PC DOS H-K

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Highway Hunter – By Safari Software

A lot of shooters involve spaceships, but how many involve cars? Not many, to be sure, and this game is all the more awesome for it. After Earth has been taken over by an alien force, you, as a mechanic for one of their garages, steal one of their prototype vehicles and make a break for it, determined to make it to freedom and destroy the alien forces in the process. In most SHMUPs, you’re free to fly through the air, for the most part, as long as there’s not an obstacle in your way. In Highway Hunter, since you’re in a ground-based vehicle, you’re stuck to the road. It tends to twist and curve a lot, and on any difficulty higher than Easy, colliding with the sides of the road will drain your health. The game is pretty easy to get into, given the simple controls, although you might prefer to use the keyboard over the mouse for more precise movement. Your MASTER vehicle starts off with a single laser for Defense, but as you pick up weapon upgrade pick-ups, your firepower will improve. Weapon upgrade pickups increase your energy meter, which drains whenever you fire anything more powerful than your standard laser. Once the energy meter empties, you’ll be knocked down to the previous weapon, until you get more energy or you end up with the laser again. This gives a little bit of strategy to what’s a pretty simple shooter, since you can’t hold down the fire button without burning through all your ammo. You also have other pick-ups like shields, smart bombs, and temporary invincibility. It might be a simple game to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging, especially on the Hard difficulty, where you have limited lives instead of a health bar, and one hit will bring you back down to your weak lasers. As you’d expect from a game called Highway Hunter, the game goes pretty fast, and keeping track of all the enemy vehicles and all their bullets, along with the road, can get tricky pretty fast. If you want a quick burst of action, Highway Hunter is a fast, tough shooter that’ll definitely challenge you, even if it could do with a little more variety.

Review by Bobinator

8/10

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 Hugo’s House of Horrors – By David P. Gray

Hugo’s House of Horrors is what you would get if you took one of the early Sierra adventure games, like Space Quest or King’s Quest, and you basically stripped out anything that made them fun or memorable. What I’m trying to say, basically, is that it isn’t very good. You play as Hugo, some guy in an ugly pastel blue sweater with purple pants. Your girlfriend Penelope has been kidnapped and taken to a haunted mansion, and David doesn’t feel you need to know by who or for what purpose. You control Hugo with the arrow keys, and you interact with the world by typing in simple commands like ‘get can’. The parser’s all right, although you’ll probably have more then one occasion where you’ll have to guess the verb. The real problem with the game is just that it’s not very interesting. The writing’s pretty stupid, with such moments as explaining you can’t take a broom because of a ‘mystical force’. The puzzles aren’t very good, either, and the game ends with a trivia quiz. Not about anything you actually encountered in the game, of course, so you better know what the name of Roy Rodger’s dog was. The game only takes about twenty or so minutes to beat, over all, as long as something doesn’t kill you first. There’s an especially annoying segment where you have to escape from a mummy by getting it stuck on some rocks, but the mummy’s so fast that you’ll probably end up having to reload about fifty times or so before you figure it out. Sure, it might be rough comparing any of Sierra’s games to the effort of one bedroom coder, but there’s almost no reason to play this game compared to any King’s Quest.

Review by Bobinator

4/10

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 Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom – By Pop Software

In Invasion, a Galaga clone, you’re up against sixty waves of mutant space bats armed only with a laser cannon. At first, the waves start out easy, with bats that swoop in and try to ram you. The further you get, however, the more they mix things up, with robotic bats that drop down grenades, flaming bats that shoot fireballs down at you, and… well, you get the idea. Destroyed bats also drop gems that improve your firepower and can give you extra lives, and the brief moment of invincibility they give you means you’ll need every single one. There’s little to no waiting period between waves, so the action only gets more intense the more bats you clear out. The only real break you get are the bonus rounds every ten waves where you have to shoot down spheres of certain colors over the same color platform. It’s a tough game and it’s not an especially fair one. Your ship is a little too big to dodge a lot of the enemies and projectiles thrown at you, so when a bat swoops down at you without warning, it can be almost impossible to dodge it. You also don’t get any invincibility when you respawn from losing a life so you can end up losing a string of lives in a row. A good tip is that you’re invincible for a brief moment when you’re collecting power up gems, so collect as many of those as you can to keep yourself alive for a little longer. The graphics are decent for only using 16 colours but most of the sound effects are played from the Adlib card, so they sound pretty weak. Still, if you want a real challenge and a Galaga-style game that won’t let up, try this one out.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Jazz Jackrabbit – By Epic Mega Games

Forget Zool, Super Frog or anything else, this is the finest Sonic-style game you’ll ever play on any computer. (Barring the actual Sonic ports for the PC, of course.) As the rabbit mercenary Jazz, it’s up to you to rescue the princess from the turtle terrorist Devan Shell and his army of reptiles. So you’ve got a fast moving animal, you’ve got springs, and you’ve got monitors that give you power ups when destroyed. The big difference between Jazz and Sonic, however, is that instead of jumping on things, Jazz just shoots the crap out of them. Besides his unlimited type of standard ammo, there are also four other types of ammo to collect, including double missiles and a TNT smart bomb. The game’s pacing is a lot faster than something like Zool, since you’re free to run straight to the end of the level instead of running around looking for coins. Not that it’s a bad idea to look around the levels, since you’ll find things like rapid fire, caged birds that follow you around blasting at enemies. Some levels also have a gem that’ll take you to a 3D bonus stage that has a very cool Mode 7 effect to it. There’s a lot of different level themes as you go through the game, which do a good job of introducing new things for you to deal with, like magnets which pull you upwards, zoom tubes straight out of Chemical Plant Zone, and water. Thankfully, unlike Sonic, Jazz actually took swimming lessons. You get a cut scene after each boss fight, with some well done animation, and the MOD soundtrack is fantastic. The game can get pretty difficult, though, since, unlike Sonic, Jazz doesn’t need any momentum to hit maximum speed. That, and since the screen’s so zoomed in, you’ll probably end up running into enemies a little more often since you’d like. Since Jazz has a traditional health bar, this makes it a little harder to recover if you’re taking a lot of hits. Still, besides that little bit of frustration, Jazz is pretty much the best Sonic-style game you can find for any computer, bar none.

Review by Bobinator

8/10

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 Jetpack – By Software Creations

Lode Runner is pretty great. Jetpacks are pretty great. So if you took Lode Runner and gave it a jetpack, it would be pretty great too, right? Much like Lode Runner, each of the 100 levels takes up a single screen made up of blocks, ladders, enemies, and gems that you’ll need to collect to open up the exit. Unlike Lode Runner, you have a jump button, which you can use to leap from platform to platform. Not only that, but if you pick up fuel for your jetpack, you can use it to fly around, getting to places your regular jump can’t reach. You also come equipped with a phase shifter device that can temporarily destroy certain blocks, much like how you can dig in Lode Runner. You’ll need this ability to escape from the many enemies chasing you down, like killer robots that try to follow you, spinning blades that bounce off of the walls, rolling marbles, and crushing springs. Not to mention other obstacles like barriers, teleporters, and hidden floor spikes. There are some pretty tough puzzles as you go along, and it’s not hard to end up exhausting your supply of lives pretty quickly. The graphics and sound aren’t so good, however, with some tiny sprites and a rather annoying sound for whenever you pick up treasure The fact that you can save your game between levels makes up for that, though. And if you manage to beat the levels included with the game, there’s plenty of custom made ones on the internet for download, along with the levels you make with the included editor. And since the game’s original creator released the game for free, you get all this for the price of nothing.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Jones in The Fast Lane - By Sierra On-Line

Jones in the Fast Lane is basically what would happen if you took The Sims and made it into a board game. From the start, you can have from one player, which is good if you’re just learning how to play, up to four, all represented by four different digitised sprites. You’ll probably want to go for the 80’s looking guy with the sunglasses, considering the other characters include a guy with a pedostache and two middle aged women. You also have the choice of adding in Jones, the CPU opponent, and at what level of intelligence he’ll play at. Basically, the objective of the game is to move around the board, doing things that’ll bring progress to each of your four goals: happiness, money, education, and career. Each turn you have gives you a certain amount of distance to move around the board and do things at each location. The first thing you’ll need to do is go to the employment office and get a job, most likely at the local Monolith Burger. This way, you can pay to enrol at the university and try to get a job that sucks less, so you can actually afford to pay your rent every four weeks. Oh, and don’t forget to eat, even though this is a universe where enrolling for university costs less than eating French fries. If this game sounds depressingly true to real life, that’s because it honestly is, especially considering how random events like having your wallet stolen or having the stock market crash can completely screw you over. Still, the game’s worth playing for all the funny dialogue you get for visiting each spot on the map. (“Welcome to Monolith Burger. Our food is untouched by human hands, only by teenagers.”) Overall, it’s not bad, for a board game, but it’s not really going to become the new Monopoly, mostly since the players can’t really interact with each other. That, and it’s kind of depressing.

Review by Bobinator

6/10

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 Kung Fu Louie Vs. The Kung Fu Posse – By Elite Software

If you’re one of those sorts of people who prefers the old days of fighting games, the days when match ups came down to “red gi” and “white gi”, maybe this will be the game for you. Maybe, anyway, because you’re going to need some serious patience to enjoy this game. You play as Kung Fu Louie, out to rescue his kidnapped master from Martial Art’s kung fu gang. Yes, his name is Martial Art. Roll with it. There are four stages to fight your way through before you confront Martial Art, each with a number of people you’ll have to beat down before you move onto the next stage. Louie can shuffle to the left or right, and he has four attacks, each ranging in speed and power. The punch is easy to hit with, but it barely does any damage, while the powerful snap kick is easy to counter. And the AI will counter you, because even at the start of the game, it’s very good. It nearly always dodges just out of the way of your attacks, and then it closes in to beat on you. And once they’re in hitting distance, they’ll always seem to get eight or so punches in while you struggle to get just one. The EGA graphics are decent, even if the sprites aren’t very large, and the music is all right, as long as you’re using an Adlib card. If you’re a fan of games like IK+ or Way of the Exploding Fist, this might be worth a shot, but otherwise, you’ll want to stick with a game that isn’t quite as frustrating.

Review by Bobinator

4/10

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