Spectrum H-K

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Hobbit 128K Edition, The – By World of Spectrum.org

Hello fellow readers “will you follow me, one last time?” Thorin Oakenshield asked his loyal army. I ask the same of you as we take a look at the Spectrum 128k edition of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit. World of Spectrum have taken the original Speccy 48k version, took it apart, ported 55 of the best bitmap screens from the disk editions of the C64, DOS and BBC Micro and added new title and ending screens to bring us the enhanced 128k version of this classic text based adventure. I remember loading this up when I was younger with great anticipation as I have always been a fan of this type of adventure game and also a big Tolkien fan. When you start playing you will see that the basics are still the same. You see the text explaining the room and to interact with the game you must type in the relevant command that the game understands. So if the text on screen says “you see a chest” if you were to type ‘Open Chest’ you will be given yet another description of what is in the chest that you can pick up. What is nice to see is the new screens added and they look so much better than the original 48k graphics picturing a basic scene. Another nice touch that World of Spectrum did was include the original version, so if you loaded this up on a 48k speccy then you would be treated to the original version by Melbourne House. The work gone into this is amazing and definitely worth a play.

Review by acoolgeek77

9/10

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 Horace Goes Skiing – By Psion

Ah, poor old Horace: he only wants to go skiing, but alas the ski shop is on the other side of one of the busiest roads in the world! So begins one of the ZX Spectrum’s earliest and most iconic games. Principally a Frogger clone, Horace’s first task is to avoid the dangerous traffic to the shop before returning carefully, a pair of skis clutched firmly to his chest. Then it’s onto the piste, a downward-scrolling screen where Horace must negotiate himself between the oncoming braces of flags. Horace controls pretty well and the game is still quite fun, especially the skiing segments, and thoroughly deserves its place in Speccy folklore.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Jet Pac – By Ultimate

When I first got my 48k+ Spectrum back in 1985 I spent the first two months playing a brace of 16k games – Mervyn Estcourt’s Deathchase and this fine effort from Ultimate. Jet Pac may not look like much these days, but the basic mechanic is still as enticing as ever. Playing the Lunar Jetman (in his first appearance), your task was to assemble your errant rocket before then gathering enough fuel to blast off. Standing (or rather flying) in your way were various colourful and bizarre nasties which could all be shot from the sky with Jetman’s powerful laser. Despite being only one screen, Jet Pac was a colourful, addictive and polished game that sold a truckload back in the 80’s.

Review by jdanddiet

9/10

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 International Cricket – By Bug-Byte

This game was given away on the cover of Your Sinclair; in fact I’m not sure it ever got a commercial release before or after the YS edition, which is a shame because it’s a cracking if flawed iteration of the gentlemen’s game. With no option to change the players’ names, you take control of the England squad circa 1985, which is a bit of a memory jogger and brings up a few odd names as such luminaries as David Gower, Ian Botham and Mike Gatting rub shoulders with Jeff Thomas and Jack Richards. After choosing your opponents and which type of match to play (a one dayer or test match) it’s off to the toss of the coin and onto the match itself. Now I say this game is flawed and it’s true it is, but one of its basic faults is one it could never solve, because it is the same of all cricket games: batting is fun, bowling and fielding is not! Having said that, International Cricket is an entertaining game. Batting is simple as there are only 5 shots you can play, including a defensive push. You have to wait for a particular type of ball and make sure you play the right shot otherwise you’ll miss the ball, or worse, get out. The CPU’s fielding is erratic as well, often if the ball passes one of its fielders, it won’t give chase, and once I managed to complete an all-run 7! Bowling is also simple; as the bowler runs up, you have to press the “j” key just as his arm his at the top of his action, which delivers a nice, straight delivery. This can be a bit tricky, but a bit of practice will soon see you bowling straight ball after straight ball and the computer blocking and blocking and blocking and blocking - do you see the problem here!?

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Jason’s Gem – By Mastertronic

Many Speccy gamers have fond memories of Mastertronic games; after all, their cheap prices and accessibility (Mastertronic famously branched software sales into petrol stations and newsagents) equalled a phenomenal amount of sales. Jason’s Gem was a game from 1985 that boasted the usual “jovial” cover and a promise of intergalactic hi-jinks on the inlay. What you actually got was a mundane downward-scrolling shooter and a demonically frustrating platform game. But first off, you had to guide Jason’s little ship onto a landing platform. Unfortunately this platform moves randomly, but this section is easy enough. Then the same craft (now off the landing platform bizarrely) gently descends through a series of 5 caverns; fortunately a cannon can destroy any rocks that are in the way to secure safe passage, although this doesn’t prevent a couple of repeating death scenarios, but this is the 1980’s so we’ll just gloss over that one. With oxygen limited, Jason must then proceed on foot as he traverses the rest of the caverns. He has no weapon but can jump in order to avoid the various creatures that spell instant death upon touching our intrepid explorer. Jason’s jump is a bit unusual: he sort of goes up, then across before dramatically halting in mid-air and plummeting straight back down. This, added to the pixel-perfect accuracy required to negotiate some of the screens, make Jason’s Gem an extremely frustrating game to play. Still, it only cost Ł1.99.

Review by jdanddiet

4/10

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 Kung-Fu Master – By US Gold

Kung-Fu Master the arcade machine was never the most technically amazing game, yet what it had in spades was playability. Lightning controls and a simple, uncomplicated control method meant it was constantly gorging on 10p’s. US Gold got the rights to transfer the game onto the home computers and with the Spectrum version they messed up the one and only thing Kung Fu Master had going for it. The controls were stodgy, the graphics dull, the music interminable and the gameplay utterly broken. A terrible missed opportunity.

Review by jdanddiet

3/10

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