Nintendo’s Game Boy console was a huge hit in the 1990s and its popularity helped bring Tetris to the attention of the public, making it arguably one of the best known video games of all time. Now it can be emulated and played on an Amstrad CPC! There are some inaccuracies in the sound emulation and some graphical glitches in the animated missile launch sequences when you achieve a particularly high score, but other than that it plays just like the original Game Boy version. The famous Korobeiniki theme tune is present, there’s a wide range of palettes to choose from, and if you’re using a Plus machine, you can even play in authentic Game Boy shades of green for added realism.
In 1930s America, air races used to be held in which planes and their pilots would race around an open-air course which would usually be marked on the ground with pylons or other markers, and they proved to be very popular with the public. This game sees you taking part in such a race, except that there are sixteen courses to fly, and that instead of racing against other planes, you have to complete the course within a set time limit. However, you do have to dodge planes coming in the opposite direction! The music on the menu screen is nice, but the game is rather boring, the sound effects are poor, and the graphics are rather garish.
(Virgin Games, 1989)
“DIE ALIEN MUTANT SCUM!,” screamed the headline of the Soonday Spirit. Of course, the aliens took great offence to that, and now the entire galaxy has declared war against Earth. You’ve been sent out to stop them in the new Gemini Wing fighter. As well as the standard firepower, you can also collect power-ups in the form of gumballs which hang on to the tail of your craft, and they can be unleashed one at a time. To be honest, I don’t like the game much. The graphics are nice, but the sound effects are pathetic and the collision detection is dodgy at the best of times.
Within a large maze lies a trove of treasure – the Gems of Stradus – and you have decided to venture into this labyrinth in a quest to find the treasure and become fabulously rich. The game is played like a text adventure in some aspects; you navigate the maze using the cursor keys, but if you want to pick up an object that’s lying on the ground, unlock a door or use an object that’s in your possession, you need to type in the appropriate command. The graphics are very basic indeed, although the game itself is written entirely in BASIC, and considering it was released very early in the CPC’s life, it’s understandable. However, the rooms all look rather bare and the game lacks atmosphere.
Reviewed by Robert Small
The Genghis Khan game familiar to most is probably the 1987 strategy game from Koei. This is not that game! It’s a completely different game from Spanish developers Positive. Positive developed an eclectic assortment of games for 8-bit machines, and this game continues that trend. As this is a game about a conqueror, there is strategy involved as you seek to take over territory, which can be viewed via a map. You can even send a spy to give you intelligence beforehand. What’s surprising is that you can enter the fray and join the battle via a side-scrolling hack-and-slash. This section is not really about the individual but is a representation of the overall battle. The sprites are small and the scrolling isn’t smooth, but it’s colourful with some nice details. The sound effects are very hissy and will need to be turned down. It’s a different take on a strategy game and deserves some credit for doing things its own way.
Geoff Capes is a former athlete who won the title of Britain’s Strongest Man and World’s Strongest Man on numerous occasions during the 1980s. The game begins with a training session in which you waggle the joystick left and right as fast as you can to build up your muscle strength, which you must then distribute among eight muscles which are displayed on the screen. In most of the six events, a muscle is highlighted and you must move a cursor and select it quickly. You also need to adjust the amount of effort Geoff puts in; too little or too much results in either Geoff not qualifying or becoming too exhausted to continue. The graphics are reasonable, although the music is poor. It’s difficult to understand how to play the game at first, but once you do, it becomes a fairly interesting game to play.
Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard
- Knowledge of French is required in order to play this game properly.
Your father has been kidnapped and his house burnt to the ground. You pick a few items and try to find him in a strange and deserted land. This is the start of a good text adventure game, featuring nice Mode 1 graphics. Unfortunately, the plot is very, very linear and the game too short. All you can do is choose between two or three actions that appear in a window – and making the wrong choice often means death! There is no music, except at the very beginning (but it is rather bad anyway). However, it is an interesting game, where you always want to explore further.
(Ere Informatique/PSS, 1986)
Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard
Let’s put it in a few words: this game (known as Crafton et Xunk to French readers) is one of the very best for the CPC. You’re Crafton, an android who tries to escape from an experimental project. You must obtain a code to open the door to the outside. In the building, there are eight scientists, each of whom has a part of the code. You’ll be helped by Xunk, a podocephalus (i.e. a foot with a brain on top of it!), who calls you when he has found something interesting, and occasionally helps you to jump over obstacles (and aliens). There are too many great and hilarious things in this game for me to detail here. The graphics are colourful and well designed, and the sounds fit the action perfectly. It’s funny, clever, and great!
See also: Get Dexter 2.
(Ere Informatique/PSS, 1988)
Reviewed by Piero Serra
The plot of this sequel assigns Crafton and his sidekick Xunk as interplanetary envoys. You must win the trust of the local inhabitants by completing several tasks for them, before investigating a mysterious religious cult. The graphics are absolutely magical. The rather Star Trek-ish landscapes and interiors are beautifully drawn, with bold colour choices that work perfectly, and some of the most wonderful looking sprites of any game ever! The sound effects are suitably characterful too. The rooms are often brimming over with life, with creatures wandering around everywhere. As a visual achievement, I found this game extremely impressive. However, the playability can suffer under the amount of detail on screen. At heart it’s a fairly standard, if confusing and sprawling, object collecting game, albeit a fantastic-looking one.
See also: Get Dexter!.
Reviewed by Robert Small
More American football but this time played from the first-person perspective. Graphically I’d say the game has a very early Atari look to it. There are many teams (though not fully licensed) and a wealth of different plays, although they can be awkward to select. The first-person view puts you right in the firing line when you’re gaining yards. It can be fun seeing the opposition flying at you but also frustrating as the game has a simulation element which requires accuracy. There are also moments in the game where you’re not fully in control of the action, which can be disappointing. There is a kernel of a good idea here. Maybe someone will take this forward in the future.