Screenshot of North Star

North Star

(Gremlin Graphics, 1988)

The North Star project involved building a gigantic food factory, orbiting above Earth and feeding its population. However, just as the project was nearly complete, aliens took over the factory – typical, huh? You have seen sent to the factory to kill the aliens and restore the life support systems. The action takes place over nine horizontally scrolling levels, each filled with platforms and aliens. It’s standard fare, really, and the levels are rather short, but the aliens are just too hard to avoid, and the merest contact with any of them costs you one of your four lives. The graphics and music are spectacular, but the difficulty level severely mars what could have been a rather good game.

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Screenshot of Nosferatu the Vampyre

Nosferatu the Vampyre

(Piranha, 1986)

The evil vampire Nosferatu is planning to buy a house in the German town of Wismar, and he must be stopped! This adventure game is based on the 1979 film of the same name and is divided into two parts. In the first part, the estate agent Jonathan Harker must explore Nosferatu’s castle and escape from it, preferably with the deeds to the house. In the second part, you can control three characters – Jonathan, his wife Lucy, and her brother-in-law van Helsing – and Lucy must attempt to lure Nosferatu to her house and keep him there until dawn. The game uses isometric graphics which are well drawn, although many of the colour schemes used are horrible. There is a fairly wide variety of locations to explore and objects to manipulate, although it’s best played with the music turned off, as it will quickly become very irritating!

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Screenshot of Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less

Stephen Bradley, an American academic based in Magdalen College in Oxford, has been swindled out of $250,000 by a conman called Harvey Metcalfe, and he is determined to recover all of the money himself. This text adventure is based on a famous novel by Jeffrey Archer, but it’s seriously flawed. The parser is very limited and it won’t accept many obvious commands, the game doesn’t keep an inventory of what you’re carrying, and you can’t roam around freely; you have to complete the puzzles in one section before you can go to the next one. The graphics are basic and lack polish, and if you’re using a CPC6128, you’ll be treated to some digitised speech – but why include such a gimmick in a text adventure? Go and read the novel instead.

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Screenshot of Nuclear Heist

Nuclear Heist

(Players, 1986)

Earth has been reduced to a barren wasteland, and humans now live in underground cities that are powered by uranium. However, aliens from the planet Taroid have learnt about this and have come to invade Earth in order to steal the uranium. This game is a very simple shoot-’em-up where the aliens move from right to left across the screen, and you must shoot them with your helicopter before any of them reach the left of the screen and hit the barrier. Shoot enough aliens and you enter hyperwarp, where you must dodge the flying debris for a short while. The graphics and sound are very rudimentary indeed, and after a few goes, you’ll want to play something else.

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Screenshot of Number 1

Number 1

(Amstrad Action/Ocean, 1986)

Reviewed by Chris Lennard

An original, if not slightly weird, game in which are a rollerblader who must collect a certain quota of jewels as you traverse the passing scenery in order to get to the next level, while taking care to avoid any passing obstacles and enemies out to harm you. Set out from the same perspective as Space Harrier and Eliminator, it can be quite hard at times as everything is generated randomly, so a fair amount of luck and skill is required – particularly in the later stages when the game is running faster and there are ever more objects on the screen. The music is quite irritating and the graphics are also somewhat limited.

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