C64 O-R

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Paperboy – By Elite

What more can I say about the classic Atari arcade game? It broke out on to the world of the C64 in 1986. For those who don't know, you play the role of a newly employed paperboy and your task is to deliver newspapers along a street, on your bicycle. You start off on a Monday and work your way through the week. Along the way you will encounter various obstacles (e.g. dogs, rolling tyres, remote control cars, tricyclists, road diggers, oversized cats, etc.). You only deliver to certain houses along the street. Mess it up and you lose a customer! There's a limited amount of newspapers which you can carry, fortunately you can get fresh supplies in the game, but often in hard to reach places though! At the end of the street there is an training course, but it is more of an obstacle course really. Negotiate that and you will get to the next level and there are three difficulty levels to get through (Easy Street, Middle Road and Hard Way). The game is fairly well, if not entirely accurate conversion (there are slight additions). The sound is especially good, it is just a shame that the graphics didn't take better advantage of the C64's abilities. As for the gameplay, that is very much intact in this version, the fun playability of the arcade version comes through here. Now, where's my copy of “The Sun”?

Review by Katzkatz

8/10

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 Paradroid by Hewson

A legendary game for the C64. Created by Andrew Braybrook. You take control of droid with the HID (Human Interface Device) – a lowly “001” droid. Your task is to clear a fleet of spaceships of the enemy droids, by going from deck to deck. In each deck there are several rooms. These contain computer terminals (for information and mapping), energy restorers(for repairing your droid from the effects of enemy fire), lifts and doors. You can either destroy the droids with your weapon (a low powered laser at first) or take control of the enemy droid. This involves a mini-game. It is where the fun really begins. You have to over power the enemy droid using the best side of a circuit diagram to provide more power to the droid. Failure when you are a “001” unit brings death. If however, you are a higher level droid, you revert back to the “001” droid. There are several different types of droid in the game – each with their own different abilities (weapons, power supplies for the mini-game, etc). Higher numbered droids tend to be more powerful and deadly. Look out for a Dr. Who inspired one. You only have control of the droid for a limited time (less if you take damage), if elapses you go back to the “001” droid again. This does make the gameplay quite frantic at times, but also engaging. There is no doubt that the difficulty level is set high, and it is a shame that the game has no ending just a repeat loop. Nevertheless, Paradroid has some addictive gameplay. Coupled with some good graphics (the multi-way scrolling beats the “Paradroid 90” version's on the ST and Amiga) and memorable sound effects. You could do far worse than play Paradroid.

Review by Katzkatz

9/10

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  Pitstop II – By Epyx

A racing game for the C64 with F1 cars. The action takes place on a split screen for the opposing cars(red on the top and blue on the bottom). Either the computer controls the other car or a human opponent. There are six real life circuits to choose from. You can also alter the difficulty and number of laps. There are are other cars on the track as well – just to spice things up. The cars are fitted with a turbo boost for extra speed – but this comes with a price – fuel consumption! You also have to be wary of your car's tyres. Ride those curbs or bash another car, and you will damage them. They turn a different colour on top. There are a few stages to the “tyre wear”, but go to far and they'll burst! Likewise with running out of fuel – that will leave you stranded as well. This is where the pitstops come in. The pits are just after the start/finish line and on the left hand side. Park your car there, then you can refuel and change tyres. This does involve you controlling your pit crew – which can be fiddly. The game is enjoyable against the computer at the easy levels, but it really stands out with a second player. It can be tough on your wrists(pushing up a lot of time to accelerate with a joystick does this), but the competitive nature of the game demands this. The scrolling is handled well with a nice sensation of speed. The graphics are utilitarian and the sound effects are okay for a game of this type as well. Now rev up your engine and : “Go, go, go!”.

Review by Katzkatz

8/10

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 Pole Position – US Gold

The classic arcade game gets converted here to the C64. Take control of an F1 car and drive fast around the Fuji Speedway. There are a couple of modes available for this game (e.g. such as practise and different difficulty settings). You also have to set a qualifying time for the actual race. Your car is equipped with two gears (low and high). Unfortunately this is quite a dated racing game. Put aside the aesthetic issues for one moment, the gameplay has some quite severe flaws to it. Crash into a car or signpost then you explode into a fireball! Very nice and realistic, but wouldn't it have been better to just have been slowed down? Likewise with having puddles on some parts of the track (it is there to slow you down) – nice in theory, but in practise it doesn't really work well. The controls do feel vague at times (you tend to notice this turning into the corners). Having one track is a bit boring. You don't really race – just get to the end of the lap before the counter runs out. You get bonus points for overtaking other cars. The graphics are blocky and bland. The arcade version is a visual treat to look at, this version isn't. The scrolling is okay, it seems to flow quickly, if feeling a little detached. Sound is okay (e.g. the start-up sequence at the beginning of a race), but the in-game effects are woeful. A bit of a below par conversion at best, there are better racing games for the C64 – just take a look at “Pitstop 2” for example. Even if you were a fan of the arcade version, you'll have a hard time liking this.

Review by Katzkatz

3/10

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 Potty Pigeon – By Gremlin Graphics

A game from Antony Crowther. The game is very unusual. The best way to describe it, would be a “pigeon simulator” sort of crossed with a horizontal scrolling shoot 'em up. You do get to defecate on cars – that adds to the atmosphere! Your pigeon's task on each level is to pick up some twigs to built a nest. Along the way you can eat butterflies (for extra points) and dodge cars, as well as enemy birds. Each level gets continually harder. The graphics are functional rather than pretty. The scrolling is very good, nice and fast – watch out for motion sickness! The sound is from the top drawer, sound effects are okay, but the music (the theme tune to “All Creatures Great and Small” plays in the main game and your death brings on the “Funeral March”) really makes the game stand out. Humour is laced throughout here. It is novel I suppose. That novelty does wear rather thin after a while – there are perhaps better ways to spend your time with the C64.

Review by Katzkatz

4/10

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 Predator – By Activision

This is based on the old Arnie movie and is a sideways scrolling shoot 'em up. Arnie is now under your control and, basically, anything that moves wants a piece of you – so be prepared! Arnie has a limited number of bullets for his machine gun, but you can pick up guns from fallen comrades. He also has some grenades. Once in a while, the Predator might try and attack you with his infamous triangle. The finale of the game involves you taking on the Predator in a fist fight. The game could have been a good movie license tie-in, certainly the atmosphere is there, but this game has some problems. The difficulty is rather high for one thing. The controls are very sluggish in places. The graphics aren't bad apart from the sprites being too blocky and maybe relying on the green background too much. The sound effects and end game music are rather lame. As Arnie would say : “I'll be back!” - er, no I won't!

Review by Katzkatz

3/10

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 Ranarama – By Hewson

This game is a curious mixture of Gauntlet and Paradroid. You take on the role of Mervyn. He is a sorcerer's apprentice who has been turned into a frog (“rana” is a genus of frog you see). This saved him from being killed along with his masters. Now Mervyn must strike back. Fortunately his magical abilities are still intact. There are four types of spells available : offence (firing a projectile), defence (protecting you from enemy fire or contact), effect (various special abilities, e.g. seeing hidden doors) and you power(basically it is your power supply, having a higher level one can cope with more powerful spell types). Your power spell degrades constantly, so you should top it up with the “energy crystals” or change to another power spell type. Mervyn is in a dungeon which is spilt into eight levels. Inside each level are a series of rooms, glyphs, monster generators and monsters, warlocks and necromancers. There are four different types of glyph : power (acts as a smart bomb in the room), seeing (shows all of the explored rooms in the level), sorcery (allows you to change your spell types) and travel (acts like a lift). The warlocks and necromancers can be defeated with a mini-game (cue the Paradroid reference). You have to cast some runes (basically some letters) to spell “Ranarama”. Dyslexics beware! Victory gives you four runes from your conquered foe. Collect them. You can then power-up at the next glyph of sorcery. The game starts off sedate enough, but on later levels it does get difficult. The graphics are rather simplistic and so are the sound effects. It is all about the gameplay – new discoveries (e.g. rooms and spells), the frantic mini-game and shooting those bad guys. It is quite addictive. Go on – help Mervyn out!

Review by Katzkatz

8/10

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