Spectrum D-G

Spectrum

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 Dandy – By Electric Dreams

Which came first, Dandy or Gauntlet? Well, technically Dandy, although this iteration of the game by the Ram Jam Corporation and published by Electric Dreams bears more in common with the famous four player game than its own ancestor. Ram Jam incorporated somewhat more plot into Dandy, however, and this elevated the game slightly above the rash of clones that appeared in the wake of Gauntlet’s release on the 8 bit micros. The game was colourful – although it used black sprites to avoid troubling the dreaded colour clash too much – and playable, with the same basic tenet as most Gauntlet style games – kill the enemies, destroy their nests to stop them re-spawning, and escape to the next level. Also like Gauntlet, Dandy could be played with another person, although its lack of complexity was already evident upon release with more involved games such as Druid already doing the rounds. Overall, competent blasting action.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Deactivators – By Ariolasoft

Deactivators is one of those games that sat on many gamer’s shelves while they spent hours on inferior but more familiar games. It’s an underrated classic on the Speccy, for sure. Developed by game designers Tigress Marketing (who came up with the concept, design and gameplay), the player controlled a team of robots whose job was to go from building to building disposing of the deadly bombs that had been dangerously placed in each one. This could only be achieved by throwing each bomb out of an open window, which doesn’t exactly sound safe to me but then maybe they had a big net or something. The game was presented very nicely with smooth, isometric graphics that were distinct and clear, despite being monochromatic. The first couple of buildings ease you into the game nicely before it throws all sorts of nefarious tricks on you such as switching gravity and locked doors. Deactivators certainly requires some brainpower and thought as recklessly tossing bombs around is a sure way to get your robots turned into scrap metal. The only thing I always thought it lacked was some sort of bomb deactivation mini-game (along the lines of Quazatron) that would have made more sense than flinging bombs out of windows. Deactivators got decent reviews upon release, which makes its lack of sales even more disappointing. Maybe if Tigress had used a different publisher, things might have gone better as Ariolasoft didn’t have the best of reputations.

Review by jdanddiet

9/10

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 Deathchase – By Micromega

Mervyn J Estcourt didn’t program many games, but the ones he did are as iconic as the man himself is elusive. In Deathchase you play an unnamed biker, speeding through an increasingly dense forest. Your objective is simple: destroy the two bikes trying to escape you, and take out the occasional tank as well should you feel like it! The gameplay alternates between day and night patrols and that’s it really. Deathchase had the good fortune to be released in around the time that the movie Return of the Jedi was doing the rounds in the UK cinemas. The games echoed the speeder biker section of the 3rd Star Wars film so accurately that it was impossible not to play it back then without imagining you were Luke Skywalker, desperately hunting down imperial bike troopers. A gaming marvel in 16k.

Review by jdanddiet

8/10

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 East Enders – By Macsen

Well if ever a TV programme was ripe for a Spectrum translation, then sure East Enders was it? Well, no, actually, and I think I’d rather watch the maudlin harridan-laden soap on permanent loop with my eyes wired open like Alex DeLarge rather than play Macsen’s game again. It’s that bad. East Enders was a multi-level type game that features various locations within Albert Square. So you get the Launderette, The Queen Vic and Arthur Fowler’s allotment (this being the mid-to-late Eighties). Each mini-game involves completing some utterly mundane task such as rocking the Michelle Fowler’s baby to sleep or snipping weeds in the aforementioned allotment. Each and every mini-game is terrible, the graphics look they’ve been knocked up in someone’s lunch hour and the publishers had the cheek to charge a penny short of a tenner for it! Best advert for piracy I’ve ever had the misfortune to play.

Review by jdanddiet

1/10

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 Exolon – By Hewson

Hewson were one of my favourite publishers in the 80’s and their golden period began with this famous run-and-gunner from ace programmer Raf Cecco. It’s a simple game: your trooper must traverse from left to right across several flick screens armed with a machine gun and rocket grenades that fire from his back pack. Against him are numerous enemies such as homing missiles, gun emplacements and flying aliens. Exolon was one of those games that thanks to its wonderful arcade-style graphics (full colour! No colour clash) tended to get over-rated by the magazine reviewers of the time (see also Light Force). Whilst initially fun, it soon became quite repetitive, but remains great for a quick blast.

Review by jdanddiet

6/10

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 Forrest Raider Cherry – Master Coder “Timmy”

The humble Spectrum never ceases to amaze me. With a loyal following and strong homebrew scene it is no wonder we are seeing some great titles still being released. Forrest Raider Cherry is another fine example created by Timmy. It is a time-based adventure that sees you having to collect cherries that are scattered around the world. What’s that you say? Collecting fruit is easy. Well it would be if it weren’t for the creatures that are patrolling and getting in your way to stop you from doing your job. The way the game handles the levels is very interesting. Instead of the usual time limit to complete the objective, you start playing with 100 seconds which you must try to complete the game. Don’t worry you can gain time throughout your challenge.

After you have collected all the cherries a diamond-like object is revealed which resets the timer back to 100 for the next screen. If you happen to collide with an enemy then you lose time and when it reaches zero its game over. The graphics looks great for a Speccy and the basic colours are used to great effect. Controls are very responsive and make navigating the obstacles on screen very easy. The game has a nice, gentle learning curve so you don’t get frustrated trying to complete the first level. Overall Forrest Raider Cherry is a simple to pick-and-play game which is very addictive once you start playing. Pick up a copy, you won’t be disappointed.

Review by acoolgeek77

9/10

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 Fighting Warrior – By Melbourne House

Stephen Cargill may not be a name that many recognise, but he programmed two of the games that I first got with my Spectrum back in ’85, Sir Lancelot and this flick screen beat ’em up. Playing the titular warrior, the game flick-screens horizontally, with each screen containing an enemy that the player must defeat using his sword. Arrows occasionally fly across the screen from an unseen assailant and must be jumped over or ducked under which can prove quite troublesome in the heat of combat. Eventually you travel to a cave where assorted demons must also be despatched. With a graphical style similar to Melbourne House’s legendary Way of the Exploding Fist, Fighting Warrior unfortunately boasts none of that game’s move complexity, despite the addition of a weapon. Nevertheless, it’s playable enough, especially for BEU fans.

Review by jdanddiet

6/10

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  Feud – By Bulldog

Mastertronic sub-label Bulldog took a bow with this excellent little game from the Pickford brothers. Playing one of two feuding sibling wizards in a flick screen maze, you had to collect various herbs scattered throughout the garden and combine them to make defensive or aggressive spells with which to help you defeat your brother. Feud wasn’t a complicated game, but it was playable and contained some very neat graphics. Once the player worked out a winning combination of spells, there wasn’t really much replay value to Feud, but it was fun finding out, and excellent value for its budget price (£1.99). Such a shame there wasn’t a 2-player mode.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Game Over – By Dinamic

This game was infamous before it was even released thanks to its advertising campaign that cheekily revealed a little too much of the female anatomy. Hasty screenshots were added to the majority of adverts except in Crash Magazine where resident artist Oli Frey extended the lovely Queen’s clothing to cover up the offending body part. The game itself got a little lost in the controversy and received a mixed bag of reviews at the time. Personally, I found it one of the easier Dinamic games to play, but that’s a bit like saying Ben Nevis is an easier mountain to climb naked than Everest. Like many Dinamic games it’s a flick screen run and gunner, this time set on alien worlds. Your rebellious commander is easy to control and fires a pretty mean laser gun but the nefarious enemy placements and dodgy collision detection combine to make the game still too frustrating too truly enjoy. Plus, Game Over is colour clash hell and by 1987, many games were getting around this problem with spectacular results.

Review by jdanddiet

5/10

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 Ghostbusters – By Activision

“Ghostbusters! Ah ha ha ha ha!” Or as it sounded on the Spectrum: “Gersssssssssstbussersagharagahaeargh”. This famous title was the first big movie license on the Spectrum and it sold an absolute bucket load, boosted of course by the phenomenon that the movie had become. God knows why. I hated it - the game that is. With a light dusting of financial management out of the way (choose your car, ghost busting equipment etc.), it was onto the main map which displayed the city of New York. Mosey around a bit and a ghost will appear somewhere on the map. Then follows an atrocious section where you drive up a 3-lane road with nothing to do other than hoover up the occasional ghost (provided you bought the ghost vacuum, if you didn’t then this section was even more boring). Once past this, you stood outside a building with the errant ghost, which was always a slimer-type, buzzing around and waiting to be caught by your particle streams. Ghostbusters was a game completely lacking in any skill. The strategy section at the beginning was a no-brainer due to lack of funds; the driving section offered no risk at all, you could just leave the Speccy alone for 5 minutes if you wanted, and the random nature of the ghosts often meant a boring wait or one to wander into your energy streams. I know a lot of people have fond memories of Ghostbusters the game, I don’t.

Review by jdanddiet

4/10

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 Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins – By Elite

One in a line of fine arcade conversions from Elite Software, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins continued in the tradition of accurately portraying its arcade parent, including the rock-hard playability. Obviously lacking a certain amount of colour from the original, the Speccy version was still a delight to play with all the basic elements present and correct. The key (as with most arcade games) was memorising enemy attacks and methods so that you could combat them accordingly and the Spectrum did a valiant job in replicating most of this.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Glug Glug – By CRL

Glug Glug was one of the first few games released by CRL who’s output would vary wildly as the years progressed. It was also dubbed “Jet Pac underwater” and was a pretty decent early effort. You play a deep-sea diver who is attached via an oxygen tube to a ship patrolling the surface. The aim is to collect the various pieces of treasure scattered along the ocean bed whilst avoiding the local wildlife, which can also be eliminated thanks to a rather useful spear gun. There’s not a lot more to Glug Glug if I’m being totally honest; as you’d expect, the enemies’ numbers increases and the gameplay becomes more frantic, but there are no great innovations here. For 1984, it was polished and playable enough.

Review by jdanddiet

6/10

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 Great Escape, The – By Ocean

The Great Escape is one of the best action adventures to ever appear on the Spectrum and here’s why: 1. It has great graphics, black and white, which superbly suit the sombre tone of the game. 2. It has free-roaming gameplay. Ok, you’re restricted somewhat by the game (you have to keep to times otherwise you get in trouble) but generally you can wander where you want. 3. The ending is open-ended: there are several different ways to escape the camp and 4. It’s great fun to play! One of Ocean’s (and Denton Designs’) best.

Review by jdanddiet

9/10

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