The Hit Squad
(Code Masters, 1989)
Los Angeles in the year 2125 is ruled by the evil Emilio Bocker. It’s up to the Hit Squad – a group of four young men and women – to find his lair and kill him. At the start of the game, you choose one of the four members to play as, although it makes very little difference to the gameplay. Each of the twelve levels consists of shooting monsters and jumping from platform to platform in search of a teleport ticket, which you will need in order to teleport to the next level. You can also collect boots to make you jump higher, food, and tokens to give you extra lives or better weapons. The graphics are simple but colourful, and the digitised pictures of the Hit Squad and the programmers are a nice addition as well. While the gameplay may be the same as nearly every other platform game you’ve seen before, it’s still a fairly good game.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: ChinnyVision.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The late Douglas Adams’ book of the same name is one of the best known science fiction novels of all time, and this text adventure version (which is one of the best known text adventures of all time) mostly follows the plot of the book. If you’ve read the book, it’ll certainly help you with a few of the puzzles, some of which are very clever and require some bizarre logic; the puzzle where you try to get the babel fish is the stuff of legend, and you could even buy T-shirts saying, “I got the babel fish”. The game features some extremely well written prose filled with Adams’ unique sense of humour, and is a must, even if you’re not a fan of text adventures!
Reviewed by Shaun Neary
Here’s an interesting concept – navigate your way around a hive made from a spaghetti junction of tubeways. You are given three markers to aid you in finding your way around tubeway hell. Objects can be picked up to help you on your way to the control centre and finish off the Queen of the Hive once and for all. Graphically, it’s not much of a looker unless you’re into vector graphics, and the spot effects are little to write home about. However there is an upside; it will keep you on your toes, especially if you like maze games, and if you like mapping, then you’re going to love this!
(US Gold, 1989)
Kwon visits five countries – Russia, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Lebanon – in a mission to kill. There are two enemies in each level, and you have to knock them out three times, although if you lose too much energy, your next enemy will require more knockdowns. Unfortunately you’re immediately at a disadvantage, since your enemies require far more hits to be killed. The sprites move too sluggishly, although hits are represented by Batman-style “ZAP!” and “POW!” captions appearing. It’s a shame that the truly luscious backgrounds are wasted on such a frustratingly difficult and tasteless game.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: ChinnyVision.
In the land of Altoris was a Golden Orb, an artefact that kept the inhabitants safe. Unfortunately it has been stolen by hobgoblins, and your father, who is also the king of Altoris, has sent you to recover the Orb and restore peace to the land. Starting in the forests, you must reach the castle where the Orb is being held by the hobgoblins, shooting all the time to kill any monsters that appear. Initially it’s an appealing game, with colourful and well drawn graphics – the background is particularly nice – although there are few sound effects and no music. However, any enthusiasm is soon quashed; it’s a seriously difficult game, thanks mostly to the very poor collision detection.
(Ere Informatique, 1984)
An armoured van is driving around town and dropping lots of bags of money on the roads (why would it be doing this?). Meanwhile, your mission is to crash into the van and collect all the bags, while avoiding the police cars who are looking out for you. You can drop oil on the road so that they lose control, allowing you to make a getaway – until they locate you again. It’s a good game, and when you consider the year that it was released, the graphics and music aren’t bad, although the digitised speech is unrecognisable. It can become a bit repetitive, but if you’re looking for a quick game to play, this could be a good choice.
There is a border crisis in the land of Dictatoria, and while the country’s defence budget has increased dramatically, the village of Holdfast is still waiting for a school and a clinic to be built. The villagers have had enough and the seeds of protest have been sown. In each stage of the campaign, you are required to make decisions which affect both the villagers’ and the government’s determination, and to win, you have to reduce the government’s determination to less than 50%. It’s entirely text-based, but boy, is it fun! You’ll fail the first few times, but you may well complete the game before too long. Until that happens, you’ll probably love it.
Your Aunt Hildegarde has passed away, and she has left you her late husband’s mansion in her will. Unfortunately, there’s a bizarre test that you have to complete before you can inherit the mansion; as you are dropped off at the mansion, you are told that you have to collect ten treasures hidden within it by 9:00am the next morning, or you won’t inherit anything. Really, this text adventure is little more than a treasure hunt. Hardly original stuff there, but it’s the excellent prose and the strange and often crazy puzzles (including the obligatory maze, and it’s bigger than most others!) that turn it into a highly entertaining adventure which is suitable for players of all levels, whether you’re inexperienced, or a hardened fan of text adventures.
Hollywood or Bust
Five Oscars have been mislaid throughout a Hollywood film set, and Buster Baloney has to try to retrieve them. The cops are out to try to arrest him, although he can confuse them for a while by firing custard pies (!). There are also ghosts which must simply be avoided. This game is really unexciting; the graphics are mediocre and the music is annoying. Another irritation is the film sequence, which involves more custard pie throwing – this is waiting for you if you walk through most of the doors, and most of the time, you’ll be sent back to the start. You’ve only got one life as well, making a below average game even worse.
- Knowledge of French is required in order to play this game properly.
The story behind this French text adventure is that in July 2004, a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the USA wiped out all life on Earth – except for four scientists who are hibernating in an underground shelter. Four years later, an earthquake damages the life support computer, and one of the scientists (that’s you) is woken up. Your mission is to find the necessary components to repair the computer and hibernate for several more years. Thankfully, no nuclear war occurred in real life! The pictures are good, if not brilliant, and I really like the loading screen and the sampled speech, but I had a lot of problems getting the game to understand what I was typing, and the inability to examine most objects proved to be a significant hindrance. It’s OK, but not that good.