Screenshot of The Fifth Axis

The Fifth Axis

(Activision/Loriciels, 1985)

Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard

In the early 25th century, a scientist has managed to create a time machine. Unfortunately, it exploded and items belonging to other centuries are scattered all over his laboratory. You must collect them and build a new machine. By the way, there are a lot of cyborgs that have gone mad and who will try to kill you... Although it begins like a role-playing game (you must define the attributes of your character) this game is a pure platform game, in which you must find items, kick monsters and climb stairs. The graphics are rather weak but the music is fine and the animation is really smooth. Reaching the top platforms is hard because your character doesn’t react quickly enough to avoid the numerous holes that will bring you down a few levels. So it’s rather frustrating to play, even though it remains an enjoyable game.

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Screenshot of The Fifth Quadrant

The Fifth Quadrant

(Bubble Bus, 1987)

Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard

Some aliens, the Zimen, have taken control of the space station Orion. You must guide four robots through a maze of rooms to find a way to get rid of them. The plot isn’t very original, as a lot of other games use the same storyline. You can shoot at aliens, but they will quickly spawn again from nowhere and your ammunition is limited! You have to find power sources too, in order to continue your progress. Your four droids are exactly the same and it’s impossible to elaborate some kind of strategy. The graphics are poor and the gameplay is far too irritating to make you want to keep trying to explore the base for more than a few minutes.

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Screenshot of Fighter Bomber

Fighter Bomber

(Activision, 1990)

Every so often, the Strategic Air Command organise the Curtis LeMay trophy (although I don’t know whether this is fact or fiction!). Choosing one of four types of fighter aircraft, you must take part in eight bombing missions, armed with a cannon and Sidewinder and Maverick missiles, which are used on air and ground targets respectively. What makes this flight simulation so good is that you see everything in solid 3D, and as a bonus, you can view your plane from any angle you want; it’s great stuff! Unfortunately, you can’t choose which missions you wish to fly, and of course there are all the keys to learn, but with great graphics like this, and several practice modes, it might just convert some people into liking flight simulators!

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Screenshot of Fighter Pilot

Fighter Pilot

(Digital Integration, 1985)

Reviewed by Piero Serra

The ambition of the 8-bit gaming era is clearly demonstrated in its flight simulators. Despite limited computing power, programmers strove to create a realistic flight experience, and although the results would often leave a lot to be desired, this is not the case with Fighter Pilot. You are at the controls of an F-15 Eagle, engaging incoming enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat to protect your bases. The controls are quite complex without being overwhelming and the level of difficulty can be tailored through weather-related options. There is only one map, but it’s large and there are various training missions, including combat exercises where the enemy planes won’t fire back. The cockpit layout is clear enough, but this is an early game, so the 3D graphics are as basic as can be. Despite these limitations (and some dodgy title music), the gameplay has a good balance of realism, strategy and fun.

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Screenshot of Fighting Soccer

Fighting Soccer

(Activision, 1989)

Ten nations (only ten?) are taking part in a knockout Olympic tournament consisting of four stages. You have to play as the United Kingdom; you can’t choose another team. Each team has only five players, and you initially have three minutes of playing time. If you lose, you’re out of the tournament, but if you are drawing or winning, you can continue to play the match for another three minutes. This seems a rather strange rule to me! The graphics are quite good, and this is one of the few football games that plays music during the game. The game plays reasonably well, although the scrolling is very jerky and the players are very big compared with the size of the pitch, which becomes confusing when there are several players crowding around the ball.

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Screenshot of Fighting Warrior

Fighting Warrior

(Melbourne House, 1985)

The evil Pharaoh has kidnapped Princess Thaya and is about to bury her alive in a sacrifice to the Egyptian gods. You must cross the desert to reach and save her, but many monsters and demons must be fought and defeated using your trusty sword. You may find some magic objects along the way as well, but some of them may release evil magic. The animation of both your character and the monsters is excellent, and the graphics are very innovative considering the year this game was released, using two different screen modes and a multi-coloured border. However, the music is dreadful, and there is no variety in the gameplay; the entire game seems to consist of nothing but fighting and defeating monsters.

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Screenshot of Final Fight

Final Fight

(US Gold, 1991)

Reviewed by Javier Sáez

If you don’t know what this coin-op is about, it’s likely you didn’t play video games around 1990. Just choose your hero, knock down anyone standing in your way and rescue the girl. US Gold attempted the impossible in this conversion, and so they didn’t manage to fulfil their objectives. The graphics are quite big, you’ll see almost the same enemies, the same background graphics, the same character movements... and you’ll see all these things scrolling just as they did in the original game. As a result, the game has very little playability. Nevertheless, I can’t say Final Fight is a bad game; let’s say the programmers did all they could to code a CPC version of the game. It’s quite curious to see, but it cannot be considered a real choice if you want to play a beat-’em-up.

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Screenshot of The Final Matrix

The Final Matrix

(Gremlin Graphics, 1987)

Nimrod the Biopton has been sent to rescue his comrades who have been taken hostage by the evil Cratons. Each of his fellow Bioptons is being held captive in a network of Matrices, but they are heavily defended, and you must watch out for alien guards, disruptors and mines. You are armed with one of three types of weapon, and you can find more weapons within each Matrix, as well as thrust packs which are useful for flying around. However, your weapons have little effect on the alien guards and it’s extremely difficult to dodge them and their bullets. As a result, most players will be unable to make any progress at all, despite the benefit of being able to visit any of the Matrices at the beginning of the game. There are few sound effects, the graphics are very Spectrum-like, and the scrolling is jerky.

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Screenshot of Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers

(Mastertronic, 1986)

This is the first game that stars the fearless Magic Knight, who has been placed in the Castle of Spriteland by the King and has to escape from it while grabbing as much treasure as possible, to prove worthy of a place on the Polygon Table. All manner of objects are to be found in the rooms and mazes, which you can trade for cash. Some of them can also be combined to make more valuable objects. The graphics are a bit blocky and the music, while reasonably good, is grating after a while. It’s certainly not my favourite Magic Knight game but it’s worth the occasional go, even if it’s a little bit too easy.

See also: Knight Tyme, Spellbound, Stormbringer.

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Screenshot of Fips’ Tale

Fips’ Tale

(Norman, 2020)

Fips is on a quest to rescue a princess from a castle. The castle contains enemy soldiers with whom you can engage in sword fights. You must also collect coloured keys that will activate bridges to enable you to cross gaps. This is a simple little platform game that finished in eleventh place in the 2020 #CPCRetroDev Game Creation Contest. The contest awarded bonus points for including a reference to Prince of Persia, and if you’ve ever played that classic game, Fips’ Tale will look very familiar indeed – albeit with much smaller sprites, but that, along with the music that plays on the menu and the amusingly sarcastic messages that appear if you die, makes it rather charming. Unfortunately there are some bugs that cause the game to crash, but it’s a good effort all the same.

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