PC DOS S-U

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Seek & Destroy – By Vision Software

Though this game originally appeared on the Amiga, this DOS version is such an improvement that it is the definitive version of the title. This game is like EA’s Strike series but on super speed. It’s much more arcade-like and requires less thinking so you can focus on making things blow up. You also get the choice, on most missions, of controlling a chopper or a tank although some missions will make you use the tank. While the chopper’s quicker, more manoeuvrable, and has more weapons, the tank has a turret that can rotate 360 degrees, has a lot more armour, and does a lot more damage to ground targets. All missions generally involve destroying enemy installations and either rescuing POWs and/or sending out people to destroy said enemy installations for you. Along the way, there’ll be plenty of turrets, choppers, and infantry to blow your way through, and plenty of weapons with which to do it. You have chainguns, rapid-fire rockets, interceptor missiles, napalm, and even air strikes to take out the enemy. The fun of the game comes from dodging enemy fire and blowing everything to smithereens. There is a little bit of strategy involved, mostly in deciding what weapons to upgrade between missions and what to bring into combat. The more weapons of the same type you equip, the more ammo for it you start with, so it’s a good idea to pick a couple you really like and stick with them. The graphics are pretty good and the 360 degree scrolling is especially impressive. There’s no music but the constant radio chatter that plays over the game adds a nice touch to things. Overall, if you liked the Strike games but you want something with more speed and more action, Seek & Destroy is just what you need.

Review by Bobinator

8/10

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 Sid & Al’s Incredible Toons – By Sierra On-Line

This is technically the third game in the Incredible Machine series, although it wouldn’t be until the Windows re-release that it got a title that made the connection a little more obvious. The first two Incredible Machine games were about placing parts on a board to make a Rube Goldberg-esque contraption, which involved things like finding a convoluted way to, for example, light a cannon’s fuse so it fires off and breaks a fish tank. You do sort of the same thing here, only this game has a much wackier, Tex Avery/Loony Toons styling to it. In each puzzle, you’re given some sort of goal, like, say, giving a fish to Al E. Cat so he can scarf it down. To accomplish your task, you’re given a number of parts that you can place across the board. Once you feel everything’s set up, you can hit the Go button to see if everything works out. If it does, you can try a different puzzle, and if it doesn’t, you’re free to try the puzzle again as much as you want. The parts you’ll use range from simple things like ropes, pulleys, or seesaws, but you’ll also end up finding uses for stuff like chickens, bubble gum, bombs, and the classical anvil. Two of the most important ‘parts’ are Sid and Al, and a lot of the puzzles involve exploiting how they react to things. As you’d expect, if Al the cat sees Sid the mouse, he’ll chase after him, which you can use to get them both where they need to be. The puzzles are divided into four difficulties and you can also use the puzzle creator to make your own for fun. The presentation is top-notch, with everything, even the menus, having a great cartoon look for it. There’s also a lot of funny animations and silly sound effects, which helps lessen the frustration of having to repeat a puzzle for the umpteenth time. Overall, if you like puzzle games, Sid & Al will more than likely give you quite a few hours of enjoyment, although the later games in the series would end up being even better.

Review by Bobinator

8/10

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 Skunny: Save Our Pizzas – By Copysoft

In the days of Epic and Apogee, who redefined what a DOS computer could do with each release, you were bound to get a lot of efforts which simply paled in comparison. Save Our Pizzas, one of about six rather dire games in the Skunny series, is a platformer that neither Duke Nukem nor Jill of the Jungle have anything to be afraid of. An evil chef has stolen the recipe for pizza from ancient Rome, and plans to replace it with a cheap, terrible replacement in the present time. (So, Domino’s, then.) Agent Skunny Hardnut (I don’t make the names, I just giggle at them quietly) is sent back into the past to chase after him. Each of the ten stages basically involves walking from left to right, killing enemies, collecting coins, jumping over pits and generally repeating the process. Every level is more or less identical and it would help if they were at least enjoyable, but there’s just a multitude of issues that start showing themselves about ten seconds into the game. For one thing, Skunny has two methods of attack, both of which have their own problems. Jumping is just as likely to harm you as it is your enemies, since the collision detection is rather suspect and Skunny also has the tendency to suddenly shunt in one direction after jumping on an enemy. He can also collect and drop bombs, but the problem with these is that they have to be timed more or less precisely to kill enemies and they can kill Skunny if he gets caught in the explosion. The graphics are decent but there’s only one music track in the entire game and it’s about ten seconds long! Overall, Save our Pizzas is best left given a very wide birth unless you’re out to find and play every platformer ever made.

Review by Bobinator

5/10

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 Squarez Deluxe - By Adept Software

Squarez is a pretty unusual puzzle game best described as 'zero gravity Tetris with a whole of power-ups'. You're given a board where you're free to move your given piece around, rotate it or place it anywhere there’s a free space. Your goal is to make a square of three by three to clear the blocks from the board and earn you points. The more blocks there are on the board, the harder it'll be to put one down and once you run out of space it's Game Over. There’s only so much time to put down a block and, to complicate things further, there are blocks that activate certain things when destroyed. Some help you, like missiles that fire through a line of blocks or arrows that increase the size of the board, while others make things tougher, like splooge (which makes your pieces stick in place) and spikes (which make a big cross-shaped mess in the middle of the board that gets in your way). There’s plenty beyond that including some that activate on touch, making their effects easier to set off. There’s three difficulty settings, each of which determines what kind of blocks show up, and there’s an option to play against another player. Overall, Squarez is an easy game to pick up on but there’s so much going on that it’ll take you a while to get the best scores. The graphics are pretty plain and it can be hard to tell what some of the blocks do because they’re so small. There’s no music and the sound effects can get pretty annoying. Still, though, the rather plain presentation hides a fun puzzle game with a unique twist and some fun gameplay. If you want a variation on your standard block-based puzzler, try it.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Stellar 7 – By Dynamix

Way back sometime in the early 80’s, Stellar 7 started off as a game in the style of Battlezone. Seven years later, a sequel would be made taking that basic concept and bringing it to glorious VGA. Somewhere in the far future Gir Draxon, Supreme Overlord of the Arcturan Empire is sending out his armada to assault seven different solar systems. You, the pilot of the advanced ‘Raven’ hovertank, are sent out to blow them all up. Each of the seven solar systems puts you on a battleground which is mostly flat terrain. Your goal is to take out all the enemies and then destroy the boss to open the warpgate to the next system. The first thing to remember is that most enemies are faster than your laser cannon, so you’ll need to learn to lead your targets if you want to hit them. You also come equipped with a few other items like cat’s-eye scanners (to see cloaked enemies), RC bombs (which work like land mines), and jump thrusters (to hit enemies above you). Enemies include tanks, flyers that can only be shot when they swoop down to the ground, and kamikaze spheres. It’s a tough game, especially since refills for your shields and power ups are hard to find and enemy fire can do a lot of damage. That’s not to say it’s not a fun game, just that there’s a bit of a learning curve before you can really get into it. The controls are easier to use than you’d think, and it’s a lot of fun to dodge past enemies and laser fire once you get good with controlling the Raven. The presentation is great, including the voiced cutscenes, and the 3D models are quite impressive for the year 1990. If you loved Battlezone should consider Stellar 7.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Super Munchers – By MECC

So what would happen if you took Pac-Man and made it educational? Sounds like it’d be an awful idea, right? Well, with this, you’d be surprised. You play as the Muncher, a weird green thing, that, much like that weird yellow thing, has to eat things while not being eaten by a wandering Troggle. Unlike Pac-Man, however, instead of dots, you’re eating words. How it works is that on each level, you have a certain category at the top of the screen, like ‘mammals’. You wander across the board, hitting the space bar over any word that matches that category, like ‘wolf’, ‘donkey’. You lose a life if you eat a wrong word or get eaten by one of the Troggles. From the start, you can choose the difficulty of the categories, which can go from things like ‘colors’, all the way up to things like ‘composers of the Classical period’. As you progress through the game, the more Troggles appear on screen, and the more aggressive they get. The good news is that you have a Munchmeter that you fill up by eating correct answers. Filling it up all the way will turn you into the Super Muncher, able to destroy Troggles until the meter empties out. It’s not quite as challenging or addictive as Pac-Man, since it’s more meant for children, but if you want an interesting twist on the old formula, Super Munchers is worth looking into.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo – By Eurocom

After more editions of Street Fighter 2 than most people could count, Turbo was considered the definitive version of this classic fighting game until Capcom released Hyper Street Fighter 2 (a version that put all editions together). For those who missed out on the newer versions of SF2, the Super edition adds in four brand new characters, like the Bruce Lee homage Fei Long. The new characters are a lot of fun to use and they mix in perfectly with the original twelve world warriors. There were also a lot of cosmetic changes like remixed music, new voice work, and some vastly improved graphics. What Super does beyond that is rebalance the characters and crank up the game speed, hence the ‘Turbo’ part of the title. Every character also has an incredibly powerful ‘Super’ attack done by filling a meter and inputting a special command. While Turbo wasn’t technically the first game to have these sorts of moves, it was definitely the game that popularized the concept. There’s even a new challenge for true masters of the game, with the notoriously difficult hidden boss, Akuma. And if you haven’t played SF2, well… it’s best to say you might as well start here. This particular port is pretty close to the arcade, although, like all early fighting game ports, some of the more advanced techniques might not work. Beyond that, the only major difference is how zoomed in the camera seems compared to the arcade, which takes some getting used to. The CD soundtrack makes a few questionable choices, like turning Ryu’s classic theme into a disco remix. Still, it’s a great port of one of the all time greatest fighting games and one that’ll even give One Must Fall some good competition for the best DOS fighting game.

Review by Bobinator

8/10

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 Supaplex – By Think!Ware Development

Quick! How much did you like Boulder Dash or Repton? Your thoughts on it are going to determine how much you’re going to want to play this entirely. Sure, Supaplex has a few unique quirks of its own, but it’s still takes heavy… inspiration. Instead of looking around for diamonds in a cave, though, you’re this red Pac-Man thing named Murphy picking up atoms in a computer. Once you collect enough of the atoms, you can leave the level and unlock the next. Between you and the exit, however, all sorts of obstacles, like enemies that have to be trapped or destroyed, metal spheres that are affected by gravity, and exploding floppy discs. The levels ramp up in difficulty as you go further, adding in new elements to mess with as you go along. Some levels also have heavier gravity that not only effects the game objects, but you as well, meaning you’ll always fall down any empty squares. Unlike Boulder Dash, though, the game gives you unlimited lives to keep trying a puzzle, which means you won’t have to do the whole game over if you screw up too much. The game will also let you create a profile you can save your progress and best times to, which is a very nice feature. Overall, Supaplex isn’t a very original game, but if you’re into action/puzzle games, this is worth looking into.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Syndicate – By Electronic Arts

From the famous Bullfrog stable. Set in a dystopian future, big corporations have taken over the world, you are an employee in one of those organisations. Your task is to use 4 cyborg agents, with which to gain control of the different regions. The agents can fitted with various upgrades to their bodies (hey – they are cyborgs after all!) and weapons. The missions vary widely. For example, it can be an assassination attempt or another time a robbery. A novelty weapon that appears in the game is the “Persuadertron ”, that helps brainwash innocent (or otherwise) bystanders into joining your agents for that specific mission. The mission landscape uses an isometric 3D setting. There is a high degree of interaction within that environment, things like the use of vehicles (e.g. cars, monorails, etc.) and destruction of buildings. Rather annoyingly the viewpoint can't be rotated, this can make knowing the location of your agents difficult at times. Research plays a vital role in the game, with getting your hands on new technology key to your success. Graphics are beautiful, with a nice cyberpunk scheme to the various locales – incidentally it does use high resolution VGA, but not 256 colours just 16, the use of dithering helps out here. The sound is great, the in-game explosions and machine gun fire are top notch, so is the music. Later missions can be difficult, but not impossible. The same can't be said for the expansion pack “American Revolt” - that is really hard! Syndicate sets a high standard for real time strategy games, the well implemented missions and the in-game environment are superbly executed. One of the finest games to come from Bullfrog, and the PC version is one of the best.

Review by Katzkatz

9/10

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 Syndicate Wars – By Electronic Arts

The sequel to the famous 1993 Bullfrog game. Following on from the original game, but this time instead of other corporations to combat, it's the “Church of the New Epoch”. There is the same sort of isometric setting for the in-game missions, but with some improvements, like rotation and pitch control to change the viewing angle. A modified version of the “Magic Carpet” engine is used. The graphics are much more detailed, with the lighting effects significantly improved. On the sound front, destruction causes some amazing effects. The accompanying musical theme feels suitably daunting. A much more brooding and bleak atmosphere permeates the whole game. There is now the addition of multiplayer(LAN or serial link) with different game modes (e.g. co-operative, deathmatch, etc.). That is a welcome inclusion. The game plays much like the former game, except with some additional weaponry and vehicles (there are some that fly!). Sadly, for all of the cosmetic improvements and additional features, it adds little to what made the original so compelling. The storyline is less intriguing and the missions do feel lacking. A good game, but it is always in the shadow of its much more illustrious predecessor.

Review by Katzkatz

7/10

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 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Missions – By Distinctive Software

Not to be confused the third TMNT game for the NES, Manhattan Missions is an odd beast. It plays nothing like the beat-em-ups that came before it and there’s a surprising amount of depth involved. Because this game is based on the comics, it pits you against arms dealers and dinosaurs along with the familiar Foot Clan. Shredder’s still behind everything and you only have 48 real time hours to stop him from destroying Manhattan. You pick which of the city’s threats to take on first but news reports will tell you where you’re most needed. Don’t focus too hard on any one area, however, or sections of Manhattan will start to crumble in your absence. Each mission involves fighting through a series of enemy-laden screens before reaching a boss for you to be defeat. The Turtles are controlled through two different modes: exploring and fighting. In exploring mode your turtle moves, jumps, climbs ladders, and throws shuriken. In fighting mode you hold a button while pressing directions to attack. It works pretty well, mostly because most enemies don’t put up much of a fight, except for bosses. Each turtle grows stronger the more enemies they defeat, and they can even learn new moves when they reach certain stat levels. But don’t focus on one turtle too much, because if one gets too injured to fight, you’ll need to send in another to take his place. Though there’s more strategy than in previous Turtles games, the controls make this one a little tough to recommend. Jumping can be a pain, especially when you have to carefully hop from platform to platform. The sound effects are pretty great but the action scenes only have one song that plays during them. If you’re into old fashioned arcade games and you’re big on the Turtles maybe you’ll get some enjoyment out of it.

Review by Bobinator

6/10

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 Tempest 2000 – By Atari Corporation

Tempest 2000 is possibly be one of the very best games for the Jaguar and this DOS version is the closest you can get to the original Jaguar version. If you’ve never played Tempest, the best way to describe it would be like a 3D version of Space Invaders. Each ‘web’ has a series of enemies that slowly climb their way towards you, while firing projectiles that need to be avoided or shot. If an enemy gets to the top of a web where you are, it’ll start to chase you around. While you can destroy enemies at the top of a web with some timing, you don’t want this to happen, since it severely limits your space to work with. Once all the enemies in a web are destroyed, you move onto the next, more challenging web. Enemies get more numerous and more deadly as you go along. There are a few powerups to help you out like extra firepower, screen clearing superzappers, and an AI Droid who will help you take out enemies. Every so often, you also get a bonus stage that can help you earn some extra lives. If the 2000 mode is too much for you, you can also try Tempest Plus which plays more like the original arcade game. There are even modes to play with or against a friend. While not all the graphical effects made it from the Jaguar version, the gameplay’s made the transition to the PC intact and the techno soundtrack sounds even better playing off the CD. There’s not much to it besides getting the best scores but getting that far should take you a while. If you want a remake of a classic arcade game and you want to see what all the Jaguar fans are talking about, seek this game out.

Review by Bobinator

8/10

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 Transport Tycoon – By Microprose

A sort of follow-up to “Railway Tycoon”, but you aren't just limited to trains – boats, hovercraft, aircraft, monorails and road transport are now at your disposal. The game spans from 1930 to 2050. Technology progress with time, this has an effect on your vehicles (e.g. steam engines for your trains in the early days, then progressing to diesel and electric; and propeller engines for your aeroplanes, developing into jet engines). Numerous vehicles are included, like Concorde, the Boeing 747, the Hovercraft, the Eurostar and the Intercity 125. Stations aren't limited to one type of transport, they can be multi-purpose (e.g. combining a train station and airport). This can help out when, over a particular route, both freight and passengers can use various forms of transport (e.g. truck to train, then train to boat, etc.). Unlike “Railway Tycoon”, the game has an isometric viewpoint, meaning that you can alter the landscape, at a cost though. That also makes your transport network a lot complicated. For example, the railway network now has a more sophisticated use of tunnels and bridges, as well as level crossings and signals; it also effects your seafaring craft, meaning you sometimes have to use buoys for certain routes and the road network is shared with your opponents, meaning that vehicles can interfere with one another. There is a serial link option for adding a human opponent. The isometric view gives a decent amount of detail, both for your vehicles and the landscape features. There are sparse sound effects throughout the game, but accompanied by a jaunty musical score. It is a shame that there is no “real world” map, as the game lacks atmosphere, and in turn the gameplay is not as interesting as it could be.

Review by Katzkatz

7/10

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 Trog – By Software Creations

A port of one of Midway’s more obscure arcade titles, Trog could be described as Pac-Man with dinosaurs. The only thing in common with Pac-Man, though, is that you have a character trying to eat things in a maze while other things are trying to kill him. Otherwise, it’s a very different game. You take control of one dinosaur, or two if you have a friend with you, so you can grab all the eggs on each screen and escape through the exit square that appears. Your enemies are the Trogs, one-eyed cavemen who tend to randomly wander around the screen but who’ll whack you on the head if you get too close. You can hit the fire button to punch them off the screen but only if you’re dealing with one trog at a time. You have to avoid falling into holes that appear in the ground as well as make sure you don’t wander off the edge of the screen. The further into the game you get, the more tactics the Trogs will try out on you, like rolling wheels and catapults. There are also a few power ups to help you out, like horseshoes for invincibility and hot peppers that let you toast Trogs from a distance. Power pellets? Try a pineapple that turns you into a T-Rex capable of chomping down Trogs for huge points. The game itself is pretty tough, especially if you’re trying to finish it on one credit. Because you have unlimited credits, however, you can beat the game if given enough time. The game’s unique Claymation look carries over from the arcade version pretty well, although the sound effects are pretty weak. If you like this sort of genre, or you want something a little like Pac-Man with a few twists, try this one.

Review by Bobinator

7/10

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 Tyrian – By Eclipse Software

Tyrian is, without hyperbole, one of the best SHMUPs you’ll find on DOS, and with a small amount of hyperbole, possibly one of the best SHMUPs you’ll find for any home computer. There are just so many amazing features about this game that fitting all of it into 300 words will prove to be a challenge. Like the two entirely separate ways to play the game, for starters. If you play Story mode, then you’ll be able to use the money you get destroying enemies to upgrade your ship between stages. The different upgrades include what your ship fires from its front and sides, weapon power, shield power, along with the ship you’re flying itself. You can also buy ‘sidekicks’, which hover by either side of your ship, with each type offering a different type of extra firepower. There are also data cubes to collect, if you want to see more of the game’s plot, which is surprisingly deep for this sort of game. If strategy and story aren’t your thing, however, you might enjoy the Arcade mode more. This gives you a mid-tier ship and sends you on a non-stop tour through the episode you select, with floating power-up icons determining what kind of loadout you’ll use. Whichever way you play, the game involves weaving through tons of bullets, blowing up enemy craft, and dodging the occasional bit of scenery. Tyrian is also generally more forgiving than most SHMUPs, since not only do you get a health bar, you also get a shield bar that slowly recharges when you’re not taking damage. Considering the storm of bullets that await you, you’ll need it. There’s also a ton of secrets in this game, ranging from secret levels to Galaga-style bonus stages, to a hidden tank mini-game you can play with a friend. All this for absolutely free. That’s right, this game is forever freeware, so you have literally no excuse to not play it if you like SHMUPs in the slightest.

Review by Bobinator

9/10

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