Zap-freak Jim Watson looks back at some of the best arcade games of 1984
Well hi yah folks!
First a few words about the system I'm using to run these proggies on. My Spectrum is linked to a Kempston interface and a Currah speech unit - How does he run both at once, I hear you cry. Well, I got a threeway cable from Classified Product Servces Ltd. Shire Hall, The Sands, Appleby in Westmoreland, Cumbria CA16 6XN for £12.50 and hey presto! A bit messy at the back but I'm too busy watching the screen to notice.
To get a good grip I use a Sumcom Tac 2 to really give them nasties some stick. [Groan! - Ed]
This has got to the the program of the issue. Wow! What graphics! OK, so it's the same sort of theme to Atic Atac but with 256 locations instead of around 150 and it's set in a jungle instead of a house.
Some of those beasties are really something! I loved the Hippos and the De-orientation Orchids really freaked me out, I could almost forgive them for charging £9.95 for it.
Joystick options for Kempston, Interface II or cursor keys are provided, as well as using the keyboard. Keys QWERT control left, right, down, up and fight. A bit close together and a strange combination but fairly easy to get used to, although I reckon a joystick is a must for this game.
So what's it all about? You, an intrepid explorer, have to wander the forest in search of the four parts of an amulet before escaping from the a-mazing jungle. Many other items such as a chalice, gems and magic rings are littered about the place and these are collecting by passing over them.
The forest teems with wildlife which rush around the screen. Frequently other members of the animal kingdom materialise to add to your problem. To defend yourself, you have a sabre, which gives you your nickname, "Sabre Man", and your most potent enemies are the Wulves.
Sound is used sparingly but effectively - I liked the intro tune, but it only plays once each time you get back to the menu screen.
Scoring is in two forms, the standard numerical score and also a percentage of the game completed. A high score chart is not used, only the highest score of the session is kept, and no name either! This high score is initialy set at 102,275 so it takes a few plays to establish your own. An option for one player or two players playing alternately is also provided.
Animation (or should I say animalation?) is superb. Watch how you are thrown across the screen when a beastie gets you! Not a game for those who give up easily.
So go get it, load up and be ready to run, dodge, fight and generally have a frantically great time!
Nice one Vortex!
A neat flying game, but not a flight simulation I hasten to add, where you control a little swing-wing Tornado fighter plane. You see the plan on screen and the scenery, land, city and sea, is done in a sort of 3D perspective; this tends to be a bit "blocky" but is nonetheless effective.
A great effect is the plane's shadow which appears relative to the plane's height and is your main frame of reference when estimating your height above ground.
Your mission, Biggles, is to destroy targets by flying low over them, not low enough = failure, too low = disaster!
I didn't really find that the joystick made the game appreciably easier, and the keys were easy to use for effective control. It's not easy, in fact quite frequently I found myself going round and round the target until I finally got lined up and then failed to get low enough in time, so I ended going round and round again!
A competent game which wouldbe flyers will love, but somehow, at least for me, seemed to be lacking something. Perhaps if you could have shot or bombed the targets it would have helped.
Hypermania I have *not* got!
A year ago, this would have been hailed as a masterpiece. Now it is only a very good, clever game.
A multi-screen arcade adventure along the Atic Atac lines, the graphics are well done but not outstanding. Sound is good and animation is effective but sometimes a bit jerky.
Actually it's quite addictive. You can get started easily then discover the subtleties as you progress. I found myself trying again and again; perhaps that's the secret of an addictive game, make it look so easy that you *know* you can do better next time.
The plot is very devious. Rapscallion the Rogue is your enemy and he's nicked your castle and left you chained up in the dungeon. The good fairy (J. Inman?) turns you into a bird of feathered variety and has given you six lives. By sacrificing a life you may transform yourself into a fly. This is needed if you get caught up in the net for instance, and changing back also costs a life. This is a superb touch.
Another ingenious idea is that, when you die - a frequent happening at first - you are changed into a ghost and in this form can explore your surroundings with immunity. To continue your quest properly you have to get back to your body and press the character change key.
The game can, and often does, take a long time to play and so, unusual for this type of game, a Save Game option is provided. However, there is a penalty. If you play for a saved game then, should you win, you only get a leasehold to the castle and not the full deeds!
As I said, a devious game with many facets and I congratulate Bug Byte for the thought which has gone into this game. Although perhaps not as graphically exciting as some other games, the many variations in play and the planning a player has to do makes it one which will last for many, many sessions.
The usual keyboard or selection of joystick options (including one usually forgotten - Fuller) is provided, and I found that using a joystick helped to play this game.
Manic Miner: The Sequel!
Whereas most cinema sequels are rip-offs, this game is as good, and in my opinion, better than the original.
For anyone who has been living in the Sahara desert for the last year as a hermit, Manic miner was written by Matthew Smith and was the first of a whole new style of game in which the player progressed through several screens of weird and wonderful creations by making carefully timed jumps from level to level in order to collect various objects.
Jet Set Willy is the same in outline and again produced from the nightmare mind of Matthew Smith. This time however the scene is a mansion and Willy has to collect all the glasses left around before he is allowed to go to bed.
Software Projects ran a competition for the first person to tell them how many glasses had to be collected but this has now been won - so no more calls please. For those of you who don't want to know, close your eyes when reading the next bit - there are 83 glasses.
The game has many more rooms to visit - sixty in all, and the manic sense of humour runs through them all, accompanied by a frantic version of "If I were a rich man" guaranteed to drive you bonkers!
The 'ups' are much harder in Jet Set Willy and timing is very critical indeed. Personally I found it easier to play from the keyboard rather than joystick - all the usual options for these are included.
I loved the sneaky digs at other programs, the set of Hunchback-type screens for instance. Definitely a classic that every Spectrum owner who enjoys playing games should have!
I hope that Matthew's fertile mind gives this theme a rest now as I'm sure he can create another whole new generation of games given the chance.
More confusion for the overheated brainbox!
PSS tell you the aim of the game, to find and pinch the Purple Puma Diamond by controlling the "pink character". I seem to recall a similar theme in a series of films!
The problem is... they don't tell you how!
First, you start driving a pink motor around a set of streets avoiding the police cars. There are nine different buildings you can visit. Once you enter one of these buildings then you become a large animated panther, a la cartoon.
There are eight other items to collect and use, each has a purpose but you only find out by trial and error. Also in these buildings are various characters like PC Kaolin (disguised as a chef) and Inspector Cleudeau.
The intro is amusing but the gameplay is quite serious - Peter Sellers would have been quite upset at not having a banana skin to slip on!
Good graphics, fair sound and an enjoyable and challenging game. I found no appreciable advantage by using a joystick, only Kempston is provided although the keyboard game will operate with the cursor mapped variety - AGF/Protek, etc. Awkwardly, they provide two recordings, one on each side of the tape, for keyboard or Kempston rather than an option from within the program.
Superb cartoon graphics, the old Spectrum really can do some impressive things.
Currah Speech is used quite a lot and very effectively in this game. Some words need a bit of electronic translation, but it is an added extra dimension.
Joystick control is provided although I couldn't find a jump feature while using it - it's probably there, but the instructions don't give any clues and without it the game is near impossible. The keyboard layout is very good and I preferred to use this system.
Great presentation of the story in a scrolling redefined character set.
Colour and sound are used well and the action is fast and furious. Again, you have to find your way around by experimenting and I found this a little illogical. For instance, on the first screen there is an axe. Now, going by the story, the axe is used at the end to chop down the beanstalk so shouldn't be required just yet. In fact, you cannot successfully *climb* the beanstalk until you have picked it up! What's that all about?
Still, this is a minor quibble about what is otherwise an excellent game. I also found that movement needed a bit of practice to get used to as Jack is very sensitive to the keys and often overshot the area I was intending him to visit!
A quickie bit of info. You can now use all the UK Spectrum software on your TS2068!!
By buying a Spectrum Emulator cartridge from the Triangle Sinclair Users Group, c/o Douglas Dewey, 205 James St, Carrboro nC 27510 for $60.00.
Meanwhile I have it on good authority that Manic Miner will work if you simply load in the code part of the program and RANDOMISE USR "start".
"start" is a number which can be found by MERGE-ing the first bit of the prog, and writing down the number which they use in the same command.
Just to be on the ball, as they say, Durell Software should by now have released Combat Lynx. I saw some screens from the pre-production tape and freaked out!
You fly an on-screen chopper over a terrain which must be the most detailed landscape produced on a Speccy so far. Loads of options covering mission, weapons, etc. (They researched the abilities of the Lynx with co-operation from the makers!)
I forecast that this will be another number one for them and look forward to reviewing the final version. This batch of tapes has been low on the old Zap-factor!