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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Screenshot of CPC Soccer

CPC Soccer

(VoxelTower, 2020)

Reviewed by Missas

Do you remember how sad we were when we CPC owners did not get a port of Sensible Soccer in the early 1990s? Nearly thirty years later, this misfortune is corrected thanks to VoxelTower. CPC Soccer arrives as an incarnation of one of the best football games ever in the history of video gaming and it sure is fantastic. The graphics are very close to their 16-bit counterpart. They move very fast and smoothly and the player you are controlling flashes so you do not get confused. The scrolling is fantastic, but where the game excels is its gameplay. It is truly entertaining and there are many options and teams. In my humble opinion, this is by far the best CPC football game ever.

See also: CPC Soccer 22.

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Screenshot of CPC Soccer 22

CPC Soccer 22

(VoxelTower, 2021)

When CPC Soccer was released, it caught the attention of many CPC fans, who made comparisons to Sensible Soccer. However, there were a few minor niggles. CPC Soccer 22 is an updated version that features several improvements. The most obvious one is that the action is now presented in the CPC’s Mode 0, so teams and players now wear appropriately coloured shirts. There are also five types of pitch that affect the behaviour of the ball, cutscenes where the referee approaches a player to give him a yellow or red card, and a cursor to show where you’re aiming when you’re taking, for example, a goal kick or a corner. It’s still not perfect – the horizontal scrolling of the pitch still feels jerky – but it’s a joy to play, and with all the improvements, it’s difficult to argue against it being the best football game for the CPC.

See also: CPC Soccer.

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Screenshot of Crack Down

Crack Down

(US Gold, 1990)

The evil Dr K is planning to take over the world with a race of biogenetic humanoids. Enter Andy Attacker and Ben Breaker, two guys on a mission to fight their way through sixteen levels of mayhem in Dr K’s fortress. Don’t you just love original plots? Anyway, this is a reasonably good game. You (and another player if you can find one) must explore each level and plant some detonators at specific points, and find the exit quickly before they explode. Fortunately, there’s a map which shows you where to plant them. There’s a lot of shooting involved as well, and the humanoids are rather nasty as well. The graphics are pretty good and the sound effects are OK, but it’s a bit too difficult (although you get plenty of credits) and the collision detection could be better.

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Screenshot of Crack-Up

Crack-Up

(Atlantis, 1989)

Breakout has been around since 1976, and this version of it is probably deliberately based on the versions from the early days to give it that retro feel; all the bricks are blocks of one colour, and the ball is simply a square. The sound effects are few and far between as well. OK, so the presentation might be minimal, but the levels are rather badly designed, and it’s very difficult to clear all the bricks from each level; often you rely on collecting a power-up which sends you to the next level. At least you can choose which level you want to start on.

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Screenshot of CRAY-5

CRAY-5

(Topo Soft, 1987)

An asteroid colony has been struck by a meteor, and the CRAY-5 supercomputer which controls the colony’s atmosphere has been damaged. The only way to save the colony is to activate thirteen interrupters scattered around nine zones of the complex within a time limit. You will need to collect keys in order to unlock doors within the complex; however, there are three types of door, and only the correct type of key will unlock them. Other hazards include magnets, spikes and walls marked with a skull and crossbones symbol, all of which drain your energy if you touch them. The graphics and music are both rather basic, but everything is recognisable. The main problem is that you will often have to fly through some very narrow passages, and it’s almost impossible to avoid contact with aliens or the aforementioned energy-sapping walls, which makes it extremely difficult to make much progress in the game.

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