Here is yet another bundle of the best (or supposedly best) games of yesteryear, the fourth in this particular series from compilation specialist Beau Jolly. In spite of the title however, this offering actually features twelve titles, Galaforce and Karate Combat being thrown in free.
I find that compilations seem to be getting increasingly out of hand. More and more are appearing featuring games that have already appeared on at least one other compilation.
10 Computer Hits 4 is a case in point: No less than eight of these games have already appeared on compilations - four of them on Beau Jolly's own Five Star Games 2. The package caters well for shoot-'em-up fans, with Zalaga, Psycastria, Deathstar and the afore mentioned Galaforce.
Zalaga was one of the first Electron games to offer a simple diet of pure mindless destruction. Hordes of aliens stream on to the screen before settling menacingly above you. Without warning they scream down towards you as you move your laser base to intercept.
The game is very hectic because the Zalagans have a nasty habit of curving off the bottom of the screen, then coming up and ramming you from below.
Galaforce takes this basic idea of a straightforward shoot-'em-up several stages further. It features a number of different types of brightly coloured alien, and a much greater variety of attack formations as well as a great musical accompaniment.
Unlike Zalaga, Galaforce gives you up and down controls, as well as the conventional left, right and fire. Now you can go out and get 'em, rather than waiting helplessly to be overwhelmed.
Both Zalaga and Galaforce allow First Byte and Plus 1 joysticks to be used, as well as having facilities to switch the sound on or off and end the game. However, it isn't long before you start another - just about a couple of seconds, to be precise.
Gary Partis' Psycastria must have appeared on almost every compilation since its original release. It is a super smooth sideways scrolling game covering four different scenarios - land, sea, the moon and deep space.
Although the idea is to shoot the ten energy pods on each level, you quickly learn to survive by simply shooting everything in sight. Each of the four attack phases must be cleared in one go; if you lose a life, you must start that level again. This feature - my only gripe with PSYCASTRIA - can get infuriating after a while, but the game is well worth a little perseverance.
Deathstar is an excellent conversion of the arcade game SINISTAR, in which you are the pilot of a solitary mining spaceship in search of crystals. Shoot the asteroids to release them; once collected they act as bombs.
Competing with you are the worker ships, which use the crystals to assemble, piece by piece, the dreaded Deathstar. The workers are defended by warrior ships that shoot at you at the slightest provocation - remarkably accurately too.
Deathstar's most impressive feature is the 16-way scrolling: As you move, the screen moves with you. A great blast.
In Thrust you jet around the galaxy in search of vital power pods. Unfortunately - for once - you are subject to the real physical laws of gravity.
You move around by burning your limited supply of fuel which can be replenished from fuel tanks dotted around each planet. The many hostile gun emplacements are problem enough, but your troubles really start when you manage to capture a pod, because then your ship's handling changes dramatically.
To finish a level you must destroy the planet's reactor before blasting off with your prize into the void. Great, but very tricky.
Bug Eyes 2 is an arcade adventure in which you, as Agent Starman, must collect the 25 keys dotted around and about, in order to release your predecessor, Agent Zelda, from prison. Such diverse objects as jet-packed lizards, scissors, snakes and worms all bounce around merrily intent of robbing you of your precious oxygen supply. Unfortunately, the superb music and special effects are let down by a rather weak game.
Repton needs no introduction to anyone. In this, his first adventure, you must collect all the diamonds while avoiding falling boulders and Repton-eating reptiles.
Some of the diamonds are hidden in safes; needless to say, the key is never easy to find. Playing number one again rather leaves me looking for the transporters, skulls and fungus - but it's as addictive as ever.
In The Mine you tunnel through earth in search of buried treasure. However, the mine's many other inhabitants are all out to stop you. You can easily dispose of them with your neutraliser, but time is always against you. This is a fairly average implementation of Dig Dug - fun, but not for very long.
Blagger is a Manic Miner-style platforms and ladders game in which you run and jump around 20 increasingly difficult levels. As Roger the Dodger, burglar, you must collect all the keys and finally rob the safe before progressing to the next level. Although Blagger is a fun game, it is quite slow and jerky, and compares unfavourably with more recent offerings.
Ghouls is another Miner-type platform game. This time you are in a haunted house and must watch out for the spiders, poisoned spikes and collapsing floors. Although it was very popular in its day, it never grabbed me.
Killer Gorilla is an implementation of the arcade machine game, Donkey Kong, in which you must chase the gorilla of the title up increasingly difficult sections of scaffolding in an attempt to rescue the fair maiden from its clutches. The movement is rather jerky and the sound basic, but it's a game I still go back to on occasions. I think you will too.
Karate Combat is a martial arts game, released as a competitor to Yie Ar Kung Fu and WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST. Although you can play against the computer or a human opponent, the practice mode is very useful, because there are seventeen manoeuvres to be mastered. Thank Buddha for joysticks - both the Plus 1 and First Byte protocols are supported. The graphics are finely detailed, but somewhat on the small side.
Although Karate Combat was well received first time around, it lacks the technical merits of its competitors.
My main reservation about this collection is that so many of the featured titles have appeared on other compilations. If this problem does not affect you, then 10 Computer Hits 4 is definitely not to be missed.