(Ere Informatique/PSS, 1985)
This pinball game offers more than most, in that you can design your own tables; something lacking in every other CPC pinball game, as far as I know. It’s a little bit on the simple side and not at all user-friendly, but it’s there, and you can change the colours. If that wasn’t enough, all sorts of other attributes can be reconfigured, although I think this is getting anorak-like. The actual game itself? It’s a shame there is only one table supplied with the game, but it plays reasonably well, although the ball slows down dramatically when you’re using the flippers. The picture of the the girl on the left is lovely as well – and not a lot of people seem to know this, but a French version of the game also exists where the girl is nude!
The evil sorcerer Sfax has a cast a harmful spell over the beautiful princess Gwendoline, and the only way to remove the spell is to find Sfax and destroy him. Beyond the derivative background story is a very fast 3D space shoot-’em-up. Your spacecraft skims close to a planetary surface as formations of enemy spacecraft and meteor showers swarm towards you. You can also fly through arches to gain bonus points. After a while, you will reach a heavily mined underground entrance where you can confront and shoot Sfax’s face. The graphics are very detailed and the scrolling is very fast, but there is little variety in the formations and types of enemy spacecraft, and the order in which enemies appear is randomly determined. It’s worth a few goes if you’re looking for a quick game of something.
Reviewed by Piero Serra
Originally released by little-known publisher Datacom as Interplanetary Trader and later re-released by Atlantis as Space Trader, Macrocosmica is a tough space trading game very much in the mould of Elite. The game randomly generates a new universe each time and, although it can’t hold a candle to Elite graphically, what it lacks in terms of spectacular space dog-fighting it makes up for with a solid trading interface and a lot of ship maintenance, travel and upgrade options. Buying and selling is nicely handled and is fun, if you’re into that sort of thing, with clearly designed menus on each screen. The keyboard controls are a bit annoying, but what really spoils the game are the very basic and lengthy inter-space battles that occur if you should run into pirates. Without these it would have been a lot more playable, although it is worth trying if you are a fan of Elite.
Mad Mix 2
(Topo Soft, 1990)
Our hungry yellow blob-shaped hero is back. This time, he’s in a castle filled with with ghosts, skulls, mummies, and other monsters – and it’s in isometric 3D as well. The first two levels aren’t too much of a problem, although watch out; you can jump over the ghosts and skulls, but you can’t do that with the mummies – and don’t step on the booby traps! Occasionally you’ll find power-ups allowing you to move very swiftly, and there may be an extra life somewhere. Although it’s not as easy as the first game, the graphics and music are both much better. However, you can only see a tiny amount of the maze at a time, and finding that last pill is often frustrating.
See also: The Pepsi Challenge Mad Mix Game.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: Amstrad CPC World, jgonza.
Madballs were a sets of rubber balls shaped into hideous, grotesque faces, and were very popular with children in the mid-1980s. A computer game was released to capitalise on this craze, but it’s pretty poor. The Madballs live on the planet of Orb, but Dust Brain wants to take over and become leader of Orb by convincing the other Madballs to join your gang – and the way to do this is by knocking them off the platforms that make up Orb. Meanwhile, the other Madballs are trying to knock you off the platforms as well! This is not easy to do, as you are constantly bouncing up and down. In fact, controlling the Madballs is extremely difficult, and you’ll soon be shouting in sheer frustration. The graphics are nothing special either.
Reviewed by Piero Serra
This is billed as a dog simulator, but it’s a ‘simulator’ in the loosest sense of the word. Let’s start with the good points: the graphics are mildly pleasing and your dog looks and acts suitably canine. He runs, he jumps, he cocks his leg to pee (so it’s definitely a male dog). If you leave the controls alone, he scratches himself furiously with his back paw in that way dogs do. As for the rest of the game, well... the idea is to entertain your four-legged friend by making him pick up bones, eat food, chase birds and kick balls, like a canine Little Computer People. The controls are awkward and the flip-screen scrolling doesn’t help. There’s another dog and a cat who both ignore you, and a nasty man who locks you up if he catches you. There’s very little to do here. It’s OK for five minutes but that’s it.
(Cosmic Software, 1990)
Reviewed by Robert Small
A combination of gallery shooting and top-down driving (very similar to Asphalt), Maffia is a colourful game which is reasonably well presented. You travel across Italy in an attempt to defeat your rivals. The gallery shooting section is so-so; there are better examples out there. The driving section is where the game steps up a gear with better graphics and the game is a bit more enjoyable. At the end of the day the game can feel quite mindless, though. It needs more variety.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: XeNoMoRPH.
Reviewed by Pug
A conversion from the arcade original. A sideways shoot-’em-up in which power-ups change the shape of your fighter into that of a powerful robot. Sadly, this game looks like it was rushed out in my opinion. The gameplay is just too difficult. The projectiles aimed at you move too quickly, and this, mixed with the structures that must be avoided, results in loss of life. Sure, you can time your position to take out these turrets, but if you don’t destroy one in time you soon run into trouble as the next one aims at you. It’s a real shame, as the graphics start off looking interesting with a few bleeps and bangs audio-wise. To survive more than ten seconds is a world record!
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: Xyphoe.
Magic Johnson’s Basketball
(Dro Soft, 1990)
Reviewed by Robert Small
The combination of one of the greatest basketball players of all time (Magic Johnson) and a good developer of CPC games (New Frontier) should result in one of the CPC’s best sports games, right? If only. Two-on-two basketball is represented on screen by scrolling that is far from smooth, a colour palette that does the absolute minimum to inspire, and some average animation. Swapping between players isn’t as responsive as it should be, which leads to frustration. A saving grace is shooting the odd three-pointer, but Golden Basket is a better bet for following your hoop dreams.
(Juan José Martínez, 2016)
A sorceress has had all her potions stolen and she must retrieve them. This is a platform game consisting of 50 stages, each taking place on a single screen. You have 50 seconds on each stage to get rid of all the enemy creatures on the screen. You must first stun them and then push them in order to kill them and retrieve the potion they are carrying. There are a variety of enemies, each with different characteristics; some can only be stunned from behind, while others can fire at you. The graphics are cute and colourful, and the various tunes are also rather jolly. The first few stages are easy, but they soon become more challenging. Overall, it’s a simple and enjoyable game, although it would have been nice to provide passwords every few stages so you could skip stages you’ve already completed.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: Saberman.