Radiation poisoning due to nuclear war has sent Earth’s humans on a mission to scour the galaxy in their spaceship for new planets and alien specimens. They have landed on your planet and have taken you and your fellow aliens on board. You must escape from the ship so that they can be rescued – and there is also a bomb on board... The ship is massive and consists of levels of long corridors, with lifts which can be used to move between them. You must also watch out for mutants, droids and Ice Dragons that may freeze you if they touch you, and some mutants, when shot, may make you sick and reverse the controls. This game seems to consist of nothing more than plodding around the corridors looking for the exit, and most people will want to switch off and play something else instead.
The evil Terry Ball has kidnapped I, Ball’s friends – Lover Ball, Eddy Ball, Glo Ball and No Ball (cool names!) – and I, Ball sets out to rescue them. This is a vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up, and it’s quite tough. In fact it’s really tough, but if you keep trying, you will eventually like it. The flying enemies that appear on the screen stay stationary for a while, and you should shoot them before they move! Initially, you can only fire vertically, but collecting the power discs will give you extra firepower. The time limit is tight as well. Don’t be put off by the Spectrum port graphics, the mediocre music and the initial difficulty; it’s a great game.
See also: I, Ball II.
I, Ball II
After rescuing his friends, I, Ball decides to find out more about the history of his race by going down into the mines. I don’t know why one would find that sort of information in mines, but... The game consists of several of these mines, which occupy a single screen each. You start in one of four mines chosen at random and must collect the key in each mine and reach the exit, while avoiding the floating enemies. Unfortunately, this game is even more difficult than its predecessor, with far too many enemies on the screen at once. The graphics and sound remain poor, and the digitised speech is unrecognisable and gimmicky.
See also: I, Ball.
(Topo Soft, 1990)
Take to the bobsleigh and whizz your way through the twists and turns of each course before your time runs out. This is no ordinary bobsleigh run, though, because it’s filled with hazards such as spikes, mines and ramps, and other bobsleighs are competing, too. However, your bobsleigh is armed with a gun (I told you this was out of the ordinary!), although you’ll need to keep both your fuel and ammunition topped up by shooting the right icons. The concept actually works rather well, and the graphics are pretty good, as is the tune at the start of the game. It’ll take a lot of practice to finish the first course, though.
Evil reigns over the land of Camelot, and King Arthur has given Merlin the task of overcoming it. Merlin has discovered a cave in the Antarctic which is filled with power crystals, but he is old and cannot collect all of them himself, so he has summoned a girl from the future to collect them – and that girl is Princess Amy. There are forty levels, with ten crystals to collect in each level. The floor of each level is made of ice and once Amy moves, she won’t stop until she hits an obstacle, so some planning is required to work out the best path to take to collect all the crystals and not get stuck. This game was an entrant in the 2016 #CPCRetroDev Game Creation Contest and finished in seventh place, but I feel it deserved a higher ranking. It’s well presented and has nice graphics and music, and the gameplay is compelling.
See also: Chaos Rising, Concave, Jewel Warehouse, Potato Rescue, A Prelude to Chaos.
The Ice Temple
(Blue Ribbon, 1989)
Reviewed by John Beckett
Another ‘jet-pack’ game, at which I completely suck at. In this one, you control space ace Nick Razor as you traverse the 900 (yes, 900!) screens of the Ice Temple, to track down the eight pieces of the nuclear reactor which is sapping the Earth’s energy and using it to fuel alien warships. The music and sound are decent (though the locations can be very empty and similiar-looking at times), but wow, talk about difficult! 900 screens, reactor pieces located randomly in each game, ever-decreasing jet-pack fuel, four measly lives and enemies that home in on you quickly and mercilessly! If you can take your time and map out this immense game, there’s a lengthy quest to be had, but I found it hard to make any progress due to its difficulty. A shame.
Reviewed by Piero Serra
In this odd graphic adventure you are the titular Icon Jon, a CPC program due to be wiped from memory. Jon and two friends inhabit what appears to be a small town but is actually a pictorial representation of parts of the computer system. Your task – from what I was able to work out – is to find and use items such as vinyl records and toothbrushes to ensure Jon is not wiped from memory. Quite why or how never became clear as I was not able to make much progress. Whenever I tried to use an object I was sarcastically told “Big deal!” or asked if I was always so stupid. Jon looks more like a dog wearing rollerblades than a robot or computer program, and the graphics in general are garish. Control is via a cumbersome menu system and the gameplay has not aged well.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: XeNoMoRPH.
(System 3, 1988)
Whereas the original featured only two karate fighters, there are now three. Again, it’s a case of fighting each other, and the person with the most coloured dots at the end of the round wins. Your instructor also makes comments to each fighter. Every two rounds, there is a bonus round where you have to deflect coloured balls with a shield. The graphics are OK and the shimmering effect of the sun on the lake is nice, but the music is irritating, and the game just lacks variety.
See also: International Karate.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: ChinnyVision, Xyphoe.
Reviewed by Chris Lennard
Rescue your commander from enemy forces deep in the jungle in this fast paced vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up. The action is relentless and it’s highly recommended that you take up the two player option, as you are never given a moment’s rest from the masses of enemy troops that come from all sides. Placed to assist you as you travel over land and sea are a selection of armoured vehicles that you can commandeer to great effect. This is visually a very cute looking game, despite what the game entails, whereas the explosions and gun effects are pleasantly satisfying.
See also: Victory Road.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: Axelino, ChinnyVision, jgonza, Novabug (gameplay), Novabug (longplay), Xyphoe.
(Ubi Soft, 1988)
- Knowledge of French is required in order to play this game properly.
In 1932, a man by the name of Major Forten set sail to find an uncharted island off the coast of Angola, to the west of Africa – but he never returned. Now Dr Freland has sent you on an expedition to find the island. Let’s hope you do not suffer the same fate as Major Forten! This is a text adventure with some lovely, atmospheric graphics and sound effects. It was developed by Alain Massoumipour, the editor of the French magazine Amstrad Cent Pour Cent, and it inspired many French CPC users to write their own adventures. It’s well presented with very good graphics (as well as some sampled speech on the title screen that I could barely make out), and there are few problems with the parser. It’s perhaps not the most challenging of adventures, but it’s certainly enjoyable to play – although unsurprisingly, you will need to understand French.