It’s time to use the grey matter, to solve 105 brain-busting puzzles. Each puzzle consists of a pattern on a square grid, and you have to click on certain squares to produce the pattern shown at the bottom right of the screen. Clicking on squares changes the state of other squares in the grid, but you will need to experiment to find out exactly which squares are affected when you click on a particular square. The first few levels are easy, as one might expect, but it quickly becomes more difficult. Thankfully, you can start on any level. The graphics are unspectacular and the game is written in BASIC, but most puzzle game fans should like it. For the rest of us, it’s not really a game that will keep you enthralled for long.
(Radical Software, 1994)
Fluff is the CPC’s answer to Sonic the Hedgehog – so said Amstrad Action, and the similarities are there. Fluff has to rescue her four children on each level, negotiating platforms and lifts and avoiding insects, weeds and nasty pits of slime. This is one of the very few games that makes maximum use of the Plus’ facilities, and it was also one of the last commercial games to be released for the CPC range. The graphics are nothing less than stunning and there’s a cool tune as well. It’s also an excellent game, although the scrolling is a bit jerky.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a servant at Buckingham Palace, catering to the Royal Family’s every whim? As a flunky, your ambition is to get the autograph of five members of the Royal Family by helping them out. For instance, Prince Charles wants his polo balls back, Sarah Ferguson wants you to paint freckles on her face, Prince Andrew wants a boat to play with, and Princess Di can’t find her wig! The graphics are very blocky but are bright and cartoony, and most of the tasks are difficult to complete, with some very obscure objects required.
Pilot a World War II biplane, the Flying Shark, over enemy territory, shooting planes, tanks and gun turrets. So there’s nothing original about the plot of the game, which is another vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up that you’ve seen many times before. There are five levels, but you will need some seriously nifty reflexes, not to mention good eyesight, to make it that far. Yes, it’s a rather difficult game, partly because there are so many planes on the screen at once, but mostly because the bullets are very difficult to see since they blend in with the background. The graphics are OK, but the music could be better, and so could the gameplay.
Another one of those bizarre games! In this one, you must locate the brain within a maze and destroy it with a bomb. You control a little helicopter and you can pick up objects to use in certain sections of the maze. There’s a lot of teleporting to be done and it’s easy to get trapped, and you’ll also need a pen and paper to note the codes for the teleport stations. The graphics are great, the music and sound effects are both wonderful, and it’s a lot of fun to play as well, too, especially with all the silly messages that the programmer (who was only 15 years old when he wrote the game) has left in the maze!
You have just been appointed as manager of a 3rd Division football team, and your aim is to become the manager of a top team and win the 1st Division. Unlike most other football management games, you won’t be managing the same team for the entire game; if you perform well enough, you’ll attract the attention of other teams and can join them instead. The game is entirely text-based with no graphics whatsoever, but thankfully, there are no extended match highlights; instead, the results of every match are listed on the screen, one at a time. Unfortunately you can’t choose tactics, and although there is a training option, it’s really difficult to judge its effectiveness, thanks to a lack of detailed statistics for your players. This is a below average football management simulation.
(Alternative Software, 1987)
Grimesditch Rangers, a small and struggling football club, has somehow beaten many of the best teams and reached the final of the FA Cup. As the manager, this is your moment of glory – but with three days to go until the final match, everything that can go wrong does. Bills need to be paid; the kit needs to be washed and Ma Wallis at the laundry won’t do it; there won’t be a coach available to take the players to the match; your star player quits the team... and so it goes on. This is actually a text adventure created using GAC, and apparently it sold quite well. Unfortunately, it’s a nightmare to play, thanks to an extremely unforgiving parser that demands you type an exact combination of several words, yet won’t accept more obvious combinations.
This is the original football management game, which was first released back in 1982 for the ZX81. You start in the 4th Division and must make your way towards the top of the 1st Division (remember, this was before the Premier League was formed!). There aren’t that many options available, but you can buy and sell players and change the names of your team and players, as well as deciding which players to use. Although the match highlights are awful, they don’t last too long. This game is certainly showing its age, though, and a lot of other football management games have been released since then.
This game is much better than the original. Once again, you’re in the 4th Division and have to work your way to the top of the 1st Division. The range of options is similar, but you can also do some passing training. You can now select where your players will go on the pitch, as well as choosing substitutes. The presentation is quite impressive and the match highlights are really nice and enjoyable to watch, too, with some realistic crowd noises! In fact, this is probably the best football management game for the CPC.
Whereas Football Manager 2 is one of the best football management games on the CPC, its sequel is very disappointing. As ever, you can select any of 92 teams and are automatically thrown into the 4th Division with a team that consists of a bunch of ageing thirtysomethings. Although there is a greater range of options available and the statistics are more detailed (for instance, there are eight skill and fitness attributes for each player, and full league tables are available), it’s such a bore to play. The entire game is very slow and cumbersome, and the match highlights seem to last an eternity – and why do you usually get two or three players in your team with the same surname?