Spectrum O-R

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Ping Pong – By Imagine

I love a bit of Table Tennis, and this Spectrum version of its arcade namesake was almost as good as the real thing. The key to the game was simplicity: the range of shots was limited and the bat tracked the ball automatically so there was in effect very little for the player to do. But Ping Pong was so much fun (especially in two-player mode) that you didn’t care anyway – you were too busy trying to find that winning shot! Add in a dose of excellent music from Martin Galway and it was only the interminable crowd noise that let the side down.

Review by jdanddiet

8/10

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 Rebelstar – By Firebird

Julian Gollop’s follow up to his Red Shift classic Rebelstar Raiders is one of the most fondly remembered strategy games on the Spectrum and for good reason: it’s aces. Taking the basic gameplay from his previous effort, Rebelstar presented a single scenario where the player took on an army of robots protecting a large moon base. Your job was simple: sneak inside, eliminate any droids in your way and destroy the central computer, this claiming the base for the rebels. Rebelstar is turn-based and in the classic mould each character is allocated a number of action points which are used to move, shoot, pick up objects and so on. Should the character have enough spare points, opportunity fire can also be set up, allowing you to take pot shots during the other player’s turn. The graphics to Rebelstar are clean and simple with little or no animation, but this doesn’t detract from the action one bit. Gollop’s main aim was to keep the game as accessible as possible and from this point of view, Rebelstar is a huge success. The only downside was the 2-player mode which saw your opponent commanding a human army rather than the robots of the single player scenario.

Review by jdanddiet

8/10

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 Rex – By Martech

Rex was the final ZX Spectrum game from Creative Reality, the developer behind games such as Tarzan, Slaine and Nemesis the Warlock and they made sure it was one of their best. The story concerns the eponymous Rino-sapien, hired by some local residents to take out a bunch of pesky humans who have built a massive environmentally-unfriendly tower on the planet of Zenith. Rex lands in the caverns outside the tower and must proceed on foot to the tower, taking out all the ‘orrible homo sapiens he encounters en route. Aiding Rex in his task is a formidable arsenal of upgradeable weapons and a useful shield that renders him temporarily invincible. Strategic use of these helps him negotiate some – in all honesty – incredibly tough and frustrating screens. That’s the problem with Rex – it’s not for the casual gamer, and like many platformers, a route needs to be planned in order to preserve those precious lives. Having said that, the graphics are stunning, utilising a method made famous in the Spectrum version of Dan Dare and there’s plenty of shooting to keep action fans happy. Just expect a fair bit of frustration to boot!

Review by jdanddiet

9/10

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 River Rescue – By Thorn EMI

Sometimes the simplest games can be the best, and this underrated early effort from Thorn EMI is a good example of this, despite being an obvious clone of River Raid. Unlike that Atari classic, River Rescue is a horizontal scroller and boasts an interesting reward-risk concept. The objective is ostensibly to rescue a series of scientists who are stranded on the north side of the eponymous stretch of water. Dock at one of the northern berths and one of them hops on. He (or she) can then be deposited onto the next available southern dock. Now here’s the interesting bit: collecting more and more scientists increases your bonus considerably when you drop them off – but get mashed by one of the various obstructions in the river (such as logs, crocodiles and planes that drop mines) and every single one of them is lost. In addition, River Rescue is notable for its fast pace. There are some devilishly designed segments of the river which require considerable agility to negotiate. The boat can fire one bullet at a time, and that split second waiting for that next shot if you miss can often make all the difference between sanctuary and a watery grave for those scientists you’ve hoarded. A playable little gem of a game.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Rogue Trooper – By Piranha

I generally wasn’t a big fan of isometric 3D games – sure I liked them, but they often were very difficult or time-consuming to get into. Rogue Trooper was isometric but was more in the shooting mould and as such I sunk a fair amount of time into, despite its shallow nature. Helped by your dead buddies (reduced to chips and therefore just sound bites) Rogue must traverse the poisoned Nu-Earth in search of 8 vid-tapes that will prove his innocence in the disastrous Quartz Zone Massacre. Find the tapes and you can jet back to millicom and get the real traitor. Rogue Trooper was a limited game: once killed, each Nort Soldier would then disappear, eventually leaving a rather empty landscape. And apart from a few pill boxes there were no other enemies, making the game severely lacking in long term addictiveness. Still for a while, it was a blast!

Review by jdanddiet

6/10

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