Screenshot of Space Smugglers

Space Smugglers

(MHT Ingenieros, 1989)

The Space Smugglers are a highly organised group of dangerous assassins, and you have just been chosen to rid the galaxy of them. On the screen are three teleporters, and aliens appear at random. Some of them are harmless, but others are dangerous and will show you their weapon after a few seconds. You can only shoot an alien when they have drawn their weapon, so you will need quick reflexes to survive! When you have shot the required number of aliens (shown at the top of the screen), you are taken to the next level. This game can only be played using MHT’s own Gunstick, and it’s actually fairly unexciting. It takes ages to complete a level, and of course, the next level is the same, except that you may need to shoot even more aliens. The graphics and animation are absolutely wonderful, but that’s of little consolation.

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Screenshot of Spaced Out

Spaced Out

(Firebird, 1987)

A rather interesting board game in which you control the Space Cowboy, starting at the bottom left of the board and attempting to reach the top right. In each turn, two dice are rolled, and you can use them to move a certain number of steps in any direction you want. Then it’s the turn of the aliens to move randomly, as they attempt to block your progress. If you are stuck and can’t move, you are ‘spaced out’ and must pay a penalty. You can land on the aliens if you roll the correct dice and eliminate them, although this also penalises you slightly. If you accumulate too many penalty points, you lose. There are four different types of aliens and the difficulty can be configured. The graphics are nice and the sound effects do the job, and it’s not a bad game, actually, despite what some people might think.

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Screenshot of Spaceman Kerl

Spaceman Kerl

(FitoSoft, 2022)

Kerl is in outer space and has to rescue his fellow astronauts. On each level, Kerl starts at the top, and he has to descend to the bottom where an astronaut is waiting for him. There are sets of platforms and boxes to be collected containing one of four types of item – fuel for Kerl’s jet pack, drills to remove platforms, slabs to extend platforms, or bonus points. The catch is that these items can only be collected if Kerl lands on top of them; he can’t collect them by walking left or right along a platform, so there is a puzzle element to this game as well. The graphics are detailed, although the choices of palette in certain levels are questionable, and I like the music that plays throughout the game, although it can stutter a little when Kerl is moving. The concept of the game is simple but it proves to be entertaining.

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Screenshot of Spaghetti Western Simulator

Spaghetti Western Simulator

(Zeppelin Games, 1990)

Reviewed by Robert Small

Firstly, this is not a simulator of any kind. I’m not sure how you would go about making a Spaghetti Western simulator anyway. It’s essentially an arcade shoot-’em-up. You take control of your cowboy (whose name is altered just enough so the lawyers can’t get involved) and are immediately assaulted from all angles by all manner of Wild West-themed objects. You name it – tomahawks, dynamite, glass bottles – and it’s flying at you. And of course there are bandits. If you’re quick on the trigger you can shoot thrown objects out of the air and fan your six-shooter to kill the bandits. The walking animation of your cowboy is nice and the backgrounds are detailed. The sound effects are basic and the controls could be better. Western fans should at least give it a go once.

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Screenshot of Spannerman

Spannerman

(Amsoft, 1984)

An earthquake has struck and has damaged the pipes that cool a nuclear reactor. It’s time to call in the local plumber to mend the pipes. This is a platform game consisting of only one screen, and as leaks continually appear, you have to adjust the joints with your spanner to stop the leaks. To make life more difficult, the screen gradually fills with water, although you can go underwater to fix leaks. Other things to watch out for are mutated rats and falling debris. The graphics and sound effects aren’t particularly good, as would be expected from a game that was released in the very early days of the CPC, and despite the inclusion of five difficulty levels, there’s not much to make you want to play the game again after a few goes.

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Screenshot of Special Operations

Special Operations

(Lothlorien, 1984)

Reviewed by Piero Serra

In this World War II strategy adventure you have a choice of seven missions in which you must infiltrate an enemy compound to gather intelligence or destroy targets. Your first task is to interview and recruit a team of experts, with skills such as lock picking, explosives and climbing. Your team is then dropped into the vicinity of the enemy base to find the entrance, avoiding or fighting guards patrolling the area. Once inside the compound, draw upon the skills at your disposal to meet the mission objective. The game employs a split-screen view with a map on one side and a close-up aerial view for fighting and action scenes on the other. Although extremely simplistic in terms of graphics, and almost totally lacking sound effects or music, this is a fairly detailed and fun little turn-based strategy game that rewards careful gameplay.

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Screenshot of Speed King

Speed King

(Mastertronic, 1986)

Race against 19 other riders around ten tracks in your super-powered motorcycle, capable of reaching 250mph! There are three difficulty levels – novice, champion and pro – and you can practice each track before you go racing over two, four or six laps. The first thing you’ll notice once you start racing is that the graphics are very blocky indeed! However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a bad game; in fact, it is quite fast, although one annoying aspect is that all of the riders unerringly remain in the centre of the road, and it is relatively easy to crash into them unintentionally. Despite this problem, this is still a fairly decent game overall.

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Screenshot of Speed Zone

Speed Zone

(Mastertronic, 1988)

A vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up whose only difference from every other game like it is its speed. There’s nothing original in the game at all, but the aliens whizz across the screen like bullets. Fortunately you don’t lose a life on contact with them; your energy decreases instead, and when it runs out, you lose one of your three lives. Your shield is also fully restored at the start of each level, which is annoying if it runs out just before you shoot the last alien! The game isn’t that hard, but every level is the same, except for a little picture somewhere on the screen. The sound effects are sparse and the music on the title screen really hurts the ears.

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Screenshot of Spellbound

Spellbound

(Mastertronic, 1986)

Gimbal the wizard has managed to mess up his spells again and has trapped himself, as well as you and several other people in a castle! You have to release Gimbal and return everyone to the correct zones in the castle. Lots of objects are scattered over seven floors, and while many of them are useful, a lot of them are not. You’ll also need to interact with the characters, make sure they eat and drink, keep them happy, and get them to help you. This is the second of four games featuring Magic Knight, and it’s rather good, too, although the style of the game is very different from Finders Keepers. The graphics aren’t that good, although the music isn’t bad.

See also: Finders Keepers, Knight Tyme, Stormbringer.

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Screenshot of Spellbound Dizzy
Screenshot taken from 128K version of game

Spellbound Dizzy

(Code Masters, 1991)

The fifth Dizzy adventure is also by far the largest – in fact, it’s too large! Dizzy has been looking at Theo the wizard’s spell book and has managed to send the Yolkfolk somewhere else, so now he has to send them all back again. There are a large amount of extra features in this game which make it better than the other Dizzy adventures – for instance, Dizzy can hurt himself if he falls too far – but that is outweighed by the sheer size of the game. It’s far too much to sit through in one go, and the bit where you have to collect rocks each time you want to go down the wind shaft is extremely wearisome. The tune quickly becomes annoying, too.

See also: Bubble Dizzy, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, Dizzy, Dizzy Down the Rapids, Dizzy Panic, Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk, Fantasy World Dizzy, Fast Food, Kwik Snax, Magicland Dizzy, Treasure Island Dizzy.

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