all within a pretty tight time limit. I said this wasn’t as bad as Count Duckula 2, but it’s still pretty bad – the graphics, though detailed, are boring and bland, and the sound... well, the hilariously bad rendition of the show’s theme tune says it all! Too ‘mazey’ and too dull; avoid.

See also: Count Duckula 2.

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Screenshot of Count Duckula 2

Count Duckula 2

(Alternative Software, 1992)

How could something like this ever have been released as late as 1992? To say this game is rubbish is scratching the surface. It’s an absolute insult to my intelligence; I thought it was written in BASIC! It’s a slow and crushingly boring platform game with awful graphics and animation, poor collision detection and ping-ping sound effects, and the tomato gun that Count Duckula is armed with is useless. The tune is the only thing that’s worth talking about. If you want to see an even funnier review of this game, you should look at Amstrad Action’s review, where they gave it 3%.

See also: Count Duckula.

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Screenshot of Countdown

Countdown

(Macsen, 1986)

This is based on the well-known TV quiz show that has been running on Channel 4 since the early 1980s. There are nine rounds in the game, which consist of three types – the anagram game where you attempt to make the longest word from nine letters; the number game where six numbers are picked and you have to use them to calculate another number chosen at random; and the final round, the conundrum, which is an anagram of a nine-letter word. You can play either against a friend or the computer, but it’s no fun at all (you can cheat at the anagram game), especially since there are hardly any graphics to speak of, and the rendition of the theme tune at the start of the game is awful!

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Screenshot of Country Cottages

Country Cottages

(Sterling Software, 1984)

Reviewed by John Beckett

Country Cottages is a pretty simplistic strategy game where you and another player must buy, improve and lease out country homes until one of you is the first to reach a predetermined level of profit and so is declared the winner. It’s about as interesting as it sounds. Apart from occasional still shots of your cottage – created using ‘revolutionary’ Landscape Creation technology (whatever that is) – the entire game is just boring facts and figures. And even if you’re into that kind of thing, the game itself is too simplistic and shallow to offer any real challenge or depth. And so, as a result, it ends up pleasing nobody. To its credit, it’s an original concept, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say about it.

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Screenshot of The Covenant

The Covenant

(PSS, 1985)

You are the last survivor of your race, and deep within a labyrinthine subterranean complex there are 64 pieces of a parchment, known as the covenant, that will enable you to repopulate your planet. In each of the 64 sections of the complex, you must find an anaesthetic and then stun and collect all the creatures that live within it. Once you’ve done that, you need to obtain a key to open the chest that contains a piece of the covenant, which then opens passageways to enable you to go to new sections. The graphics are colourful but rather chunky, and the sound effects are nothing special. The major problem is that you only have one life, and your energy drains very quickly – and some of the energy points actually drain your energy instead of restore it! This is an extremely frustrating game to play and most players will quickly give up and play something else instead.

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Screenshot of Cowboy Kidz

Cowboy Kidz

(Byte Back, 1990)

A consignment of gold is being delivered across the desert and you have to follow the train on your horse, and grab some of it when it reaches the next station. However, there are other cowboys who are out to get you! The music sets the scene nicely and the graphics are quite colourful, too, with some impressive animations. However, the game is a little difficult and it is really beneficial if you remember the layout of each level exactly – the timing is crucial!

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Screenshot of CPC Aventure

CPC Aventure

(Ludovic Deplanque/Christophe Petit, 2005)

Reviewed by Missas

CPC Aventure, as its name implies, is an adventure game with a very interesting storyline. You wander around in the world of the CPC and interact with almost all the famous heroes and characters with which we grew up. The game features nicely drawn graphics and it is quite big. There is almost no sound, but the feeling of meeting again with the most memorable sprites of the CPC era is an unprecedented experience that elicits strong emotions. The grab factor is very strong and the dialogue is very well written. It is a very well conceived game. In my opinion, this is one of the best CPC adventures ever.

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Screenshot of CPC Jewels

CPC Jewels

(ESP Soft, 2022)

The third and last game in ESP Soft’s Columns trilogy is a real gem, which is rather apt given its name. Most of you should know how Columns is played – columns of three randomly selected jewels fall from the top of the screen, and you must move them in order to align three or more jewels of the same colour in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line. If you’re playing on your own, there are three playing modes (time attack, classical and stage-based), and if you want to play against the computer or a friend, there’s a two-player ‘versus’ mode as well. The graphics are really colourful and beautiful – the way the jewels shine occasionally is a particularly nice touch – and the music is a recreation of that which is featured on Sega’s versions of Columns. This is the best version of Columns that ESP Soft have produced and an excellent finale to the series.

See also: Totems.

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