Screenshot of SWIV


(Storm, 1991)

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.

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Screenshot of The Sword of Ianna

The Sword of Ianna

(Retroworks, 2020)

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.

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Screenshot of The Sword of the Samurai

The Sword of the Samurai

(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.

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Screenshot of Sword Slayer

Sword Slayer

(Players, 1988)

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.

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Screenshot of Swords and Sorcery

Swords and Sorcery

(PSS, 1986)

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.

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Screenshot of Synchronous


(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.

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Screenshot of Syntax


(Blue Ribbon, 1988)

Rebel forces from the planet Syntax are planning to invade Earth, and you have volunteered to fly to Syntax in your impulse-drive fighter and defeat their dastardly plans. You must fly around the planet in the search for ten crystals which you must drop down ventilation shafts. Nearly everything about this game is poor. The graphics and sound effects are very basic and it’s difficult to work out where it’s safe to fly. Many of the areas you can explore are restricted in size, and the controls are very sensitive, so flying your fighter in a straight line is quite tricky, as is avoiding flying into buildings and rebel ships. You’ll end up crashing far too frequently.

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