A disaster is taking place on the planet of Contra, and you have been woken up so that you can alter the settings of the Filtering Computers that maintain the planet’s systems. However, you do not actually control yourself; instead, you control six robots, each of whom perceives the world around them differently and has their own capabilities and limitations. While chaos reigns on the planet above, you must use all six of the robots to fix everything. This is a text adventure like no other, and it’s one that takes a lot of getting used to. It is one of Infocom’s most difficult games, and to do well, you must remember where all the robots are and make sure they’re in the right places at the right times. The plot is highly original, but its difficulty level and other general quirks will put a lot of people off.
Puzzle games don’t come much harder than this one! You’re given a board of several colours of either squares, triangles or hexagons, and you have to clear all of them from the board by swapping them and matching the colours up. The difficulty depends on how many colours there are, the shape of the tiles, and whether or not there is a time limit. How well you complete one level determines which level you’ll go on to next, so it’s never the same game twice! The whole game is extremely well presented, and the icon-based menu system looks stunning. You’ll get frustrated, but with the option to save and load the game as well as a multiple undo system, this is a great game for all of us intellectuals.
(Gargoyle Games, 1986)
Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard
Don’t ask me what the plot of this game is, I never understood it. All you have to do is find your way through a maze filled with tin boxes, rotten fruit, chocolate geese (!), and brownies (that you must collect). It is funny, anyway, despite the four-colour graphics (which are very good, though). The animation of your creature is fluid, even if it slows a lot when there are other characters on the screen. Well, it is a strange game, and really addictive because you want to explore this silly world further – and understand the meaning of it all!
See also: Hydrofool.
(Gremlin Graphics, 1990)
Reviewed by Chris Wraight
As Hiro, last of the Blade Knights, your task is to find the lost pieces of the mystical Fireblade and free the world from the tyranny of the evil Havok. What could be a fairly dreary task is enlivened by the superb implementation of an otherwise fairly standard platform format. Whether using your fists or one of the many weapons lying around the dungeon, the sliding power bar makes performing different moves simple and elegant. The difficulty is also pitched just right. Graphically, things are spot-on; the detailed Mode 1 graphics provide a suitably gloomy ambience. A great tune plays throughout too – a relatively rare thing in CPC games. There are a couple of niggles (Hiro’s jumping can be slightly clumsy at times), but generally this is one of the most professional titles ever released for the CPC, and a cartridge version is also available for Plus machines.
Reviewed by Chris Lennard
Vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up action in this unofficial sequel to Silkworm (its name could be interpreted as Silkworm IV). Once again you must stop everything getting past; waves of helicopters, tanks, rockets, and numerous other deadly foes on land and air as you fly past a barren landscape, all of which can be obliterated by the weapons at your disposal. You have a choice of craft between a helicopter or a jeep, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages, and killing the large bosses enables you to pick up power-ups that increase your firepower. The graphics are highly detailed, the sounds of exploding units and installations are effective and it’s enjoyable enough, but the fact remains that this is a bad Spectrum port. Considering the year this was released it should have looked better.
Evil is once more threatening the land, and Jarkum is the warrior who has been chosen to restore order. As Jarkum, you must explore dungeons and tombs and retrieve the four pieces of the Sword of Ianna – the sacred weapon that will defeat the evil. This is a platform game, and it is enormous – so large, in fact, that it can only be played using the Dandanator hardware device, which few emulators support. As you wield your sword and battle with various enemies such as orcs, mummies and skeletons, your experience level improves. The graphics are beautiful and the animation is astonishing, and there are several atmospheric tunes that play throughout your epic quest. It will take many hours of play to succeed, and if you like platform games with an element of combat, this is not to be missed.
(Zeppelin Games, 1992)
A gang of evil ninjas has captured lots of people and taken them hostage, so as a noble warrior, you must rescue the hostages and kill the gang’s leader. The story sounds rather similar to that of Shinobi, and the game itself also bears a remarkable resemblance to it. Three hostages need to be rescued on each of the seven levels. There are several different types of ninjas, each of which needs to be dealt with in a different way. This is a fairly decent platform game with clear and colourful graphics, although there are very few sound effects, and while it’s not quite as good as the game that inspired it, it’s still worth trying out.
Follow the storyline of Spartacus, a gladiator in the Roman empire who seeks to escape from the arena. The eleven scenes in the game take him from the arena to the streets of Capua, where he rushes to a temple and then on to the forest, before finally escaping. Throughout all the scenes, you’ve got to slay other gladiators and legionnaires, and sometimes eagles. It gets monotonous fairly quickly, and the Spectrum-like graphics are mostly in the same colour, but the game deserves a special mention for using digitised sound effects.
Reviewed by Robert Small
A much hyped game upon release that also suffered from delays. Was it worth the wait when it finally arrived? I would say yes. Explore dungeons, fight enemies, collect objects, use magic and enter into conversations with the dungeon dwellers. All the fantasy elements are there. Everything is nicely displayed on-screen – a view of the action on one side, a map on the other, and dialogue at the bottom. The controls are a headache, though, at least at first. The MIDAS system was supposed to be a unique selling point with Swords and Sorcery but it didn’t go any further than this game, despite plans to use it in future titles. There are a few bugs as well, which is a shame, but it looks nice enough, has that classic Dungeons & Dragons atmosphere, and hurling insults at opponents will raise a smile or two.
(Bretagne Edit’ Presse, 1987)
It’s time for another Breakout clone. This one features rather chunky bricks, and unlike other similar games, you must clear almost all the bricks from the screen within a time limit. However, there are no power-ups to collect, although there is one type of brick that when destroyed will massively increase the speed of the ball – and more often than not, it will also cost you one of your nine lives as you fail to catch it with your bat. The graphics and sound effects are functional, but there’s really nothing that makes this game stand out from all the other Breakout clones on the CPC, and it’s slightly too slow-paced for my liking. I get the impression that it was originally intended as a type-in listing for a magazine but it ended up being published as a commercial game instead.