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RETROACTION

ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009

TWILIGHT OF THE BUILDING


SPECTRUM
The first part in our mini-series about
the afterlife of the ZX Spectrum
CLASSICS
We take a look at one of
the most successful
RETRO MAGS game engines ever
We reminisce about the great
magazines from yesteryear

CRONOSOFT
Simon Ullyatt chats about his indie
publishing company, Cronosoft
W e love reading a good magazine, whether it’s on the
train, the car, or even on the toilet. Printed publications
may have their problems, but there’s nothing quite like having a
real magazine in your hands. However, with increasing
production costs, cover prices, and decreasing circulation
figures, just how long has the printed magazine industry got?
We’ve been hearing the words of doomsayers regarding the end
of the print magazine for years, but it’s now getting ominously
realistic and people are starting to take note, especially
considering the current economical state of countries the world
over.
Back in the early 1980s, you could pick up a 100+ page
magazine for around £1.00 and in the early 1990s you could
find one for about £2.00. Look around today, though, and you’ll
be lucky to find a magazine under £5.00. Will the price of a
printed magazine in 2019 be £10.00?
So what will become of the magazine format? Simple...
digital. Companies have been publishing digital magazines in
some form or another for several years now—some of them are
even free—and with the likes of ISSUU and Lulu.com, it’s now
possible for anyone to publish books and magazines on-line.
So why am I waffling on about the printed magazine format
anyway? Well, this issue happens to have a huge Retromags
feature where we look at gaming magazines from the golden
days. We point you in the direction of where to get them (in
digital form) and speak to one of the guys responsible for kick-
starting the whole magazine scanning in the first place.
Elsewhere, we have our cover feature, Building Classics (the
Build engine, which was used in games such as Duke Nukem 3D
and Blood), plus an interview with Ken Silverman (developer of
the aforementioned Build engine), the fascinating Retr0brite
Project, Twilight of the Spectrum, and our interview with Simon
Ullyat (owner of indie publisher Cronosoft). There’s over twenty
pages dedicated to our usual mix of new homebrew, remake,
and indie releases, as well as our regular features. Phew.
I hope you enjoy reading this issue, as we’ve worked hard to
try and cover a fine balance of platforms, reviews, and articles.
Why not drop by our forum? We’re always pleased to find out
what you like, what you don’t like, and any suggestions you may
have. See you there…

The Retroaction team

P.S.
Don’t miss out on our subscription service, which is now up and
running, where you will get notified of a new issue being
available. To subscribe, click the button below and you will be
directed to our online subscription page.
RETROACTION 4 RETROSCENE 32 REVIEWS INDEX

EDITOR,
DESIGNER
8 BUILDING 56 RETRO MAGAZINES
Neil Reive CLASSICS
60 SCANNERMAN: MORT
DEPUTY EDITOR
Gnome 13 KEN
SILVERMAN 62 MAME EMULATOR
CONTRIBUTORS
Ack
INTERVIEW PROFILE
Duffman
Richard Goulstone 16 RETR0BRITE PROJECT 65 RETRO RESPECT: BUCK
Mark Hall
Matty ROGERS: COUNTDOWN
Duncan Rule 18 RETRO TO DOOMSDAY
Mohammed Soussi
David Stevenson
RESPECT:
Richard Tarjan HEXEN 68 COMPUTER
WARRIOR, PART TWO:
"Now arriving at Sector C Test Labs and 21 DARK FORCES RISING
Control Facilities. Please stand back from
the automated door and wait for the
GAMESMASTER,
security officer to verify your identity. SERIES ONE, EPISODE TWO 74 KILLER APP: KILLER
Before exiting the train, be sure to check
your area for personal belongings. Thank INSTINCT GOLD
you, and have a very safe, and
productive day."
23 TWILIGHT OF
THE 77 HOW TO CAUSE A
www.retroactionmagazine.com
SPECTRUM COMPLETE
retroaction-magazine.blogspot.com
CONTROVERSY: NIGHT
(C) The Retroaction team, 2009. All 27 RAIDERS OF TRAP
copyrights have been acknowledged and
games are covered solely for educational THE LOST
and criticism purposes. No part of this
publication may be reproduced in any
ARCADES: X-MEN: 81 RETRO RESPECT: BIO
form, or offered for download from any CHILDREN OF THE ATOM MIRACLE BOKUTTE UPA
other website, without our permission.
However, you are free, and encouraged, to
link to the original file for download from
our website. We have taken great care to 29 CRONOSOFT’S SIMON 83 THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL
ensure that what we have published is
accurate, but cannot be liable for any
ULLYATT: WORLD OF RETROGAMING:
mistakes or misprints. TRAFFIC
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 3
RETRO SCENE The latest headlines from the world of retrogaming

Retro Remakes Competition 2008: the winners

A
ll the results for the Retro Category 2: Games That Weren’t mould to Lucas Arts’ Night Shift and
Remakes competition 2008 Sigue Sigue Sputnik Bob Smith’s upcoming Factory Daze.”
Home of the
are now in. The coders had What we think: Underdogs: It Returns
toiled away for months developing “An interesting hybrid of a game— Category 5: 8-bit Mash Up
their remakes with 50 entries shoot-’em-up with pop culture—that Sportz Daze
competing for six categories, it has a full audio/visual experience: What we think:
music plays throughout while sound “If you enjoyed playing classic games
looked like being an impossible task

T
effects blast away. The gameplay is like Skool Daze and breaking your he original Home of the
to pick out the winners... but they pretty simplistic and boredom may set Underdogs website, founded by
joystick with the likes of the waggle-
managed it, overcoming such in quickly.” tastic Hypersports, then this mash-up Sarinee Achavanuntakul, had been
problems as the website being is right up your way.” online since 1998 and offered visitors a
hacked to death and PCs crashing. slew of retro goodness. The site’s
So here are the results, including Category 6: We Like It Retro mainstay was its thousands of game
links to the category listings and archives, which included game
Spare A Thought For The Little
summaries, reviews, downloads,
downloads.... Guy
manuals, and ratings. Arguably, one of
What we think:
the most famous gaming websites of all
Category 1: Retro Remakes “A good old fashioned platformer full
time, and just like the mighty, it fell
The Empire Strikes Back of nice C64/Speccy hybrid style
quickly with a thud as it disappeared.
What we said (issue one): graphics.”
Apparently, the webhost’s company
“The graphics are a huge leap from the went bankrupt and the domain was left
original’s wire frame blocky efforts, but So well done to everyone and
unattended. But that doesn’t matter
show some rough edges-probably due commiserations to the runners up.
anymore because it’s back...
to the hurriedness of the development. Just so many potential winners that
Home of the Underdogs: It Returns
Sound is also impressive with some Category 3: Sequels That that were, unfortunately, not
has arrived just in the past few weeks
sampled voices and effects from the Weren’t completed in time for the deadline. and is looking to be every bit as good as
film itself. My only concern is that the Kung Fu II the old site, if not better. However,
fun is over rather quickly.” What we said (issue one): Achavanuntakul isn’t returning this time
“The gameplay is frustrating and not around, and she has passed on the
just because it’s difficult, but also flame to the new website owners
because it involves as much luck as (Lord_Pall and a dedicated team of
skill. The graphics are okay and the enthusiasts). Hopefully, it won’t be too
sound effects are reasonable. It’s long before the website is fully
certainly a challenge, but the operating as a community-driven wiki
repetitive and daunting action may be style website as planned. The game
too much for some.” archives and the forum are up and
running, so why not pop in, register,
Category 4: A Game For Helen look around, and post your thoughts on
The Factory the site?
What we think:
“A great little puzzle game in a similar

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 4


NEWS
MSXdev08 results Magazines from Retro Joy:
around the world The Spectrum +3 hands on the +3, the games would load

T he annual MSXdev contest has


come to an end. The judges have
now tested all twelve brand new
We’ve detailed some of the online
In this new column, we will
print an interesting retro
in seconds, feature speech, music and
in some rare cases released solely on
disk. Classics such as Bubble Bobble,
English language retro publications, so
games that were entered and the
it’s only fair to give a shout out to a story. This issue, Mark Hall, Rainbow Islands, Myth, Chase HQ,
votes have been tallied up: one of our contributors, tells Afterburner, Renegade, Target
couple of non-English retro magazines
renegade, Robocop 1, 2, and 3 saw a
we’ve found recently. us about his Spectrum release on disk, along with many more
tales... titles… for me it just felt great loading
Old!Gamer
games or apps in seconds, and on the
A new commercial retro
magazine is coming in
S ome time ago (maybe a decade or
more) I was at a car boot sale
where this guy was selling all sorts of
odd occasion my mate would transfer a
bunch of 48k classics onto disk as there
was hardly any protection.
May. Old!Gamer will be consoles, like the Sega Master System, I’ve finally got one (fifteen or so
published by in Brazil SNES, 3DO and Sega Mega Drive; and I years late). Managed to secure it from
and, unforunately for came across what I considered a rare eBay a few months back—it was a real
anyone who don't know thing of beauty, a true diamond in the sight for saw eyes upon opening the
the language, is written ruff if you like, in a Spectrum 128K +3. box… It looked slightly bigger than I
in Portuguese. Price is not known at It was an excellent little find, and the once remembered and the inherent
the time, although the editor has said guy was selling it with around 50 design, pointed edges and, now
that the publication will be produced games. It had a built-in 3” disk drive, a outdated, disk tech of the 80s really
1. Deep Dungeon (Arturo (ARTRAG) on quality paper with good production half decent keyboard and the Konix warmed my cockles. My daughter was
Ragozini John (DemonSeed) Hassink values. Although in Portuguese (online Speed King Joystick; all finished in like “what’s all this then?” So I sat her
Richard (huey) Cornelisse - WINNER) - translator time), there is an interesting black. It was priced ridiculously low, but down, booted up Bubble Bobble, and
[Game with Better Gameplay!] Q&A interview with the magazine's I didn’t have enough cash to buy it. I gave her a shot at it. She instantly
editor at gamer.br. could still kick myself for not snapping complained about the graphics and said
2. I Need Speed (CEZ GS) up that bloody machine. “why does it look so ugly?” I gnarled at
[Game with the Best Music!] - [More GAME I had the +2 as a kid, but always her, and she ran off to find her mum…
Polished Game!] looked on with envy as my mate shouting “ugly, ugly, ugly”. I suppose by
I had actually found this proudly loaded his +3 games in under today’s standards, this kinda stuff would
3. La Corona Encantada (Karoshi Italian publication a while twenty seconds. In comparison, my +2 appear ugly to kids, but for me, it’s a
Corporation) [Game with the Best back, but was only felt like the crumbs left over from a very playable ugliness, and with all the
Music!] - [Game with Better reminded of it with the chocolate Éclair or the crusty ends of a new games currently being released,
Gameplay!] recent news of the pizza that get left in the box. It’s safe to it’s a system I’ll be playing for many
Old!Gamer mag in say I always dreamed of getting my moons to come.
4. Danger Tower (Danger Team) Brazil. GAME is mainly a
[Game with Better Gameplay!] - [Most multi-format ezine, although there
Original Game!] are some good-looking retro articles in
there, too. And, yes, it's in Italian, but
5. Peek-A-Boo (dvik&joyrex) [Game the production values look amazing,
with the Best Graphics!] especially considering that it's a free
PDF download. The magazine can be
For the full rundown, including found at the gameplayer website,
individual ratings and more details of where you can also download back
each game entry, visit the MSXdev issues.
website.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 5


NEWS
Retroaction Blog Retro games download services Online Retro mags

F or various reasons we sometimes


just can’t fit all our articles into the
same issue. Because of this, the
A s much as we’d like to think that
Retroaction is the only retrogaming
magazine you can find online, there
Retroaction Blog plays host to a are quite a few publications out there.
number of ‘Retro Respect’ (Laser RGCD is back with issue #05 (March
Squad, Syndicate, and Cyborg Justice), 2009) which contains reviews,
‘Raiders of the Lost Arcades’ (Shinobi), previews, and features on
and other articles like our ‘From Silver a wide rage of retro and
Screen to Computer Screen’ on the indie games. If you’re new
Terminator franchise. to RGCD, it is an HTML
based disc mag, which you
can download a “full”
version and burn to a CD
or view a “lite” version
from your hard drive. For more details
on the disc mag and the team, visit the
RGCD website.
Commodore Free is a monthly
From Silver Screen To Computer publication dedicated to all
Screen: Terminator things Commodore and
comes in PDF, text, SEQ,
Retro Respect: Laser Squad GOG.com (Good Old Games) is a Seeing as a vast number of our D64, and HTML format.
website created by CD Projekt that readers come from Germany, I thought Each issue has news and
Ocean Software Profile offers old PC games for a small price. it only fair to discuss this great German articles, plus in-depth
The games are updated to work website. interviews with people
properly with newer Windows operating Gamesload is an electronic from the retro scene. Visit
systems such as XP and Vista. distributor of PC Games and has an ever the Commodore Free
The main selling point for GOG has expanding retro section. In co-operation website for the latest
to be that they don’t have digital rights with SNK Playmore, Gamesload has issue . Back issues are
management in the downloads. Also the been able to make classic NEO GEO also still available from the website’s
user doesn’t have to have any download games exclusively available for the PC. “Older Issues” page.
manager specified by the website to Games such as Metal Slug, Fatal Fury, Retrogaming Times Monthly (RTM)
download games. Games come in at and The King Of Fighters ‘94 are is a great little monthly on-line mag.
Retro Respect: Syndicate around $5.99 or $9.99 and are pretty available to download for EU9.95 each. RTM—which has been running for 138
recent—a few years old—and include The site also has an array of modern issues (if you count the
Raiders of the Lost Arcades: Shinobi extras such as instruction manuals, titles, remakes, and some games are original incarnation of
media, and guides. There are even even free. Retrogaming Times)—
Retro Respect: Cyborg Justice some games that are free, including The website is in German, but you consists of reviews, news,
one my favourite DOS game of all time: can easily view it with a translator like as well as some long time
Beneath A Steel Sky. So that must Google. regular features. The
warrant a look from any self-respecting The games are usually available in publication recently
retrogamer. English/German, as stated in the game acquired its own domain
Now if only they could get Deus Ex info box. With more retro games to name (http://retrogamingtimes.com/)
available then I would be in PC gamer’s come, the website looks like being an and is building up an archive and
heaven. essential visit for retrogamers. searchable index of all their back
issues.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 6


NEWS

Wolfenstein 3D Last Out Call Sam Cruise


Arguably the game responsible for Last Out is a remake of the Amiga The classic noir detective game Call
kick-starting the whole First Person classic shoot-‘em-up Z-Out. The Sam Cruise is heading to our PCs
Shooter genre, Wolfenstein 3D is remake is in development by soon, thanks to Vb64 who is currently
finally getting converted to a Sega Christophe Simon and version 0.4.1 coding a remake. The player controls
machine—the 32X. Not exactly a can be downloaded from here. Sam Cruise, who needs to solve a
popular Mega Drive add-on in the day, murder. If you want to find out the
and hardly a choice platform for game’s progress and offer any
homebrew coders, so it’s nice to see suggestions then head over to the
Chilly Willy supporting the underused Retro Remakes forums where a
system. A playable beta version of the discussion on the game is happening…
game is available to download from
the Sega dev website.

Orion Prime
Apart from a very successful teaser
released in select forums, not a lot is
known about Orion Prime. What we do
know is that Orion Prime is an
adventure game and has been in the
works for a few years now. Coded by
Elvira: Arkos, in association with Les Sucres
En Morceaux, the game is due to be
Mistress of the Dark presented at the Amtrad Expo 2009 in
Coutances (France), on May 29th,
Elvira is coming to the Amstrad CPC 30th, and 31st. The teaser can be
courtesy of Devilmarkus. It has been downloaded from the Orion Prime
in the works for a few months now website.
and a teaser video can be found at
cpc-live.com/elvira/. The conversion is
based on the Amiga original, and will
feature all the locations, a full point- Armalyte
and-click interface via a mouse and
joystick support. An official remake of Armalyte is
coming to the PC courtesy of S-A-S
Designs (Stuart Collier, Trevor Storey,
and Chris Bailey). The classic Thalamus
shoot-‘em-up will appear as a playable
demo before getting a full commercial
release by Psytronik Software. There’s
a super interview with Stu and Trev
over at Just One More Game.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 7


BUILDING CLASSICS
In terms of number of games released, Build is one of the most successful
game engines ever, with over twelve games developed for it. Duncan Rule
delves into the engine, its games, and the engine’s creator Ken Silverman

W
hen id Software unleashed world when rendered. As with Doom,
the seminal Doom in 1993, Build’s world is then populated with
it sent waves of truly two-dimensional sprites in order to add
colossal proportions though the world detail, objects and enemies to a game.
of PC gaming. From that point However, unlike id’s baby, Build
onwards, the question on the lips of allowed for additional features such as
every gaming publication and fan sloping floors and ceilings, dynamically
worldwide was “Which game will altered sector information (which made
become the Doom-killer?” Over the destructible environments possible)
following few years, many tried to build and, perhaps most importantly,
upon what id had done with Doom and overlapping sectors (provided only one
create the “next big thing”. sector could be viewed at any one
Unsurprisingly, the majority of these time). This meant that designers could
were poorly-made, rushed efforts create areas that gave the illusion of
hoping to cash-in on Doom’s much- the coveted “room-above-room”
deserved success, and wound up as scenario, which was just not possible
nothing more than distinctly bland with a so-called “2.5D” engine. Sectors
bargain-bin-fillers destined to collect could also be given tags to perform
dust for the rest of time. functions such as teleporting players to
During this period, programmer Ken other areas of the map. This could be
Silverman was busy creating what used for traditional “teleporters” in
many would come to consider his games, but also more subtly to create
magnum opus: the Build engine. Build the illusion of falling into a pit or diving
promised to do everything Doom’s underwater.
technology (now officially known as id Build was one of the most-licensed
Tech 1) did, and much, much more. engines in the history of gaming, and
Silverman’s engine operated on many almost anyone who owned a PC in the
of Doom’s principles. Maps were still mid-to-late ‘90s has encountered a
not fully three-dimensional (this game that used it at one point or
wouldn’t appear in an FPS until id another. The last game to officially use
released Quake in 1996), but rather the engine appeared in 1999, but
constructed out of two-dimensional Silverman’s work lives on today, in no
shapes known as “sectors”. These small part thanks to a release of the
sectors are given an added component source code back in June 2000. But
which specifies a floor and ceiling enough about the engine itself; let’s
height, and gives the impression of a take a look at the games…
three-dimensional (but rather limited)

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 8


FEATURE BUILDING CLASSICS
Duke Nukem 3D Blood
Developer: 3D Realms Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Apogee Software Publisher: GT Interactive
Year: 1996 Year: 1997

Duke Nukem 3D is undoubtedly the Blood was never going to have an


most well known and well-loved of all easy time of it. After all, it was a
the Build engine games, having been sprite-based game in a post-Quake
ported to pretty much every system world where everyone was too busy
available at the time, including a little marvelling over new-fangled fully 3D
known Brazilian Mega Drive port that engines to worry about the perfect
looks more like Wolfenstein 3D than atmosphere and wonderful design of
Duke. Created in 1996 by 3D Realms, what was seen as yet another Build
Duke was the primary vehicle for Build, While it may seem like nothing more game. But despite being rather less again!”, and from there on out it’s
and the focus for much of the engine’s than Doom with sunglasses and a blonde well known than Duke (for precisely just you against an army of zombies,
development. Duke Nukem 3D picks up buzz-cut, Duke delivers a hell of a lot these reasons), Blood has cultists, gargoyles, spiders, and all
directly from where Duke Nukem II left more than its hellspawn-slaughtering nevertheless managed to maintain a manner of hideous occult beasties as
off, and transplants Apogee’s beloved predecessor. One of the most attractive loyal cult following over the years, you battle your way through four
platform-hopping hero into a brave new aspects of the game, and unquestionably thanks in no small part to its utter episodes of dark, gothic levels to
world of three-dimensional alien- one which separated it from the dreck of uniqueness. reach your goal. It’s certainly
blasting mayhem. the time, is its level design. Gone are the Superficially, Blood appears to be different from the usual “You are Sgt.
As with pretty much every FPS of its generic, nondescript mazes which very similar to Duke in many Muscles McBadass; save the world!”
era, Duke 3D is light on the story and defined the genre, and instead we’re respects, mainly thanks to the approach of most FPS games.
heavy on the action. Aliens are taking treated to all manner of convincing real- engine. However, Blood succeeded in Blood is a real treat for any fans
over planet earth and generally world locales to blast though. Comedy taking the FPS genre to places it had of horror fiction, and the game is
harassing good and honest folk also plays an important role alongside never been before with its unusual absolutely littered with references
(including a disturbingly large number of the gibs and guns, and Duke’s frequent setting and thematic elements. (some subtle and some not-so-
nude women), and it’s up to the Duke to one-liners have been firmly cemented Taking place some time during the subtle) to a myriad of horror movies
stick his foot up their collective ass and into the annals of PC gaming. What’s not 1920s, Blood puts you in the boots of and books. You’ll hear quotes from
give ‘em a taste of hot lead. That’s about to love about a game that lets you Caleb, an undead gunslinger hell- The Evil Dead, find Zombies encased
as complex as the plot gets here, and relieve your bladder into a variety of bent on exacting revenge on the in metal barrels a la Return of the
the rest of the game simply involves pixellated toilets in the midst of the dark god who slaughtered him in his Living Dead, and even a rather
traversing cities, shops, strip clubs, action, or a protagonist who defecates first life. The game begins with the frosty Jack Nicholson in the middle
bases, canyons and space stations, down the neck of a recently deceased heavy stone lid sliding off your tomb of a hedge maze. Unfortunately,
looking for increasingly huge guns to boss monster while reading the paper? as Caleb utters the words “I live… Quake-mania meant that Blood
destroy increasingly nasty aliens with. Who could forget the infamous “Shake it, never really received the attention it
baby!”, or a weapon that lets you shrink deserved (and no doubt would have
enemies down to pintsize proportions received had it been released a year
before stamping on them like a bug? or two earlier), and the game today
Duke Nukem 3D isn’t ever going to is reserved to cult status. The
win an award for sophistication. It’s rude, acquisition of Monolith by
crude, obnoxious, offensive and Infogrames (and subsequently Atari)
hilariously good fun. Plus it can now be seems to have destroyed the hope
had for next to nothing from GOG.com of any possible source code release
and in a new incarnation on Xbox Live in the future. Still, Blood is a great
Arcade. A true classic that everyone piece of gore-soaked fun, and a
and… well, maybe not their mum… game well worth picking up if you
should play. can find it.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 9


FEATURE BUILDING CLASSICS
Shadow Warrior Redneck Rampage
Developer: 3D Realms Developer: Xatrix Entertainment
Publisher: GT Interactive Publisher: Interplay
Year: 1997 Year: 1997

3D Realms’ second and final Completing the “big four” Build game line-
game to be made with the up is Redneck Rampage, a truly
Build engine was Shadow memorable FPS that delivers “all the killin’,
Warrior; Duke Nukem’s twice the humour [and] half the
slightly more refined, feature- intelligence” of its contemporaries.
laden Japanese cousin. You Like many of the Build engine games,
play as Lo Wang (pun Redneck Rampage manages to inject a
intended); a master assassin surprising degree of freshness into a genre
and stereotypically Asian that was, at the time, almost entirely old, and adds the need for some strategic
Duke clone who is tasked comprised of uninspired “clones”. The item usage to the game. Redneck
with, you guessed it, saving action takes place in the (unfortunately Rampage also introduces a novel way to
the world (or at least Japan) fictional) backwoods town of Hickston, end the level: locate your halfwit of a
and enemies are designed accordingly.
from an evil corporation known as Arkansas, and centres on two brothers; brother (who somehow manages to make
You can hack baddies apart with a
Zilla Enterprises. Leonard (the player) and Bubba, as they it to the end of the stage miles ahead of
razor-sharp katana, pepper them with
If you loved Duke, you’ll find plenty attempt to retrieve their prized pig Bessie you without killing a single enemy) and
shurikens (unless you own the British
to like with Shadow Warrior, as it from aliens who’ve invaded Earth and dun whack him in the face with your crowbar.
version which replaces these with
provides an extremely similar gaming swiped ‘er. It’s certainly one of the stupider The enemies are an amusing bag of alien
darts, thanks to our friends over at the
experience. Wise-cracking plots out there, and the rest of the game clones of the townsfolk (the Skinny Old Coot
BBFC), or batter them with your fists
protagonist? Check. A host of pop- matches it beautifully. Health and armour and his cries of “Git awf mah laynd!” being
of fury in a pinch. There’s also plenty
culture references? Check. Lashings of are replaced by junk food and alcohol one of the game’s most memorable
of standard weaponry on offer, such as
tongue-in-cheek humour? Check. respectively, and players are forced to moments), huge alien guards, dominatrix-
twin Uzis and a riot shotgun, along
Plenty of big weapons to demolish the strike a delicate balance with their styled “vixens” complete with machine-gun
with the obligatory ridiculous
bad guys with? Oh yes! Shadow consumption of each. Too much food and breasts, “turd minions” who pelt you with
instruments of death such as a
Warrior focuses on a Japanese/ you risk alerting enemies to your presence faeces, and an assortment of non-alien
dismembered head that shoots fire
Samurai/Ninja/martial arts-type with an unfortunately-timed fart as you Deep South nasties such as vicious guard
and a miniature nuclear missile.
setting, and the locations, weapons creep up on them; too much alcohol and dogs and mosquitoes the size of a dinner
Shadow Warrior also brought a few
your view and controls become garbled as plate. The weapon selection ranges from the
engine enhancements to the
you try to deal with the effects of tried-and-true pistol/shotgun/machine gun
table such as voxel items,
drunkenness. It’s certainly a refreshing set through to more bizarre offering such as
transparent water, and
take on the tried-and-tested systems of the vixens’ machine-gun bra and a crossbow
primitive drivable vehicles. It’s
that fires sticks of dynamite (the ultimate
probably not a game deserving
redneck rocket launcher).
of “classic” status, but it’s the
Redneck Rampage took the crude
next logical step for anyone
humour of Duke 3D and upped the ante
who’s finished Duke and
considerably to never-before-seen levels of
wanting more of the same—a
tastelessness. The end result is an insanely
solid old-style shooter that
fun and memorable FPS, the likes of which
doesn’t take itself too seriously.
we aren’t likely to see again any time soon.
Shadow Warrior’s source code
The game did however receive an
was also released in 2005, and
expansion and sequel (essentially a
there are now ports available
standalone expansion), along with a deer
for a variety of modern
hunting game, Redneck Deer Huntin’, also
operating systems.
based upon Build’s technology.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 10


FEATURE BUILDING CLASSICS
Witchaven
Developer: Capstone Software
Publisher: IntraCorp Entertainment
Year: 1995 Legend of the Seven Probably the least known Build game
Paladins on account of its extreme obscurity,
Witchaven was one of the earlier (pre- Legend of the Seven Paladins was
Duke 3D) Build games, and as a result Developer: Accend, Inc.
developed by a Chinese company who
was built upon a slightly less-refined Publisher: Accend, Inc.
had been in talks with 3D Realms to
version of the engine than its shotgun- Year: 1994
license Silverman’s technology. The
toting descendent. With Witchaven, deal fell through, but the team
Capstone attempted to combine the apparently pressed ahead with the
fast paced action of the nascent FPS game regardless. It was originally
genre with elements associated with thought that Legend of the Seven
CRPGs (such as breakable weapons Extreme Paintbrawl Paladins only existed in demo form,
and experience points), all within a Developer: Creative Carnage but at least one retail copy has since
traditional fantasy setting. The Publisher: Head Games been spotted on a Taiwanese auction
resulting game is a bit of a mixed bag. Year: 1998 site.
The levels are pretty vast in
comparison to Duke, but the The only thing extreme about Extreme
unpolished feel of the game’s Paintbrawl is its crappiness. As the title
presentation (such as enemies that suggests, the game is an attempt at a
appear to have been created initially paintball sim, which seems to be a
as models while others were rendered somewhat odd choice of pastime to
entirely with software) combined with bother recreating in the electronic
slippery, awkward controls make the medium. It manages to fluctuate
whole experience a pretty forgettable between two extremes of difficulty
one. Capstone released a sequel, which combine to create one extra-
William Shatner’s TekWar …or should that be William Shatner’s
Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance, a Developer: Capstone Software SteamingPile? A strong contender for
rancid whole. The AI in Extreme
year later that adds a few extras such Publisher: IntraCorp Entertainment the worst Build game this side of
Paintbrawl is, on the whole, god awful,
as human enemies, the ability to wield Year: 1995 Extreme Paintbrawl, TekWar is based
and you’ll often see both teammates
dual weapons, and a level editor. upon Shatner’s ghost-written book
and enemies stuck helplessly on bits of
Unfortunately, the game underneath series of the same name. You play an
terrain as they attempt to throw
remains unchanged and the sequel ex-police agent turned hitman whose
strategy completely out of the window
failed to win over many (if any) new mission is to eliminate “tek” dealers.
and fire blindly at you in a straight
fans. While the game is notable for utilizing
charge across the map. If you’re lucky
a hub-based level system a la Hexen,
enough to encounter an enemy who
and featuring non-hostile NPCs, the
isn’t stuck on the scenery, you’ll
end product is an amazingly poor
usually feel the wrath of their perfect
exercise in game design. Don’t bother
aim as they hit you with the first shot
with this stinker, even if you’re a
they fire, ending the round. In
Shatner fan.
addition, despite being a DOS game,
Extreme Paintbrawl will only run in
Windows thanks to an extremely out of
place frontend (the only Build game
with such a requirement). Oh, and it
came in out 1998. This is budget
software of the worst kind. Avoid,
avoid, avoid.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 11


FEATURE BUILDING CLASSICS

Exhumed
WWII GI
Developer: Lobotomy Software
Developer: Team TNT
Publisher: BMG Interactive
Publisher: GT Interactive
Year: 1997
Year: 1999
This curious entry into the FPS genre
In 1999 (would you believe), Team TNT
saw the light of day on the PC, PSX
followed up NAM with the similarly
and Saturn at the time of release.
themed WWII GI, which this time had
However, while the Playstation and
the player take the role of a soldier
Saturn incarnations use a true 3D
during the D-Day invasion of France.
engine built specifically for the game,
On the whole it’s really not that
the PC version was inexplicably built
different to its predecessor, save for
upon Ken Silverman’s engine instead. player in ancient Egyptian city of
the graphical style, and being released
Known as PowerSlave in the US (an Karnak, complete with all the
as late as ’99 makes this one a good
obvious nod to Iron Maiden’s seminal stereotypical monsters you’d expect.
contender for one of the last ever
1984 album of the same name), the It’s not a bad game by any means,
commercially released DOS games.
game follows the Build tradition of but definitely not up there with the
unorthodox setting and places the best of the Build alumni.

The lost Build games earlier Wolfenstein 3D clone Corridor


7: Alien Invasion. The game
There were also two in-development disappeared as IntraCorp went under,
team-mates, airstrikes and booby Build games that never saw the light of and not even a demo managed to
NAM/Napalm surface to the public. The game’s
Developer: Team TNT traps that force the player to adopt a day. The first of these was known as
more strategic style of play. An Fate, and was developed by DogBone source code, along with a prototype,
Publisher: GT Interactive
interesting game doomed to obscurity Software, a subsidiary of IntraCorp. was however released onto the net in
Year: 1998
from the start. Despite IntraCorp’s less-than-stellar 2005 by one of the original dev team.
NAM originally began life as a total reputation, Fate did actually look to be
conversion (TC) for Duke Nukem 3D a promising title and appeared much
known as “Platoon TC”. Created by more polished than the majority of the
Team TNT of Final Doom fame, NAM company’s earlier output. However,
places you in the combat boots of a GI Fate (shown on the right) only made it
during the Vietnam War. The game was to demo stages before IntraCorp went
released in 1998, and as a result bankrupt and the game disappeared
seems even more dated than some of into the void for eternity.
its brethren, as games like Quake II, The second “lost” Build game
Half-Life and Unreal were coming out was interestingly enough also tied to
around the same time. It does IntraCorp, albeit this time coming from
however appear to be one of the the studio behind Witchaven, Capstone
earliest war-based FPS games, and Software. Corridor 8: Galactic Wars
adds a few features such as friendly was a planned sequel to Capstone’s

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 12


KEN SILVERMAN INTERVIEW
Duncan Rule recently had the chance to catch up Pacman game. Later, my obsession
with programming would overtake my
with Build’s creator, Ken Silverman, to chat about brother’s. I used TI BASIC, which was
his time in the games industry, and his most very slow; most of the games I wrote
for it involved a monster (a red dot)
famous creation chasing you (a green dot) that you
would control with the joystick. Later,
"Build" games that Ken was heavily my dad borrowed a Kaypro II from
involved with: work—it was like DOS with no graphics
modes. I wrote some grid-based text
Duke Nukem 3D (3DRealms, adventures on that one. He later
GT Interactive) borrowed an HP Series 200, which had
Shadow Warrior (3DRealms, EGA-like graphics. I wrote some board
GT Interactive) games, some card games, and some
Blood (Monolith, GT Interactive) The logo used for the Build Engine
other simple 2D games on it.
games
“Build" games that Ken has done DR: When did you get your first PC,
some kind of limited support for: and which programming languages
were you using initially? DR: Tell us about Build’s genesis and
Exhumed - a.k.a. Powerslave KS: I got my first PC in November what you wanted to accomplish with
(Lobotomy, Playmates Interactive 1988. I probably installed QuickBasic it. Was it intended to better what had
Ent.) Duncan Rule: Tell us about your on the first day. My parents tried to been done by John Carmack with the
Witchaven (Capstone, Intracorp) first exposure to computers. What get me into C programming early on, Doom engine?
Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance was the first system you used and/or but I was more comfortable with KS: I started playing around with
(Capstone, Intracorp) owned? Were you interested in QuickBasic. It wasn’t until 1990 that I Doom tech soon after seeing id
TekWar (Capstone, Intracorp) gaming from an early age? started to realize the benefits of C. Software’s original press release about
Fate (Capstone, Intracorp) Ken Silverman: Throughout the it. I wrote an early demo with angled
Redneck Rampage 80s, my dad would take my older DR: How and when did you enter the walls—PICROT4.BAS dated March 29,
(Xatrix, Interplay) brother and I to his lab on occasion. games industry in a professional 1993. I have a copy of it on my
Redneck Rampage Rides Again To kill time, we would find an capacity? website. At first, I was just trying to
(Xatrix, Interplay) unoccupied Unix terminal and play KS: That would be January 1, 1993, copy the features in the press release.
Redneck Deer Huntin' games on it. My first computer was a the day I released the shareware When Doom (classic) was released,
(Xatrix, Interplay) TI-99/4a, which we got in December version of Ken’s Labyrinth. I got a lot the goal changed to improving on the
1983. of calls after that. One of them was features of Doom in order to stay
Epic MegaGames, who later sold the competitive.
DR: When did you develop an game under its own label. Later that
interest in programming and what year, I signed a contract with Apogee DR: Did 3D Realms commission you to
was the first system you Software to develop the Build engine. create the engine, or was it already a
programmed for?
KS: My interest in programming “When Doom (classic) was released, the goal changed
began when I got the TI-99/4a. In the to improving on the features of Doom
early days, I would work with my
brother, such as designing mazes for a in order to stay competitive”
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 13
INTERVIEW KEN SILVERMAN
work-in-progress when they became DR: Was Build originally intended to “I never wrote a design document for Build.
involved? be used for Duke Nukem 3D?
KS: I had already named Build and KS: Build was not originally intended I don’t work that way. I plan things in my head,
written a demo when they hired me. for any specific team. It was up to
They would not have offered me a Apogee Software to find interested
and find something useful to work on each day”
deal otherwise. You can find this demo parties. One of the earliest users of
on my website—search for “grid-based Build was Nick Newhard, the head challenge you came across when liked to? Did it live up to your
BUILD engine”. In January 1994, I did programmer of Blood. Todd programming Build? Was there expectations?
a complete rewrite of the engine, [Replogle] and Allen [Blum] of Duke anything you had to leave out due to KS: That’s one thing that’s nice
using the sector idea. Nukem 3D didn’t start with the its complexity or feasibility? about working for 3D Realms—there
engine until January 1994. KS: The biggest challenge would are no deadlines, only milestones.
DR: To what extent were 3D Realms have to be the network code. It Here are some of the bigger
involved in the development of the DR: How did Capstone come to use would have been nice if I had it all things I wanted to do but never had
engine itself? Did they specify the the engine for Witchaven before figured out in my original sample time for:
things they’d like to see included? Duke was released? Was the engine game. But I knew little about * True perspective look up/down
KS: Everybody had ideas and unfinished at this time? networking, and had to figure things * Native support for sector-over-
suggestions, but I did all the KS: I’m not sure how the Capstone out in the middle of the project. sector
programming on the engine and tools. I deal came about. I only found out Once I got it working in my own test * Fancy lighting system
didn’t actually share the engine source about it after the deal was done. game, I had to figure out how to * Drop-in networking
code until late in the project. Many Apparently, their contract had no incorporate the changes into each I never wrote a design document
ideas were obvious, such as reminding restriction on release date. Notably game (Duke 3D, Blood, and Shadow for Build. I don’t work that way. I
me to copy features of other games. missing from Witchaven were the Warrior). I had to learn three plan things in my head, and find
Many of them were impractical. sloped ceilings and floors. I was still different code bases. something useful to work on each
Ultimately, it was up to me to select adding features to Build in 1997. day. It’s a process of evolution. I
what ideas were most practical and There is no specific finish date. DR: Did 3D Realms give you a can’t say that I had expectations.
useful to work on each day. deadline for Build? Is there anything
DR: What was the biggest technical you didn’t include that you’d have DR: Did you personally make any

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 14


INTERVIEW KEN SILVERMAN
changes for Shadow Warrior, Blood,
Redneck Rampage or any other Build
games?
KS: I did several enhancements after
Duke 3D. The most notable features
are support for room over room and
voxel sprites. Shadow Warrior also
had transparent floors. I did very
little to support Redneck Rampage,
as they were not an internal team at
any time.

DR: Which of the Build engine games


are your favourite(s)? Are there any
that you’ve never played?
KS: I always thought Blood had the
best graphics; Shadow Warrior had
the most features, and Duke 3D got
points mainly for being the first of
the big games. I have not played
many Build games besides these
three, and I don’t think I’ve played
through any of them without should document some things, like “I always thought Blood had the best graphics;
cheating. how to compile the code. The
hardest part is removing or Shadow Warrior had the most features, and Duke 3D
DR: In 2000 you took the step of replacing anything that may be got points mainly for being the first of the big games”
releasing Build’s source code to the inappropriate, such as copyright
public. What compelled you to do textures or sounds that you did not popular ones have been: Voxlap, as Breakout and Pacman clones. I
this? Do you feel this is something make. PNGOUT, and Evaldraw. I still do am always working on new things,
that more programmers and plenty of programming, but I don’t but I do not wish to announce
developers should be doing with DR: Have you played any of the like to announce things before they anything at this time.
their older material? enhanced ports of Duke and are finished.
KS: I released the code at that Shadow Warrior? Have you tried DR: Lastly, do you think Duke
time for several reasons: the Xbox LIVE Arcade version of DR: What’s your view on the Nukem Forever will ever see the
1. id Software set a precedent by Duke? games industry of today? light of day?
releasing the Doom code. KS: I wrote some of the systems in KS: The industry has grown a lot KS: I have no inside information other
2. Fans were pressuring me to JonoF’s ports, so obviously I have since my time. I’ve gotten some than knowing the tendencies of a few
release it. played those. I have yet to see the offers, but I’m really not interested people who used to work there when
3. I wanted to finish college before XBLA version in action. in returning to the industry. I’d dinosaurs roamed the earth.
releasing it—to avoid a barrage of rather work on my own ideas.
email during classes. DR: What’s new in the world of If you’re interested in seeing more of
4. I felt that there was little value Ken Silverman in the post-Build DR: Are you a retro gamer? Do you Ken’s work, you can check out his
left in the Build code. era? What have you developed still find time to play the classics personal website here: http://
If people want to release code, since Build? What are you working now and then? www.advsys.net/ken/
that’s great. But it takes time to on at the moment? KS: When I have time to waste, it
prepare code for release. First you KS: I put many of my recent is usually one of my own games Many thanks to Ken Silverman and
have to select a license that you’re projects on my website (http:// that I play. I’ve written a few Jonathon Fowler for their help and
happy with. Then if you care, you advsys.net/ken). I guess the most arcade classics for Evaldraw, such contributions.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 15


THE RETR0BRITE PROJECT
Are your old computers and consoles looking
“not-so-mellow yellow”? Then read on as David
Stevenson explains all about Retr0brite

A
nyone who has dug their Museum at Wuppertal in Germany,
old computer or console out that immersing parts in a solution
of the cupboard or loft for of hydrogen peroxide could
some retrogaming will probably partially reverse the process. This
have noticed that it maybe hasn’t was initially taken up by the Amiga
worn too well with the test of time. community in Germany (http:// Lorne’s Osborne 1 experiment Tezza’s Apple II experiment
The plastics these machines were www.a1k.org) and the idea
made of is called ABS and to make eventually found its way to the trade and, purely by coincidence, and perfect a means of treating
it flame retardant (just in case it English Amiga Board, where a around that time I read about a the plastic and reversing the
catches fire after a marathon madcap collection of chemists, dust explosion that had occurred yellowing without damaging the
session) the plastics plastics engineers and retro with a chemical called TAED, which plastic. Being a former industrial
manufacturers added chemicals hackers managed to perfect this is the booster in the ‘active chemist helped me tremendously,
which make the plastic turn yellow concept with help from other oxygen’ laundry products. in understanding what was going
or, even worse, brown. forums and put it on steroids. This got me thinking, and after on at molecular level and develop
It was originally thought that I came across the use of some really full-on serious a treatment process to reverse the
the yellowing was permanent and peroxide in July 2008 when chemistry discussions with other effect.
that only solution to this was to Kristian95 told us about what they EAB members, like rkauer in The problem was finally cracked
paint the plastic in its original were doing with it over at a1k.org. Brazil, who is a plastics Engineer in late July 2008 with a mixture of
colour and cover the problem up. I was intrigued by this, as I am a and my good friend Zetr0, who hydrogen peroxide, a small amount
However, a chance discovery was former industrial chemist. I am endured endless phone calls from of an “Oxy” laundry booster as a
made in March 2008, by the CBM also a plant safety manager by me and some epic threads on EAB catalyst and a UV lamp. Proof of
about the possible causes of the this concept was demonstrated on
yellowing, we had arrived at the EAB by Tonyyeb, Chiark, and
theory that it was the bromine in myself.
the flame retardant that was the Then we took the idea to other
cause. We also knew that Ultra forums, where the idea received a
Violet light was another factor. sceptical response at first. Lorne
Having identified the culprit, the from Arizona and Tezza from New
next stage was to try to develop Zealand from the Vintage

The problem was finally cracked in late July 2008


Merlin’s proof of concept Tonyyeb’s Amiga keys with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, a small amount of an
experiment experiment
“Oxy” laundry booster as a catalyst and a UV lamp
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 16
FEATURE RETR0BRITE PROJECT
There was an incredible number of people at first
that said this was impossible—that was until they saw
the pictures, then tried it and proved it for themselves
this was a particularly impressive Gum or Arrow Root (available
result. from health food shops or online)
We now have active threads 1 teaspoonful of Glycerine
about this at several forums (available from pharmacies)
The Commodore 64 experiment across the World and we have This should be mixed together
(notice the treated side on the now set up a Retr0brite support using a high speed blender or a
left) thread for those who are liquidiser until a smooth, non- A Commodore VIC-20 and an
Computer Forums really took on interested at our retro computer drip gel has formed. This can be Atari 130XE before and after,
the idea and helped us perfect the trading site, AmiBay. put into a jar or tub and stored, treated by Tezza of Vintage
process between VCF and EAB. We I would strongly warn people as long as you DON’T add the Computer Forums
have now proved that plastics that hydrogen peroxide is very “Oxy”.
yellowing can be completely nasty stuff and usually you can’t Just before you paint the gel be successful. To permanently
reversed in hours using our buy stronger than 12% over the onto the parts, add ¼ prevent the yellowing from
mixture.” counter as it is used to bleach teaspoonful of any “Oxy” type returning, just coat the parts
All of the initial tests were hair. If you want to try this, I laundry booster and then put the with a clear acrylic varnish.
done with a liquid and we would strongly suggest that you parts under a UV lamp or out in There was an incredible
realised that for large parts this wear goggles and gloves to the sun. number of people at first that
was getting expensive, so the protect yourself. A day or so later, your parts said this was impossible—that
next stage was to make a The magical gel mixture that should be as good as new, wash was until they saw the pictures,
paintable “gel” that could be was found to work is: the gel off and that’s it! It may then tried it and proved it for
brushed onto larger surfaces. 1 pint (500ml) hydrogen take another treatment for the themselves. The usual reaction
This was tried in Arizona in the peroxide, 12% strength; worst yellowing to be reversed was “No way!” then “WOW!”.
sun and the UK under a UV lamp 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of Xanthan but in all cases it will eventually This has been a truly global
and was found to be just as effort by retro enthusiasts and
effective as the liquid. We have has proved to work on
now released this to the public Commodore, Atari, Osborne,
domain for anyone to use as we Apple, and other machines and
can’t patent it and we coined the the work still continues on
nickname “Retr0brite” for it, as it various forums worldwide. As
summed up what we were long as you protect yourself
actually doing with it. against the hydrogen peroxide,
The most extreme test we this is pretty goof proof and I
have done to date was a hope that others get to see the
Commodore 64, which was amazing effect we spent so much
treated in several stages by time working to achieve.
myself over an eight-hour period,
to show what could be achieved; The Retr0brite Project can be
An Apple Mac (before and after) treatment by Krye of Vintage
found here.
Computer Forums

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 17


RETRO RESPECT
A First Person Shooter
running on the Doom
engine and published by
id Software. Duncan
Rule explains why you
should try another early
1990s FPS besides
Doom...

Details

Developer: Raven Software


Publisher: id Software
Released: 1995
Platform: DOS
Genre: FPS

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 18


RETRO RESPECT HEXEN

I n 1993 id Software unleashes


Doom on an unsuspecting public,
and the face of gaming is changed
Essentially, Hexen was to Heretic
what Quake II was to its legendary
predecessor: an expansion of the
enemies into squealing pigs that you
can mercilessly slaughter with a crack
of your mace. Hexen also supports an
forever. Developer Raven Software original game’s ideas and innovations impressive (for the time) multiplayer
acquires the license to id’s technology, into a more complete, rounded game, experience that allows up to 8 players
and releases Heretic in 1994, set in a believable world with a greater to compete against each other over a
transplanting Doom’s fast and furious degree of freedom and depth. Indeed, network. The game also allows for co-
death-dealing gameplay into a fantasy compared to Hexen, Quake is operative play, which is ridiculously fun
world of daemons, castles and sorcery. practically a step back in the evolution and well worth giving up an afternoon
In 1995, Raven releases their follow up of the FPS genre. Sure, it cranked the for. Get two of your mates to fill in the
to Heretic. Hexen is born. graphics up to eleven with its fully other character classes, and your
Heretic chronicled the adventures of three-dimensional world; but the trusty trio can raise hell through all of
the Sidhe elf Corvus, and his quest to gameplay itself devolved back to the the single player campaign’s levels.
defeat D’Sparil, the first of the three early days of linear level-by-level There are many weapons, Korax’s minions won’t know what hit
serpent riders. Hexen picks up the progression in seemingly random including this nice littler number. them.
twisted saga in Chronos, an alternate locales. Hexen was the first game to Wood kindlings, anyone? Raven also included a number of
dimension where the seeds of really popularise the “hub” level more subtle enhancements to the
destruction are being sown by the system that has been so commonplace players the ability to jump, and you’ll Doom engine in Hexen, such as
second serpent rider, Korax. Three ever since. The game’s levels are all need it if you want to get anywhere in random ambient noises, monster
heroes set out to destroy Korax and built around central areas, each of the realm of Chronos. Hexen also spawning, complex scripted events
end his reign of terror. Guess what… which contains a main puzzle that allows you to select between three (including shifting levels and
you’re one of them. It’s all pretty must be solved by visiting the various unique player classes, which actually earthquakes) and pseudo-moving
standard “kill the bad guy; save the branch levels and collecting items or have a noticeable effect on gameplay walls, all of which serve to make the
world” fantasy shtick, but this is, after activating switches. Granted, Hexen’s other than simply giving you a different game a rather more believable and
all, a mid-90s FPS, and you should be puzzles aren’t exactly of the mind- character skin. Become a fighter, and immersive experience than that of its
less concerned with the plot, and more boggling variety, but they nevertheless you’ll easily smash your way through predecessor. The levels don’t feel like
concerned with the vast armies of provided a very welcome breath of the earlier stages of the game with “levels” in Hexen, but rather a
Ettins, Afrits, Chaos Serpents and fresh air at a time when most FPS your brute strength and impressive complete, fully functioning world. While
other assorted “ye olde nasties” that games just involved shotgunning your speed. Choose the mage class, and these engine enhancements certainly
are waiting to rip your face off out in way to the exit as quickly as possible. you’ll be awarded magic-based add a lot to the gameplay experience,
the wilderness. While Hexen does indeed run on weapons that make attacking from afar the real star of the show here is the
Doom’s technology (a fact that was oft a very viable option, albeit at the cost
criticised at the time, when shiny new of having a rather fragile body.
FPS engines were on the horizon), Alternatively, select the cleric, and take
Raven weren’t just content with using a best-of-both-worlds approach with
John Carmack’s baby as-is. Instead, melee combat skill and magical ability
they tweaked and modified the engine placed hand-in-hand. Of course, the
to suit the needs of their own vision, inventory system from Heretic has also
resulting in a number of graphical been carried over to Hexen, and the
enhancements and additional features. game is littered with all manner of
First and most foremost are those valuable artefacts that can be used to
listed on the box. For starters, this was your advantage; from health flasks to
the first Doom engine game that gave bombs, to an item which turns

Hexen was to Heretic what Quake II was to its legendary


If you run out of ammo, your And if guns and swords fail, then
gauntlet comes in handy for
predecessor: an expansion of the original game’s ideas and I’ll use my magic on ye
swiping at ugly mushes like this innovations into a more complete, rounded game...
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 19
RETRO RESPECT HEXEN
involves fighting a Hexen has it all: great atmosphere,
stronger boss enemy, of
which there are several, fantastic level design, gorgeous artwork,
ranging from the flying
terror of the Death
perfect balance and an immersive game world
Wyvern, a demonic of good old “frantic-battle-against- source port such as ZDoom (http://
sorcerer known as the hordes-of-foes-in-a-confined-space” zdoom.org/). Don’t forget that you’ll
Heresiarch, your own sections to keep you on your toes. Of still need the original game’s IWAD file
undead masters, and of course, if you’re finding things too to play, though.
course Korax himself. easy, there are a total of five different Most reviews of Hexen that I’ve ever
Hexen’s weapon difficulty levels to choose from, the read have ultimately awarded the game
system is implemented hardest of which is sure to send you a distinctly average rating, which is
differently to Heretic’s, as crying home to your mum as you get something I’ve never been able to
each of the three player pummelled into a bloody pulp by fathom. As far as I’m concerned, Hexen
classes can wield four hundreds of vicious beasties that can has it all: great atmosphere, fantastic
unique weapons, the last move much faster than their lower-skill level design, gorgeous artwork, perfect
of which must be found in counterparts. balance and an immersive game world.
segments. Rather than Once you’ve punched, chopped, Add to this the fact that it’s one of only
One swift swipe of my big sword and you’re having separate ammo smashed, hacked and roasted your a handful of FPS games to feature a
mince meat, ye hear me? types for each, Hexen way across Hexen’s world, there’s still medieval-style fantasy setting, and
requires players to collect more medieval mayhem to be had in you’ve got a true DOS gem on your
level design itself. Hexen’s levels are, blue and green mana. Each class has Raven’s official expansion pack, hands. Sod the majority; I’ll happily list
in my opinion, some of the greatest one weak starting weapon (which can Deathkings of the Dark Citadel. Hexen as one of my top five games of
ever created, and there’s a real be used infinitely as it does not cost Released in 1996, Deathkings includes all time, and I encourage everyone
attention to detail with each and every mana), one blue-mana-based weapon, three brand new hubs filled with much who’s never had the pleasure to grab
one of them that just makes the game one green-mana-based weapon, and tougher levels than the original game themselves a copy and give it a try.
ooze atmosphere by the bucketload. one final weapon which requires both that’ll provide a real challenge for the Korax is waiting, human…
The outdoor areas are particularly well blue and green. The weapons are die-hard Hexen fanatic.
done, and you’ll feel totally immersed nicely balanced, and you won’t find You’ll know you’re up
in the world of Chronos as you traverse yourself relying on just one the whole against it when you find
misty swamps, shadowy graveyards, time. Even the starting weapons are yourself battling four
barren wastelands and ancient woods useful until the end, particularly the Death Wyverns on the
in your quest to eliminate Korax. mage’s sapphire wand which, while the same level, and that’s
The game is divided into five main game’s weakest, allows you to take out just in the first hub. Only
hubs, each of which contains a variety even the toughest of enemies from a badasses need apply.
of branch levels that you’ll need to visit distance if you don’t feel like going toe- The very generous
in order to complete that particular to-toe with them. folks over at Raven
hub’s puzzle. Pulling switches and The enemies themselves are a kindly released Hexen’s
completing secondary puzzles in these nicely varied bag of your typical source code to the public
branch levels will cause things to fantasy-type creatures, and again are in 1999, which means
change and shift back in the hub, fairly well balanced throughout. As that thanks to a few
opening up new areas and allowing you with most FPS games of the era, the AI hard-working individuals,
to progress further. While the game here is basic, and the challenge is we can now all enjoy
isn’t amazingly open-ended, this derived from the sheer volume of Hexen on our shiny new
design does add an element of monsters encountered, as well as the PCs (not to mention a
freedom and exploration that’s sorely odd strategically placed enemy myriad of other
missing from the earlier Doom-type blasting fireballs at you from a distant platforms) by Some of the characters are beautifully
games. The end of each hub usually battlement. Hexen also includes plenty downloading a compatible drawn. Ugly, yes, but drawn well all the same

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 20


SERIES ONE, EPISODE TWO
Neil Reive continues his trek back in time to 1992
when the classic television show GamesMaster
helped bring video games to the masses and gave
birth to the TV videogame show format Magazine journos Dave McCandless (Zero magazine)
and Frank O’Connor (C&VG) give their views of First

A
s GamesMaster’s scout doing bob-a-jobs, then Samurai, Pit Fighter, and Double Dragon II
computerised intro watch on and erase that
sequence comes to an end, ignorance.” on the game with Domincic is awarded an
the camera moves in on the “The GamesMaster” sets the Sega Power’s deputy editor Neil overall rating
show’s host, Dominik Diamond, as first challenge, and what better West. Alex has no problems of 90%.
he introduces the show. “Welcome way to follow last episode’s Super collecting 160, completes the level “Next, also on
to GamesMaster,” he begins, “TVs Mario outing by having Sonic the within the time limit, and wins a the Amiga,”
only show devoted solely to Hedgehog this time? The GamesMaster Golden Joystick. explains Dominik,
videogames. So if the sentence challenge is to collect 150 rings Dominik then introduces the “we enter the
‘Mario got stomped by a green from the Green Hill Zone Act 2 in reviews section: “First up, on the murky underworld
koopa paratrooper’ makes any under two minutes. Even though Amiga, the Bruce Lees of the of Pit Fighter.
sense to you, you’re tuned to the there are only 163 rings in the future give a hearty ki-yai in First Three butch
right church. If it doesn’t, and entire act, the challenger, Alex Samurai”. Dave McCandless (Zero contestants
you’re one of those people who Ferry from Stanmore, asks for the magazine) tells us that “it looks trade below the
think that Game Boy is a young target to be 160. To commentate very Chinese takeaway. Lots of belt action in an
lotus trees and bamboo furniture, orgy of
but underneath all this colourful unrestrained
exterior there’s, um, a real, er, violence.” Dave
good game.” Frank O’Connor tells us that “Pit
(C&VG magazine) says that the Fighter is less of a beat-‘em-up
game “features some beautiful and more of a sort of kick-the-
graphics, brilliant sampled sound living-crap-out-of-everybody-up.”
effects, bits of sampled messiah “It’s boring,” exasperates Frank,
for good measure.” The game is “you don’t have many moves. The

“Welcome to GamesMaster, TVs only show devoted solely to


videogames. So if the sentence ‘Mario got stomped by a
Alex Ferry wins the Sonic Co-commentator and video game
challenge and a GamesMaster journo, Neil West, watches on as green koopa paratrooper’ makes any sense to you, you’re
Golden Joystick Dom introduces the first challenge tuned to the right church.” - Dominik Diamond
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 21
GAMESMASTER LOOKBACK SERIES ONE, EPISODE TWO
computer tends to decide what lemmings across one level in two
you’re gonna do next.” The minutes. Robert Clark from
average comments are reflected in Leicester is the player chosen to
the overall rating as it gets 59%. take on this challenge. They
“Finally,” as Dom introduces the “dragged him back screaming,”
last review, “pulsating pixels of Tom Watson from Renegade
monochrome muscle on the Game commentates with Dominik.
Boy with Double Dragon II.” “Cute. Robert looses a few lemmings in
Safe. Nice. Cool,” is Dave’s rather an early mistake, but looks to
short description of the game. have it under control. He guides
“You walk along and smack people the rest of the lemmings home,
in the teeth, and that’s about it,” but it’s not enough as he only
says Frank, before adding that “it Tim Boone returns to commentate ...which is won by Sonic Blastman has 87% of them.
on the celebrity challenge... champion Paul Turner
is quite good fun as it turns out.” Dominik closes the episode by,
That’s a final rating of 70%. Footpedal, which is ideal for car Mason. Joining Dominik to once again, donning his smoking
This week’s hardware feature racing games was available for commentate this time is C&VG’s jacket to go and have a
includes the Power Glove: “the “most home computers” and was editor Tim Boone. While Paul goes ”refreshing cup of camomile.” He
futuristic gauntlet that translates priced at £24.99. The Sega Action in with straight right hooks, tells the audience that he’ll “see
hand and arm movements into on- Chair is last to be looked and has racking up the scores, Gary tries [them] again in seven days,”
screen the idea of moving around in the various punch techniques, but is before disappearing into the haze
action.” chair as you would move a beaten by 332 to 331. Paul takes of the church with the monk
Available on joystick/d-pad. The mammoth home a GamesMaster Golden following closely behind. The
the NES, the Sega Action Chair was available Joystick. camera pulls away as the closing
Matel Power for the Sega Mega Drive and cost The Consoletation Zone theme kicks in, then the
Glove was £99.00. features tips on Strider, level 3, computer style closing credits roll
priced at “The biggest celeb of them all”, with the closing walls. As and ends as ‘Game Over’ flashes
£49.95. Next the GamesMaster, introduces the GamesMaster explains, “instead on screen.
is the QuickJoy Celebrity Challenge. The game is of trying to climb up one side of
Sonic Blastman and the challenge the wall, you should jump from
is to blast a meteor that is side to side.” The secret whistle’s
heading to Earth. With three location in Super Mario Bros. 3
punches, the celebrity must save on the first world is told to an
the planet. The person who eager gamer and to wrap off the
records the highest score is the tips feature, a young lad is told
winner. Squaring up against each how to kill the baddies at the end
other for this round are British of level two in Robocop.
Sonic Blastman champion Paul The final challenge for the
Turner and former British episode is on Lemmings. The
Heavyweight Champion Gary player must guide 91% of the

Matel’s Power Glove and Sega’s “You walk along and smack people in the teeth, and that’s The last challenge of the show is a
Action Chair—Nintendo Wii style
peripherals of their day
about it, [and] it is quite good fun as it turns out.” - good one, but Robert Clark just
fails to succeed
Frank O’ Connor describing GameBoy Double Dragon II
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 22
TWILIGHT OF
THE SPECTRUM
The Sinclair ZX
Spectrum didn’t really
disappear in the early
1990s. As Richard
Tarjan explains, in this
first part of his huge
Spectrum
retrospective, Europe
enjoyed many years of
gaming from the
rubber-keyed
computer…

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 23


TWILIGHT OF THE SPECTRUM, PART ONE THE CLONES

T
he last commercial game for the
ZX Spectrum was Dr. Who:
Dalek Attack, released in July of
1993, although the decline was easily
noticeable from the beginning of that
same year. From early 1993, software
companies did not accept any new
Spectrum games from developers, and
the last of the Sinclair magazines,
Sinclair User and Your Sinclair, ceased
publication in May and September
respectively—big blows for the
community. New games release
A massive 256k of memory was Some games like Wolfenstein Mario Islands was another game
sections of still active press were needed for the game Walker 2004 even used up to 83 colours that used up to 83 colours
practically empty, or even cancelled.
In 1992, there was still a relatively
huge amount of software published, what is considered as the “classic” 12 individuals produced their own cloned was not compatible with every clone,
but in the next year the writing was on years era of April 1982 to July 1993. computers. After the end of their and not even with the original ZX
the wall: big software developers This kind of productivity still stands working day, lots of people, who were Spectrum, as programmers would
began leaving the 8-bit micros, and head and shoulders above any other employed in electric companies, produce and test the software on their
simultaneously moved to PC, Amiga, platform that has come before or after started to make these clones. This own personal cloned platform. Of
Atari ST, and the increasingly popular Sir Clive’s little black machine. And the was facilitated by the fact that the worthy mention is the C64/ZX war,
consoles. story was not finished yet. In fact, the assembling circuits diagrams were which began in Europe, also happened
Of course, the Spectrum was not most interesting part is yet to be freely distributable in most cases. in the ex-USSR between the owners of
the only 8-bit computer to feel the told… Because of this, the Pentagon, one of various ZX-clones.
effect of the developer’s defection to A second generation of ZX the most popular ZX clones, came into The, originally English-developed
the 16-bits; its ever-popular rival the machines cropped up in the territory existence. Beta-128 disc interface became the
Commodore 64 and the Amstrad CPC of the ex-Soviet Union (significantly in The street value of these clones dominant mass storage device of
were both suffering as well. Russia, but in another smaller states was also in a different league of their Russian ZX Spectrum clones. Cassette
Quite an interesting fact is that as well). For the average Russian, a own when compared to the Amiga or tapes very quickly disappeared along
there were a lot more ZX Spectrum PC/AT was too expensive, so they PC. In comparison, the price tag of a with standard 48K machines. The
games developed than for any of the cracked the original ZX Spectrum and contemporary Amiga or PC was
16 bit platforms. About 12,000 games rebuild them from Russian parts. The between 300 and 1000 USD, where as
were released for the ZX Spectrum in first 48K machines were produced as a Pentagon or Scorpion was only 20-
early as 1985, and in 1991, the boom 100 USD. The situation was so
of the 128K clones began. widespread that even the clones had
It became the school-computer variants and were not always 100%
(christened Hobbit 64K), but sooner or compatible with each other. The
later, other clones were produced by compatibility of different clones was
bigger or smaller companies such as even worse.
Scorpion, Kay, ATM, and who knows This situation led to widespread
how many other mutations exist. Even software-incompatibility. New software

For the average Russian, a PC/AT was too expensive,


An early Spectrum clone from the Dune: Imperia 2 needed a 7MHz
ex-Soviet Union
so they cracked the original ZX Spectrum Turbo Mode
and rebuild them from Russian parts
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 24
TWILIGHT OF THE SPECTRUM, PART ONE THE CLONES
Most programs ran fine in the above configuration,
although some games needed extra memory (for example
256K was needed for Walker, Atomix, and Country of Myths)
With this method, even 800K could be Islands, and Hexagonal Filler), or the
packed onto a single disk. If we look 7MHz Turbo Mode (Dune: Imperia 2).
at the ZX Spectrum 128K and the Games that demanded the full 512K of
Beta-128 disk system combination in RAM, like Starcraft, were very rare in
computing history, it is the missing the Spectrum world, but one game,
Seasons of Sakura 16C used an evolution step between the classic Seasons of Sakura 16C needed at
astonishing 1024K memory and a 8-bit machines (ZX Spectrum 48K, least 1024K. However, this was a fairly
new graphics mode: 16C Commodore 64, and Amstrad CPC) different category, as it used the Anime Story fit a whole 640k
and the much more powerful 16-bit detailed new graphics mode 16C. Floppy Disk
system could control up to four 640K micros. So, the new standard became While most of the games ran well
double density floppy drives as 3”; the 128K machine with a Beta-128 on 128K of memory, using 256K
3.5”, and 5.25” formats were all interface along with a very cheap resulted in a very speedy game (Crime produced games that required over
supported. Some simplified versions stereo tuning of the AY chip. In the old Santa Claus De Ja Vu, Homer Simpson 128K of memory, this meant that the
only used two floppy disks. Most of the days, 5.25” floppies were used, but in Russia 2). If digitised and other game was virtually beyond the means
clones had this controller integrated nowadays, of course, we have the 3.5” effects were integrated into the game, of the standard Spectrum user. Most
into their motherboard. However, the format. the optional 512K would also be owners had a 128K machine with only
Beta system was not very successful Most programs ran fine in the extremely helpful (Smagly 3). Season developers owning more powerful
in the UK or Europe. above configuration, although some of Sakura could use memory of up to computers. However, it is worth
The new system certainly gave new games needed extra memory (for 4096K, utilising the above 128K part mentioning that most of these games
opportunities for software example 256K was needed for Walker, as cache memory. These giant games were successfully converted to 128K
developments: 640K was huge Atomix, and Country of Myths). Some were usually conversions from other standard machines by different
compared to the 128K maximum of games even needed special ULA platforms, as the authors converted authors. In trying to motivate owners
the old tape system. It could hold modes such as GigaScreen (Homer the sprites and effects directly from in expanding the memory of their
even more, because data of the Simpson in Russia), multicolour of up the source material. machine or buying a more powerful
software is often stored compressed. to 83 colours (Wolfenstein 2004, Mario Although some developers clone, these games simply arrived too

Games like Crime Santa Claus De Homer Simpson in Russia 2 was Fire ‘n’ Ice has an intro screen and Mortal Kombat on the ZX
Ja Vu could work with 128k, but another game that made use of different music for each level Spectrum? Yep, it happened
ran faster with 256k 256k

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 25


TWILIGHT OF THE SPECTRUM, PART ONE THE CLONES

UFO 1 is one of the few multi-disk ...Black Raven 1 filled two floppy Pang supported the new graphics Time Gal, nearly 190mb, and the
games available and similar to... disks hardware setup first ZX CD-ROM game

late in most cases. (Anime Story, Nocturnal Illusion) or So, a new method emerged (the through many changes. The three-
Going back to turbo mode. So far, puzzle games (Double Xinox, New need to build in two chips, some channel mono sound was soon
only Wolfenstein 2004 supports higher Puzzle) required the space of a whole resistors, and condensers) for more replaced with three-channel ACB
FPS in turbo mode, while another disk. Games with more episodes were better and advanced looking games. It stereo. Later came the different D/A
programs only run faster. Also, only also usually copied into one single disk was called “colour-per-pixel” or “16C” converters, such as Covox (1x8 bit),
this game supports the video cache by the authors (Crime Santa Claus mode. It used the standard 256x192 Stereo Covox (2x8bit), and Soundrive
memory, giving the turbo coefficient Deja Vu, Smagly 3). The 640K game screen ration with conventional 15 (4x8 bit). Sampling frequency can be
from the usual 1.4x to 2.x. Crime compo entries certainly used a full colours, but each pixel could have 10-12 kHz with these devices, in turbo
Santa Claus and Super Mario Bros diskette (Cheitnot Chess, Wolfenstein individual colours (it is only 15 colours mode 15-16 kHz could be reached.
show extra “snowing” effects in turbo 2004). Similarly occupying a full disk and not 16—despite its name— With the General Sound card nearly
mode. Of course, developers of were those mega-games, which because black does not have normal Amiga quality, sound could be
Beta-128 never thought that a ZX included intro screens, different music and bright variants). The result is very produced on four channels (4x8 bit,
Spectrum game would occupy a full for levels, bi-lingual communication, similar to EGA screens and very nice 37.5 kHz). Significantly, not many new
640K disk, or the “Insert next disk...” etc. (Fire and Ice, Mortal Kombat 1, compared to the ordinary Spectrum, software releases were written for GS,
would appear during the gameplay. Pussy). and any colour-clash is eliminated. but old classics were cracked, and
Typically, graphic adventures Multi-disk games were less Some games by Alone Coder effects and music were added to
common, but Copper Feet did produce supported it, such as Ball Quest, Pang them. If you were to see GS128 or
some: UFO 1 and Black Raven 1 filled 16C, and Time Gal. Time Gal was GS512 included in the game’s title,
two floppies. Last Hero of the Light nearly 190 megabytes and a Sony then this meant that it supported the
Force adventure and the network PlayStation conversion, plus the first 128K or 512K version of General
playable Net Walk were also released ZX game which required a CD-ROM. Sound card.
on double disks. The already Worthy of mention is that these games The next novelty was the six
mentioned Season of Sacura (both ran fine on 3.55MHz, so it is a really channel Turbo Sound card that
versions—monochrome and colour- big success both from the sides of became widespread. It had a second
per-pixel) occupied three full disks hardware and software development. AY-chip beside the original and
with its PC-converted graphics. Music and sound effects also went because one AY chip can play sound in
stereo, two AY chips could quadruple
the music and sound effects.
Multi-disk games were less common,
Pussy, based on the Titanic movie,
if you must know but Copper Feet did produce some: To be continued… (New generation and
making and distributing of games)
UFO 1 and Black Raven 1 filled two floppies
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 26
People of Earth, be
warned! X-Men:
Children of the Atom
is rock hard. To sum
up how difficult,
Mark Hall reckons
Magneto would easily
hand Bison his ass

Details

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1994
Platform: Arcade
Genre: Fighter

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 27


RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARCADES X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM

X
-Men: Children of the Atom times, and horrible slowdown.
is a wonderful fighter, Every version features the voice-
originally released by over dialogue for the many
Capcom in 1994. The game was characters from the original
powered by their CPS-2 board and cartoon, along with the original
was used throughout for later arcade music. X-Men: COTA is a
versions. Capcom didn’t really own joy to play, and I’ve been playing
the rights to a home console it for several days now, I’ve been
version, so a begrudged playing versus games all my life,
partnership was formed with Psyclops lets rip with an optic A fried Silver Samurai as Storm but none have ever proved this
Acclaim who later published the blast uses lightning bolt attacks difficult before. The controls aren’t
Sega Saturn version for the USA as responsive as Street Fighter II,
and Europe, a PC version and features an exclusive line-up of only downside is that Gambit is but you kinda get used to them
finally the PS1. Strangely though, super heroes to rival that of any nowhere to be seen, and that guy the longer you play.
Capcom did the Saturn port for fighter before it. Their objective? rocked. X-Men: COTA is a really well
Japan (the best port), with Probe Stop the villain Magneto from The matches are played over a done game. Graphically,
handling the other systems. Along wreaking havoc on human series of best-out-of-three one-on- everything looks incredible, the
with Street Fighter II, both games civilization. There are six X-Men one matches. As well as Each player animations and array of
are considered amongst the most characters and four of their character has a power gauge that moves are bordering on radical.
technical and finest of a long line enemies, making a total of ten builds up as the player performs a The sound effects are so badass,
of beat ‘em ups… and packed to characters that the player can run of continual special moves. especially when a character yells
the rafters with super jumps, choose from. The game even This gauge starts at level one, out “SHOCKWAVE!!!” It’s by no
super combos and probably one of includes its own take on Chun-Li reaches level two when it becomes means the best of Capcom’s 2D
the best tech scraps on Earth. for the X-Men fighting world in the half-full, and when it reaches max, fighters, but it set a massive
If you haven’t already guessed guise of Psylocke. Each character the player can then perform an standard and is still a smoking hot
it, X-Men: COTA is a Streetfighter- has their own moves and special special move. However, as is the game. If it weren’t for the insane
esque one-on-one slugfest, and attacks unique to them. For norm with one-on-one fighters, difficulty and slightly unresponsive
instance, Cyclops has his optic each use of a special move will controls, I’d have no problems
blast; Storm can fly and produce decrease your character’s power putting X-Men: COTA above the
storm attacks (lightning and guage a notch. Finding a likes of Street Fighter II any day
wind), while Wolverine has his successful balance of normal and of the week.
powerful brawling and clawing special moves is the key to
skills. What makes the game really beating the game. Besides the
cool is you even get to play as the usual moves found in one-one-one
villains, which was something fighter games, X-Men: COTA
new… with secret characters such features super jumps and the
as Juggernaught and Akuma ability to roll away from the
Wolverine takes a swipe at
thrown in, which all adds up to opponent.
Sentinel
even more Capcom loveliness. The The arcade version is amazing
(along with the Saturn port), while
X-Men: COTA is a Streetfighter-esque one-on-one all the other versions are still
good, but unfortunately dogged by That’s gotta hurt... Psylocke
slugfest, and features an exclusive line-up of smacks one right into Colossus
poor frame rate, long loading
super heroes to rival that of any fighter before it
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 28
CRONOSOFT:
THE INTERVIEW
Our very own (domesticated) Gnome managed to
corner homebrew hero and devoted indie
publisher Simon Ullyatt, and chat with him about
Cronosoft, new games on old machines, bedroom
coding, and obscure 8-bit micros
Not that Cronosoft needs any
sort of formal introduction, but
I’m pretty sure that some of our
non-European or more console
oriented readers might just need
a bit of info before going on and
actually reading this very
interview. Well, for your
information, oh deluded souls,
Cronosoft (http://
www.cronosoft.co.uk/) is one
the few publishers of brand
new games and utilities for
retro computers, that supports all
the major 8-bit formats and even
[splATTR – ZXS] Proper
some rather obscure ones. It has
cassette inlays are still around
already published dozens of games
and utilities for 8-bit micros,
including such gems as SEUD,
Stranded, Egghead in Space,
splATTR, Platform Game Designer,
Church of Death, and Football Glory.
Oh, and, should you wonder,
Cronosoft is indeed based in the UK.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 29


INTERVIEW SIMON ULLYATT
Gnome: Let’s start with a the years I’ve collected 100’s of message on the World of G: Have you ever managed to
personal question. Who is the systems, significant ones to me Spectrum forums, and had a discover, rescue, and release any
brain responsible for Cronosoft? being the Commodore 64 and response from a couple of games that failed to hit the
Where does he live? What does he Oric-1/Atmos, though the interested programmers, namely shelves back in the day?
drink? What does he enjoy? Spectrum has always been Jonathan Cauldwell and Graham SU: Yes, the first few games Gloop
Simon Ullyatt: My name is Simon number one for me. I have some Shaw, both having unreleased and Dead or Alive by Jonathan
Ullyatt, though I’m probably better of the more unusual systems too, games already written. So I Cauldwell were both unreleased
known around the ‘net and forums like the CGL Sord M5, Mattel quickly got some artwork made games from around 1994, whereas
as chaosmongers. I live in a Aquarius, Sharp MZ-700, Texas TI- up, and the tapes made, and that Hop ‘n’ Chop and Football Glory,
coastal rural area of Lincolnshire in 99, etc. was the beginning... by the Shaw Brothers, were
England, though not far from the I love arcade games that have originally intended for release
seaside holiday town of Skegness. simple but refined gameplay. G: Publishing brand new games for commercially in the early 1990s; I
I’m known to enjoy a pint or two Arcade games like Defender, retro computers is a noble cause believe by Atlantis Software.
of “snakebite & black” every now Robotron, Tempest, and Gyruss. indeed. Which platforms do you Stranded, by Bob Smith, was also
and then! support? written a long time ago, though, of
For a normal job, I sell old stuff G: Now, on to the main subject of SU: Currently, we are supporting course, he’s now back heavily into
on eBay full time, though I also this interview. How exactly did the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, game writing.
work in a pub. I play bass guitar in Cronosoft begin? Commodore 64, Commodore Vic
the band Moes Anvil SU: A few years ago—I think it 20, Commodore 16/+4, and G: Any thoughts of producing
(www.moesanvil.co.uk). was around 2002—I’d just finished Amstrad CPC. cartridges (for the C64 or the
editing the last fanzine/magazine I’d very much like to broaden CPC+ for example) or even
G: How about letting us know a bit dedicated to the Oric computer, this to include the Dragon 32, console games?
about said brain’s gaming history? found myself looking for Oric, ZX81, TI-99, Atari 400/800, SU: If possible, I’d love to do this,
Favourite games? Genres? Home something new to do, and had the Mattel Aquarius, Sord M5, and though it’s a bit easier said than
micros? idea of starting a new software more obscure computers, and done! The Atari 2600 seems the
SU: I got my first computer, a house for people who were writing eventually the Atari 2600 or even most viable at the moment, as the
Sinclair ZX81, in 1982, followed by new games for old systems. As a the 3DO and CD32. necessary electronic parts are
a Spectrum 48K in 1984. Over test of the idea, I posted a more readily available, though if I

[Football Manager 2005 - ZXS] [Dead or Alive – ZXS] The art [Stranded 2.5 – ZXS] Top [Iron Sphere - CPC] Amstrad-
Icon driven footie fun on the of the loading screen lives on quality puzzler with top quality powered puzzle gaming
humble Spectrum! at Cronosoft graphics
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 30
INTERVIEW SIMON ULLYATT
could get some people with more SU: I’ve just had a count up, and I
expertise involved, it would be a think we’re at about 51...
great help. I’m not overly familiar
with burning EPROMS, etc. myself. G: Any personal favourites? Is
G: How exactly are them tapes there a game you are incredibly
produced? What’s the process of proud to have published?
actually producing, packaging and SU: It’s really hard to narrow it
distributing, say, a Speccy game? down to one, but Gamex is a
SU: It varies a little between superb masterpiece of
formats. For Spectrum games, I programming, and is really
use a real Spectrum 128 to save enjoyable. Also Farmer Jack and
out the games onto multiple the Hedge Monkeys was a real [The Castle of Madness – C64] Oh, [Farmer Jack and the Hedge Monkeys -
cassette recorders, but with the treat, as it was a conversion of yes. The C64 disk drive won’t be ZXS] The most surreal and innovative
ignored by this forthcoming CRPG adaptation of Pac-Man possible
Amstrad CPC games, I have them one of my favourite arcade games
burned onto CD’s as audio files, Lady Bug, written after a request I
which I can copy over to cassette. once made. game sent to you by a 20 year old who are always eager to help.
The inlays are printed and cut who has never released anything
manually onto gloss paper. It’s G: What’s your biggest seller so before? G: Do you feel people will keep on
very time consuming, though I far? SU: Definitely, some of the best caring for 8-bit independently
need to keep the costs down to as SU: I think the original Egghead games are written by unknown produced even after current gen
little as I can. The artwork is often In Space has sold the most, programmers in their bedrooms! consoles have horribly aged?
done by our great contact Graz though the Vic 20 releases are Like with music, indie labels are SU: There will always be a section
Richards, who comes up with also very popular. there for people who really love of the population that would have
some very professional standard the stuff that people create—it grown up with a particular system,
illustrations. G: Oh, and does Cronosoft really doesn’t have to be big business whether that be the Spectrum,
mean to support the indie (or is it (smiles and winks). SNES, PlayStation, or Xbox 360—I
G: How many games has *bedroom coding*) spirit? Would guess everyone will have their
Cronosoft published so far? you actually accept and publish a G: How could/would Cronosoft own favourite era of gaming that
help a budding retro developer? will never change. If you were an
SU: I believe Cronosoft can get 8-bit fan at one time, I think you’ll
the game noticed—we have lots of always be one!
people who take an interest in the
games at the retro-gaming shows, G: And finally, what does the
and great support from magazines future hold for Cronosoft? Any
such as Retro Gamer, Micro Mart, exciting new releases?
and indeed yourselves, help SU: We’ve just released Joe Gunn
spread the word in a way that on tape for the Commodore 64,
maybe wouldn’t happen ordinarily. and Glove is soon to be released
I think (hope) we add value to a for the Dragon 32 / Tandy Color.
game, and make it something that As for other games.... they seem
fans might want to own rather to just pop up in my inbox every
[Church of Death – C16] [Blue Star – Vic20] It’s amazing than just play. Plus, of course, now and again...!
Quality horror text adventuring what the humble Vic can do at the we’re part of a friendly community
to get the brain imagining hands of a capable indie developer…
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 31
REVIEWS RETROACTION REVIEW POLICY WHAT WE’VE BEEN PLAYING THIS SEASON
33
35
36

37
ROCK BOSHERS Windows
BETILED! Amstrad CPC
LEGION OF THE DAMNED
C64
PHANTOMAS TALES #1:
MARSPORT
ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC
There are many homebrew games released every NEIL: ROCK BOSHERS
month, never mind every few months, so how do we 38 W*H*B ZX Spectrum
cover them all? The simple fact is that we can’t. Plus,
we don’t feel that it is practical to have our writers use 39 K.O. CRUISER Atari 2600
their valuable time by playing and reviewing bad
40 STAR SABRE 128K
games, just to moan about them. No, we would rather
Amstrad CPC
tell you about great games. So, it’s unlikely that you
will ever see a bad homebrew game reviewed here. 41 CAPTAIN S Windows, Linux
That’s not to say that we will be hyping up the
games that we do review, though. You won’t see the 42 DEATHCHASE
likes of 98% ratings here—in my opinion, no game is DUFFMAN: W*H*B Dragon 32 / Tandy CoCo
worth that, not even commercial classics—but what 43 FROGGER ZX Spectrum
you will see is a fair and honest opinion based on what
the reviewer has played, not what they expect or want. 44 NANAKO DESCENDS TO
So consider any rating of 80% and over as great. Only HELL
the truly remarkable games will ever achieve a rating Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
of 90% or more.
45 I NEED SPEED
ZX Spectrum, MSX
MARK: STAR SABRE 46 GIDDY 3 Windows
DETAILS BOX
47 DANGER TOWER MSX
This is where you will find all the information and
ratings on the game: developer, publisher, platform(s), 48 SORT ‘EM Amstrad CPC
download link(s), video clip(s), and genre.
49 BANGER MANAGEMENT
Four game components are rated individually as a
ZX Spectrum
percentage Here’s what we look for in each:
GRAPHICS: Colour, animation, scrolling, collision- 50 DEEP DUNGEON MSX
detection, design, and speed.
SOUND: Music, spot effects, and speech. MATTY: SUPAPLEX 51 HORACE GOES SKIING
GAMEPLAY: Movement, control interface, difficulty, Windows
design, and fun element.
OVERALL: What we honestly think of the game, be it
52 ETERNAL LIGHT
praise or a good kicking. Amstrad CPC
Occasionally, a game comes along that generates a 53 SUPAPLEX ZX Spectrum
mixed response from gamers. The “Not so fast...” box
is our writers’ opportunity to butt in and voice their 54 SEUD ZX Spectrum
opinion on a big review.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 32


ROCK BOSHERS
Remember Red Faction – that innovative PC game
of 2001? Well, it’s back with a vengeance. Neil
Reive explains all...
These rocks are de- Zombies. Lots of them.
structible, and you can Don’t let them touch
clear a path with your you as they hurt. Shoot
gun them down, quickly

One of the many superb intro The first level eases you in gently,
sequences before the chaos

F
or those who don’t know, Red cropping up, many people took up
Faction is a first-person shooter job positions there. However, things
game that was released in 2001 didn’t exactly go to plan and a revolt
for the PC, with ports for the PS2 and against the mining company began.
Mac following soon after. One The game is viewed from above
interesting feature of the game was and a bit to the bottom, as it were.
the innovative “Geo-Mod” technology This means that the sprites are quite
used in the game design. This small, but they’re clear and you get
provides destructible environments, the advantage of seeing the whole
allowing the player to destroy certain screen at once—as you spend a lot of
sections of the scenery in the game. time rushing around madly, this is
Rock Boshers is a demake (a quite useful. Similarly to games like
remake of a recent game on older- Gauntlet, the levels are designed in a
generation hardware) of Red Faction mazelike structure with keys
using the Game Maker software unlocking doorways – this makes the
package. Initially developed for the game much more complicated and
TIGSource Bootleg Demakes enjoyable as you try to fight your
competition a few months back by way around it.
Dugan (a.k.a. moogled), it has now As you make your way through
received the finishing touches. the levels, there will be lots of
As with Red Faction, the game is enemies to deal with, including
Super Zombies. Soldiers. Watch That’s you, that is. zombies and gun-toting soldiers. Of
set on Mars in the distant future with
These ankle out for these guys Armed with a gun, the player controlling a miner who course, they do their best to stop you
draggers need as they shoot on you take on all helps rebel against the Ultor by any means. To fight back, you
shooting twice sight comers Corporation. With new opportunities have in your possession a rifle that
on the recently invaded Mars can fire off a shot at a time. What
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 33
REVIEW ROCK BOSHERS
you’re in too deep concentrating
merely to stay alive.
If there is a fault with the game
then it’s with the controls. A game
like this is best played on either a
gamepad or joystick, but there is no
compatibility for use of a standard
game controller. You either have to
use the keyboard (the dreaded WASD
or arrow key configurations) or an
Xbox 360 controller. Hopefully,
further updates will be made to the
POW! A bullet flies out of your gun A lot of levels will require you game that includes standard
and head straight for a soldier. It’s solving a simple puzzle or controller compatibility.
either you or them collecting a key Although Rock Boshers may look
like a simple game, it’s the lateral
that really means is that once the stems from its flexibility and its thinking demanded from the cunning
bullet disappears, either into a wall playability. With a multitude of design that makes it such a classic
or enemy, then you are ready to fire options, a multiplayer game, and an game, and one that will keep you
again—similar to the firing method in unlockable mini-game, the lifespan coming back for more.
Gauntlet. Additional rockets can be of Rock Boshers is a long one indeed.
picked up in limited packs. Graphically, with its Spectrum
The game comes in two versions: style graphics, the game itself DETAILS
the pixel sharp and filtered versions. couldn’t look any simpler. The
The pixel sharp version has slightly presentation is excellent and includes
All the little touches here and Developer: Dugan
better looking graphics as the pixels an authentic Speccy loading screen,
there greatly add to the game’s have been scaled crisply, but the an atmospheric intro sequence, and Platform: Windows
atmosphere filtered version can be used in case great level design throughout. The
Weblink: Home page
of video card compatibility issues. levels are little more than plainly
The game’s options include a single drawn lines and the sprites are figure Emulator: N/A
player mode, multiplayer modes, and stick men. This is its charm.
Genre: Arcade
an unlockable Asteroids style mini- Minimalist graphics do have their
game called Rockaroids. place and its here. Too many colours
It’s very unusual to see such a on screen could have made it RATINGS
classy game appear amongst the unplayable.
platform, shoot-‘em-up, and puzzle There’s a suitably moody intro
games. Don’t let the strategy tune and the few sound effects that Graphics: 71%
element put you off, because this is a are scattered throughout the game
very absorbing game with plenty of are adequately produced. Once the Sound: 84%
action that will really test your game gets going, though, it’s hard to
abilities. The fun in Rock Boshers remember if there’s any sound, Gameplay: 94%
And just in case you’re one of
these people who don’t read
With a multitude of options, a multiplayer game, Overall: 91%
manuals, here is a hint An absolute classic of a
and an unlockable mini-game, the lifespan of game. A must have
Rock Boshers is a long one indeed
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 34
BETILED!
progressively harder. Apparently,
there is a special mode that will
become available once you reach level
six, although, due to the progressive
difficulty of the game, I’ve yet to
encounter this. There are also points
Arguably, the greatest CPC puzzle game has gained from matching crystals and if
already been released with Groops! BeTiled! you achieve a high score then you can
enter your name on the high score
looks similar, but does it play similar? Duffman table – this all adds an extra notch to
finds out... the replay value.
BeTiled! sure is addictive with that

A
fter being available on the ZX has discovered a way to safely extract “just one more game” value, and
Spectrum and MSX platforms the energy of these precious crystals. You couldn’t have asked for a should keep you coming back for more
since 2007, the Amstrad CPC However, the crystals are more colourful game on the CPC time and time again. Everything is top
version of BeTiled! is finally here. unpredictable when they are in quality, from the presentation, intro
Programmed by Zogo, BeTiled!—the contact with oxygen, resulting in them The presentation of the game is sequence, the graphics, sound, and,
last CEZ CPC release—is a colourful exploding if handled for prolonged class, from the intro, graphics, and most importantly, the gameplay. It all
puzzle game in a similar style to periods of time. To prevent any sound—which is nice considering that comes together to form an excellent
Bejeweled and the aforementioned disastrous explosions and the the coders could have pulled a fast one game.
Groops!. destruction of all life as we know it, and just done a quick Speccy port. The
Dr. Cirilus is not the most stable you, as Dr. Cirilus’ assistant, have to graphics are colourful and clear. The
person you would want to meet and as help him extract the energy from the main theme is jolly in its nature,
the old saying goes, he’s not exactly coloured crystals. although this ends as the game begins. DETAILS
the full shilling. You see, he is one of As usual with CEZ games, there are The option screen shows the start,
many mad men who wish to rule over plenty of game modes including arcade, and modes, of which there are two to
the world and he sees his opportunity normal, and special. The game comes choose from: arcade and normal. Developer: CEZ
by extracting energy from the with the choice of Spanish and English Arcade mode is the story mode, where Platform: Amstrad CPC
videogames’ essential crystals. language, as well as a manual and inlay as the normal mode is just play for
From years of research, Dr. Cirilus artwork. points. As with Groops!, BeTiled! Weblink: Gamecard
starts with all the blocks filling the Emulator: WinAPE
screen and it’s your job to match the
crystals already there. This is achieved Genre: Puzzle
by placing the cursor over a crystal,
pressing fire, and moving the joystick
in the desired direction—up, down, RATINGS
left, or right—in the hope of matching
a row of three or more.
The energy levels you need to Graphics: 90%
gather from each coloured crystal are
displayed at the bottom of the screen. Sound: 83%
Once you’ve got enough energy (e.g.
matched three diamonds of each
Gameplay: 89%
colour), you will advance to the next
It might not play exactly like Some great cut-scenes sets the level. The required energy level Overall: 88%
Groops!, but it sure does have the story for the game increases each level, making the game One of the best puzzle
panic factor games available...

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 35


LEGION OF THE DAMNED
A C64 game in the style of Golden Axe? Yes starts off with five lives to the
Barbarian’s three, the Barbarian,
please. Duffman survives skirmishes with arguably, has the advantage with his
long-range axe.
zombies, mummies, and vamiresses to bring us To protect yourself, you have your
the low-down trusty weapon to use against them
as well as magic spells. Amazon has

T
hat Queen Stryxia, eh? She’s a visit to her temple hideaway and put her sword, which can be used at
bit of an evil bugger. Not a stop to her evil plans. Easier said close range, and whirlwind magic.
content with being Queen, she’s than done, though, as the journey is The barbarian uses an axe to throw
also got her minions to stomp around a hard slog from your home forest. from distances, while his magic spell
making life miserable for everyone in Word must have gotten out about is the meteor shower. Barbarian’s
poor old land of Hameria. your intentions as the hordes of spell is activated by pressing the ‘K’
Fortunately, the poor sods have minions have been unleashed and key, while the Amazon can use magic
managed to scrimmage enough cash are after your blood. As you tread with a press of ‘S’. Spells work like a
together to hire a couple of the treacherous path to Queen smart bomb, which take out the
mercenary warriors. The sword- Stryxia’s domain, you’ll confront all entire enemy on-screen.
wielding Amazon (with her whirlwind manner of assailants: shuffling The characters’ lives are
spells) and the axe throwing zombies, bow and arrow-wielding represented by individual blocks on
DETAILS
Barbarian (with his meteor spells) mummies, flying vampiresses, and the bottom of the screen. Every time
answer their cries of help and the many more nasty demons. you’re hit, a block disappears. Once
money incentive sealed the deal. The game can be played by one or Developer: Anthony Burns
all blocks have gone, then it’s game
The only way to free the land and two players. Joystick port 1 controls over. However, extra lives are Platform: Commodore 64
people of Hameria from the vile the Barbarian, while port 2 controls obtained for every 100,000 points
clutches of Queen Stryxia is to pay a the Amazon. Although the Amazon Weblink: Direct download
you obtain. They can replenish their
health and magic powers with blue Emulator: WinVICE
potions and the more potions held at
Genre: Shoot-’em-up
once the more powerful their magic
will be.
The land of Legion of the Damned RATINGS
Gamecard
RATINGS
is nicely represented by a smart
landscape which scrolls smoothly
past as you hack-‘n’-slash your way
through the enemy. As you progress,
Graphics: 86%
you are treated to some wonderfully Sound: 80%
atmospheric and downright spooky
backdrops. The title music is great Gameplay: 82%
and also appropriately eerie and
foreboding. All in all, a great looking,
epic sideways SEUCK
Overall: 84%
Blood, blood, blood, blood... and It’s a house of evil, I tells ya. action/adventure which fans of the A fine sideways SEUCK in
bits of sick. Something for Eeeeeviiiiiil. Things can only go genre will appreciate. the mould of Golden Axe
everyone then? from bad to worse...

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 36


PHANTOMAS TALES #1
Or Phantomas Tales #1: Marsport to give its full which the pots of money and batteries
title. Matty gives us the lowdown on Phantomas’ (easy to see thanks to intelligent use of
colour) are scattered. Although the game
latest adventure is, as I said, not that big, the gold is

L
ike, I suspect, a lot of British stopping him. Phantomas has a limited liberally sprinkled around the rooms and
Spectrum gamers from back in the amount of energy which the monsters, occasionally quite deviously placed
day, I’m not that familiar with the spikes et al will sap and so as well as meaning that a certain amount of skill will
series of games starring Phantomas. This avoiding these dangers as best he can he be needed to collect them all. This is
small and (ingame at least) torso-less also needs to collect battery power-ups made even more difficult by the large
burglar originally appeared in a couple of which will restore a portion of his energy, number of marauding monsters which
platform games by Dynamic with his only thus making things a little easier. inhabit the screens. Even for a skilled
UK appearances being on the Phantomas has two different types of player, completely avoiding the monsters Trouble arrives as Phantomas
Codemasters budget label. Since then, jump available to use: a high jump which is very difficult and so finding the battery heads for the acid pits on the
though, he’s appeared in an ever-growing only propels him a small way forward and packs becomes almost as important as Amstrad CPC version
number of unofficial sequels from a long jump which makes him travel far collecting the gold.
Spanish indie coders who seem to regard forward but not very high. The player As you might have gathered from my
the diminuitive thief as their very own needs to learn which to use in various description, this game doesn’t really take
Miner Willy. The latest of these, from the circumstances to make sure Phantomas the Phantomas series, let alone platform
DETAILS
Mojon Twins, promises to be the first in a can make his way around the gaming, in any sort of new direction; it’s
series. environment without toppling into a pit of still the same tiny little burglar jumping
Developer: Mojon Twins
Despite the name, this seems to have acid or being driven into wall spikes. around in the same way and collecting
absolutely nothing to do with Gargoyle The gaming area itself appears to be objects. Given that I’m not all that familiar Platform: Amstrad CPC,
Games’ classic arcade adventure completely open from the start and not with the series, this didn’t really bother ZX Spectrum
Marsport; instead it’s a platform game especially large. It is split into “indoor” me and I found this to be an entertaining
Weblink: Gamecard
very much in the style of earlier entries in and “outdoor” sections on Mars around little platformer. It looks good and the
the Phantomas series. Our pilfering anti- music fits the game well with a nicely Emulator: WinAPE / ZXSpin
hero, attracted by rumours of an ancient “futuristic” sounding in-game tune to
lost civilisation on Mars and (more accompany the action. I do have a few
specifically) the gold it hoarded, manages reservations about this: I don’t care much
to find a communication which reveals the for energy over lives in platform games
RATINGS
location of this lost civilisation’s mines on since I think it encourages programmers
the red planet. And so, with the intention to make monsters too hard to avoid, I
of making this his last haul (yeah, right), don’t like having two different types of
Graphics: 79%
Phantomas makes his way to the planet jumps since I think it interferes with the
Sound: 82%
Mars and the mines which hold the loot he flow of gameplay and, last but not least,
covets. the game is actually not all that big. Gameplay: 72%
Gameplay is nigh-on identical to However, for all it’s flaws Phantomas Tales
previous Phantomas titles. Our little head-
with-feet wanders around a flick-screen
#1 is a fairly good platformer and a
welcome first in what I hope will be a Overall: 71%
environment looking for pots of gold and Phantomas gets down to business gradually improving series. As Arnold I found this quite enjoyable and,
avoiding the various Martian monsters on the ZX Spectrum version Schwarzenegger might say “Get your azz hey, you probably will too
and traps which seem hell-bent on to Marz!”

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 37


W*H*B
Just when we thought we had seen all the puzzle Glass floors are too fragile for your superb, with brilliantly designed
block to roll onto upright, making screens. Sure the colours aren’t
games worth playing, along comes Bob Smith’s you roll over it sideways. Then dazzling, but they are as clear as
there’s fragile flooring that will give crystal and there’s no colour clash
latest to prove us wrong. Duffman enters a world way after you have rolled over it, problems at all. Sound is limited to
of isometric genius… meaning there’s no way back, so the odd soundtrack here and there,
hopefully you went the right way. which are well done. However, it’s

S
o what does W*H*B stand for You control a rectangle block in its Control of the block is highly the gameplay itself that is most
then? Wash Hand Basin? Waste journey through the many screens recommended on the keyboard as important and the it is fantastic, with
Handling Building? Waste Heat with the aim of making it to the exit. the joystick can be a bit twitchy for a progressively difficulty curve that
Boiler? World’s Happiest Broadcaster? This is done by rolling the block such a precise game. However, once provides a great challenge.
Does it matter? Not a jot. around the screen and placing the you’ve got to grips with all the finer Addictive, challenging, and
Admittedly, W*H*B bears more block onto the exit in an upright points of the block’s movement, the professional—do yourself a favour,
than a passing resemblance to position. Now this might sound game becomes a pure joy to play. and download W*H*B now.
Cuboid and Bloxorz, two online easier than it actually is, but there Your number of steps taken is
games that have been doing the are many obstacles and situations to recorded on-screen and can be
rounds recently. However, I feel that overcome before you get that screen compared against the target steps,
W*H*B more than holds its own cleared message. which seems to be the minimum
when compared against those high- On your travels you will come steps needed to complete the
DETAILS
spec games. W*H*B does have a across switches, which, when screen. When you complete a
similar look and gameplay style to touched, will cause new areas of the screen, there is a welcome passcode Developer: Bob Smith
those aforementioned titles, but it ground to appear or, if touched that is given out, which can be used
combines marvellous graphics, again, disappear. Some portals will to go to the following screen by Platform: ZX Spectrum
testing puzzles, and fiendishly split your block into two cubes, entering it in on the main menu.
Weblink: Gamecard
designed levels to make a stunningly leaving you the task of reuniting The game is drawn in delightful
challenging game. them to get to the exit in one piece. 3D isometric and the graphics are Emulator: ZXSpin
Genre: Puzzle

RATINGS

Graphics: 87%
Sound: 73%
Gameplay: 91%

Overall: 89%
Things can get confusing when The clear tiles are glass and can Later levels can get quite fiendish A wonderful polished game that
there’s two blocks to control only be traversed by rolling the in their design and challenge... everyone should play
block over sideways

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 38


K.O. CRUISER
Duffman would rather spend his time lying on his
but you hardly notice this, as you are
concentrating on the fight. All you
get for sound effects are the thud of
glove on flesh, but that’s really all
you need. There are some nice little
tunes on the menu screen, at the
beginning of each round, and a
back in bed than getting up to go to work, so we victory tune.
thought he would be the perfect candidate to try Strategy plays an important part
in the game, as one wrong decision
out this game or missed punch may result in you

K
.O. Cruiser is coder Devin’s first framed character, but you can move receiving a combination of hits that
homebrew Atari 2600 game around up, down, left, or right. Then could knock you out. There’s an
and a fine one it is too. Taking there’s your opponent, who faces you excellent blend of tactics and arcade
inspiration from the arcade Punch-Out and can move around the ring the action, which makes K.O. Cruiser
game, Devin started this game on the same as you. truly fun to play. It’s amusing,
Commodore 64 back in 1986. There are six opponents to fight Oh, dear. I’ve taken one hit too enthralling, and the range of
However, following the release of against, each with their own individual many and that’s it difficulty is wide enough to keep
Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punchout, he look and boxing abilities. At the start beginners and old hands equally
decided to ditch the game mid- of the round, both boxers’ energy bars entertained.
pulling down on the joystick. This
development. Fortunately, he recently are full and every hit taken decreases
brings your boxer’s gloves up to his
decided to pick up the pieces and it. If the bar is completely gone, then
face. Be warned, though, as the DETAILS
make it an Atari 2600 game. the boxer falls to the canvas.
opponent can also do these tactics.
As you may have guessed by now, You have a small selection of
Each round last three minutes
K.O. Cruiser is a take on the classic moves available, but it’s how and
each and there is a clock at the top Developer: Devin
arcade game Punch-Out, and similar when you carry out these moves that
of the screen that ticks away. On
to that game, involves boxing the is the key to winning the game. Platform: Atari 2600
either side of the clock are the
other player’s head around the ring. Moving into position and pressing fire
boxers’ energy bars. Knock the Weblink: NTSC / PAL direct links
The game was immensely popular and and left will throw a left punch
opponent down and they are given
spawned several sequels. towards your opponent. Pressing fire Emulator: Stella
ten seconds to get back up otherwise
The boxing ring is viewed in 2D as and right will throw a right hand
it’s a win to you. However, if you are Genre: Sports
the middle of the screen is zoomed punch. You can also block any
knocked down you have to quickly
into the back of your see-though wire incoming punches by pressing fire and
press fire to get back on your feet.
Eventually, your boxer will be too RATINGS
exhausted to get back up and it’s
game over. If are knocked down
three times then your opponent wins Graphics: 88%
by technical knockout. If you lose,
you get the chance to fight the same Sound: 82%
opponent in the rematch.
The boxer graphics are large, Gameplay: 91%
colourful, and well animated, and
K.O. Cruiser has a refreshing touch
of humorous graphics. The boxing
Overall: 88%
A flying punch is easily blocked by Smack! The oppopent boxer takes ring itself is quite bland—just the An all round excellent and
the sneaky opponent a right hook to the chops ring, ropes, and plain background— fun boxing game

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 39


STAR SABRE 128K
Star Sabre was originally released last year (in is a straightforward shooter…
simply up there in terms of
quality, game-play and
64k) and was considered a classic side-scrolling behind the scenes awaits quite a presentation. Paul’s aim was to
complex scoring system, where give Star Sabre the burial it
shoot-’em-up with some great graphics and the player is rewarded by deserved. And he’s pulled it off.
gameplay. Mark Hall finds out if this 128k update omitting themselves from gaining Star Sabre is one of the finest
improves on that extra lives, instead choosing to shooters ever made for the CPC.
increase their score, whilst

L
et’s not mess around here? end of level bosses to blow into focusing more on taking down
It’s fair to say that the CPC millions of tiny pieces. Ships and waves of enemy ships in return For our interview with Paul
hasn’t really proved itself to backgrounds are more detailed, for a bonus. Kooistra, the coder behind Star
be the perfect platform for 2D the ground installations are The game is quite hard at Sabre, check out Retroaction issue
hardcore scrolling shooters. Yes, animated, an extra stage has first, but with practice you’ll one at our website’s back issue
there are a few exceptions—Mr been carefully crafted, and fire eventually hammer through. page.
Heli fits the bill—but by and power feels that touch meatier. However, the true meat of the
large, the CPC’s bread and butter Star Sabre gets the blood game can be found by going back
comes in the way of puzzlers, pumping from the off, and plays in, replaying levels to increase DETAILS
platformers, and isometric remarkably well. The 2D scoring, in a bid to hit the lofty
outings. So credit to Paul backgrounds, music and sound fit heights of the all new ranking
Kooistra for attempting such a perfectly, and everything zips system (Hi score chart). Developer: Paul Kooistra
Herculean task, and pulling it off along at 25fps. Enemies, bullets Star Sabre made me feel as Platform: Amstrad CPC 128k
with such class. and massive craft litter the though my eyes were being
This new 128K only version of screen to the point of Weblink: Direct download
overwhelmed by visuals from a
Star Sabre is bigger and better intimidation. And you’d be 16-bit system, and despite the Emulator: WinAPE
than the original, with even more forgiven for thinking Star Sabre on rail mechanics, Star Sabre is Genre: Shoot-’em-up

RATINGS

Graphics: 85%
Sound: 75%
Gameplay: 90%

Overall: 83%
It’s a house of evil, I tells ya. It’s a house of evil, I tells ya. It’s a house of evil, I tells ya. A great game improved
Eeeeeviiiiiil. Things can only go Eeeeeviiiiiil. Things can only go Eeeeeviiiiiil. Things can only go upon by this update
from bad to worse... from bad to worse... from bad to worse...

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 40


CAPTAIN S
flapping), throw sausages, become
invincible, and more. Each screen
boasts a wide variety of excellent
graphics, all of which have been
designed with a touch of humour.
A super hero, villains, mutants, nuclear rockets, The cartoon sequences preceding
play are well implemented and give
and sausages. Duffman pulls on his tights, chews the impression that the CEZ team
have went out of their way to
on his sausage and heads for Seville produce a game with genuine style.

I
t’s an ordinary day for Spanish of comic style images for the intro You cannot fail to chuckle at the
truck driver Mariano as he carries sequence—is that the game is full of expressions and actions of the
out a routine sausage delivery in configurable options: language, level character, especially if you leave him
Seville. However, events take a turn password, difficulty, screen detail, While playing the game, you will idle for a few seconds.
for the worse when an experimental scanlines, resolution, screen mode, immediately realise that it is not only Although Captain S is a very
nuclear rocket is launched and veers and so much more can be configured arcade reflexes that are required, compulsive game, it is frustratingly
off course, landing on his delivery to your heart’s content. but also a dash of good fortune; difficult, even on the easiest
truck. The resultant impact renders The game is a flip-screen there are times you’ll feel like you settings. Did I mention that the
Mariano unconscious, and when he platformer and our hero has need the timing of the mutants game is quite difficult? Just
recovers, he feeds his hunger with one discovered that the aforementioned you’re so desperately trying to get emphasising that point.
of the sausages from his truck. nuclear rocket incident was no rid of. Whilst the game is indeed fast
Unbeknown to him at the time, the accident. It was part of an evil plan and furious, attempting to speed
sausages have been infected by the that Torrebruno orchestrated in order through the screens will inevitably DETAILS
nuclear impact of the rocket and he to take over the world. So, like any lead you to blunder into a devious
soon begins to feel strange. His good super hero, Captain S takes it trap, of which there are many.
muscles begin to bulge, he grows a upon himself to track down the evil The whole game is held together Developer: CEZ
good six inches taller, his ugly face Torrebruno and take him out. Trouble very well by the graphics, which
transforms into a pretty square jawed is that the trek through Seville is more manage to capture the spirit of the Platform: Windows, Linux
super hero. He is Captain S. treacherous than normal: everyday game’s plot. Captain S himself is Weblink: Gamecard
The first thing you will notice about normal residents have mutated into all great: he can fly (well, glide, with
Captain S—apart from the brilliant use sorts of monsters and attack Mariano / the use of some skilful cape Emulator: N/A
Captain S on sight.
Genre: Platformer
Mariano can get killed with just one
touch from the mutants, but no super
hero can be expected to do his job RATINGS
properly if he is vulnerable. Mariano
can punch and dodge the enemy, but
undoubtedly the best weapon is his Graphics: 89%
ability to transform into Captain S
after he has munched into a super Sound: 84%
sausage. These sausages are
conveniently, and not so conveniently, Gameplay: 85%
placed randomly around the city.
Captain S’s energy is shown by a
sausage, and each time he is hit, the
Overall: 82%
Thankfully, you can punch the sausage disappears a bit at a time; if No time for bus rides, Captain S, A good, tough, old-fashioned
mutants and aliens. Put yer mits it disappears altogether then he you’ve got a world to save platformer
up, pal. Oh, there’s a sausage transforms back to Mariano.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 41


DEATHCHASE
Recently seen on the Amstrad CPC and Windows,
Duffman gets back on his bike and hunts down
the truth about this Dragon 32 and Tandy CoCo you are close enough to fire off a from this port. How wrong could I
guided photon bolt. However, this be? As you would expect for a
conversion is not as easy as first indicated. 1983 game ported over to the

I
t seems the Spectrum classic CoCo 16K platforms. The intruders are fast and weave in Dragon 32, the graphics are
3D Deathchase is a favourite In the far future, the world has and out of the trees like true monochromatic and simplistic, but
game for converting to different changed greatly. Following a Great experts. It will take a nerve of that matters not one jot, because
platforms. Upon its initial release on War, North America is now ruled by steel and a good aim to take these the gameplay more than makes up
the Spectrum, the game received mighty warlords who fight over guys out at top speed. Each stage for any shortcomings in the
plaudits left, right, and centre, forest territory. It’s your job, as one has two intruder bikers, and after aesthetics department. Simply put,
mainly because as it was one of the of these warlord’s mercenaries, to removing them, it’s on to the next this is a superb conversion of the
earliest examples of first person track down and remove any stage. source product.
perspective games. There was, of identified intruders in his forests. While the game can be played
course, the game’s main plot, which Taking place over eight stages, you adequately with the keyboard
involved you speeding through will use your motorcycle to speed (cursor keys and space), it’s best DETAILS
enemy infested forests in a similar after bikers, gaining a $1000 reward to use the joystick option as this
fashion to the Star Wars film Return for destroying them. Tanks and provides a smoother, and more
of the Jedi, which was released helicopters will also appear in the precise, interface for speeding Developer: James McKay
around the same time. We had the horizon and can be destroyed for an through the levels. And this is
Amstrad CPC version last year, the Platform: Dragon 32, Tandy CC
extra bonus. where this game excels: pure fast,
recent PC remake, and now James Once you have tracked down an exhilarating gameplay. Weblink: Website
McKay—using Richard Wilson’s intruder, and have them in your Having played both the Amstrad Emulator: XRoar
Amstrad CPC code—has developed a sights, an indicator on your bike’s CPC and Windows remake in recent
version for the Dragon 32 and Tandy dashboard will flash, meaning that months, I wasn’t expecting much Genre: Shoot-’em-up

RATINGS

Graphics: 79%
Sound: 64%
Gameplay: 81%

Overall: 80%
A helicopter, and it’s just waiting Intruder in sight. Closing in, hold Hurrah! An intruder bites the dust A good old-fashioned
to be blown up for a juicy bonus the line, closing, hold it... crash! as his bike ends up as a fireball of shoot-’em-up
death

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 42


FROGGER
log), most noticeably when much of
the time my frog failed to “collect” the
bonus frog found on the logs when I
jumped onto it! Grr!
It’s a shame because what we
After an amazing 17 year delay, this project, have here isn’t bad programming
which originally started in 1992, has now been and certainly not bad presentation
but instead bad implementation. A
released. Matty tells if it’s been worth the wait bit of tweaking to make the game

F
rogger, with its foolhardy frog converted it to the Spectrum “for a feel closer to the rightly well-
protagonist, car-filled roads and laugh”. So was this a laugh that was regarded arcade original and this
log-filled rivers, is possibly one of worth it? might well have been the best
the best known of video games. The Initial impressions are very good Frogger clone for Sinclair’s 8-bit
original Konami arcade machine, with a colourful title screen, a jolly 128K machine. As it stands, it’s just a
Aaargh! Killed by an ambulance.
originally appearing in 1981, has been tune and our hero sitting at the bottom rather mediocre port. But then, as
Oh, the irony
converted (officially and unofficially) to of the screen with a big smile on his the programmer says, it was only
dozens of home computer and game froggy face to accompany it. On starting done for a laugh. It’s just a shame
console platfomers and continues to be the game, the presentation remains they would jump roughly their own that this particular laugh is more Two
so to this very day. The Spectrum good with clear (if rather colourless) in- length each time. This new version Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
received its first conversion in 1982 but game graphics and a nicely drawn doesn’t do that, the player moves than Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
this latest Spectrum version of the border accompanied by plenty of roughly half the frog’s length each
venerable amphibian simulator, again suitable 128K sound effects. time. This feels really off and takes a
simply taking the name Frogger, Unfortunately, it’s once you start to while to get used to. Another big DETAILS
reaches us in 2009. play the game that the problems set problem is the logs that flow along the
Despite only being published this in. If you’re a fan of the original river. In the original game, they tend
year, this game was apparently arcade game (raises arm) then you’ll to appear at “intervals” meaning that Developer: Deanysoft
originally coded in 1992. The know that it has a very specific feel if you leap onto a log at one side of
programmer, Dean Hickingbottom, and the player learns a strategy to get the screen and travel slowly to the Platform: ZX Spectrum
claims to have written it originally for those froggies to their little niches other you’re likely to encounter Weblink: Gamecard
the Amstrad CPC and to have only across the river. Whilst most of the another log going the other way and
home computer clones I’ve played can plan a positioning strategy to keep Emulator: ZXSpin
don’t get the gameplay quite right and moving forwards. In this game, that Genre: Arcade
frequently add their own features, doesn’t seem to happen, and I
most of the best ones retain the frequently hopped onto a log only to
general feel of the original game. This have no other logs appear regularly on RATINGS
version of Frogger doesn’t manage to the river current in front of me
do this and it’s here, in this rather meaning my frog was squished at the
crucial matter of recreating something side of the screen or I was forced to Graphics: 81%
that plays as well as the original go backwards. Again, veteran Frogger
game, where it falls down. players used to their regular logs (the Sound: 75%
Now looking at it, you might say bowel-obsessed can stop giggling at
“well, it’s got the road, the frogs, the the back!) will find this irritating. Gameplay: 51%
logs... what more does it need?”. The Some of the collision detection
problem is the way the gameplay has
been implemented. For a start in the
seemed to be a bit off too (seemingly
a result of the way the frog moves as I
Overall: 52%
Here we go, across the road and If you’re not a fan of the original
original Frogger when the player mentioned above which can leave half
then the river. Easy, eh? then this might provide some fun
moved the frogs up, down, left or right his body hanging over the side of a

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 43


NANAKO DESCENDS TO HELL
A bikini clad woman, fiendish puzzle adventures,
on both Amstrad CPC and Spectrum—what’s not
to like? Duffman finds out…

I
t’s always the way, isn’t it? You new Amstrad CPC and Spectrum
leave town for a short time and release from the Mojo Twins. Nanako
as soon as your back is turned, Descends to Hell is essentially a
some evil no-gooder starts classic style adventure game, where
destroying everything. This is the you control Nanako in her search for
case when Nanako returns home the four artefact parts, and return
from rescuing her younger sister. The home (in this case, the first screen).
evil Yhop-Uthas had wreaked havoc The action takes place in an
in her home village, killing people overhead view as you control Nanako There are some nice coloured Zombies on the prowl in the
and burning houses. Nanako decided around the hell scenario maze-like screens through the game. Amstrad version. (Amstrad CPC)
to seek the wisdom of the wise map. Finding the four artefact pieces (Amstrad CPC)
Oracle on what to do. He told Nanako isn’t a walk in the park though, as
that there is a powerful ancient the path to many areas are blocked combated by using Holy Water
artefact that will turn any invaders by gateways. This requires the use of against them, which are randomly DETAILS
into ash. However, the artefact is sheaths so you can cut your way scattered around the map. Nanako
separated into four different pieces trough. can only carry four items at the same
and scattered around the bowels of By far the greatest hazards in time, and the collection of an Developer: The Mojon Twins
hell. hell, though, are the various demons artefact piece takes up a space each, Platform: Amstrad CPC,
Following the release of Phantom and monsters that do their best to so pick up objects wisely.
ZX Spectrum
Tales # 1: Marsport comes another get in your way. If they touch you The presentation of the game,
then a life is lost. They can be especially the intro sequence, is Weblink: Gamecard
great, although the graphics are a
mixed bunch: great use of colour in Emulator: WinAPE / ZXSpin
certain areas of the map, while
slightly monochromatic elsewhere.
Nakano herself is well drawn and, RATINGS
more importantly, quite speedy
around the screens. An upbeat
soundtrack plays throughout, while Graphics: 81%
there is only the odd sound effect
scattered around the game.
Sound: 79%
At first glance, the game seems Gameplay: 83%
fairly ordinary, but as you start
getting into it and begin to search
the areas, it turns into a challenging Overall: 82%
Aaargh! Zombies on the Spectrum! One life left and one axe left. Just adventure that wouldn’t look amiss Another fine game to add to
Avoid them, unless you like dying. don’t go axe happy... (ZX amongst the great 8-bit classics. the Mojo Twins’ catalogue
(ZX Spectrum) Spectrum)

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 44


I NEED SPEED
I need speed. I need gameplay. I need staying
power. I need sleep. You will probably get two of
these with this racing game. Which ones? Read
on and Duffman will tell all

T
he MSX and Speccy share many from “junior” (slow) to “F1” (fast). You
hardware specifications, so it’s can play with keyboard or joystick,
no surprise to see many CEZ select racecourse, and even remove
games released on both formats. The computer-controlled cars from the
MSX version came second in the next race.
recent MSXDev competition, beating Like Atari’s classic arcade racer Here’s the Spectrum version, and
some fine efforts in the process. Supersprint, I Need Speed is viewed Some nice in-house development there’s really not a lot of difference
Coded by Metalbrain (of CEZ fame), from above. The main difference is advertising in the MSX version between it and the MSX one
the game is based on the FIA’s that I Need Speed scrolls in any
Formula 1 championship. As an F1 direction. The screen is split into two.
racer driver, it’s your goal to finish the The left hand side follows your car, and off-course handling are more than
race ahead of the other racers, natch. while the right hand side stays on the often required as you veer off course. DETAILS
There is a fairly comprehensive list leader. Although, the instructions do This isn’t always to do with poor
of options available on the main state that this can be changed. driving, though, as the controls are
screen... As a championship driver, When you do eventually finish a somewhat sluggish. You often find Developer: CEZ
you can take part in three different race, you can replay the whole thing yourself turning, but the car doesn’t Platform: MSX, ZX Spectrum
championships: easy (circuits 1-4), again (128k version only), which is a always turn, so you end up pressing
hard (circuits 5-8), and complete (all nice addition, considering the left (or right) again, sometimes Weblink: Gamecard
circuits). The categories also hardware used. Some tracks are more creating over steer. The game also Emulator: BlueMSX / ZXSpin
determine the speed of the game, difficult than others because of tighter seems to skip a frame here and there,
bends, underpasses, etc. There are made more evident when the music Genre: Sport
extras available as well, although, jumps at certain points.
these only become available once you However, the main screen
win a certain amount of races. viewpoint is probably the biggest let RATINGS
Graphically, this game won’t knock down as it is hard to see ahead in the
your socks off. It has been designed small area you are given. It also sits
with a basic colour scheme and, as a right next to the right hand side Graphics: 74%
result, looks a bit drab. However, the viewpoint and there is no division or
graphics are clean and detailed, and gap separating the two. A minor Sound: 71%
the scrolling is handled well enough. niggle perhaps, but just one more to
Sound is limited to the engine noise add to the list.
Gameplay: 64%
and the continuous drone of the music I Need Speed is a fun game, and
playing away, which can be turned off. could have been an excellent game—it Overall: 68%
There are a few irritating things certainly has all the ingredients—but it An excellent opportunity
It’s not advisable to drive around about the game, though. The game is is let down by some rushed design
on the grass, but sometimes you for an update
quite nippy, even in the “junior” mode, and gameplay.
can’t help it (MSX)
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 45
GIDDY 3: REASONABLY
SPECIAL EDITION
Aliens have invaded so it’s down to our egg-shaped
Scattered around the landscape are
hero to save the day. No, not Dizzy, but Giddy… numerous objects, and some of these
objects can be used to solve puzzles.
Duffman goes where no other egg has gone Your energy is shown on the top
In the beginning there was this cute 4 version. Essentially, Giddy 3—as its left area of the screen by stars. Each
little platform game from the budget prequels were—is essentially a light- time you get touched or hit, a star
kings of their day, and that game was hearted take on Dizzy and features disappears. Thankfully, there are
called Dizzy. Dizzy was the Oliver the same sideways scrolling flip- many food items around the game, This creature may look fearsome,
Twins’ egg-shaped character that screen puzzle adventuring gameplay. which you can top up your energy but is happy enough when you
bounces around with a stupid grin on The world is under attack by robot with. help it out
his face, getting himself into trouble stompers from outer space and as Graphically, the game is very cute
all the time and generally finding life Giddy is the hero around these parts, and is very comparable to console
rather too much to cope with. The it’s his mission to save the day. This Dizzy’s appearance. The game’s DETAILS
game was a huge success and involves exploring the landscape, soundtrack is also appropriately jolly
countless sequels followed. encountering “wibbly” characters, find and uplifting, with some fine spot
The Giddy games actually began items, and solve puzzles—all in a days effects throughout. While there are Developer: Peter Gordon,
back in the 1990s on the Amiga with work for a super hero like Giddy. If many puzzles, they are logical and not Phil Ruston
Giddy 1 and 2, with a third game you walk over a puzzle, a lightbulb will too frustrating. Fans of Dizzy, or
arriving some time later on DOS. Now, appear at the top of the screen, indeed, the first two Giddy games, will Platform: Windows, Wii, AmigaOS 4
we have a remake for Windows, as indicating that you have found an not be disappointed with what’s on Weblink: Website
well as a Nintendo Wii and a AmigaOS interactive section—usually a puzzle. offer here.
Emulator: N/A

RATINGS

Graphics: 85%
Sound: 82%
Gameplay: 87%

Overall: 83%
This sea monster looks worse than A giant leap for egg-kind as Giddy There’s quite a bit of exploring and A great little game in the
he is. He’s harmless and merely avoids a stray dog puzzle solving involved same mould as Dizzy
blocks your path

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 46


DANGER TOWER
Infiltrating secured buildings, disabling security
systems, evading robots, all for the purpose of
stealing? Tsk. As Duffman discovers, Grand Theft
screen. You have five lives at your
Auto has nothing on this game disposal, but a single hit from a robot
and you will lose one of them. The

O
K, here’s the deal. You’re a Rebounbot (flies all over the place), graphics are quite well done, with
robber who is after the largest and Huntbot (that homes in on you). well-defined sprites throughout. The
diamond in the world. This The good news is that you carry a main character is clearly identifiable
particular diamond happens to be holo-neutralizer device, but the bad as are each of the robots. The music,
located in the “danger tower”. news is that it takes 60 seconds for it which has been borrowed (as the
Fortunately, you happen to disable the to activate. In which time, you need coders have stated), is very
alarm system and have entered the to, as the sub-title on the main screen atmospheric and suits the game. ...but it seems all worthwhile when
tower through the basement. It’s now says, “run or die!” This basically There is the odd sound effect here and you get to the exit. Hurrah
your mission to travel through the 15 involves dodging the robots by moving there, but it’s mainly blips and bops.
floors and steel the diamond. around the floor, darting in and out of Developed by the Danger Team for
Unfortunately, the journey isn’t their way. Luckily, your character is the MSXdev 2008 competition—it DETAILS
going to be that easy as the holobots quite a nippy little runner. Once the 60 came fourth—Danger Tower is a
are still activated and roam the many seconds are up, the holo-neutralizer simple yet highly addictive game.
floors of the tower. There are four activates and takes out all the robots. Playing the game reminded me of Developer: Danger Team
different kinds of robots patrolling the The stairs to the exit then appear and what great classics are meant to be
levels in total. These range from it’s off to the next level. like. The simple, restrained, “less-is- Platform: MSX
Leibot (that move horizontally), The game is viewed from above more” mentality has proven to be Weblink: Direct download
Upodobot (that move vertically), with the tower’s floor filling the successful here.
Emulator: BlueMSX
Genre: Arcade

RATINGS

Graphics: 78%
Sound: 84%
Gameplay: 82%

Overall: 80%
You will spend a lot of your time in ...or hiding away from the robots ...because when they touch you, it A great little game, which
this game either running... deadly touch... hurts. It really hurts... should provide plenty of fun

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 47


SORT’EM
“Sort ‘em” is a phrase that Duffman hears all too
often in his life, so we thought he would feel right
at home playing this game

S
ort ‘em was originally a for CPC development, and CC65
mobile phone game, and it’s for C64 development. Learning the
not hard to see why. The basics of Assembler for the Z80,
game’s simple, but addictive the company has managed to
gameplay, is right at home on the finish the Amstrad CPC port, but
minimalist controls of the the C64 version will be delayed.
platform. LuBlu Entertainment is a Better flip that chute the other The boss has flipped his lid and it’s
The game involves sorting
way, it’s facing the wrong tube game over
relatively new development coloured balls into their correct
company that specializes in the tube. Red and blue balls drop from
mobile phone game section. Their the top of the screen and it’s your
first game produced was Sort ‘em, job to position the V shaped chute dropping increases, as does their
which has been very successful. mechanism so that when a ball speed. Direct a ball into the wrong DETAILS
Following their success with the drops it will be diverted to the chute, however, and the boss-o-
mobile phone version, LuBlu correct tube. meter (indicated by a growing
decided to port the game over to This all seems pretty easy to green, amber, red bar) will Developer: LuBlu Entertainment
the Amstrad CPC and Commodore begin with, but as the game increase a notch. If the Boss-o- Platform: Amstrad CPC
64, using Z88DK with CPCRSLIB progresses the number of balls meter reaches the top, then it’s
Weblink: Direct download
game over.
This dry mechanical stuff Emulator: WinAPE
doesn’t sum up the full frantic fun Genre: Puzzle
of Sort ‘em. It’s pure panic,
poured onto a CPC game. Sort ‘em
is simple in concept and looks RATINGS
good, drawn in big bold colours.
It’s you against the computer and
you don’t really stand a chance, Graphics: 79%
but you’ve still got to give it one Sound: 64%
more go.
The game starts off pretty easy, That blue ball is heading for the
but soon turns into a frantic scurry red tube. That’s not good
Gameplay: 80%
of right/left flips of the chute
Overall: 78%
A fine quick-reflex puzzle
game

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 48


BANGER MANAGEMENT
A game created in a day? Sausages? Sound like a Complete an order and it’s game was produced in a day, the
straight onto the next one. Points are graphics are great with some well
right turkey, right? Wrong. As Duffman finds out, gained by completing each order. defined sprites and level design.
this game is a riot, in more ways than one This carries on until you’ve There are so many food items
completed all the orders. However, if wandering on the screen, the game

W
hat a mad little puzzle you take too long getting the order can get very hectic and quite
game this is. It’s together, the customer will start frustrating. The sound is well catered
essentially a puzzle getting impatient, indicated by a for, as well, with a jolly soundtrack
platform game involving food and flashing icon at their window. Miss an playing throughout.
drink. Banger Management was order, or get it wrong, and the Basically, there’s enough of a
developed by Jonathan Cauldwell customer complains to the manager. challenge to keep you plugging away
for the Homebrew “Game in a Day” If you get three complaints then for a while, especially as there’s a
Challenge at the recent Byte Back you’re on a verbal warning, three level editor to play about with.
convention. Using two ideas more and it’s a written warning, and
pitched for the challenge, Rabid a further three and it’s goodbye.
Potato Kill Frenzy (the player Although there is the option to
play with either keyboard or joystick,
worked in a chip shop facing waves
of mutated potatoes, fish, burgers,
the game isn’t really suited to the DETAILS
Orders are coming in thick and fast joystick/keyboard because of the
and sausages) and Bonehead Billy and there’s a mix up on the cards precise speed required. Just like
(the player controls a character by here... Developer: Jonathan Cauldwell
Lemmings, the game is ideally suited
placing blocks around the screen), to a mouse.
Cauldwell mashed the two ideas Platform: ZX Spectrum
Orders will start to appear at the Having said that, this must rank
together to get Banger customer windows at the left hand as one the best Spectrum releases Weblink: Gamecard
Management. side of the screen. Each order will for a while. Considering that the Emulator: ZXSpin
be sausages, drink, or both, and it’s
your job to makes sure that the food Genre: Puzzle
gets to them safely.
The ingredients fall one by one
from a trap door at the top of the RATINGS
screen, where they traverse across
various platforms and obstacles—
Lemmings style—and you have to Graphics: 76%
guide them towards the relevant
windows by blocking, re-directing, or Sound: 69%
making them jump. This is achieved
by adding arrow blocks onto the
Gameplay: 88%
various platforms. These arrows can
point left (makes the food go left), Overall: 85%
The up arrows make the food jump right (makes the food go right), and And, well, that says it all, really, Great, especially considering
in the direction that they’re up (makes the food jump in the doesn’t it?
that this was created in a day
walking in direction they are walking).

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 49


DEEP DUNGEON
This may look like a clone of the arcade game
Gauntlet, but it is in fact a neat little strategy
game. Duffman enters deep into the dungeon to
find out more

A
n amulet that has been stolen turn-based strategy exploration of bats, goblins, dragons, and
from your family remains game. The goal is to find the ghosts. There are items that can be
guarded in a deep dungeon by aforementioned amulet at the found throughout the dungeon.
an evil wizard and his dreadful bottom of the dungeon. To reach it These include coins, as well as
creatures. The amulet bears the you need to find the stairways on boosts to health, attack, and
royal crest proving your hereditary each floor. However, many monsters defence.
right to the country’s throne. You and ghouls await within the The presentation is excellent and The later levels tend to have more
take it upon yourself to go into the dungeons many levels. a lot of work has gone into the hidden nasties around
deep dungeon and retrieve it. Game difficulty comes in easy, game—there is even a PDF manual
Deep Dungeon is the first game normal, or hard levels. You can use available. The intro sets up the story
from Trilobyte (code: Arturo the keyboard or joystick to move well and the colourful graphics add to
Ragozini; sound: John Hassink; around the dungeon. Monsters will this. Sound is also well represented DETAILS
graphics: Richard Cornelisse) and close in on you from the dark corners by a great tune. Although the game
won the recent MSXdev competition. of the dungeon, but you can attack is turn-based, the flow of the game
The game comes in a ROM cartridge back by walking directly into them, is quickly handled due to the nature Developer: Trilobyte
format, which means that, as well as or simply run away. of the gameplay. Once you move, the Platform: MSX
working in an emulator, the game The playing area, which is viewed computer-controlled monsters also
can be loaded into a real MSX from above, is split into two areas: move straight away, making the Weblink: Download
computer using a Flash cartridge, the dungeon on the left and the game a quick and smooth Emulator: BlueMSX
ROM loader, or ROM converter. status panel down the right hand experience.
Deep Dungeon is a single player side. The status panel shows your Genre: Strategy
coins, health, attack power, defence
power, and current floor.
The dungeon is revealed one area RATINGS
at a time as you explore it. Any
monsters that may lurk in the next
room will become visible only when Graphics: 68%
you go through the door. This Sound: 70%
element of exploration and the
unexpected adds a lot to the Gameplay: 89%
enjoyment of the game. You might
go straight past a critical room
without knowing it, or run headlong
Overall: 87%
into a horde of monsters. A great strategy game suited
The clever design only lets you see The wizard’s evil monsters consist Sometimes it’s best just to scarper to beginners and veterans
areas that you’ve explored rather than fight

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 50


HORACE GOES SKIING
Duffman has been moaning that he wants to go
somewhere nice and relax. Well, what better way
to do that than to avoid speeding cars, ski down a
steep slope, and avoid nasty trees?

B
ack in the midst of retrogaming ski-slopes he must first traverse the but it’s that simplicity that is so
(well, it wasn’t called busy road and avoid the cars, trucks, charming in games like Horace Goes
retrogaming in those days, and bikes. Get hit by a vehicle and it’s Skiing. With its simplicity, you are left to
mind) there was a hugely popular little hospital time, which will cost you enjoy the game for what it is: an
gaming icon called Horace. He starred £10.00. Don’t do this too often as you addictive little title in the same mould
in a game called Hungry Horace need £10.00 to purchase the skis once as the classic Frogger.
(which was a kind of Pacman clone), you reach the ski shop on the other While there hasn’t been a massive
where he would go around picking up side of the road. change to the game – the graphics and
food from around a park while If that wasn’t bad enough, you now sound have been given a slight update -
avoiding guards. The game was have return back across the busy road the remake still has that classic
quickly followed by Horace Goes with your newly purchased skis. Once addictiveness that you can only get with
Skiing, which was a spin-off rather you’re safely across, you can finally get such retro games. DETAILS
than a true sequel. Horace Goes some skiing done. This involves This is still the same old classic
Skiing has now received a remake slaloming down a vertically scrolling ski game—the only major difference is that
courtesy of Steven Watson, with help slope where you guide Horace between instead of staring at the loading screen Developer: Steve Watson,
on the graphics by sunteam_paul. flags, avoid trees, rocks, and cross the for around ten minutes, and listening to Sunteam_Paul
As the title suggests, you must finish line. And that’s about it, basically. the high pitched sound of the tape
take Horace down the ski slopes. Looking back, it’s amazing how playing, you get to play the game Platform: Windows
However, before Horace can get to the amazingly simple some games were, straight away. Weblink: Download
Emulator: N/A

RATINGS

Graphics: 73%
Sound: 65%
Gameplay: 82%

Overall: 78%
Tch. What stupid builder put this If you manage to make it to the Just don’t ski into any rocks or A classic game, updated, but
ski hut on the other side of a busy slopes, then this is where the fun trees... not tampered
road? starts

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 51


ETERNAL LIGHT
Wizards, orbs, lanterns? Just another Saturday
night for Duffman down at the local takeaway
restaurant. Fortunately, he survived that ordeal to
tell us about Eternal Light

Finally, the blob gets it after firing It takes a patient player to get
off twelve fireballs through these screens as the
wizard is quite slow

maze-like map that you have to


explore looking for the precious
Kerpow! A powerful fireball is There’s a lot of mazes to negotiate lanterns. Some of them are reached DETAILS
unleashed onto the evil blob... and and a lot of dead ends—oh, there’s easily, while others involve a bit of
misses a lantern puzzle solving. It’s not quite as easy
as that, though, for there are also Developer: MorriSoft

E
ternal Light is (in the authors is the pace of the game due to its random baddies to contend with
own words) an Amstrad CPC BASIC programming roots. Platform: Amstrad CPC
(who take the form of roving black
adventure/action game with a Admittedly, Morri acknowledged balls) that move erratically around Weblink: Download
mix of Gauntlet and Zelda style these failings when he announced the screen.
graphics. The programmer, Morri, the game’s release, but that still Emulator: WinAPE
Fortunately, your wizard is quite
started the project six months ago doesn’t excuse the fact that the proficient in projecting orbs of fire Genre: Adventure
using Basic with the help of the game moves painfully slow. And at enemies, killing them on contact.
Sprites Alive software package. once the wizard does finally make it However, should the enemy get
The game’s plot involves the to the end of the screen, the view within reach and touch you then you RATINGS
main wizard character who must flips (albeit, very slowly) into the will lose one of your initial three
collect ten lanterns (receptacles of next screen. Yes, it’s a flip-screen hearts. Lose all three and it’s game
the “eternal light”), while fending off adventure type thing. over.
Graphics: 86%
the evil shadow type baddies using The first thing that hits you is The game’s intro screen is,
orbs of fire. how very yellow the game looks. Sound: 62%
indeed, very promising, which is
Now if you’re thinking of a The backdrop is yellow, the screen why perhaps the main game is a Gameplay: 64%
Gauntlet or Zelda clone hybrid type is yellow, and everything non- disappointment. The graphics are
thing here then stop that right now. essential is yellow. This does make
While it may resemble said games picking out the characters more
well done, but the problem lies with Overall: 67%
the gameplay: it just moves far too
(kind of) it certainly does not play easily though. A good looking game
slow and exploring the maze itself
like them. Part of the reason for this The screens are part of a larger can get quite repetitive. hampered by poor gameplay

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 52


SUPAPLEX
diamonds. accompany gameplay and the first of
Now, as I said in the introduction, these (the one selected by the game as
Supaplex is basically a clone of default) is one of the best tunes I’ve
Boulderdash, but what’s probably more heard in a Spectrum game and
noticeable is the learning curve. The manages to both evoke the video game
A conversion of a clone that appeared on the 16- first level, whilst a little tricky for an music of the early ’90s perfectly and
introduction, is quite reasonable but suit the game down to a tee. I was
bit platforms in the 1990s. Understand? Matty then (after an inexplicable and dull astounded, having played the Amiga
maze level) things get hard very version of Supaplex, that it doesn’t
explains everything… quickly. From level three onwards a seem to appear in the original!

B
ack in the early ’90s two Swiss year, 18 years after the original was great deal of thought tends to be So, in summary, despite a poorly
programmers called Michael published. needed before tackling the levels and thought out difficulty curve, this is a
Stopp and Philip Jespersen Now, this game actually comes in their puzzles and it took me a while terrific conversion of an above-
decided to write a version of the classic two distinct “flavours”, one is a disk before I managed to get all the average game and one that seems to
8-bit game Boulderdash that could be version designed to be played on the infotrons and reach level four. Once you suit the Speccy rather better than it
played on the new 16-bit machines Scorpion (a Russian Spectrum clone) get over the understandable annoyance does its original 16-bit home. If you
(which lacked a conversion of the and the other is a tape version which at being thrown in at the deep-end so don’t care for Boulderdash clones or if
falling-rocks-and-diamonds classic). plays on any 128K Spectrum. The disk early on there’s a good, addictive game you become frustrated easily this
Taking the basic gameplay of version saves the player’s progress as to discover but it’s nonetheless one that might not be for you, otherwise I
Boulderdash they substituted the mines they play whilst the tape version could have eased players in a lot more recommend it heartily.
and diamonds for the inside of a supposedly saves it out to tape to be gently.
computer and “infotrons” and Rockford, loaded in later. To be honest, I’ve not Presentation-wise, this game is
the hero of the 8-bit game, for a been able to get the latter system to pretty faultless. The excellent, colourful
graphics look far more at home on a
DETAILS
pacman-like character called Murphy; work and, if emulating, I suggest using
they also created over 100 levels and the disk version on an emulated Spectrum than they do on a 16-bit
fitted the whole game onto a floppy Scorpion. Phew, that’s that out of the machine and the programmers have Developer: Triumph Game Labs
disk. The game, released in 1991 for way. managed an adequate (if slightly
the Atari ST, Amiga and DOS was called So what about the game itself? Well, garish) recreation of the original’s point- Platform: ZX Spectrum
Supaplex. It has also spawned remakes Supaplex is basically a Boulderdash n-click title screen with its wealth of
Weblink: Gamecard
including this one for the ZX Spectrum clone, so whether you will like this game options and information. The music is
128K which saw the light of day this rather stands and falls (no pun also superb; two tunes are available to Emulator: ZXSpin
intended) on whether you like that Genre: Puzzle
game. For the uninitiated, Boulderdash
is a game where the player’s character
must complete levels by collecting RATINGS
diamonds and escaping through an exit.
What makes this tricky are the various
rocks left lying around the level.
Graphics: 87%
Rockford, the hero of Boulderdash, digs
through earth as he explores the level Sound: 90%
and removing the dirt can cause
boulders to fall. Generally, the levels are Gameplay: 82%
completed by reaching the diamonds
and either not allowing the rocks to fall,
avoiding them, or letting them fall
Overall: 84%
It may look easy, but watch out for strategically to either open new routes The annoyingly steep learning Well worth a shot for
the rocks—they really hurt or kill the marauding nasties which can curve hides a fiendish, addictive Boulderdash fans
also stop Rockford getting to his lovely game

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 53


SEUD:
SHOOT-EM-UP
DESIGNER
Our very own Gnome tries his hand at developing
games, thanks this ingenious software, and
reports back with some encouraging details…

F
rom The Quill, to GAC, to PAW, Shmups that can scroll vertically or
to The 3D Construction Kit, to horizontally, be incredibly varied, or
Sensible Software’s Shoot-’Em- even feature bosses that take up a
Up Construction Kit and even STOS, third of the screen. Shmups you could
accessible, cheap, powerful and actually sell; possibly even with the
professional quality game creation help of SEUD’s publishers themselves.
utilities were pretty common during But, how is this sorcery possible
the golden era of the home computer. (eh, how?), I pretend to hear you ask.
Happily, some things never die as Well, I haven’t got the faintest idea
Jonathan Cauldwell has taken it upon really. All I know is that SEUD
himself to keep the tradition going and manages to deliver on its promises
actually give even more power to the and that the coding behind it must be
average 8-bit retro loving gamer with of the highest quality. Also that it
game design aspirations. He first probably is one of the best things to
released the jaw dropping Platform ever hit the Spectrum, and that had it
Game Designer in 2004, then the appeared 20 years earlier it would
freeware and ever evolving Arcade have sold in the hundreds of
Game Designer, and finally the aptly thousands.
named SEUD. Importantly, SEUD even lives up to
SEUD, which stands for Shoot-Em- its claims on user friendliness and
Up-Designer, in particular is almost ease of use. A mere thirty minutes
obviously a tool that lets people with after loading it up, and with only a
no programming skills whatsoever brief look at the documentation, I
produce some rather impressive managed to come up with something
shmups for the ZX Spectrum. Scrolling actually resembling a shmup. Granted,
shmups (or shooters, or shoot-‘em- it was nothing I’d ever want to share
ups, or anything else that manages to with anyone and most of the graphics
get the point across) that look as if a looked like, err, generic box shaped
professional programmer had crafted thingies, but it was there and it played
them in pure Z80 machine code. decently. And no, I’m nothing close to

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 54


REVIEW SUED
what you’d call a programmer. Never where you get to visually set a series
even really tried to be one either. It’s of coordinates for sprites to follow,
just that SEUD’s self explanatory and finally the Map Editor which lets
menu driven system makes game you combine everything into a
creation a breeze. If only the manual playable whole. Oh, and did I mention
(of sorts) was a bit richer or if some that all the choices from number of
PDF supplements with more examples, lives, to available bonuses, scoring or
FAQs and illustrations were available… whether the game will be a horizontal
Then again, a developers bible would or vertical scroller are only a menu
be too much to ask of such an option away? Well, I just did
incredibly well priced offering, apparently.
wouldn’t it? The main process of creating a
Now and to give you a vague idea game—at its simplest of course—
of how the thing works, let me very involves nothing more than selecting Attack patterns made easy via A lovely, if short, SEUD game
briefly run through the main parts of some basic options, drawing a few point and click (using a rubbery created by a certain Retro Gamer
SEUD; all of them are accessible via sprites and tiles, dropping said tiles keyboard) reviewer
its main menu mind, and jumping into the map editor, organizing a
from one to another is a breeze. In couple attack waves, placing them limited and extremely simple but
the utility’s core one can find the into the map editor too, testing versatile scripting language that lets
simple but effective sprites and tiles everything, and finally saving the you play around with almost all the
editors that are used for creating the game. To create something really games variables and create all sorts of
games key components. Don’t expect impressive though, you will admittedly shmup events. Then again, and to add
anything like Photoshop or even need to also come to grips with SEUDs more polish, you could even come up
DETAILS
Melbourne Draw for that matter, but Status Panel bit which lets you move with a loading screen or play around
basic options like flipping, copying and everything –e.g. lives or score with the freeware Intro Maker Developer: Jonathan Cauldwell
pasting have been included, whereas counter- around the screen, and most (available by Jonathan Cauldwell’s site
sprites can also be animated. Then importantly the truly powerful Events —should you scroll down a bit—here: Publisher: Cronosoft
there’s the Boss Editor where four Editor. The feature that by itself sets members.fortunecity.com/jonathan6/ Platform: ZX Spectrum
sprites can be combined to create a SEUD apart from anything else egghead/id7.html) or even code and
special end of level baddie, the rather available on 8-bit machines by add in your very own bits. Weblink: Web page
obvious and quite versatile Sound providing you with all the flexibility As for the limitations of SEUD, the Genre: Utility
Editor, the Attack Patterns section and options you could ask for. It is a only thing I really missed was the lack
of shooting enemies and consequently Price: £4.99
the option to create a bullet hell—well,
as hellish as the Speccy can allow—
shmup. Then again the chance to RATINGS
create scrolling machine code based
games in a memory efficient (even in
48k) environment should be more Graphics: N/A
than enough for anyone. What’s more,
SEUD is versatile enough to spare us, Sound: N/A
should it actually achieve the success
it deserves, tons of samey shooters. Gameplay: N/A
Oh, and wouldn’t it be fantastic to
have SEUD run natively on a PC? Or
even have Mr. Cauldwell combine all
Overall: 92%
The main menu. Quite self It’s supposed to be a missile you An almost perfect creative tool for
his game crafting tools in a luxuriant
explanatory know. No, really, it is the budding Speccy developer
PC edition with all the bells and
whistles such an offering would imply?

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 55


RETRO MAGAZINES
We
Welove
loveretro
retromagazines
magazines
as
asmuch
muchas asthe
thegames
games
themselves,
themselves,whether
whetherit’sit’sto
to
re-live
re-liveretrogaming
retrogaming
nostalgia
nostalgiaor ordiscover
discoveroldold
publications
publicationsthat
thatyou
youdidn’t
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read
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firsttime
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Join
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uncovers
uncoverssomesomeof ofthe
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magazinesof ofye
ye
olde...
olde...

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 56


FEATURE RETRO MAGAZINES

A
s player manager the player indoor arena with two teams of six There’s also

I
t’s not only classic games that
magazine scanning for several
takes control of struggling players: one goalkeeper, two the ability to
are fondly remembered by years now.
defenders, two midfielders, and
Brutal Deluxe: the worst team electrify the
retrogamers, but the magazines First up is where it all began
three attackers, who are all body
in Speedball history. It’s the player’s ball and you
as well. During the 1980s, the UK had
for me: Amstrad Action. Going
job to transform the team, gain armoured and ready to battle over can laugh
some great influential titles: back a few years now, there was a
promotion and win the first divisionthe small steel ball. The sport lacks yourself silly
Computer and Video Games, Personal great little website called CPC
league
Computer title.
Games, Mean Machines,any rules (which
Oxygen so any physical
has recentlycontact is as the ball
The game’s
Amiga Power, Edge, main Zzap!64, allowed
options are and
the is necessary
resurfaced), that had hosted
Crash, to flies through
league, which consists of
and Amstrad Action. The US also had succeed.
two
scans of Amstrad Action done by an
divisions
some popular with eight
titles teams Players
such asinElectronic
each,
various can move,
dedicated slide, and
scanners. One opponent’s
the cup competition,
Gaming Monthly, GamePro, Nextwhich tackle
is for
played the ball, depending
of those scanners was Mipeha, on the goalkeeper -
over two legs,
Generation, andand a knockout
Nintendo circumstances,
who was good and
Power. In enoughwhentoinsend electrifying
tournament. There is around
fact, many countries possession
me a DVD of
even a the withthetheball,AA the player
scans. them in the
management option, can
although throw
the it. As well
Wow, this was great, not only
world had their own popular selection as scoring process - and
game is best played
of video games magazines. with goals,
could Iplayers
you in catch can
direct up on gainthe points
first byfew straight into Quality magazine scans
control.
The amount of times I see peoplehitting
issues that I missed, buton
the ball onto stars thethe the open like MAXIMUM and
You can
moaning play magazines
about the matches side
laterwalls,
not ones reflect
asbeing
well, as well. theWhile
ball offCPC goal. The Electronic Gaming Monthly
which
as good is as
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real used
meatto bounce
Oxygendomes,
of be,
theandgame.that
has, again, and points are even
a collection electrified ball can be found at
They
there consist
are only of about
two 90-second given
of thefor
three magazines AAinjuring
scans, opponent
the CPC Wiki players. can even go Retromags.com
periods,
worth buyingand thethesegameplay The
alsoscore
is moan
days. Well multiplier
has every issue, alsoplusmeans
scans that
of through another one or two
futuristic,
no more, because we can reliveheavy
fast and frantic, your
with score can be increased
Amstrad Computer User, Amtix, and by 50% or opponents,
consist of adepending
single ZIP/RAR on the score
file, GamePro, Gamers’ Republic, Mega
tackling encouraged
those magazine golden 100%.
in retrieving
days again
CPC Attack.the multiplayer
which can be setting
unzippedat the time. a
to reveal Play, Next Generation, Nintendo
ball.
thanksPower-ups and tokens
to the tireless efforts The
appear playing area itself
on
Retromags.com
of is a is randomly
website The gym
CBR/CBZ fileisthat
where canyou can use all
be viewed Power, Official Dreamcast Magazine,
the pitch,
people including
around ones to
the globe, littered
devotedwith
make
who have money - retro
to scanning whichgamescan be that
usinghard-earned
a comic book money
reader toprogram
improve Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, PC
your players
all been at theextra-tough
forefront of used
or retro for training
freeze the
magazines, where and thebuying players -
contributors your slack jawed
like CDisplay. Notyokel of athere
only are team. Games, PSM, Sega Visions, and
opponents. and only
not tokens,scan which
the Areas that can
magazines be improved
available to download, are but more. UK magazines consist of
The futuristic sports have a limited
magazines, buttime
edit attack, power,
also flyers, speed, defence,
promotional booklets, Computer Gamer, Computer & Video
game (part handball, of use:
and freezethem
enhance stamina,
videogame aggression,
related comics,and player Games, Dreamcast Magazine,
part ice hockey) is opponent
to look just team,
like they guides, and strategy
intelligence. It’s also books.
a good idea to MAXIMUM, Mean Machines, MEGA,
played out over two 90 shield,oftransport
came the ball, haveThea download
good centre page is in as he is
forward Official Dreamcast Magazine, Official
second halves in an boost
productionstats, line.
etc. I’ve convenient
always sub-sections
involved in the face with offquick
and Sega Saturn Magazine, Super Play,
seen some of the shortcutsThe
scuffles. to the individual
transfer market is a and more. While the rest of the world
work done on the magazines.
good way toBecause
gain a gooda lot player
of the category consists of NEO•GEO Freak
likes of Maximum, Retromags.com
quickly and all kindscontributors
of players, are of
from (Japan), Nintendo-Magasinet
PSM, and Official the US, the
different majority
abilities, of thefor sale
appear (Sweden), Nintendo Power
Sega Saturn publicationsthe
throughout are,game.
naturally, US (Australia), Nintendo Power Flash
Magazine and I am magazines,
Gameplaybut is there are some
fast, furious andfrom
fun: (Canada), Sega Force (Sweden), and
very impressed. The the UK and the rest of the
the three Fs. Graphics are typically world as Super Power (Sweden).
great thing about well. USmetallic
Bitmap magazines and available
suit the game to World of Spectrum has loads of
Retromags is that, download
style include
perfectly. AtariisAge,
Sound also great Sinclair and Spectrum scans, natch.
rather than simply Electronic
with bone Gaming
crunching Monthly, EGM2,
sound effects You can find the three main Speccy
hosting single page and thumping background music.
scans, you can The
One minor niggle great
is that thing
there isn’t about
a Retromags.com is that,
download them in career
one handy archive
rathermode,
thanbutsimply
then there wasn’t single page scans,
hosting
Amstrad Action and MEGA are both fondly for many games at the time.
remembered magazines of this author file. These downloads yougames
One of the best can download
on the 16- them in one handy archive
bit computers, without a doubt, and
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 as the manual states: the game is 57
FEATURE RETRO MAGAZINES
popular UK games magazines happy to provide a DVD—just email
for the Commodore 64 and at him. The issues are also mirrored at
the Def Tribute to Zzap!64, http://pdf.textfiles.com/zines/CGW.
you can browse through some Your Sinclair, or YS, ran as Your
of the issues, covers, articles, Spectrum for a couple of years
game reviews, interviews, and before being re-launched as Your
more. There’s also a forum Sinclair. The magazine ran for 93
where you can chat about all issues, ending in 1993, outlasting all
things Zzap! the other Spectrum magazines that
Commodore Format was were sold at the time. The Your
launched pretty late in the Sinclair Rock’n’Roll Years provides
C64’s lifetime (October 1990) visitors with the chance to relive the
and took on the might of nostalgia that came with the
reigning C64 magazine king magazine. With a complete index of
Amiga Power and CU Amiga, Zzap!64 and won. Having a all 93 issues, the website provides
two of the most popular Amiga group of ex-Zzap! writers may html segments from the magazine:
magazines, can be found at have contributed to that fact, reviews, previews, charts, features,
Amiga Magazine Rack though. At the Commodore and a downloadable ROM of the
Format Library, you can view a covertape.
publications Crash, Sinclair User, and facts on the magazines, making the select amount of issue scans. There CRASH magazine: The Online
Your Sinclair, as well as several other Amiga Magazine Rack a must for are also interviews, issue indexes, Edition is a tribute site to the
Sinclair titles. You can also find Amiga fans. and covertape ROMS available. legendary Spectrum magazine
multi-format magazines here: Old Computer Mags, like Computer Gaming World CRASH. Published by Newsfield, the
Computer and Video Games (the first Retromags.com, is a project to stopped publishing in November magazine ran from 1984 to 1991
127 issues scanned), BigK, Personal preserve those old computer and 2006, but an archivist named (and from 1991 to 1992 by
Computer Games, The Games video games magazines which we Stephane Racle
Machines, and much more. Just go treasure so much. On the ever gathered many of
easy with the downloads as you’re expanding site are issues of ACE, the issues into PDF
being watched, big brother style – Amiga Format, Amiga Power, format with
check the website’s rules on Amstrad Action, Commodore Format, indexed text. The
download limits, etc. CPC Attack, TGM, Your Sinclair, Computer
Amiga Magazine Rack is the Zzap!64, Amiga World, Atari Age, Gaming World
ultimate resource for Amiga related Commodore Force, Power Play, and Museum provides
magazines. A great website with Run. There’s also an impressive visitors with the
links to scanned pages of just about amount of Italian publications first 100 issues.
every magazine that features the including C&VG, K, PSM, Amiga Byte, The host does
Amiga. Here you can find the likes of Amiga Magazine, Consolemania, mention on the
Amiga Power, CU Amiga, The One, Gamepower, TGM, Zeta, and Zzap. site that he would
Zero, Amiga Format, Amiga Action, The magazines are available to view like all visitors to
and more. The website itself is also using an on-line browsing system. “be reasonable
an interesting read full with stats and Zzap!64 was arguably the most with [their]
magazine
The website itself is also an interesting read full with stats downloads”
because of record
and facts on the magazines, making the bandwidth levels
Zzap!64 and CRASH can be found at the Def Tribute to
Amiga Magazine Rack a must for Amiga fans and he would be
Zzap!64 and CRASH Online respectively

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 58


FEATURE RETRO MAGAZINES
Europress). The site provides an During Atari’s time under Warner the 1982-1983
archive of material on the 98 Communications, several era, have been
issues, as well as the CRASH publications were produced. These saved on the
Software Catalogue, and some new included video games magazines, site in PDF
material on an issue 99. Each issue computer magazines, arcade format. Click the
is indexed with the regulars, news, magazine, and newsletters. The icons to
reviews, and more. Atari Museum hosts all these download the
Acorn Electron World is, as retro publications: Atari Age, I/O, issues.
you might guess, a website devoted Atari Club, Coin Collection, and The Noticing the
to everything Electron. This Atari Connection. Just click on the increasing
includes games, emulators, articles, Media Section tab and you’re away… nostalgia of old
and most importantly—for this The Classic Computer computers, a
feature, at least—magazine scans. Magazine Archive is a project that group of users
Here you will find scans on the likes provides information from old from France got
of Acorn User, Computer Gamer, computer magazines to be made together to create CRASH articles and reviews
Computer & Video Game, Electron available on the web. Headed by a digital library can be found at CRASH
User, Games Computing, and more. Kevin Savetz, the site hosts scans devoted to old Magazine: The Online Edition
and info on the likes of Antic, magazines and
STart, Creative Computing, Hi-Res, Abandonware
Compute!, and more. Magazines was born. In a similar Mort’s scans are available on DVDs
The Mean Machines Archive is way to Retromags.com, you will find for a small price. There’s the
the website dedicated to that info on French retro magazines as Zzap!64 and CRASH DVDs, as well
innovative multi-format console well as archive downloads. There are as Amtix!, C&VG, ACE, The Games
magazine of the early 1990s. The just too many magazines to mention, Machines, Commodore User, Sinclair
site contains some great content so here’s just a selection of the User, Your Commodore, Sega Force,
from the magazine itself (indexes many, many, magazines available: PC Mean Machines, Mean Machines
with reviews available in PDF Action, Joystick, Tilt, ST Magazine, Sega, Nintendo Magazine System,
format), and some interesting Atari magazine, ST Echos, Amiga Raze, Amiga Force, N Force, Big K,
interviews with the staff. There’s Dream, Amiga Magazine, Amstrad Personal Computer Games, The
also stuff on the magazine’s EMAP Cent Pour Cent, Amstar, MEGA Force, One, Zero, Atari User, Dragon User,
stable-mates like C&VG and and MSX Magazine. There are even a and more...
MegaTech. couple of retro magazine publications With the hard work of scanners
JoyStik was a 1980s multi-format in there: Retro Game and Retro Play. and archivists, the classic
magazine. A handful of issues from If downloading/viewing one page magazines of yesteryear are being
at a time is too much immortalised online. There are
of a hassle, and the quite literally hundreds of retro
magazine you want is magazines archived all over the web
not at and there is bound to be something
Retromags.com, then of interest to any retrogamer who
go to the Zzap! grew up reading them. The legacy
Zzuperstore where of retromags will live on.
Mean Machines
articles and reviews If viewing one page at a time is too much of a
can be found at the
Mean Machines hassle, then go to the Zzap! Zzuperstore where
Archive Mort’s scans are available on DVDs
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 59
SCANNERMAN
Having produced the Retro mags feature, we felt
it was appropriate to speak to Mort (retro mag
scanning guru), who took some time out of his
busy schedule to discuss his projects…
Retroaction: Can you please industrial scanner at a local boot fair
introduce yourself and tell us a little and set to work in doing the job
more about what you do? myself. I then contacted Iain (on
Mort: Hi, I am Mort, a.k.a. Stephen www.zzap64.co.uk) asking if he would
Stuttard, I collate and scan vintage like to host them and, as they say, the
magazines for various websites. rest is history. magazine run of scans with all the Sinclair, and Super Play were removed
The CD/DVDs were an idea of bonus material? from the Zzuperstore at the request of
R: What made you decide to start Iain’s, as we were being hammered on M: It very much depends on the size Future Publishing. It must have been
scanning magazines? When did it all bandwidth by the popularity of the of the mag and how hard they are to disappointing to have all that work
start? online scans. This gave people a way track down. Some take as little as four pulled down from the site?
M: It all started about 1999 when I to help and was an easy way to obtain months work if I have the bulk of M: I can understand the reasoning
first went onto the web and found very a complete set and donate. them to work with, but some can take behind it as the titles are their IPs, but
little if any of the old magazines were two years plus (CU Amiga is nearing it would have been nice for them to
available (mainly front covers) as I R: Your scan DVDs are available on completion and that has been a bit of have used the information on their
needed to check an article out in an the Zzap!64 Zzuperstore. They’re not a large task to collate and scan). websites, maybe as an online
old Zzap mag! I found a reasonable just scans on a DVD, though, they are Bonus material can be even harder to browsable archive. It was a shame as
packaged in a DVD case, with tonnes find, so a lot of very kind contacts on the cover on especially the Superplay
of bonus material (cover mounted the various sites have lent me parts of DVD was one of my best efforts (Will
tape ROMs, disks, booklets, their collection, which can save Overton, the original main cover artist,
pamphlets, media files). How long months of searching eBay! Converting complemented me on it). The mags
does it take to compile a complete the videos is another main task which can be found on the web as I had
I pass over to another friend, Darren, given the websites—that asked for
who has a decent set-up versions—the mags before the
for converting and saving problem arose, so the effort was not
them to a newer format, wasted and people can still access
which can be a major task them.
in itself.
R: The profits made from the DVDs go
R: The DVDs for into a fund to replace scanners and
Commodore Format, Your purchase retro magazines for

Mort’s scan DVDs not only The CD/DVDs were an idea of Iain’s,
include the magazine scans,
but the covertape ROMs, as we were being hammered on bandwidth
bonus mags, media files, by the popularity of the online scans
posters, and more...

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 60


INTERVIEW MORT

scanning. Is there a particular Newsfield), it all was pulled together games mags. A friend had picked up
magazine that you were glad to in about a year. Even the cover was his copy of Issue 1 on the way to
purchase, after a long time searching designed by Sir86 of Compunet and school, after leafing through it
perhaps? C64 loading screen fame. escaped at lunchtime to get a copy,
M: The biggest find must have been got caught climbing over the gate to
Issue 1 of TV Gamer, which cost the R: Can anyone help out with the get back in but the detention was
equivalent of 40 beers, with the magazine scans? If so, what can they worth it! Had both the C64 and
complete set costing about do? Spectrum at the time, but Crash was
another 150! I am on scanners 18, 19, M: Drop me a line on the forums of written by gamers for gamers which
and 20 now (all A3), so the purchases www.zzap64.co.uk, Amiga magazine really made you feel part of the
are important as they keep money rack, or World of Spectrum as I am community. The only mag I used to
coming in to continue to purchase old always looking for new challenges... stalk at the Newsagents (well, until
mags and keep the creaking scanners Zzap64! came out).
replaced. Also, people get a good deal R: Are you planning any other
of work for their money with content retromag DVDs for the future? Are R: Thank you for taking the time to
not available on the web due to there any rare magazine issues that speak with us. Is there anything else
obscurity or the website not wishing to are still needed to complete a set? you’d like to add?
carry all the cover disks, etc. M: I’m currently working on CD32 M: Just a thank you for all the people
Gamer (have needed the last two over the years who have helped me,
R: Which retromag DVD are you most issues for about a year), Amiga User which has been invaluable through
proud of? Can you tell us a little bit International, and Commodore buying the odd disk or lending/selling
about it? Computing International. So any help me parts of their collection. Big thanks
M: Probably the first, Zzap64!, which with these would be fantastic. Oh, and would have to go to Iain, my friend
was a five CD set, as DVD was not an Vic Computing, the forerunner to and owner of www.zzap64.co.uk, who
option then. I thought when I started Commodore User. started it all. Roger Kean, who has
it would be impossible to scan all the helped with material from Newsfield,
mags in, but with help from people on R: What is your favourite retro and Darren, who proof reads the DVDs
the forums, finding more tapes on magazine of all time? and checks for the odd bodge (easy
eBay, and help from Roger Kean from M: Would have to be Crash as this was on a 10,000 page DVD).
Thalamus (who was the MD of the forerunner to all the modern The quest continues…

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 61


MAME EMULATOR PROFILE
MAME is often referred to as the best arcade
emulator and most recognisable name in the
emulation world. Duncan Rule examines the history,
the software, and some of the better known games

A
dimly lit hall punctuated by the
luminous glow of cathode ray
tubes; the air filled with
electronic bleeps and static,
adolescent chatter and the metallic spirit of the arcades of two decades
jingle of small change. A kid hammers ago is alive and well in a completely
away frantically at the worn buttons of different environment: the hard drives
a huge video game cabinet as he of gamers’ home computers around
attempts to squeeze that last few the globe.
seconds of play from his one I refer, of course, to MAME
remaining credit. It’s a scene that (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator),
nearly all of us are familiar with in one perhaps the most well-known and
way or another: the video arcade. popular of all emulators, and the de-
While many would argue that the facto standard for arcade emulation.
MAME version 0.130 in action arcade scene has withered away to a The brainchild of Nicola Salmoria,
rather dire state these days; a mere MAME first appeared to the gaming
shell of its former self populated only public on February 5th 1997, and has always been to authentically emulate
by over-priced rhythm games and grown steadily since that date to offer the hardware for as many different
gimmick-ridden monstrosities; the support for thousands of games and arcade systems as possible, and in
individual ROM sets. The principal that they’ve done a fine job. The key
intention of the MAME team has word here is authentically, with the
actual playing of the games
considered merely “a nice side effect”.
MAME does not seek to improve
and build upon the playing of these
games, but rather simulate them
exactly as the real thing would play,
right down to the smallest detail of
registers and instructions, along with
any unintentional bugs or quirks the
original hardware may have. This is
certainly no mean feat. Take, for
instance, a typical NES emulator.
The intention of the MAME team has always been to Here, the programmer seeks to
authentically emulate the hardware for as many different replicate the hardware of the original
NES within a software environment; a
arcade systems as possible, and in that they’ve done a fine job relatively finite task. All NES consoles
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 62
EMULATOR PROFILE MAME
With MAME, gamers are finally able to enjoy these
arcade titles exactly as they experienced
them at the local video arcade
were born equal, containing the same
processors, memory chips and other
components as each other. Once
you’ve successfully modelled this
hardware, the process is pretty much
complete (of course, this is a vast
over-simplification of the task, but the
concept remains the same). Now
consider creating an “arcade” MAMEUI32, one of the GUI
emulator. There are thousands of versions of MAME
different hardware architectures out
there for all manner of different
arcade PCBs. Many games used a one- finally able to enjoy these arcade titles inexperienced with such interfaces.
off hardware configuration and control project is very impressive in both its exactly as they experienced them at Recently, however, a basic GUI has
scheme built exclusively for that scale and usability. While a lot more the local video arcade (although I been implemented into vanilla MAME,
game. Attempting to emulate all of modern titles are unplayable or won’t get into the legalities of doing so although the majority of fine tuning
these suddenly becomes a much more unsupported (particularly those games in this article; this is about gaming, and setup must be still done via the
daunting prospect than a humble 8-bit that were fully 3D), MAME will play not law). command line or through the editing
home system. thousands of classic arcade titles The basic operation of MAME is of configurations files. As with DOSBox
The MAME team have faired perfectly well as far as the majority of much the same as the majority of (discussed last issue), there are also a
remarkably well however, and the gamers are concerned. Consoles other video game emulators out there, multitude of graphical front-ends
during the 1980s and ‘90s were and the original game “ROMs” are available from various third parties
littered with their own ports of various required in order to play anything. that provide a much more user-
arcade titles, but these almost always Unlike most home console emulators friendly Windows-esque interface for
fell short of the mark. The home however, MAME ROMs exist as a series you to tweak your setup from should
systems of the time just didn’t have of separate files, each representing you so wish. Those without PCs
the power to accurately recreate titles the contents of one of the original needn’t worry either, as variants of
as they were in their original arcade PCB’s ROM chips, and are stored MAME are also available for a number
incarnations (unless you were lucky either in their own folder or zip file. of other platforms that allow anyone
enough to own a Neo Geo AES, of MAME itself was initially a command- with a relatively powerful home
course). With MAME, gamers are line only program, and as such was computer to sample its virtual coin-
not particularly user friendly to those munching delights.
Unlike a lot of other emulators, and
due to the bespoke nature of many old
arcade machines, MAME allows users
to create custom control and graphic
configurations for each game
separately, and tweaks can be made
on-the-fly through MAME’s options
menus while the game is running.
Keys or joystick buttons can be
assigned for any input the original
hardware had, including things such

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 63


EMULATOR PROFILE MAME
MAME is, quite simply, the best arcade emulator in
existence, and a true testament to what can be
accomplished with dedication, commitment and a passion
will change gameplay elements potentially hundreds of unique games,
drastically (such as some of the well- all accessible at the press of a button.
known Street Fighter II hacks that MAME is, quite simply, the best
were prevalent during the ‘90s). arcade emulator in existence, and a
Controls can be assigned to pretty true testament to what can be
much anything you can plug into your accomplished with dedication,
PC, so you can choose to use commitment and a passion for all
gamepads or arcade-style joystick things retro. The emulator is showing
thrown at it. The supported games controllers if you prefer them. Many no signs of dying out, with smaller
reach right back to the dawn of the arcade enthusiasts have taken things incremental updates appearing
arcades, and you can expect to be to the next level and built themselves frequently, and major releases
able to play anything from Space a MAME cabinet. Some of these begin happening on roughly a monthly basis.
Invaders right up to some of the more life as an old stripped out arcade The MAME team’s accomplishments
advanced 2D titles of the late 1990s machine, while some choose to build thus far have been amazing, and
and early 2000s such as the later from scratch or purchase a kit from things for the world’s greatest
Metal Slug games that appeared on one of several places offering them emulator can only get better with
SNK’s Neo Geo MVS hardware. In online. A dedicated MAME PC is then time.
as the all-important coin-insert trigger. short, it’s a retro gamer’s dream. inserted into the machine, which is
The actual setup and service modes of ROM sets are organised into outfitted with proper displays and For more information, and to
games are also accessible via a single “parent” and “clone” groups, with the control panels to provide a truly download MAME for free, visit the
keypress to enable functions such as parent ROM set being that which the authentic arcade experience. The official homepage at http://
free play, and also provide an MAME team have determined to be cabinets range from the traditional mamedev.org/.
interesting insight into the kinds of the “original” version (usually the stand-up type to the “cocktail” table-
things unscrupulous arcade owners most recent World or U.S. variant of type, and MAME can be configured to
were enabling or disabling to ratchet the game). These parent ROM sets provide the correct video-out for
up the difficulty and ensure your hard contain all the files necessary to get various screen configurations. For
earned money was spent as quickly as the game running, while clone sets will those of you with the space, time and
possible. only include those files which differ money, it’s certainly a rewarding
Anyway, let’s get on to the games. from the parent set. Many of these project to undertake; your own arcade
The majority of titles I’ve tested with clones don’t really offer much of a cabinet that can be loaded with
MAME have, on the whole, played difference from the parent, while some
exceptionally well. Despite the
“accuracy is law” philosophy of the dev
team, you won’t find a lot of half-
finished features for the sake of
perfect processor timings here, and
even with the rather steep system
requirements of MAME (in no small
part due to this quest for accuracy), a
typical modern PC will almost certainly
be able to run a huge variety of
games. Even my lowly ASUS netbook
has managed to play most titles I’ve

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 64


RETRO
RESPECT

A Science Fiction,
tactical Role Playing
Game based on Buck
Rogers? Neil Reive
explains why its initial
strategy-meets-cheesy-
franchise description
shouldn’t put retro
gamers off a great game

DETAILS

Developer: Strategic Simulations, Inc


Publisher: Strategic Simulations, Inc
Released: 1990
Platform: DOS, Amiga, C64,
Mega Drive/Genesis

Genre: Tactical RPG

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 65


RETRO RESPECT BUCK ROGERS: COUNTDOWN TO DOOMSDAY

Straight from the off, the dirty stuff The first person perspective Just like a true hero, you offer your It’s off to battle we go... Make good
hits the fan and you’re recruited to certainly helps to heighten the services to fight against the use of your turn based options
save the day... (Amiga) tension during exploration (DOS) invaders (C64) (Amiga)

I
t’s funny how you stumble across take control of Earth. A new hope spaceport’s defence fortification. It is be played out automatically using the
certain games that you would comes with this new dawn as new during this scuffle that the first “quick combat” option, it is
never think of buying yourself, or recruits join NEO and this is where encounter of the RAM’s Terrines takes recommended to play out the battles
indeed, even playing. Buck Rogers: you, the player, come in. place: bio-engineered humanoids built manually as you have better control
Countdown to Doomsday (known as The manual may be a little off for fighting. on what happens.
BR: CtD from now one) was one of putting with its in-depth detail, but Exploration during missions is Careful selection of weapons is
those games for me. I borrowed it you rarely need to flip through it, even viewed in the classic first also needed as each weapon has a
from a friend who didn’t like it at all if you’re a complete beginner. The perspective, but once the enemy is different effect on different enemy.
and preferred the fantastic tactical player starts the game by building up in sight, the view switches to battle For example, shooting a Terrine with
RPG Shining Force. I played it, loved their party of six members from a mode: the screen zooms into an a laser gun is not as effective as
it, and went out to purchase a copy for selection of different classes (warrior, expanded version of the section that shooting it with a rocket launcher.
myself. Instead of the usual fantasy jock, rogue, and medic) and race you are in, with the odd plant, Once a battle is won, the party
plot found in many Role Playing (Martians, Tinkers, Desert Runner). furniture, equipment or other receives credits, experience points
Games, BR: CtD features a sci-fi story, Each member has their own unique obstacles. Combat is turn-based— and the option of looting the bodies
which twisted, turned and surprised abilities with such elements as which I always prefer as opposed to for weapons and equipment. The
you as much as any other RPG could. strength, dexterity, and constitution. A the clumsiness of real-time—and initial battles are relatively simple,
The name Buck Rogers may balanced mix of race and skills will each member of the party take their but get progressively more difficult
conjure memories of the television ensure you succeed in the game. For turn to use the allocated APs (Action throughout the game.
series from NBC (1979-1981), but BR: instance, a medic is invaluable if you Points) to carry out commands like
CtD is actually based on the Buck intend on healing your team, while a move, attack, or heal. As with all
Rogers XXVc setting that was created rogue is useful for computer hacking great RPGs, strategy can play a
by TSR inc. in 1988, and has featured and key locks. major part in battles, as attacks from
in such media as books, novels, and The party is briefed and given a the back and side are more effective
board games. The back-story is well shuttle to use, but then all hell breaks than attacks from the front. The
detailed in the game’s manual, but the loose as RAM start attacking the crosshair can be moved over the
main story begins in the intro scenes. spaceport. People flee in all directions enemy to view their rank, health,
The year is 2456 and Earth is war torn and the enemy is everywhere. The and chance of hitting them, allowing
after centuries of battles. NEO (New party discover that - for the first you to attack the easiest and
Earth Organisation), with the help of a mission - they must reactivate the weakest unit. While the combat can
recently revived Buck Rogers, have
just won a victorious battle against As with all great RPGs, strategy can play a major part
RAM (Russo-American Mercantile: the The action hots up as they take the
in battles, as attacks from the back and side are battles into space (Mega Drive)
previous ruthless rulers of Earth) and
more effective than attacks from the front.
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 66
RETRO RESPECT BUCK ROGERS: COUNTDOWN TO DOOMSDAY
However, get past [the rather drab graphics]
and you will find that this is a well written,
involving and rewarding game
When you enter the spaceship, credits. As After gaining all those
the view screen changes to the experience points, you can train
Solar System View. Here you can your troops in new skills or better
see the inner plants: Earth, Mars, existing ones such as stealth,
Venus, Mercury, and the hacking, weapons.
surrounding asteroids. In between The missions are varied and will
travelling to destinations, the keep the most experienced RPG fan The Mega Drive conversion uses an
player’s ship will sometimes come busy for some time. The early isometric viewpoint as opposed to
under attack by various enemy missions see you rescue the NEO the computer first person view
ships. The view will change to the base from enemy troops, while later
spaceship combat viewpoint, which missions see you rescuing prisoners options are also cut down for the
is seen from the ship’s view screen. on remote asteroids, assassinating console version: races, skills,
Space ship combat is similar to the rogue scientists, and saving innocent equipment have all been simplified.
ground battles as each side take civilians. Even some familiar faces However, the sound on the 16-bit
turns to fire the ship’s weapons, fly make an appearance to help out with console is the most impressive of
away, or even board them (if the any particular difficult situations. all the versions with some
ship is disabled). The C64 version is very atmospheric soundtracks and
You will gain credits throughout impressive for an 8-bit computer and sound effects.
the game, to which you can buy the graphics are hardly compromised At first glance, BR: CtD doesn’t
weapons and supplies from the at all. The game comes on three exactly grab you, the main
various spaceport shops. These double-sided C64 disks, but there is graphics can be drab and
include a standard laser gun and very little swapping needed while disappointing. However, get past
Smart Suit to Heat Guns, needle playing. The Mega Drive version this minor quibble and you will find
guns, shielded Mercurian armour plays the same as the other 16-bit that this is a well written, involving
and much more. Spreading the versions, but with one difference: the and rewarding game.
weapons around the party should exploring view is not first Despite receiving glowing
get the best out of them and any perspective, but a zoomed out view reviews in the gaming magazines,
spare loot can be sold for extra similar to the battle viewpoint. The BR: CtD wasn’t exactly flying off
the shelves and was soon
forgotten in favour of console
RPGs like Zelda, Final Fantasy,
Shining Force, and Phantasy Star
games. Perhaps the combination
of sci-fi, RPG, and a connection
with an old cheesy TV series like
Buck Rogers put many people off.
Whatever the reasons, SSI
nevertheless surpassed the
achievements of their own
The game is full of nice Considering it’s an 8-bit, the C64 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
atmospheric cut scenes (DOS) does a respectable job games with one of the best RPGs
of its time.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 67


PART TWO: DARK FORCES RISING
After the popularity of The “Computer Warrior” comic strip, it returned with a
new plot, new characters, new games, a new writer, a new artist, and,
arguably, its most creative period in its entire run. Neil Reive follows the story
as it enters its second phase

W
hen the first story arc of chronologically rather than the make friends and enemies of fellow
“Computer Warrior” came to haphazardness back and forth approach Computer Warriors, and there was more
an end, Bobby Patterson had of the first story arc. This meant that emphasis placed on the mysterious
successfully completed the computer the look of the stories remained more Computer Warlord, the dark forces, and
game challenges—by playing them for consistent than previously. the computer realm. The writers also
real within the computer’s realm—and So what new plot threads did the kick-started the return with one of the
had rescued his best friend, Martin writers come up with? It’s a well known most popular multi-player arcade
French, from the Nightmare Zone. fact that great computer and video games at the time: Gauntlet. The fact
Despite the story being resolved games are enhanced even more with that U.S. Gold published the home
neatly with that happy ending, this the ability to play with one or more computer conversions of the games
wasn’t the end of “Computer Warrior”. friends. This is one of the main ideas D. featured the second story arc couldn’t
The innovative premise of the comic Spence introduced into the strip, which go unnoticed. It was a
strip (for the time) had proved so was carried on by the next writer B. real coup for U.S.
popular with readers that the Waddle. Along the way, Bobby would Gold to virtually
publishers brought it back. So,
following a brief hiatus, “Computer
Warrior” was back within the pages
of the weekly Eagle comic on 27th
December 1986.
Although the artist changed a few
times during the second story arc
(from R. Smith, to M. Western, and
then to M. Dorey), they were done

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 68


COMPUTER WARRIOR, PART TWO DARK FORCES RISING
The games:

Gauntlet (1985)
Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Atari Games, U.S. Gold
Platforms: Arcade (also ported to various
home platforms)

Gauntlet is arguably
the most famous
and popular multi-
player games from
the mid-eighties, so
this was a great
choice to kick off
the new story arc.
With up to four players (Thor the
Warrior, Merlin the Wizard, Thyra the
Valkyrie, or Questor the Elf), you
hack-‘n’-slash your way through
endless dungeons, fighting the likes of
monopolise the games featured (they the Warlord tells them to return home grunts, demons, ghosts, and the dread
also published Epyx games in Europe and practice for their first test. As death himself.
and dealt with Go!). Bobby returns to his bedroom he has
As the second story arc of other ideas and he smashes his Gauntlet made a huge impact in gaming
“Computer Warrior” begins, everything computer so the Warlord can’t pull him culture and the game was ported to
is fine: Bobby is playing football with his into it. game at all, Bobby struggles virtually every machine made. Various
sequels and remakes also followed with
best friend Martin, and life has returned However, the Warlord still manages throughout, losing health points at
mixed responses. The voice samples of the
back to normal. However, as Bobby is to appear in the real world to summon every turn. The situation is not helped original arcade are remembered fondly as
getting ready for bed, the Warlord Bobby for the first test. Putting up a by Gummer, who is rapidly showing his the announcer spouted such classics as
appears to tell him that he is needed in struggle, Bobby is taken into the sneaky side as he takes any food that “Warrior needs food badly,” “Elf shot the
the computer’s realm. Although Bobby Computer’s realm and briefed on the Bobby badly needs and tricks him out of potion,” and “Remember, don’t shoot food!”
refuses to go back, the Warlord says first game. The Warlord shows his any treasure. Despite Bev and Floyd
that it is his duty since he accepted disappointment in Bobby’s attitude and helping out the best they can, and Express Raider (1986)
Computer Warrior status, and they says that all he did was make sure he Gummer refusing to use his magic, Developer: Data East
dissemble into the computer flux. went into the first test with no Bobby loses all his health when Death Publisher: U.S. Gold
As Bobby re-appears in the practice—his first game may well be his closes in on him. Platforms: Arcade (also ported to: Amstrad
computer realm, he joins the other 16 last. The dungeons and mazes of When Bobby re-appears back within CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum)
Computer Warriors and the Warlord Gauntlet lay ahead of the warriors as the Warlord’s keep, he is told that he is
briefs them on the situation. There is the Warlord briefs them on the task in a second early failure and must wait for A side-scrolling
action game where
increasing unrest within the Nightmare hand. For the next hour, they will be set the others to arrive. One by one, the
you, playing as a
Zone as Dark Forces threaten to escape loose within the confines of the dungeon others re-appear and the Warlord robber in the Wild
their confines and invade the real world. to battle against demons, grunts, informs them of the results. He tells West, have to be
The Warlord tells them that he must ghosts, lobbers, and death itself. them that most of them acquitted the greatest train
find a Supreme Warrior who can help As Bobby appears in the Gauntlet themselves well, although, Gummer robber. From the
fight against the increasing threat of the dungeons, he sees that he is teamed up achieved twice the points score of his wild plains to moving trains, you
Dark Forces. To this end, all 17 with three other warriors. Floyd, one of nearest rival. Two of them, however, fell have to punch, kick, and shoot your
Computer Warriors will take part in a the warriors, explains that four people short of the standards expected of way through the levels.
series of tests to find the best, while the can play the game. Floyd is Questor, Computer Warriors. Just as the first
16 losers will be sent to the Nightmare Bev is Thyra, Gummer is Merlin, and Warrior kneels down and begs for
Zone. Despite grumbling from many, Bobby is Thor. Having not played the mercy, the Warlord sends him to the
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 69
COMPUTER WARRIOR, PART TWO DARK FORCES RISING
World Games (1986)
Developer: Choice Software Ltd
Publisher: Epyx
Platforms: Commodore 64, MSX, Amiga,
Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum,
Apple IIGS, SEGA Master System, DOS

Part of the Epyx


sports series which
previously saw the
likes of Summer
Games and Winter
Games. World
Games is staged,
as the title suggests, around the
world, with events such as
weightlifting (Russia), Slalom
skiing (France), Log rolling
(Canada), cliff diving (Mexico),
appears, but they soon grow worried next two events (skate jumping and caber tossing (Scotland), bull
riding (United States), Barrel jumping
about Flloyd, who didn’t get any diving) while Gummer trails behind.
(Germany), sumo wrestling (Japan).
practice of the game beforehand. One Floyd wins the skiing, Bev overcomes
by one, more warriors appear before Floyd to succeed in the logrolling. All the
Floyd finally arrives second last. The while, Gummer trails behind in last Ace of Aces (1986)
Nightmare Zone. Bobby survives to warrior to come last is, as promised, place in all events. Having come in last, Developer: Artech Digital Entertainment
play another game, though. sent to the Nightmare Zone by the Gummer must take part in the sudden- Publisher: Accolade, U.S. Gold
The next game test is Express Warlord. death play off with the other losers. As
Platforms: Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Atari
Raider, and as Bobby hasn’t got any Back in reality, Bobby gets some of Gummer fades away to play the sudden
7800, Commodore 64, MSX, DOS, Sega
money to purchase the game, he gets his savings together to purchase a new death, he accuses the others of ganging Master System, ZX Spectrum
in some practice with the arcade computer—he must get in practice if he up on him, and that they have made an
version. Barely getting in an hour’s is to survive this ordeal. Bobby sets the enemy of him.
Ace of Aces is a
practice on the game, he is pulled back computer up and requests information Following a scuffle with the Dark
flight simulator
into the Warlord’s keep. As an “express on the next test, but the Warlord Forces, the Warlord chooses the game computer game
raider”, Bobby needs to chase an appears and brings him straight into the for the next test: Ace of Aces. The developed by
express train, negotiate along the computer’s realm. The Warlord Computer Warriors are summoned, Artech Digital
carriages, and take the treasure at the purposely withheld the name of the next where Bobby, Bev, Floyd, and Gummer Entertainment in
front of the train. However, Bobby soon test from all Computer Warriors so that meet up again. The Warlord explains 1986. It is World
discovers that playing the game in the they all started with equal knowledge of that as a fighter pilot in World War II, War II and the player takes control
computer’s real-life realm is harder than the game. The game is World Games they must survive long enough to get of a RAF Mosquito fighter plane
equipped with rockets, bombs, and
the virtual game. He is shot, knifed, and for the purposes of the events, they back home and any that “are shot down
a cannon. Missions include
shot again, and again, and thrown off start with equal power, skill, and or do not complete their missions will be destroying enemy fighter planes,
the train before he finally succeeds in stamina. Bobby is, again, placed within consigned to the Nightmare Zone.” bombers, V-1 flying bombs, U-boats, and
winning the game. the group of Bev, Floyd, and Gummer as Bobby survives the dogfights and trains.
As Bobby appears in the Warlord’s they travel to their first event. scrapes long enough to limp home with
sanctum, he is told that his Bobby quickly realises the secret of a damaged engine. Bobby follows Bev
performance spared him the terrors of succeeding in the test, which is to in to land and they end up fifth and
the Nightmare Zone. Howard Gummer conserve your stamina. So while Bobby, fourth places respectively. Once again,
is quick to tell Bobby that he was first to Floyd, and Bev relax in between events, Gummer informs them that he was first
finish the game. Bev Somers soon Gummer trains hard. Bobby wins the while they wait for Floyd to arrive.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 70


COMPUTER WARRIOR, PART TWO DARK FORCES RISING
Believing that Floyd was confined to Not knowing the game, Bobby struggles droid laser fire. Despite having all nine Metro-Cross (1985)
the Nightmare Zone, Bobby travels to through the levels, completing the first letters, he still has to decipher the Developer: Namco
Floyd’s home to give his parents the few levels by the skin of his teeth before correct word out of them. Finally, Bobby Publisher: Namco, U.S. Gold
bad news. Upon arriving at the house, failing on level five. He re-appears in guesses the word correctly and gains Platforms: Arcade (also ported to: Amstrad
CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, NES, ZX
however, Bobby is surprised and the Warlord’s keep to find Floyd already access to the control room to finish off
Spectrum)
relieved as Floyd answers the door. there. They were left to stew there as the mad scientist, winning the game. As
They plan a revolt against the Warlord the others had come and gone home Bobby, Bev, Floyd, and Gummer return, Metro-Cross is a
and his tests. They will gather all the without them realising. The Warlord had the Warlord informs them that only ten futuristic racing
Computer Warriors together to tell the left them unawares to teach them a now remain before sending them back game where the
authorities. Surely, they would believe lesson. to their homes. player has to run
them all. The Warlord summons the pair The surviving twelve competing For the next game, Side Arms, through various
into his lair and accuses them of Computer Warriors were soon given Bobby is paired up with Bev, while levels and reach the
end before the time limit runs out.
treachery and, as punishment, they their briefing for the next test. Floyd is with Gummer. Not long into
However, many obstacles are strewn
must play the next game with a Impossible Mission requires the player the game, Bev is ambushed and loses along the levels from glass panels
handicap: no prior knowledge of the to penetrate a mad scientists a life. The pair quickly progress (which break under the racer’s
game. As the others arrive for the test, stronghold, avoid detection, and find through the game by using a weight), steam jets, springboards,
the Warlord informs them of the the nine letters of the security code, combination power-up, which fuses skateboards, and large cans, all of which
situation. Just as Bev tries to explain which will enable access to his control the two warriors back to back, forming slow you down and cost you vital seconds of
the aim of the game, the Warlord room and destroy him. Following a good a 360-degree shooting arc. As the two time. Once the player successfully completes
moves them to their individual game run, Bobby picks up eight of the code progress through the game they both a level, the remaining time is saved over for
a bonus level. Although, if the player fails to
zones. letters and decides to have a go at end up with one life remaining and
make it to the end of level before the time
The game is Metro-Cross and Bobby cracking the code. Unfortunately, every when Bev is in trouble, Bobby
limit then it’s game over.
must reach the finish gate at the end of password entered is incorrect so Bobby sacrifices himself so she can survive.
the tunnel within the time limit, decides to hunt down that final letter. When Bobby arrives back in the
Impossible Mission II (1988)
avoiding the obstacles along the way. While searching out the last letter, Warlord’s keep, he is told that Floyd Developer: Novotrade
Bobby loses time as he is hit by guard was first to arrive back, but Floyd Publisher: Epyx
Platforms: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIgs,
Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, NES, ZX
Spectrum

A direct sequel to
Epyx’s 1984 game
Impossible Mission,
and follows directly
on from that game’s
plot: the evil Elvin
Atombender seeks
revenge and the player must stop
him. Taking place in Elvin’s fortress,
the player must negotiate through
nine towers that contain all manners
of corridors, elevators, and robots.
However, the corridors linking the towers are
locked and have to be unlocked by
completing a numerical puzzle. The elevator,
which gains access to the central tower, is
also locked, and can be open by finding a
password encoded in a piece of music. The
player can use bombs and mines to combat
the robots, blow up holes in the floor, or to
open safes.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 71


COMPUTER WARRIOR, PART TWO DARK FORCES RISING
blames Gummer for setting him up. As that hold a key, and escape. Bobby test where Bobby takes on Gummer in a Side Arms (1986)
Bev and the rest arrive back, the successfully defeats the minotaur, head-to-head match. The game is level Developer: Capcom
Warlord sends Floyd to the Nightmare taking a might spell with him. Once he pegging right up to the third quarter Publisher: Capcom/Romstar
Zone. takes on King Kong, he uses that spell when Gummer creeps ahead by three Platforms: Arcade (also ported to: NEC PC
Engine, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga,
Black Christmas is the next test, to defeat the overgrown monkey and points. Bobby claws his way back and
Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum)
where the warriors have to deliver take the first key. Bobby then takes a manages to pull off a touchdown right
presents to children, but avoid the evil second key from the Fire Demon’s lair. at the last gasp, winning the game. As Side Arms (or Side
goblins lurking around who try to steal After an unsuccessful battle with the they return to the Warlord’s keep, they Arms Hyper Dyne)
the toys. Virtually straight away, Bobby Evil Eye, Bobby retreats and battles are told that someone else performed is an arcade side-
is caught off guard by a goblin as he other monsters in hope of finding a spell worse than Gunmmer and it is they who scrolling shoot-‘em-
delivers his first present. Following a that he can use to win against the eye. have been sent to the Nightmare Zone. up developed by
good run of deliveries, Bobby is then After defeating Medusa, Bobby gains a The situation is escalating out of Capcom. There is a
battle raging
surrounded by a group of goblins and reflection spell, which he uses against control in the Nightmare Zone and The
against humans and Bozon.
he doesn’t stand a chance—two lives the eye to win the game. Warlord decides to take swift action. Lieutenant Henry and Sergeant
lost. After a tangle with a disguised Bobby’s dad has accidentally The next test is brought forward and Sanders are dispatched to Earth to
goblin, Bobby loses his final life and re- accessed the computer’s real-life code from the remaining seven help defend the planet against the
appears in the Warlord’s keep. He is and is playing out Battlefield 3000 competitors, only three will return. invading forces.
informed by the Warlord that he is first within the computer’s realm. Bobby The Computer Warriors are all sent
to return and has the lowest score. quickly goes in to help him. With his their own way to compete in the game The players can shoot both left and right,
When the others arrive, Bev convinces Dad having lost two lives already, Bobby Dream Warriors. Bobby acquits and if the correct POW pickup is collected,
player one and two can combine into a
the Warlord to show mercy on Bobby makes it his mission to protect him and himself adequately in the game and
powerful hybrid weapon. Other weapon
and spare him the Nightmare Zone. win the game, which they do. With no suffers no major problems. Upon upgrades include the Bit (clone shooter),
For the next test, Wizard Warz, the time to take a breather, Bobby practices returning from the game, Bobby, Bev, Shotgun, Mega Bazzooka Launcher, Three-
Warlord explains the player’s mission: for the next test: 4th & Inches. and Gummer are told that they are Way, and Auto.
enter the castle, defeat the three beasts The eight remaining Computer the warriors to go through to the next
Warriors are summoned for their next test. The other four are to be sent to Black Christmas (fictional)
the Nightmare Zone.
The three remaining warriors, Bobby, Wizard Warz (1987)
Developer: Canvas
Publisher: Go!
Platforms: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST,
Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum

An overhead view
action adventure as
you control a young
apprentice wizard
with only a few
spells and not much
power. However,
with this limited power, you have to
defeat seven master wizards to
become the chief wizard. More
powerful spells and other
interesting goodies can be picked
up easily enough throughout the game.
Your initial mission is to blast the six
monsters that have stolen treasures and
return the treasure to its rightful owner.

Battlefield 3000 (fictional)

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 72


COMPUTER WARRIOR, PART TWO DARK FORCES RISING
Bev, and Gummer, begin their next text. seems that he may have the most been spoken to like this and he orders 4th & Inches (1987)
Blood of Dracula is played with them points. Gummer may have progressed Bobby to obey. Bobby holds his ground Developer: Accolade
working as a group, and as usual, further in the game, but as the Warlord though and the Warlord admires him for Publisher: Accolade
Gummer gets up to his usual tricks by explains, they achieved exactly the it. The Warlord gives Bobby a Platforms: Amiga,
Commodore 64, Apple
not helping the others or getting them same points: 58,900. It’s a draw so compromise: win the final battle against
II, Apple IIGS, DOS
into jeopardy. By the end of the game, Bobby and Gummer must face each the Dark Forces and all those that are
Bev is in desperate need of the “water other in a sudden death face off. As imprisoned within the Nightmare Zone A fine simulation of
of life” to revive her health, but usual, Gummer plays the cheat card, will be released. America’s popular sport, the game lets
Gummer has other ideas and takes it but Bobby makes good use of his bionic On his return to reality, Bobby you play with a great number of
for himself. Bev doesn’t make it and arm to overcome any threat and wins. instantly notices that something is formations and strategies, which was
Gummer and Bobby are the remaining The Warlord sends Gummer to the wrong. Everything is burnt and unheard of at the time. Although the
two warriors left. Nightmare Zone, and as he disappears blackened in the house. He rushes game was well received in the U.S.,
the game was only converted to platforms
The game chosen for the ultimate he shouts to Bobby that he will never downstairs to search for his parents
that were popular over there: Amiga, C64,
test is Bionic Commando and Bobby forgive him. As Bobby dons his new only to find their charred remains. In a
Apple, and DOS.
gets plenty of practice before the Ultimate Warrior robes—the first to daze, he staggers outside onto the
Warlord pulls him into the computer’s achieve such a status—he states that street to see a vision of despair. The
Dream Warrior (1988)
realm. Despite losing a life early on, he will only fight the Dark Forces on one whole town seems to have been Developer: Tarann
Bobby progresses through the game condition: that Bev, Floyd, and all the destroyed and every building within Publisher: U.S. Gold
well and racks up the points. He others are set free from the Nightmare sight lies in ruins. Death everywhere. Platform: Commodore
eventually loses his last life and re- Zone. The Warlord erupts 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum
appears in the Warlord’s keep. Gummer in a fury as he has never To be continued...
appears a few minutes later and it A side-scrolling,
futuristic shoot-‘em-up.
In the future, the world
is controlled by corporations and wars
are fought in a dream world. Here the
corporations control dream demons
to defeat their foes. However, resist-
ance fighters are fighting back and the player
controls one of these resistance fighters hoping
to rescue their friends from the control of
Ocular, the mightiest of all dream demons.

Blood of Dracula (fictional)

Bionic Commando (1987)


Developer: Capcom,
Software Creations
Publisher: Capcom, Go!
Platforms: Arcade,
Amiga, Atari ST, C64,
Amstrad CPC, ZX
Spectrum

An action platform game where the


player controls the main character
who has a bionic arm. This bionic
arm can be used as a grappling toll, which
can be used to swing across gaps. The plot
involves the player infiltrating the enemy
base and destroying the plans to launch
missiles.

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 73


KILLER APP
Killer new characters. Killer new moves. Killer
new game. That was the original poster slogan,
but the N64 game received mixed reactions. Ack
tells us how the game really plays

DETAILS

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo

Released: 1996

Platform: Nintendo 64
Genre: Fighter

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 74


KILLER APP KILLER INSTINCT GOLD

T
hroughout the life of the
Nintendo 64, there were few
fighting games, and even fewer
that mattered. This is the tale of one of
those, forgotten in the sands of time
that truly deserved more credit than it
received. Killer Instinct Gold was the
only console offshoot for Rare’s fighting
game FMV extravaganza, Killer Instinct
2. Licensed by Nintendo and
manufactured by Midway, it was the
sequel to 1994’s Killer Instinct and
kept the original’s six-button control The character selection screen That Sabrewulf is one scray dude. Kim and Orchid take part in the
scheme. where you find all sorts of Even Spinal has jumped out of his girl-on-girl action
In November 1996, Killer Instinct interesting info skin with fright
Gold was released upon North
America, followed by a launch for the expecting Killer Instinct 2 in every characters to look as if they were more hits than the arcade title.
PAL regions several months later. While possible way, you’re going to be a little actually fighting in those locales, as Endings were changed. While the
the majority of reviews didn’t say it disappointed. Gone are the multiple opposed to the arcade predecessor, game featured battery-powered saving
was perfect, they generally slated it as endings, the FMVs and certain plot where characters didn’t quite fit in. A on the cartridge, it was also fully
an above-average title that looked points, and some frames of animation camera was implemented that would compatible with the Nintendo 64’s
even better when put up against the were cut. Stages, formerly FMVs, had zoom in and out based on how close Controller Pak. Also, the ability to
precious few other fighters for the to be redone entirely to fit the the players were, so the action was pause at any time in a battle, including
console, namely the 64’s port of Mortal Nintendo 64, and static screens always easy to see. Stage layouts were after an opponent had been defeated,
Kombat Trilogy. And Killer Instinct Gold replaced the victory sequences. Blood changed a little, though they kept their could come in handy from time to
did have a lot going for it. Of course, was also cut out from the game. interactivity. Trash cans could be time.
due to limitations of Nintendo’s But with the space saved, Rare knocked over, certain walls smashed The audio quality of the port was
cartridge format, not everything made decided it would play to the strengths through, and bits and pieces of these also top notch. Ever hit could be heard,
the cut. of the console. Stages were entirely objects would fly around and remain in every painful grown or heavy metallic
First, if you’re going into this redone in 3D graphics, allowing the level for the remainder of the fight. thud of Fulgore’s metal foot whenever
It was also still possible to kill he jumped. Limited voice acting was
opponents by knocking them off included for certain characters,
ledges, though admittedly the perhaps one of the best occurring in
replacement for the FMVs wasn’t as training mode where the instruction
fulfilling. Characters remain two- claps his hands and says “Pass”
dimensional, and though there are whenever the player correctly performs
some issues with blurry textures, it’s an action. However it should also be
still fairly impressive for what is noted that certain sound effects were
effectively a first generation title on the reused for multiple characters, which
console. does detract from this. As for music, it
There were other minor touches. was superb, fitting themes to specific
The game’s combo counter registered characters that differed greatly in

Rare threw in several Training options,


Sabrewulf versus Sabrewulf. Who A skeleton named Spinal? Well,
will win? Probably Sabrewulf that’s nice. Aaargh, he’s got a sword so players could practice special moves,
and he’s certainly not spineless autodoubles, combos, and more
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 75
KILLER APP KILLER INSTINCT GOLD

Sabrewulf’s new tactics of wearing and he flies in with a triple whammy You can change the colour of the Each character intro screen gives
short shorts to make opponents kill of moves costumes, which is... fun some background details on them:
themselves laughing seems to work who they are, their history...

styles, from the jungle beats of Maya’s characters added to the list of already performing special moves at specific enjoyable fighter, and easily one of
stage, complete with monkey chirps, to present variants, depending on the points in an enemy’s combo. the best for the Nintendo 64. While it
the electronic dance music of Orchid’s. difficulty of Training modes completed. As for the rest of the title, the plot didn’t reinvent the wheel and won’t
Certain tracks, including Orchid’s, even And then there was the combat is kept from the arcade title, so necessarily hold up against the latest
featured lyrics. The audio capabilities system. In Killer Instinct Gold, certain characters present in the first King of Fighters or Street Fighter, it
of the game were often congratulated, combos flowed from move to move Killer Instinct are notably absent does give the player a good chance
especially the surround sound effects off of autodoubles, which are (including the author’s favourite to learn the system, play through the
that would appear in the title. designated by the type of attack the convict-turned-living-fireball), and arcade mode, and have some good
To sweeten the deal, Rare threw in player executes to start the combo. Gargos still serves as the final boss. times with friends. And considering
several Training options, so players From there, various strings of While the game is only two player, it how a third entry in the series has
could practice special moves, attacks can be used. The author should keep dedicated players been in the rumour mill for more
autodoubles, combos, and more. Other once found a claim of over two interested in battling their friends than a decade and seems a distant
game modes included Team Battle, million unique combinations among even after everything else has been afterthought at this point, it’s a good
Team Elimination Battle (which the 13 characters, which, while unlocked. chance to go back and remember the
required the player kill the opponent), seeming excessive, does give an idea All in all, Killer Instinct Gold is an glory days of this little gem.
classic Arcade mode, Tournament about the capability of the system.
mode, and an Options menu. Each And while combos aren’t necessarily
time the player beat the Arcade mode difficult to begin and tack on a few
on a higher difficulty level than hits, players will find themselves
previously done, a new section of the striving hard to obtain higher and
Options menu would unlock, up to level higher numbers, eventually
5 for the highest difficulty setting. executing combos with dozens of
These new options would change hits. Unfortunately this system also
everything from the amount of damage enables button mashing, which is a
throws could do to turning off the bit of a drawback. Of course, to
ability to block. Other unlockables counter this there is a system of
included different color schemes for combo breakers, which boil down to

All in all, Killer Instinct Gold is an enjoyable fighter,


Sabrewulf gives out three hits in a One of the many arenas in which
and easily one of the best for the Nintendo 64 row. Ouch! you can do battle in

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 76


An interactive FMV game full of B-movie
style cheesy acting and special
effects. Not exactly the ingredients of
one of the most controversial games of
all time, but as Neil Reive explains,
Night Trap was getting criticised for
violence and sexism left, right, and
centre
DETAILS

Developer: Digital Pictures, Inc


Publisher: Sega

Released: 1992

Platform: Mega CD, 3DO, 32X CD,


DOS, Mac
Genre: Adventure, Strategy

77
HOW TO CAUSE A COMPLETE CONTROVERSY NIGHT TRAP

S
ega’s Mega CD was meant to be were all due to be released within the augers. The augers are easily
all about bringing gamers CD- months of each other. Things were recognisable as men in black and once
based technology: full-motion starting to look a bit better for Sega’s you spot them you should activate a
video, spoken soundtracks, custom unfulfilled Mega Drive add-on. Out of trap to get rid of them. To complicate
scaling, sprite rotation, and arcade these games, one of the brightest matters, the augers occasionally
quality conversions. It was hyped as hopes was an innovative FMV change the security access codes so
the biggest and best console to hit interactive game from developers that your controls don’t work. By
town for years. Supposedly a major Digital Pictures called Night Trap, keeping one step ahead of the augers,
step forward in games playing, the which used real actors to film the you should trap them all, saving the
machine was set to revolutionise the game’s many scenes. With the FMV kids in the process.
home entertainment business. and dialogue soundtrack, the game In spite of the graininess and
However, things didn’t exactly plan out came on two full Mega CD discs, which narrow viewpoint, the full-motion video
the way Sega had hoped. Hotly was unheard of in the early 1990s. was impressive for the time, and it was
anticipated games were delayed, the Night Trap’s plot involves aliens cleverly constructed in real-time. For
games available at the time were called augers who invade an American example, when someone left the room
mediocre to average at best, and the country house, where a gang of high- and you follow them, you would catch
launch of the Mega CD in Europe was spirited teenagers are holding a party. their conversation, but if you didn’t
put on hold by Sega Europe However, as the evening progresses, follow them straight away, then you
themselves. Things weren’t looking too the kids start disappearing one by one. could miss vital information.
good for the fledging Sega add-on. S.C.A.T. (Sega Covert Action Team) are Unfortunately, this new realism ruffled
In early 1993, a host of exciting called into deal with the situation. the feathers of the moral crusaders
titles were released at, funnily enough, Traps, cameras, and security systems, who were concerned that because
the same time as Sega Europe which were installed to capture the there were real people featured in the
launched the Mega CD in Europe. Titles kids, have been hacked by S.C.A.T. game with scenes of death and
such as Cobra Command, Road Blaster and you have been given direct control violence (albeit in traditional B-movie
FX, Sewer Shark, Night Trap, The of them. It’s your job to keep an eye style), the game was effectively a
Terminator CD, and Final Fight CD on the partying kids and watch out for video nasty. Through your Mega CD,
people thought you were being turned
into a dangerous, evil, sadistic, and
amoral gore hound who could rip apart
the very fabric of civilised society...

The opening sequence is just like a Real actors and actresses in a


B-movie classic, setting the tone realistic interactive game. We can’t
for what is to come... (DOS) have that. (32X CD)

One of the brightest hopes was an innovative FMV This game must be evil. Look, the Controversial scene alert. You
interactive game from Digital Pictures called Night Trap, baddies are dressed in black. must be at least 15 years old to
(DOS) views these shots. (Mega CD)
which used real actors to film the game’s many scenes
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 78
HOW TO CAUSE A COMPLETE CONTROVERSY NIGHT TRAP
It soon became clear that these people actually
hadn’t played the game at all and had no idea
what they were talking about
The Daily Mail got particularly “Nintendo killed my son” debacle over
concerned and it plastered “SEGA an epilepsy death) got another chance
SICKENER” in one of it’s headlines, to knock video games—another chance
with the words “gruesome”, “murder”, to find an “evil” scapegoat for the
and “torture” setting the tone in the wrong doing of young people. The box
next few lines. The paper claimed that art of the game’s packaging was also
the game was “more like a video nasty criticized for what many believed to be
than a game” and then quoted political a sexist depiction of women. And what
statements from certain members of did Sega think of all this fuss? Nick
parliament. “The manufacturers are Alexander, boss of Sega Europe, said
evil and ought to be punished for that while he was concerned about the It’s got real girls in a real
promoting the game,” stated Terry situation, he thought that the fuss over bedroom, it must contain X-rated
Dicks MP. Dame Jill Knight MP, also Night Trap was “just extraordinary” content... (Mega CD)
keen to get her name in the papers, and considered the game’s content no
said: “this is a new generation of worse than an average Doctor Who video games. Sega replied stating that
videos, nastier than ever before. We episode. they commended Attorney General
should consider legislation against such In November 1993, Daniel E Lungren’s concerns and that they also
game because they encourage people Lungren, Attorney General of California shared these concerns. To this end,
to maim, mutilate and murder.” sent a letter to Sega, Nintendo, and Sega introduced the video game
Indeed. Capcom, requesting that they tone Rating Council: an independent council
It soon became clear that these down or remove the violence in games of educators and child psychologists to
people actually hadn’t played the game such as “Mortal Kombat and Night rate video games according to age
at all and had no idea what they were Trap”. In the letter he mentions he was appropriateness: ‘GA’ (general
talking about. Nevertheless, Toys R Us concerned with the rising trend of audience), ‘MA-13’ (mature adults with
refused to stock the game and the juvenile crime, which he believed was parental discretion), and ‘MA-17’
media (following the, then recent, helped by youngsters playing violent (adults only). Sega also stated that it
was the parents’ right and
responsibility to choose what is best
for their children, as the rating would
be clearly marked on the game’s
packaging. So that was that, right?
Well, no. The whole issue escalated
and ended up being discussed in the
Senate.
On 9th December 1993, Senator
Joe Lieberman started the proceedings
at the congressional hearings. After
detailing the violence of Mortal
Kombat, Senator Lieberman then went
on to describe Night Trap: “...the
Guns as well? Ban it! String the Cheesy, B-movie style special object here is to keep hooded men A selection of people behind the
makers up, burn the corpses, and effects? No. Comical prat falls? No. from hanging scantily-clad women or Night Trap witch-hunt, all with
send the widows a ham. (DOS) Ban it? Yep. (DOS) drilling their necks with a tool that is their own agenda..

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 79


HOW TO CAUSE A COMPLETE CONTROVERSY NIGHT TRAP

One of the attendees of the senate My feelings exactly. He must have


hearings shuffling over to their heard about the senate hearings.
seat. (DOS) (DOS) The Augers disappear in a puff of
smoke. It’s really quite comical
designed to literally drain their blood. Trap was pulled from shop shelves. and hardly frightening. (Mega CD)
Night Trap features real actors and Naturally, due to all the controversy
actresses and achieved a startling and and removal of the game from the a similar way to the movie industry in
awful level of realism...” He went on to majority of stores, the game was not that Games companies would
say that games like these are commercially successful. Also, Sega of voluntarily submit their product for
“outrageous, and contribute to the America stopped any further rating.
unacceptable level of violence in our shipments of the game, presumably in Once the controversy had faded
society.” an effort to reduce the politicians’ and somewhat, and with an industrywide
Senator Lieberman then declared public’s backlash regarding the rating system now in place, the game
that he was “introducing legislation— congressional hearings. The original was re-released on Mega CD with a
co-sponsored by Senator Herb Khol of Night Trap two-disc edition quickly ‘M’ature rating. It was then ported to
Wisconsin—to ensure that parents became a collector’s item and has 3DO and Sega’s 32X, followed by PC
have the information they need when been known to sell to the value of £100 and Macintosh versions in 1995. What
they go out to buy a game for their or more. was evident this time, though, was
kids. The system could involve The Interactive Digital Software that these versions, besides being The original cover art (top) was
ratings—such as those used to rate Association formed the Entertainment rated, featured a new cover on the deemed sexist, so future art bore
movies—or could simply be informative Software Ratings Board (ESRB), which game’s packaging: a harmless dreary shots of vampires with
labels.” In closing, Senator Lieberman successfully negated the need for any screenshot of Dana Plato (the main Dana Plato in the foreground.
stated that “we now require warning government regulation. ESRB was a character from the game), with some
labels on toys that could potentially self-regulated management, which ‘pleasing to the eye’ artwork in the right? And despite claims from the
damage children’s bodies, why not do provided appropriate games with background. hearings that the player’s role was to
so on a toy that can damage their suitable rankings: ‘E’ (suitable for What a lot of fuss over a video “trap and kill women,” it is, in fact, the
minds? In finishing, parents, everyone), ‘T’ (appropriate for teens of game, but what was this really all opposite: they are saving them from
remember some of these video games age 13 and over), ‘EC’ (early about? Compared to Mortal Kombat’s harm. Night Trap was merely used as a
do not promote peace on earth and childhood), ‘M’ (mature adults of 17 decapitations, tearing out spinal tool for politicians who had agendas, to
good will to all men.” years old and over), and ‘AO’ (18 years columns, lethal finishing moves, and, use, alongside Mortal Kombat, in their
On 16th December 1993, Night and over only). The system worked in of course, plenty of blood, Night Trap is fight against increasing violence in
pretty tame. Yes, there is the realism video games. Echoing Nick Alexander’s
“We now require warning labels on toys that could of the footage, but that was done with words, Night Trap really was no worse
potentially damage children’s bodies, why not do so on tongues so firmly in cheeks that it than a PG (Parental Guidance) rated
couldn’t possibly be taken seriously, Doctor Who episode.
a toy that can damage their minds?” - Senator Lieberman
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 80
... or Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (in
English) contains babies and cute
graphics. This doesn’t sound like a
good combination for a game.
However, as Mohammed Soussi
explains, the game should not be
dismissed for its immature premise,
and deserves a spot light for being a
solid 8-bit platformer

W ho would ever thought of


playing a baby character in a
platform game? Well, I never did. My
only experience with babies on a
game was on the Game & Watch.
Konami decided to create a baby hero
complete with a magical rattle stick to
strike and inflate all those horrible
enemies. This game is fun with cute-
catchy music (did I just say that?).
Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (My Name
is Upa) was developed and released
by Konami in 1988 for the Famicom
Disk System in Japan and later
released on cartridge format onto the
Famicom in 1993. The game was
planned for a U.S. release in 1989,
but the former chairman of Nintendo
(Howard Lincoln) decided the game
was not suitable for the U.S. market.
During the early 1990s, Bio Miracle
filtered its way into the U.S. as a
DETAILS pirate copies and could be hired or
even purchased under the name of
Baby Mario, becoming a popular
Developer: Konami rental as many kids thought it was a
Publisher: Konami Mario game. This news was spread by
word of mouth in the schoolyards,
Released: 1988 thus creating hype and demand for
Platform: Nintendo Famicom the game, eventually giving it cult
status by platform fans. Because of
Genre: Platform the rarity of the cartridge, many
rental copies went missing (I wonder

RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 81


RETRO RESPECT BIO MIRACLE BOKUTTE UPA
why?). However, Bio Miracle was microchips. The game’s graphics are
eventually released in the U.S. on the similar to Doki Doki Panic (Super Mario
Wii Virtual Console on 8th June 2008, Bros 2) and the Rockman series
rekindling its affair with former fans (Megaman). The music is produced
that never owned the original game. very well and really suits the premise
The game’s plot goes something of the game: very cartoony and
like this: Upa the baby prince of a catchy. Each World has its own theme
magical kingdom and one of the including the end of level Boss. The
kingdoms bravest fighters accidentally sound effects add to the cartoony
breaks an urn containing an evil spirit atmosphere from the sound of Upa’s
(Zai), an evil goatish demon who rattle to the sound of the enemies
takes the life force of the kingdoms when they take a hit.
adults and kidnaps all the babies. Upa Bio Miracle looks like just another
avoids capture by the help of a crazy obscure Japanese game that loses
magical fairy who was trapped in the its appeal after a few plays, doesn’t it?
urn along with Zai, the fairy gives Upa Far from it. Konami produced another
a rattle with magical abilities to help enemies on land, water, and the air for a short period of time. The icon for great title encompassing gaming
his quest in saving the kingdom and during various stages. While Upa can the power up is a small container with elements borrowed from Dig Dug. Once
help defeat the evil Zai. use his magical rattle to defeat the a picture of Up’s face and are situated you start to play you will find the game
Upa’s abilities consist of the crawl, enemies, this is just a simple strike, on different parts of the level. Upa fairly straight forward, but it’s one of
jumps, and strike. Upa can be dazed if which will cause the enemy to inflate. begins with three life hearts, which those titles that you find yourself
you attempt to jump or fall from a You can take advantage of the can be increased to five. If an enemy periodically returning to play. It’s
high platform, however, you will not rendered enemy in two ways, either to touches Upa then his health will baffling to this day why Howard Lincoln
loose any energy, but Upa will be use as a lift whilst the enemy elevates decrease by half a heart. The controls refused to have this game released in
incapacitated momentarily when he towards hard to reach platforms or as are very fluid and simple, but very the West, because it had potential to
lands. Upa faces a number of a secondary weapon by striking the responsive, which is needed for this become a top seller, especially during
enemies during his adventure, which enemy a second time. Whilst it’s type of platform game. the peak of the platform genre in the
are in the form of cute animals: inflated, it will then launch into the There are two difficulty settings late 80s. Well that’s Bureaucracy for
penguins, pigs, bats to name but a direction you strike it eliminating more that can be chosen from in the game: you. Konami always had the ability to
few. Similar to most platform games, enemies; this technique is also needed easy and normal. You can pretty much produce great titles for the Famicom/
the enemies tend to follow a route or to defeat the end of level Boss. The fly through the levels in easy mode if NES and this is one of those titles. If
pattern unless their path is inflated enemies can be useful you are a veteran platformer, but I you’re a fan of the 8-bit platformer, then
obstructed. Upa will encounter especially when collecting the hard to recommend setting the game on you will not be disappointed.
reach power ups. ‘Normal’ mode. There are a total of
There are a total of four power ups seven worlds, with each world
to collect: milk comes in a variety of containing three levels, so go do the
different bottles but each one will Math.
replenish Upa’s health, a bell will The first thing that you will notice
enable Upa to be invincible and run about the game is the bright vibrant
instead of crawl for a short period of colour of the levels. There is great
time, a heart will increase Upa’s life detail on the sprites, stages, and
bar and also replenish it, an hourglass backgrounds, particularly the detail in
will freeze all the enemies on screen World 4-2 of the circuit boards and

It’s baffling to this day why Howard Lincoln refused


to have this game released in the West,
because it had potential to become a top seller
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 82
T HE W EI
WEI RD A
EIRD ND
AN
WON
WONDER
OF RE
DERFUL WO
DERFUL
TROG
RETROG
TROGA
WOR
AMI
RLD
NG
MIN TRAFFIC
Amongst the many games on the 8-bit Amstrad
CPC, Traffic must rank as one of the weirdest, yet
wonderful, offerings available. Richard Goulstone Arrgh! Traffic jam. I’m outta Things start out fairly easy. Red
here... light here, green there, red, green,
explains why but the traffic soon picks up

I
t’s 1985, and you have to come several city blocks with many the gameplay does become quite
up with a great new wizz bang intersections. Traffic enters the screen frantic. I imagine girls could be good
game for Amsoft for the new at various places, with the intention of at this game as it requires some
Amstrad CPC computer. Something travelling along the roads and through multi-tasking—you have to try and
with excitement, good graphics, said intersections to exit at the keep your eyes and mind on all the
superb sound and gripping gameplay. opposite side of the screen. The intersections at once to make sure
What would you come up with? A graphics do leave a lot to the there isn’t a sneaky back-log building
game that lets you control traffic imagination. For example the different up on at one of them. Once you have
lights, of course. vehicles are represented by varying survived a certain amount of time with
Aptly named Traffic, the concept of sizes of small rectangular boxes, from the successful flow of traffic, you move
the game isn’t as boring as it sounds. motorcycles up to buses and trucks on to the next level: a new screen
Especially if you come from New (or ‘lorries’ as Brits might call them). with a new intersection layout.
Zealand—a country that didn’t get it’s Using the joystick or keypad you You have to admit, this game is
first traffic lights until 1979, has only have to move from intersection to unique, and who would have thought
had weekend shopping since 1994, intersection and change the lights controlling traffic lights could be so
and where ‘Sheep Husbandry’ is a from red to green, or green to red. much fun? (OK, maybe Chris from
compulsory school subject. There are no orange lights in this Eggheads would). An original of the
The game itself is quite simple to game (in New Zealand, green means tape is quite rare and expensive on
play. You are presented with a static go, orange means go faster). Your aim eBay, so I am assuming that this
screen showing an overhead view of is to keep the traffic flowing smoothly, wasn’t a big seller back in 1985
with no build-ups. If a queue of traffic when it first came out. For me, this
at any intersection gets too long, is one of those iconic Amsoft/
much sounding of horns will be heard Amstrad games that I enjoy loading
and it is game over. Incidentally, this into my Amstrad CPC464 and whiling
is the main sound in the game, away the time with. So, give Traffic a
beeping horns, with the occasional go, put on your extra thick
engine noise thrown in. spectacles, slot in your pocket
Gradually, the traffic gets faster protector, slick back your hair and
and faster and more numerous, and take a ride to 1985....

Using the joystick or keypad you have to move


And when you complete the first
level, a whole new level at a from intersection to intersection and change
different part of the town appears the lights from red to green, or green to red.
RETROACTION ISSUE TWO SUMMER 2009 83