Screenshot of Spitfire


(Encore, 1989)

Take to the skies in a Spitfire fighter plane and shoot down as many German Me 109 and Ju 88 planes and destroy as many of their bases as you can. A display at the bottom of the screen warns you of incoming enemy planes, and then you can engage in a dogfight with them, manoeuvring your Spitfire and weaving around the screen in order to take it down. Your plane isn’t armed with bombs, so enemy bases and ships need to be destroyed by swooping downwards and firing your guns continuously while trying not to crash. First impressions are good; the graphics are average but your Spitfire is well animated, and the sound of gunfire is fairly realistic. However, there isn’t much variety and there are no real goals to achieve, and it soon becomes repetitive.

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Screenshot of Spitfire 40

Spitfire 40

(Mirrorsoft, 1985)

Reviewed by Robert Small

An early, yet surprisingly accurate, flight simulator on the CPC. In terms of gameplay it treads the fine line between simulation and arcade shoot-’em-up well. Strap into your World War II Spitfire plane, select a pilot and shoot down the enemy fighters. You’ll be asked to take off and land, as well as use your instruments to judge speed and height and a map to find your prey. Having to toggle between the instruments and cockpit view can be tricky at first. There are more ambitious-looking CPC flight simulators but the instruments look particularly nice and the cockpit view is good enough. On the aural front the music tries to invoke the Battle of Britain spirit, while the sound effects are to be expected. Dogfighting is enjoyable and good fun in this but perhaps the game lacks a little depth.

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Screenshot of Spitting Image

Spitting Image

(Domark, 1988)

The greatest war the world has ever seen is about to commence. It’s so great that even the Swiss are getting involved this time! This is a beat-’em-up based on the British TV show of the same name, which lets you match six of the world’s leaders against each other – Maggie Thatcher, Ronnie Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Ayatollah Khomeini, and P. W. Botha. Of course, each of them has their own ways of fighting. You select an opponent and a champion, with you playing the opponent, and if you defeat the champion three times, it’s on to another one. The graphics are brilliant and there are some jolly jingles to be heard, but it is after all a novelty game, and although it’s funny at first, the novelty will wear off before long.

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Screenshot of Splat!


(Amsoft/Incentive, 1985)

Zippy the spider is stuck in a maze which is constantly scrolling within a section of the screen, and if he touches the edges of the screen, he loses one of his three lives, which can happen if you’re trapped within the walls of the maze and there’s no escape! It’s probably not easy to understand this explanation, but it is an original idea, although the aptly named Zippy can be a little bit too fast, for you can sometimes run into the edges when you didn’t mean to. The graphics are very basic and the colour scheme is garish, and there are no sound effects worth talking about, but it’s still a fun game to play every now and then.

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Screenshot of Split Personalities

Split Personalities

(Domark, 1986)

This game was originally entitled Splitting Images, but its name had to be changed for legal reasons. This is a variation of those sliding tile games, although in this game, the board is initially empty. The tiles are stored at the top left corner and you can release them as necessary. The aim on each of the ten levels is to recreate the face of a famous person shown elsewhere on the screen – but with a tight time limit and numerous hazards to face, it really isn’t easy. Many famous faces of the 1980s are in the game – Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Neil Kinnock, Clive Sinclair (boo!) and Alan Sugar, to name a few. The caricatures are well drawn and very colourful, and even though the constant white noise is irritating, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable game.

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Screenshot of Spooked


(Players, 1989)

An eerie mansion full of ghosts and other strange creatures... and you’re inside it. As well as avoiding the nasty ghosts and skulls, you have to collect the insects that roam and fly about, and use them to cast spells. Each spell requires different insects – there’s a book that’ll reveal everything, but you’ll need a spell to open it! Watch the hourglass at the corner of the screen; if it runs out too many times, you’ll be hanged! Sadly, this is an awful Spectrum port with flickery, monochromatic sprites and hardly any sound, and the game itself is frustrating.

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Screenshot of Spooky Castle

Spooky Castle

(Atlantis, 1990)

King Michael’s daughter, Princess Clare, has been kidnapped by evil ghosts and taken away to a castle, and as Gary, you must free her. The main hazards to watch out for are bats, fire and ghosts. Contact with bats depletes your energy, while touching fire or the ghost that wanders from right to left across the screen loses one of your lives instantly. You can collect vases to replenish your energy, and ankhs to give you extra lives. However, they reappear every time you enter a room, which makes the game rather easy to complete. The graphics aren’t bad, but the castle is too small (it has fewer than twenty rooms) and once you’ve completed it, it’s not something you’ll want to play again.

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Screenshot of Sport of Kings

Sport of Kings

(Mastertronic, 1986)

There are some of us (but certainly not me) who like to take a gamble on a horse at the races. Now you and up to four other players can see how much money you can win. You can choose a total of 25, 50 or 75 horses, with seven horses competing in each race, and you can study the form cards for each horse for the last fifteen races. There are also four types of bet you can use on a horse. Once you’ve made your bet, you can watch the race and cheer on your horse. I suppose that if you’re a fan of horse racing, you might like it, as it gives you the opportunity to try to beat the bookies in real life, but all you see at the end of every race is “You have lost £xxxx” and “You have won £xxxx”. The thrill of winning just isn’t there.

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Screenshot of Sporting Triangles

Sporting Triangles

(CDS, 1989)

This quiz game is based on ITV’s short-lived version of the TV quiz show A Question of Sport. Three players choose an area of sport, and then they take it in turns to move around a triangular board, answering questions based on the three subjects that have been chosen, as well as the occasional question on general sport. The game consists of seven rounds, but apart from the last round, which is a quick-fire session, there is only one question in each round. This makes each game rather short. Many of the questions are now outdated, and unless you have a really good knowledge of many sports, you won’t like this game. It does have a great rendition of the theme tune, though. (The answer to the question in the screenshot is “Renault”, by the way.)

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Screenshot of Sputnik


(SPE, 1986)

Robots have taken over the Earth, and the only hope for the human race is to send an SOS – but the robots have also shut down all the satellite communication systems. A remote-controlled android has been sent into the communications building to reactivate the Sputnik devices within it so an SOS can be transmitted. You control the android and you must explore the building and find and activate thirty Sputniks. Initially this game feels pleasant enough, although the graphics lack colour, but every time you lose a life, you’re sent right back to the starting room! As the building contains over 200 rooms, this is extremely annoying and frustrating.

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