(Iván Ávila, 2020)
It’s World War II and you’re in a dogfight against the German army. There are three levels in which you must either shoot or bomb planes, airships, hot air balloons and tanks, and in the fourth and final level, you must drop bombs on a battleship in an attempt to sink it. The game is written in BASIC and uses the 8BP library for the graphics, scrolling and music. It doesn’t move at a particularly fast pace, although that doesn’t mean the game is easy, as it can be difficult to avoid incoming enemy fire. The graphics are rather simple, although there are occasional glitches where remnants of sprites remain on the screen. The music is quite atmospheric and suits the game rather well. However, the limitations of BASIC are apparent and the gameplay isn’t all that exciting.
(Starlight Software, 1987)
In the year 2187, a hole has formed in the space-time continuum, allowing aliens to invade our dimension. To close the hole, nine pieces of a Spatial Generator must be found. There are 100 pieces in total which are scattered across 256 sectors of the galaxy, so finding nine of them is not as difficult as it could be! However, you only have thirty minutes to complete your mission. Each sector contains hordes of aliens. Once you’ve blasted them all, you will be able to either collect a piece of the generator or replenish your shields and fuel. You can only carry two pieces at a time, and you must return to the hole in order to assemble them. At first, this 3D shoot-’em-up is fun, but it is rather repetitive, as all the sectors are extremely similar to each other. There is also a two-player option, but if you’re playing on your own, it’s a bit dull.
Dr Dogmush has stolen 192 cute little dogs and is currently keeping them in his stronghold – a maze consisting of 25 screens. As Dogsbody, you must explore the maze and rescue the dogs. However, Dr Dogmush’s guards are also on the lookout for Dogsbody and must be avoided. This can be quite tricky, as they will follow you no matter where you go! There are boulders and fast-growing flowers (!) that can block off passages and perhaps kill the guards, but it’s very frustrating to walk on to another screen and lose a life instantly because you unwittingly walked into the path of a guard; unfortunately, the screen doesn’t scroll. The graphics are quite good, and Dogsbody is cute, but there are some flaws in the gameplay that make it awkward to play.
(Free Game Blot, 1987)
Reviewed by Robert Small
This game reminded me a little of the classic Bomb Jack. Instead of defusing bombs as a superhero, you’re lighting candles as an angel so that a door will unlock to take you to the next screen. There are devils that patrol the levels and they will try to impede your progress. The highlight of the game is the background graphics – chunky but with good use of colour. Unfortunately sprite flicker makes an appearance and enemy movement is far from smooth. There is barely any sound either. Gameplay-wise it’s OK, but Bomb Jack is so much better.
(System 3, 1989)
An enormous monster whose size is beyond comprehension is threatening to swallow the Earth. The only hope is to fly inside it and find some sort of weakness that that swarm inside the monster, or avoid them – which isn’t always easy, given the tight confines of the passages that make up the monster’s guts. The graphics and sound effects give a very good first impression of the game, with lots of lovely explosions to be seen and heard, but the guardian at the end of the first level is just too difficult to kill.
(Blue Ribbon, 1990)
Two versions of dominoes are included with this game. In ‘domino out’, you must simply get rid of all seven of your dominoes. If neither player can do so, the dots on each player’s dominoes are added up, and the player with fewer dots scores the difference between each player’s total. In ‘fives and threes’, you have to match the dominoes such that the number of dots at each end of the chain is divisible by either five or three, and points are therefore scored on a turn-by-turn basis. Dominoes isn’t the most thrilling of games – I certainly don’t find it exciting – but at least the graphics make it a bit more interesting.
If you thought that this game was based on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’re wrong! Instead you control a droid who has to load goods on to a rocket, by shooting them with a laser so that they are pushed along the screen. However, there are several creatures which are harmful to the droid, particularly the bouncing green alien who seems to home in on you with remarkable accuracy. Oh, and the alien can’t be destroyed with your laser, which makes the game almost impossible – and even if the game was easier, it would still be dull.
A giant gorilla has captured Mario’s girlfriend and takes her to the top of the skyscrapers in New York. Can Mario climb the girders and rescue her while avoiding the hazards that await him? This classic game was the first one to feature this most famous of computer game characters – although in the original version of this game, he was known as Jumpman. There are four levels with varying styles. However, the first level, in which you must jump over barrels, is rather difficult and will take time to master. The graphics are very faithful to the original version and have a real retro feel, and the sound effects aren’t bad either. It’s a shame there are only four levels, but the game still retains all of its charm.
See also: Kong Strikes Back.
This is a Pac-Man-style game where, as the doodlebug, you must eat all the daisies in the maze and avoid the other insects which will eat you. You can also collect hearts and letters, and if you collect all the right letters, you’ll get lots of bonus points, or you might even be taken to a special bonus screen. The maze consists of lots of turnstiles so that you can block the paths of any insects which might be chasing you. The graphics and sound are both pretty mediocre, but the actual game, though on the difficult side, is surprisingly addictive.
Shareth the Heartstealer, daughter of Doomdark, is set on avenging the death of her father. She has captured Morkin, son of Luxor the Moonprince, and vowed to slay Luxor and conquer the land of Midnight. As Luxor, you have travelled to the land of Icemark. Your main goal is to rescue your beloved son, but greater victory will be achieved if you destroy Shareth and bring Luxor’s companions, Rorthron and Tarithel, safely back to the Gate of Varenorn, where you begin your quest. This epic adventure follows on from events in The Lords of Midnight and it plays very similarly, with an even larger landscape to explore, a wide range of characters to meet, and armies to recruit and battle against. You can even explore underground tunnels. If you like fantasy games then you may easily find yourself spending hours or days engrossed in exploring Icemark and discovering its many secrets!
See also: The Lords of Midnight.