Screenshot of Grand Prix Driver

Grand Prix Driver

(Amsoft/Britannia Software, 1984)

You’re racing in a Formula 1 car along a track, and you must overtake 30 cars within 10 minutes. This isn’t a proper racing simulation at all, as the track is almost completely straight, and all the game consists of is dodging the oncoming cars. This is quite difficult, as you can’t steer your car and decelerate at the same time. To make matters worse, your car handles more like a tank, and it’s extremely difficult to avoid the oncoming cars. If that wasn’t enough, the graphics are terrible (although the game was admittedly released in the very early days of the CPC), and the sound is awful. This is definitely a game you want to avoid at all costs!

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Screenshot of Grand Prix Rally II

Grand Prix Rally II

(Amsoft/Loriciels, 1985)

This is one of the earlier racing games where you have to beat the clock to complete ten stages, and you’ll certainly know it when you look at the crude graphics and lack of scenery. It’s a really simple game – just avoid the cars and negotiate the bends properly. The first four stages shouldn’t pose much of a problem; it’s when you come to the fifth stage, which is set at night, that the cars become almost invisible. Each stage is much the same as the last one and the other cars are always the same. The facility to edit and save your own tracks doesn’t interest me, either.

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Screenshot of Grand Prix Simulator

Grand Prix Simulator

(Code Masters, 1987)

Not this! The tracks in this game are viewed from above, and you have to buzz your ‘car’ (which looks exactly like a box, by the way) around the track within the time limit to go to the next one. The trouble is that your car is impossible to control and the track must have black ice all over it, making it ridiculously difficult to progress – well, that’s what I think. The pictures of the McLaren and Ferrari at the top are nice, but the rest of the graphics aren’t as good. The tune and digitised speech (“three... two... one... go!”) are both superb, though, but that doesn’t make the game any better for it.

See also: Grand Prix Simulator 2.

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Screenshot of Grand Prix Simulator 2

Grand Prix Simulator 2

(Code Masters, 1989)

Time to go racing once again as you try to complete three laps of each track (nine of them in total) before your time runs out. The time you get for each track depends on how well you did on the previous one, so it’s important to do as well as you can on all the tracks. The main differences between this game and the original are that up to three players can take part, and that the graphics are in four-colour mode – and they’re much better for it! The cars are still a bit tricky to control, but if you keep practising, you will get somewhere.

See also: Grand Prix Simulator.

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Screenshot of Grand Prix Tennis

Grand Prix Tennis

(Mastertronic, 1987)

This tennis game (titled Lawn Tennis on the loading screen) is both basic and mediocre. For a start, there are no options to allow you to customise the game, so you are restricted to playing a singles match on a grass court. The two players, who the game refers to as Bjorn and Lee, don’t even swap ends during the match! The problems don’t end there, though. It’s easy to serve aces and score lots of points, but at the same time, the isometric viewpoint makes it difficult to determine where the ball is going and to position yourself accordingly. The graphics are OK, and the music on the menu is rather nice, but it’s not an enjoyable game to play at all, especially if you’re using the keyboard controls rather than the joystick.

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Screenshot of Grange Hill

Grange Hill

(Argus Press Software, 1987)

Gonch’s Walkman has been confiscated again, and if his mum finds out, he will be in big trouble. Along with his friend Hollo, he decides to break into Grange Hill and retrieve it. This is an arcade adventure in which you wander around, looking for objects and finding what they are used for and where to use them. The program uses menus in order to accomplish commands, and you can also enter commands directly when you want to use objects or talk to people, although the parser is very limited indeed. The music is really groovy (although unfortunately it’s not the old Grange Hill theme tune). On the other hand, the parser and the plethora of hazards which end the game instantly make the game frustrating to play, and the graphics are fairly poor as well.

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Screenshot of The Great Escape

The Great Escape

(Ocean, 1986)

The year is 1942, and you are a prisoner of war, incarcerated in a German camp. How will you escape? Guards patrol the camp day and night, but by watching their movements and becoming familiar with the daily routine, and exploring the layout of the camp, you can work out how to minimise your chances of being detected – and if you are caught, you’ll be placed in solitary confinement for a while and any objects you are carrying will be confiscated. This game is regarded as a classic, but the CPC version is unfortunately a Spectrum port and it suffers accordingly. The concept is original, but the isometric graphics are displayed in a single colour and the scrolling is very slow indeed. As a result, it takes ages to move from one place to another, and I reckon that the majority of players will not have the patience to play it fully.

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Screenshot of The Great Giana Sisters

The Great Giana Sisters

(Rainbow Arts, 1988)

Giana and Maria are dreaming, and in their dream, they enter a world full of platforms and cute monsters which they can kill by bouncing on their heads. Some of the platforms also reveal coins if you hit them with your head. There are also diamonds to collect, but make sure you don’t fall off the platforms! Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “This is Super Mario Bros.!” It is very similar indeed; in fact, it’s so similar that Nintendo sued Rainbow Arts and won, and the game was withdrawn from the shelves after about two weeks, so I suppose it’s quite a rare game. The gameplay is as good as its Nintendo equivalent, although the movement is slow and there are no sound effects at all!

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Screenshot of Great Gurianos

Great Gurianos

(Hit Pak, 1987)

Reviewed by John Beckett

An early game by programming great David Perry, Great Gurianos is a port of the arcade game Gladiator. You play as Gurianos and must walk along, using your sword and shield to either block or destroy incoming monsters, before taking on a selection of rival gladiators. There are a few nice touches: you can block and strike at three different levels – low, mid and high – adding a bit of strategy to the boss battles; armour disappears from you and your opponents as you battle; and there is an excellent tune on the title screen. However, the game is criminally difficult, and the graphics are rather bland and empty. The big killer, though, is that due to lack of space to include an ending, Perry made the final boss invincible!

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Screenshot of Grebit


(Alternative Software)

This game appeared on one of Alternative’s Classic Arcadia compilations; as far as I know, it wasn’t released on its own. Anyway, you have to guide some frogs safely across a busy road and a river, and place them in boxes on the other side of the river; yes, it’s a Frogger clone. You have to manoeuvre the frogs through the gaps in the fast-moving traffic, and then leap across the logs on the river, and time the leaps into the boxes perfectly, otherwise you lose a life and must start the process again. When you have placed five frogs in the boxes, you go to the next level. The graphics are fairly good, and the sound effects are simple, but the second level is too difficult and it’s not a game you’ll stick with for long.

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