(Micro Power, 1984)
The lovely princess has been captured by the nasty gorilla and you have to rescue her by climbing ladders, walking along platforms, and avoiding the barrels that the gorilla throws at you. Er, this is Donkey Kong, isn’t it? That’s absolutely correct, although it’s not particularly good. There are only four levels, and when you’ve completed them, you go back to the first one. The fireballs that roam each level are more unpredictable than the barrels and tend to get in your way a lot. The graphics are really basic and so are the sound effects, although the music that is played on the “how high can you try?” sequence is delightful!
I’m sure I’ve seen this one before... oh, I know! It’s a Galaxian clone, isn’t it? The only new thing that has been added are that if you play on the difficult mode, there’s a force field that scrolls vertically and prevents you from shooting through it. There are only six waves of aliens before you face the Supreme Starfighter, who you must kill by first blasting through his spaceship, and then aiming at his heart. After that, the game restarts. The graphics do their job and the music is pretty good, but it’s too easy.
Killerball is a futuristic sport where two teams consisting of five players skate around a circular ice rink and try to score goals by pushing the ball into a small hole in the wall. It’s a rather violent game, as the only way to get the ball is to knock the player holding it to the ground. You can play either a computer or a friend and take part in any of three leagues. The graphics and animation are marvellous, as is the tune, but playing against the computer is very frustrating indeed as it’s rather difficult to score goals, and of course the computer gets it right every time.
In the 31st century, chickens and machines have collaborated to use nanotechnology to develop a tiny robot that can enter the body of a chicken, search for infections and administer an antidote. You control one of these robots, and you have to explore the body and retrieve samples in order to develop the antidote. When you’re getting close to a sample, you will hear the chicken’s heartbeat increasing. Well, the plot is outlandish, and the graphics are just as psychedelic – vivid, garish shades of pink, green and yellow. Playing the game isn’t such a wonderful experience, though. It takes over three seconds to scroll between rooms, which totally marred my enjoyment of the game, and despite the brightly coloured graphics, I found the gameplay to be rather dull with not much to do.
Here’s a most unusual game in which you explore a landscape of more than 40 screens in your spherical ship, trying to find three different objects. The reason why it’s unusual is that there are all sorts of strange gravitational effects which make your ship very tricky to control; each screen has a different effect and you’ll need to work out how to battle against the effect. When you have collected the three objects in the right order, normal gravity will be restored. The graphics are rather Spectrum-like, although some clever tricks allow more than the usual number of colours on the screen at the same time. However, I found that controlling the ship was just too frustrating to make the game enjoyable.
(Mind Games España, 1986)
While King Leonard was a long trip away from his kingdom, his iniquitous brother Ataulfo stole his treasure, hid it within the castle, and left it guarded by various enchanted beings. You control King Leonard, having returned from his trip, and you must make your way through the castle while avoiding touching any of the many enemies. From the moment the game begins, you know it’s an ugly Spectrum port, as the control selection menu refers to ‘Kempston’ (a joystick interface for the ZX Spectrum) rather than ‘joystick’. The tune on the menu is grating and the gameplay offers nothing that hasn’t been seen before, with some of the enemies requiring nearly pixel-perfect jumping to get past them.
You are Prince Falstaff, and you have been tasked with retrieving the Sword of Battles. However, that is only the beginning of your mission, and you will need to travel through the Kingdom of Speldome (also spelt Spelldome), search for other objects, and give them to the beings who are looking for them. That’s really all there is to this text adventure, which was created using GAC. If you encounter someone and you have the correct item, it is taken from you and you can continue; if you don’t have it, you will be killed and the game ends. There are pictures to accompany the majority of locations, which are fairly good by the standards of GAC, but there isn’t much variety in the locations, and the lack of any puzzles worthy of the name means that it’s really only suitable for people who have little experience of playing text adventures.
(Juan José Martínez, 2020)
The talisman known as the Golden Tail has been stolen by the Yiga clan and taken to Akasaka Castle. Kitsune, who had previously managed to restore the Golden Tail, must travel to the castle and use his magical powers to explore forests and caves and evade various animals, spirits and Yiga clan members. Kitsune can become both invisible and invulnerable for very short periods of time, and run and jump much faster during these periods. The graphics are colourful and of the high standard of the author’s previous games, and the music is pleasant to listen to as well. However it can sometimes be frustratingly difficult to jump across lakes, spikes and wide gaps using Kitsune’s magical powers, and the gameplay relies too much on this, even in the early stages. It would have been fairer if the game offered more than three lives.
See also: Golden Tail.
Here’s a great puzzle game which is a cross between Tetris and Connect 4. Coloured tiles come down a conveyor belt into a hole where you must create rows or columns of the same colour, which are called Klaxes. On each level, you’ll be given a certain number of Klaxes or diagonals to make in order to complete the level. This is a stunning and original game with excellent graphics and two nice (but short) tunes, although it’s pretty difficult. By the way, the cartridge version is exactly the same as the normal one, and makes hardly any use of the Plus’ extra facilities.
If there was ever a game that demonstrated the phrase “gameplay is more important than graphics”, this would be it. The sorceror Red Sabbath has cloned himself over four time zones, and as the knight Fair Storm, you have to destroy all of the clones. Each of these zones only has four screens, which isn’t very much at all. Correspondingly, the game is made very difficult indeed – you have to kill the enemies in each zone in exactly the right way before they die, and there are other traps which can kill you instantly. It is worth looking at just for the loading screens and the graphics (which are some of the best ever seen on a CPC), but there’s not much of an actual game in there.