(Virgin Games, 1985)
Reviewed by Pug
Find and free the captured wizards! The evil Necromancer has locked them away and only certain items will free them. This game helped establish the CPC as a rival to other machines. Its graphics were quite simply amazing – a never before seen split screen incorporating Mode 0 and Mode 1! The Mode 0 graphics made good use of the colour palette and everyone drooled over them. Ultra-smooth sprites moved along with no flicker and this made the game an enjoyable challenge. A heralding tune plays upon loading with sparse in-game sound effects, but this doesn’t matter. It’s a hard game to beat but definitely worth a try. An icon in the CPC’s history.
See also: Sorcery+.
Reviewed by Alain Schroetter
This game is the sequel to one of the most famous games on the CPC – Sorcery, widely used by Amstrad to promote the CPC because the graphics were very nice at the time the game was released. The first part is more or less the same as in Sorcery, but it is a bit easier. The real plus of the game is in the second part, in which you have to find four golden hearts to defeat the evil necromancer. The game provides good graphics and fast animation and it is really addictive. It is not too large, so you won’t get lost easily, and the difficulty is well balanced. Just a little hint; in the second part, drop the ‘roland’ statuette into the water (in the ‘bridge’ room) to get the fourth golden heart.
See also: Sorcery.
A computer is still running the planet Nonterraqueous, and a robot with the mind of a man is sent out with a bomb so that the computer can be destroyed. The computer lies within a large maze filled with platforms, and you have to jump to reach them. However, some platforms are higher than others and you’ll need to adjust the jumping power of the robot. The thing is, the robot is a bit slow, and with the many monsters about, you’ll probably hit one of them and come tumbling back to the floor and maybe lose a life. Before long, frustration sets in after you realise that getting anywhere is too tricky.
Reviewed by Piero Serra
The angry-looking Minotaur on the Souls of Darkon cover and loading screen put me in mind of a Greek myth, but this text adventure in fact has a science fiction setting. You and your robot companion Komputa are on a quest to destroy the evil Darkon on planet Megron. Initially I was quite impressed with the atmosphere created by the writing and stylish typeface. The layout and graphics are unfussy, and solving puzzles relies on a combination of what you read and what you can see in the pictures. As your quest progresses, however, the game begins to show its limitations. The puzzles themselves are uninspired and the world of Megron is actually a bit dull. After a few hours with it I didn’t have much desire to go further. Souls of Darkon is nicely presented but the setting and puzzles sadly did not live up to my initial expectations.
The Southern Belle was a steam locomotive that carried passengers from London’s Victoria station to Brighton. This is a realistic simulation which faithfully recreates the 51-mile journey and allows you to take control of this famous train. Although there is a daunting range of controls, you can choose which ones you can manipulate, and leave the computer to work the remaining controls. In addition, there are several runs which vary in difficulty, and in order to pass them, you must achieve a rating of at least 70% overall. Starting with a training run, you can then try to cope with speed limits, maintenance works, stopping at stations, and attempting to beat the record of 48 minutes from Victoria to Brighton. The vector graphics are excellent, and even if you’re not a trainspotter, you may find the game to be a nice diversion once you’ve got the hang of it.
(Opera Soft, 1991)
Soviet citizens are being kidnapped on the orders of a dictator from a neighbouring country. The KGB has sent its best agent, Igor, into the country to rescue the hostages. You have to drive around each of the two levels (only two?), collecting the hostages as they run towards your vehicle. Unfortunately the dictator’s army is out to get you! You’ll be assaulted by a barrage of bombs and bullets, and while you’re dodging them, the hostages are being killed; if too many die, the game is over. The graphics are detailed and well drawn, although the rendition of the Soviet national anthem on the menu is mediocre. The game itself is OK, but the constant bombardment that you face makes it very difficult indeed.
Here’s an Asteroids clone without any of the playability. Shoot the aliens as they zoom across the screen, while trying frantically to stay out of their way at the same time. It’s not easy at all, and if you can survive for two minutes, you’re doing really well! My main complaints regarding this game are that the controls are unresponsive and the movement of your spaceship is sluggish, whereas the aliens move much faster than you and are therefore difficult to avoid. The graphics are fairly good, but the game is so frustratingly difficult that you’ll want to throw something at your CPC in sheer anger.
Dante, the space cowboy, has crashed on an alien planet. Fortunately he has landed near a hangar that should contain the tools he needs to repair his spacecraft – but there is also a strange vehicle that he must use in his search for the tools. This game was an entrant in the 2020 #CPCRetroDev Game Creation Contest and finished in ninth place. The concept is simple; explore a maze of rooms, collect the tools, and avoid the aliens in each room. There is also a time limit of 30 minutes, and the vehicle is armed with a cannon that can be used to stun aliens temporarily. It’s quite tricky to control at first as it behaves like it’s on ice, but there is a brake to slow it down. The graphics are simple but functional, the music is repetitive without being irritating, and it’s a fairly decent game to play.
(Gremlin Graphics, 1992)
During the War of Strife, which lasted for 5,000 years, an army of fighting men called the Space Marines were assembled to take on the alien forces of Chaos. These aliens reside in large spaceships, and there are twelve missions to be undertaken. There are three chapters of Space Marines which you can control – the Blood Angels, the Imperial Fists, and the Ultra Marines. On each mission, you control four marines led by a commander. Completing a mission successfully earns the commander honour badges which allow you to obtain better equipment – but your commander has to return alive! The rules are rather complex and take some time to understand, and the game will seem difficult at first as all your marines are killed by the aliens! Stick with it, though, and you’ll discover an absorbing and highly tactical strategy game.
Reviewed by CPC4eva
Written in compiled BASIC using Sprites Alive to demonstrate its capabilities on the CPC, Space Froggy is a stunning platformer which appeared on an Amstrad Action covertape. Controlling a very cute and cool-looking frog wearing sunglasses who finds himself in space with nine lives, you set out to collect nine ROM chips and some keys that will open doors, all while avoiding enemy space monsters so you can upgrade a CPC464 to a CPC6128. Having played my fair share of commercially released budget games, Space Froggy puts most of them to shame. Colourful, big sprites, really good use of Mode 0, an atmospheric space feel, pleasant in-game sound effects, easy movement and controls, with a detailed playing area. It’s all very professionally presented, a fun and absorbing game, and quite an achievement.