The evil Grako has obtained the Moonstone of Algarth and is going to use it to become the ruler of Caraland. It’s up to you to travel to the Black Tower and slay him using the sword, Kentilla, which someone called Oregon gives you at the start of your adventure. This is a text adventure game with some rudimentary pictures accompanying a few of the locations. It’s mostly written in BASIC, and it certainly shows. There are many characters in the game – some friendly, some unfriendly – and you can interact with them, or attack them. However, the descriptions of the locations are very terse, and as a result, the whole adventure lacks atmosphere.
(Alternative Software, 1990)
This is a curious game consisting of a mixture of one of those funfair games where you aim a ball at holes on the surface of a tilted box, and horse racing. There are nine horse races, each with three horses, one of which is yours, although there is a two-player option as well. In each race, you have to throw the ball towards one of the many holes, and if the ball does fall into a hole, your horse moves a bit further towards the finishing post. Some races have hurdles, however, and only some of the holes allow your horse to jump over them. It’s not quite as bizarre as it sounds, but it is really boring. The graphics are garish and not very well drawn, and there doesn’t seem to be any skill involved – just luck.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a kettle trapped in a subterranean network of mazes. Well, that’s the situation you’re in with this game. Shoot all the red pots and collect what’s inside them, and use the tin opener (!) to open the gateway to the next section of the maze. It’s a strange little game and no mistake, and it’s also a bit tough, although if you can find someone to play with you, you should progress further. However, there’s no variety; the next level is just larger and has more pots. It does have some wonderful title music, though.
The Key Factor
This is an interesting combination of Space Invaders and a typing tutor to help you learn where the keys on the keyboard are. Along the bottom of the screen are eight keys which change all the time. Hitting one of the keys fires a bullet which will kill any alien that is in its way. The first wave of aliens is easy to deal with, but things become frantic in later levels, where there are more aliens, and the keys along the bottom change more frequently. There’s no excitement at all and it’s too easy, although certain keys will cause problems on emulators.
Play a single game against the computer or another player, or take part in a tournament with eight teams. You can also practice your dribbling and passing skills, and take and save some penalties. If you’re playing a single game against the computer, you can also choose its skill level, from ‘Sunday league’ to ‘international’. Whatever skill level you choose, the computer tends to be very unresponsive to your commands. It selects the player to control entirely at random – even when you pass the ball to another player. Dribbling the ball is annoyingly difficult as well. And then there are the graphics; they’re absolutely appalling, with flickery sprites. I’ve played football games that are much worse than this, but I’ve played better ones as well.
See also: Kick Off 2.
Kick Off 2
Reviewed by Pug
An impressive selection of options allows you to play football just how you like it. The pitch you play upon can be tweaked, as can the weather conditions which affect your control of the ball. Dribbling the ball is a little tricky to start with, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Graphically, Kick Off 2 is a colourful, fast and flicker-free experience. My only gripe is the lack of ground detail and no pitch radar, which often makes working out your position on the pitch a guessing game.
See also: Kick Off.
Reviewed by Robert Small
The Kikstart games are held in high regard on the Commodore 64 but something seems to have gone amiss with the CPC version. Kikstart 2 has you taking on an obstacle course on your off-road motorbike. There was a popular TV programme in the 1980s with a very similar name. The screen is split in two. You compete against the computer or a friend to get from one end of the course to the other the quickest. It’s not about blitzing through, though. Throttle control and agility are needed. The graphics are colourful with a good variety of obstacles and courses. There is also a course editor. Unbelievably there is no sound, and worse is the gameplay which feels frustrating. It’s very inconsistent.
As you might have guessed, this is a clone of the classic game Centipede, where you have to shoot all the segments of a centipede that travels left and right across the screen. This version is no different, although there is more than just the centipede to contend with – you have to avoid spiders and other nasty insects that also flit about the screen, and if you take too long, the ghost will get you! I think this game has dated a lot, and the digitised speech that has been added isn’t enough to impress me.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: Novabug, The Oliver Twins.
Killed Until Dead
(US Gold, 1987)
Reviewed by Robert Small
Can you stop a murder before it occurs? Well, you can at least try in this rather neat murder mystery game in which one of a group of authors is intent on getting rid of another member. You have a few tricks of the detective trade to use. You have access to background files, surveillance techniques (listen in and record conversations) and the ability to break into rooms to search for clues (you’ll need to brush up on your trivia knowledge to gain access). You can question your chosen subject and monitor their reactions to questioning before making an accusation. The game has some really nice cartoon graphics, a good sense of humour and it’s got replayability as well, which makes it worth investigating.
This is based on the classic arcade game Scramble, in which you flew a spacecraft through mountains and caverns while shooting missiles and bombing targets on the ground. Here, though, the spacecraft is replaced by a helicopter. The action is fast and furious, and the game scrolls very fast indeed; there’s no time at all to relax! By the time you get to the third section, things become really tough indeed. There are three difficulty levels which range from difficult to impossible, but with practice, you should be able to master the first two sections. The graphics are fairly basic, but it is meant to stay faithful to the original, and the sound effects aren’t too bad.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: Xyphoe.