Screenshot of Pirates!


(MicroProse, 1987)

Fancy being a pirate in the 16th and 17th centuries, sailing across the Spanish Main? This all-time classic sees you as either an English, French, Dutch or Spanish adventurer, captaining a ship and sailing to and from towns, trying to earn prestige by capturing and plundering enemy ships and towns. You also have to visit taverns to recruit men for your voyages, and you can trade goods with local merchants as well. During the course of your travels, you may also find members of your family and uncover lost treasure! Although it can be rather slow at times, this is a truly awesome game which gives you total freedom to do whatever you want. Being a pirate has never been so much fun, and I cannot do this game justice in such a small space. You really must try it out for yourself!

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Screenshot of Piso Zero

Piso Zero

(Zigurat, 1991)

An army led by the Cadwaladwr brothers has invaded the headquarters of RBA and taken the staff hostage, and you must single-handedly rescue as many of them as you can from each building. There are two types of staff – the glamorous secretaries, and the chiefs, who carry briefcases containing important documents. Once you’ve located a hostage, you must guide them to the exit. You only need to rescue one chief in order to progress to the next building, although rescuing additional staff earns more points. Of course, you must also dodge the Cadwaladwr brother’s gun-toting followers. This game is frustrating to play. Its random nature means that you can’t tell if the next hostage to appear will be a chief or a secretary, and it’s often hard to distinguish bullets from the background.

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Screenshot of Pit-Fighter


(Domark, 1991)

Pit-fighting is an illegal ‘sport’ where two burly men fight each other to the death. There are eight contestants you must face, and you can choose from one of three fighters – Buzz, an ex-pro-wrestler; Ty, a kick boxer; and Kato, a karate expert. I’m not into beat-’em-ups, though, and this is certainly one of the worst ones that I’ve seen, with awful, blocky, Spectrum-like graphics and slow, jerky scrolling. It’s far too easy as well – that is, if you can be bothered to slog it out. In short, it’s the pits (groan)!

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Screenshot of Pix


(EgoTrip, 2013)

Reviewed by Missas

This is a Picross puzzle-solving game in which the player needs to fill nonograms which consist of a grid, with numbers on the sides of the grid detailing how many squares need to be filled in that row or column. The graphics are basic with only four colours used, and the sound is just a beep. The grab factor depends on whether you love or hate this style of game. Before playing it, you need to consider only one thing: do you like solving Picross puzzles? If your answer is yes, load the game and you will enjoy it. If your answer is no, read this review and try the game at least once!

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Screenshot of Planet of Death

Planet of Death

(Paxman Promotions, 1985)

You are stranded on an alien planet, and you must locate your spaceship, which has been captured and disabled. Also known as Adventure ‘A’, this is the first in a series of eight text adventures that were originally released for the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum between 1981 and 1985. The fact that it made its debut on the ZX81 gives you a large hint that it’s extremely basic and unsophisticated. The plot is unoriginal, there are few locations, the parser is very limited, and there aren’t many puzzles to solve. Even the text is displayed entirely in capital letters and without apostrophes – a throwback to the ZX81’s very limited character set. It feels like a type-in listing from a magazine, and I can’t understand why anyone considered it a good idea to convert it to the CPC.

See also: Inca Curse.

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Screenshot of Planetfall


(Infocom, 1986)

You’re a lowly Ensign Seventh Class on board the Stellar Patrol Ship Feinstein, when the ship is torn apart by an explosion. You escape to a nearby planet, and end up in a deserted complex. As you explore your surroundings, you eventually learn that all its inhabitants died from a nasty disease – and now you’re infected as well, and must find a way of curing it. This is a thoroughly engrossing text adventure, which features the adorable robot Floyd, who becomes your companion through much of the game. The constant need to obtain food can be a bit irritating, and you’ll need a lot of access cards to explore several areas of the complex, but the scenario is fascinating and the game is suitable for inexperienced adventurers.

See also: Stationfall.

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Screenshot of Plasmatron


(CRL, 1988)

A colony that was established on the planet of Laughton 2 now lies deserted, and it has since been occupied by alien forces. You are Captain Ford, a space pilot who has been sent to the former colony to see what has happened, and to shoot the aliens. It’s a horizontally scrolling space shoot-’em-up, and my goodness, it is bad! There is only one level, and no power-ups whatsoever to collect. But the worst aspect of the game is the amount of flickering that occurs; I don’t think I have seen a game with such horrible flickering. The scrolling is very slow as well. It’s a badly programmed game and there’s nothing to recommend about it.

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Screenshot of Platformer Medley Block #1

Platformer Medley Block #1

(The Mojon Twins, 2009)

Mari Stormbringer is a bored supermarket cashier. She grabs a packet of n&n sweets, not realising that they are contaminated, and she is transported to another world. Can you help her return to the real world? Behind the surreal story is a cute and very colourful, albeit rather linear, platform game. You start the game with 20 lives, but you will need all of them, as it’s a rather difficult game. The graphics are bright and cheerful, and background images are used on each screen to great effect, and it will take you many attempts to reach the final screen.

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Screenshot of Platoon


(Ocean, 1988)

Reviewed by Chris Lennard

The first casualty of war is innocence – or perhaps it’s being forced to play this. Engage the Viet Cong in this supposed adaptation of the movie to which it bears little resemblance. The most part of the game involves having your soldier wandering around the deadly labyrinth that constitutes the Vietnamese jungle, collecting objects in order to complete your mission. From all corners of the screen you are almost constantly assailed by enemy troops that appear from nowhere, or alternatively you are suffering at the hands of nearly invisible snipers and troops. The 3D sections in the underground tunnels are more impressive, but are frankly not worth getting to in a game that is ultimately frustrating, annoying and extremely difficult.

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Screenshot of Play Your Cards Right

Play Your Cards Right

(Britannia Software, 1986)

Bruce Forsyth hosted a popular TV game show in the 1980s, but this computer adaptation of it doesn’t do it justice at all. You and a computer or a friend take it in turns to guess the percentage of a certain group of people who said yes or no as to what they would do in a particular situation, then you turn over playing cards one at a time, guessing whether the next one will be higher or lower; if you successfully turn over five cards, you score a point. The first player to score two points goes on to the final round where you can gamble to earn more points – although unlike the TV show, you don’t win any prizes, and you don’t hear the crowd shouting “Higher!” or “Lower!” at you all the time. Playing this game is entirely a matter of luck instead of skill and it quickly becomes boring.

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