Reviews by Stack (279)

Dictator, 14 Jan 2009 (Rating: 5)

Unusually Dictator is a high score strategy game. You accumulate points by surviving in office but also by robbing Rimtimba blind and escaping with your loot. Immediately playable but with hidden depths this game forces the player to shed the desire to be everyone's friend and to unite army, landowners and peasants only by warmongering with neighburing Leftoto. Sell mining rights to the US in return for a personal foreign aid 'loan' and then see to your Swiss bank account whilst forcing peasants to conscript to your smarmy army...
Any score over 100 is doing really well and over 200, exceptional.
EDIT: Several years after... I initially scored this game 4, but the more I think back on it the more revolutionary Dictator looks and as a life lesson in greed and corruption I have come to see it as a peerless example of what was possible on the Spectrum driven by a great imaginative author. Time and again in my lifetime I have seen real dictatorships playing out the same sort of choices as Don Priestly laid out in this game.

Manic Miner, 14 Jan 2009 (Rating: 5)

A classic of design and imagination, Manic Miner was the game that I searched for online 22 years after playing it for the last time on the real hardware and in so doing rediscovered the Spectrum via emulation.
A conceptually simple, beautiful, captivating game that has charm as well as boundless playability.

City Connection, 15 Jan 2009 (Rating: 5)

Written in the 80s but never published. One of the forgotten gems, and - when you get into it - one of the best arcade conversions ever written for the Spectrum. Colourful, good scrolling and full of neat features, the Honda Civic is the unlikley hero of this twist and turn platform highway game.

Knight Lore, 15 Jan 2009 (Rating: 4)

When this game came out the graphics were state of the art. Knight Lore was undoubtedly a landmark game. But it was also an early example of graphics defeating gameplay and I never liked the rotational movement system. KL is an average game to play and palls in direct comparison to others in the Speccy back catalogue but I have rated it good simply for the pleasure it brought me when my humble Spectrum suddenly had a game I could proudly show off to my Mum and Dad. I never actually enjoyed KL and don't go back to it now wheras the best isometric Spectrum game Head Over Heels has withstood the sands of time very nicely indeed.

The Snowman, 17 Jan 2009 (Rating: 3)

An early licensed product, the game is 'based on the book by Raymond Briggs'. Like many later licensed games the link is a loose one as here we have a platforms and ladders arcade game where you drop snow and apparel through a platform to build and dress a snowman and so progress to a tougher level. The first level is nice as the baddies are gas flames who don't cost you a life but hinder your progress by melting snow. Later levels have more obvious meanies.
The game is addictive and well-paced but marred by fussy level and ladder allignment making it harder than it should be to move in the intended direction.

Pirate Adventure, 20 Jan 2009 (Rating: 3)

An early text only adventure by one of the most successful authors in the genre for the Spectrum, Scott Adams, Pirate Adventure is sometimes too obvious and sometimes a bit obscure. The narrative is not compelling and the descriptions are lazy. Dark cave, grass shack etc is often about all the detail you get. Not enough for 5p less than a tenner back in 1984.
The problems are all solvable and relatively logical so compared to much of the dross that came out, its still not bad.
A major recommendation is that the author's own hints, vocab sheet and solutions are available at As such it is a good re-introduction game to Spectrum text adventuring.

Time Scanner, 27 Jan 2009 (Rating: 5)

Back in 1982 we could never have dreamt of such a good pinball game playing on a Spectrum. In Time Scanner you have to defeat 4 tables, each spread on 2 screens consecutively (with an up down 'scroll') to be a true champion. The +3 disk rerelease is the one I emulated which saves on multload interruptions.

Smooth movement, ball inertia, poppers, buzzers, bells and whistles are all present including great sound fx and good in game music that changes for each table. The tables all offer different challenges and recognise that this is an arcade game producing some flourishes that a real pinball table couldn't offer.

The fourth table 'Special' combines a Breakout game using 3 flippers in the top half of the table.

Each table is mono. The first is blue and yellow but you get used to it. There is slowdown when you have more than one ball on the table but this does not greatly effect the enjoyment.

I rate this game 4.5 so have rounded up to 5 here by necessity.

Sergeant Seymour Robot Cop, 28 Jan 2009 (Rating: 4)

A really great single screen arcade game with progressively difficult layouts and enemies through 50 levels. Very slick production marred only by being too garish at times.
Warning: If you 'find' this distribution denied game on the Internet it may be the demo version which is far less playable. Use the map at World of Spectrum to identify the true full game.

Match Point, 29 Jan 2009 (Rating: 5)

I'm told that Wii Tennis is better, but I don't believe it.

Sabre Wulf, 29 Jan 2009 (Rating: 2)

This was the game that sadly made £9.95 an acceptable price for a Spectrum game. It was done through very skillful marketing - beautiful teaser advertising and a very stylish box. The game, it must be said, looked beautiful too. It still does.
This was just about the first major step to style over substance in computer gaming. The actual experience of playing it was not a patch on its predecessor Atic Atac.
Ultimate's stupid key layout further confirmed how low down the pecking order playing the game actually came.
The draw of nostalgia between me and Sabre Wulf is still strong. I still want to like,it as I wanted to back then, but I only have to bustle down a couple of sceens of maze, sabre in hand and get unfairly boxed in by a hippo to know that it just isn't good entertainment.
Sabre Wulf - a magical amulet that hypnotised teenagers into liking it by good looks alone. The expensive blond of Spectrum gaming and just as poor on reflection the morning after.

Kokotoni Wilf, 29 Jan 2009 (Rating: 4)

A walk/fly collect-em up with a great deal of charm in its setting, a large number of screens and some very tricky objects to reach late on in the game.
Kokotoni Wilf - mad name, nice game.

Grid Quest, 29 Jan 2009 (Rating: 2)

I was going to go with author Clive and rate this game a 5 but then I realised

1. I'm a bit scared of Dr Kendall and don't want to mess up his voting site by being silly
2. I don't really have any reason to be biased
3. It truly is a pretty poor simplistic game set in a grid where the first round time limit is nigh on impossible to beat

I do like the few bars of Zorba the Greek in it though so rate this game a 2 (the same as Sabre Wulf).

I would love to see some more reviews of Grid Quest especially if someone can progress beyond round one.

Battle of the Toothpaste Tubes, 29 Jan 2009 (Rating: 1)

Fly your vast toothpaste tube and fire at the bullet rebounding brushes! Dodge the fire from the grumpy pink tubes! Use your square pink shield! Bomb those tubes! Watch out for the deadly chattering teeth!
Dreadful name, dreadful idea, dreadful game.

Ano Gaia, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

A very competent vertical SEU that was a YS cover freebie. Loads of sprite deatail and varied angles of attack, it owes a good deal to games like Xecutor but still holds up well in the playability stakes.

Cookie, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

A simple game of bash the ingredients into the bowl until the cake is baked, Cookie was charming in 1983 and remains so now.

Penetrator, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

A variation on Scramble, Penetrator provided hours of entertainment for me when it came out and can still provide some enjoyment now.
It took about 5 years before any horizontal SEU could seriously challenge Penetrator on the Spectrum.
The level editor also gave the game an extended lifespan.

Head over Heels, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

The absolute pinnacle of isometric gameplay and also a massive playing map with logical progression between zones. Witty and well-designed and certainly one of the best ever Spectrum games.

Gunfright, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

The Stampers signed off from the Spectrum with their best game where you pay the outlaw hunting sheriff in the wild west.
The local boys directed you to the bad guy and you could speed after him on a comic book carnival horse. Here at last was a game that looked and played well, made smoth haste in 3D and best of all doesn't require a map.
My favourite Ultimate games all make good use of the fire button - Gunfright, Jet Pac, Lunar Jetman, Atic Atac, Cookie and Pssst! whilst their other games, even the revolutionary Knight Lore left me luke warm.

SquareMania, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

A Spectrum adaptation of a Flash online game shows a style of game not seen in the classic Spectrum era.
This game's appeal palls too quickly to be worth loading from a tape - it was designed for an era where short attention spans rule.
And as my attention span can be short when working this game is a good excuse to play Speccy during a coffee break. It is a quick fix game with a cool vibe. It is great that coders still make stuff like this for the Speccy.
Collect the grey squares, avoid the black ones as the criss cross the screen. Collect bonuses. Avoid negatives. That's about it. Sounds naff but it has its time and place.

Lemmings, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

Never a likely conversion to the Speccy,the amazing thing is that they pulled it off. Lemmings in mono and lacks elegance on the Spectrum but it is still the classic game Lemmings.
It is also distribution denied so unless you own the tape then there are certainly other versions to pilfer and emulate not least the amazing Sam Coupe one.
Play Sam Coupe Lemmings on the Sim Coupe emulator. It feels like you are playing on a Spectrum but with a panache that makes you wish everything Sam Coupe hadn't had self-destructed with such obdurate determination.

Chicks&Bricks, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 1)

"Perhaps as it is 2007 an interesting use of my time would be to code a Breakout clone for the ZX Spectrum." So may have thought Rafal Miazga when planning his latest game. But perhaps Breakout had been done before? Thru The Wall, Arkanoid I and II, Batty, Krakout, Crusher, Ricochet, Exploding Wall, Breakout, Ballbreaker, Pulsoids, Traz, Titan, Hotshots, Snoball in Hell, Smash Out, Ragnablock, Znapshot, Impact and a few others suggested that it might have been done before but Miazga was undeterred. "I will make the standout version" he possibly declared.
Unfortunately a few subtlties of Breakout passed Miazga by. The need to have some logic as to where the ball would bounce was one. The need to stop the ball gliding smoothly through the bat was another. Making the bat fast enough to cross the screen and reach the ball was a third. But never mind as Miazga had an extra trick up his sleeve - he would combine Breakout with drawings of semi naked ladies in porno style and in lad mag poses. Yes, in spite of the proliferation of porn around on the Internet Miazga decided to prove that the Spectrum might still titilate by rewarding the player with a crude drawing on completion of each round.
Don't want to suffer Breakout hell to see Miazga's interpretation of Stella in her undies? Don't worry, for Pavel Pliva has indulged himself with a 'map' available at WoS. The naked truth is there for all to see. It is a sight the vast majority of this world will live without quite comfortably.

Weetabix Versus the Titchies, 03 Feb 2009 (Rating: 2)

Definitely the best Weetabix licence on the Spectrum (unless there is another one). The Titchies move a lot like Space Invaders.

Football Manager, 04 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

Most text-oriented strategy games have failed to see off the sands of time and Football Manager is no exception. It is tedious and lacks any real depth.
It was one of my favourite games in 1983 and took up hours of my time. The nostalgia buzz is undeniable - and the game can take a bow for all of the lookalikes that followed.

A win for iconic bearded icons.

Jetpac, 04 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

A classic that I still like to play, Jetpac takes all the right programming options for a 16K masterpiece.
But the same fact that marks it brilliant - 16K - also limits its appeal by virtue of being too repetitious and easy to master.

Kwik Snax, 04 Feb 2009 (Rating: 3)

Taking their arcade adventure mascot Dizzy and planting him into a single screen arcade game was a brilliant way of introducing a new generation of Spectrum players to the simple pleasures quick moving hide and dodge fun.
It is superbly implemented with great presentation and music but most importantly the game - an adaptation from those block sliding Pengo games - plays really well.
Crash Smashed it, YS gave it a Megagame. Arcade fun was back in fashion.
I like Kwik Snax a lot, but I've only played it twice. I got 2/3 through all the levels second go. And that's why I'm rating it only average. It is a quick snack, an omlette that isn't filling enough.

Ricochet, 04 Feb 2009 (Rating: 3)

After reading about this game in the peerless Spectrum Games Bible I then saw similar comments here by Digital Prawn.
Anyway, to cut a long story short ditto Digital Prawn. I agree with that review almost word for word.

Flying Shark, 06 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

A magnificent shoot em up, Flying Shark packs in eveything bar full colour. The graphics are so well defined that it gets over this. There are multiple challenges and constant action with no slow down.
It is hard to believe that Graftgold did all this, single load, 48K.

Rainbow Islands, 06 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

Quite simply a dazzling conversion of the Taito coin op, this is a stunningly playable jump em up with masses of levels and a multicolour palette that overcomes the challenges that the Spectrum throws at it.
Its a labour of love from the Graftgold team that wanted to leave nobody feeling short changed.
Very impressive and enjoyable.

Rogue Trooper, 07 Feb 2009 (Rating: 2)

Drawn by a toddler with garish felt tips this game gives our hero Rougue the walking gait that Dale Winton might adopt in a combat situation.
The game flick screens through an approximation of isometric perspective. It wraps round to disguise a small map.Killing a bad guy is more a question of careful allignment rather than quick reactions.
The game is also very easy to complete.
For all of that I got a bit out of it, it created a good atmosphere.
I persevered for the 30 minutes or so it took to complete it. Having done so I can't imagine any future scenario where I'd get any replay value out of it.

Mikie, 07 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

The Konami coin-op seemed influenced by a Benny Hill brand of comedy as the teachers, janitors and chefs caper after Mikie as Mikie colects hearts through five different school scenes linked by connecting corridors.The first teacher even has giant false teeth to chuck at Mikie. A love story, the risks Mikie takes are all to get to give his girl a playground kiss. After these levels the game wraps around but is harder.
This camp kissy comedy was a perfect vehicle for arcade maestro Jonathan Smith who delivered a great conversion to the Spectrum. It can be frustratingly hard to get past the janitor in those corridors though.
This game comes truly alive in high score competition and the Internet currently allows you to do so at

Lightforce, 08 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

To play Lightforce on a keyboard you need to find a comfortable layout so that you can fire quickly enough to make progress. This is made tricky becuase Space is not an option (unless you use Spin and reset using its controller options).
Once I could fire quickly enough I found LF an above average shoot em up made cheerful by the technical achievements that Matt B summarises well in his review.
Gargoyle/FTL programmed games that displayed great techical merit often too much to the point of making a great game good. LF fits into that pattern. The desire to set new standards in colour meant the actual look of the sprites took on a slightly heavy shape. Your craft in LF is so ugly it could be from a C64 game.

Wizard's Lair, 09 Feb 2009 (Rating: 2)

An enduringly popular piece of plagiarism, this game is either better or worse than its inspiration Atic Atac.
For me its worse. The problems set are fiddly and obscure. It feels more cramped to move around in than Atic Atac.
And I hated seeing a programmer with such obvious talents being so blatantly unoriginal.

Karnov, 10 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

It feels like a guilty pleasure becuase Karnov looks too colourful to be a Sectrum game. It only just feels like you are playing on a Spectrum. The programmers (incredibly its Mr Micro of Punchy fame) used the same cell-based technique pioneered in shooter Lightforce and turned out a remarkable conversion of a far from famous arcade game. Full colour when all others were doing mono and all 9 arcade levels in short multiloads when all bar R-Type were finding excuses to cut corners.
Karnov is essentially a run and gun game where you fire at everything with all of the power ups at you disposal learning the enemies attack patterns. But it its more than that as you can always prop up a ladder and discover more things to collect or secret passageways, alternative routes.
The game is beautiful to look at and improbably huge. See the map at World of Spectrum to witness both. And it is very playable with crackling FX throughout.
The YS reviewer got the game perfectly. Crash were caught out. It is easy to snub the game when you first see Karnov jump his slow cell-block jump. But get going and the floaty style allows all sorts of new problems and tactics to solve them and it is perfectly in keeping with the dreamy setting drawn out of Russian folklore.
Karnov is the best game of its type on the Spectrum and publisher Electric Dreams deserve a bigger reputation for such labours of love such as this game and RType together with originals such as Spindizzy and Hijack.

Mini-Putt, 12 Feb 2009 (Rating: 1)

When I came back to the Spectrum via emulation I imagined that there might be a decent Crazy Golf game produced for it in the intervening years. To my mind the Spectrum is the perfect platform for an isometric golfing game - Bobby Bearing but with a putter and windmills to play through.
This game has 4 nine hole 2D courses with slopes indicated only by arrows. Only one course of the four has any animated objects to avoid even though the game has spilled into 2 separate loads.
It looks and plays like a compiled basic game with really poor graphics.
Perhaps the worst bit is that this game has a selection menu with all four courses on it but choose either of the wrong two (those intended for the flipside of the cassette) and the game will crash during play.
Hole 2 of the animated course is the most frustrating. There is an elephant on the course and every indication that the right decision is to play the ball into the reach of its extending trunk and watch the ball shoot through the elephant and into the hole. But no such imagination applies. The trunk is just an object to be avoided (much like the game).

Chuckie Egg, 12 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

Fast flowing platforms and ladders game that is automatic to pick up and play and provides really good entertainment.
Its high up in my pecking order that's for sure.

R-Type, 12 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

Smooth scrolling horizontal shoot-em-up that stands head and shoulders above any other space-based arcade conversion for the Spectrum.
A bewildering plethora of power ups means that your space craft eventually goes into battle more souped up than a Ford Capri with go faster stripes and a spoiler and you will feel invincible and untouchable as you cream into the alien swarm.

Green Beret, 12 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

Stabtastic arcade action through multiple levels, Green Beret set new standards in terms of playability and action finesse whilst reinforcing anti Red propoganda in the impressionable minds of Cold War era children. Power up weapons set you up to demolish mortars, tanks and bridge heads. It has a cast of characters worthy of a feature film adventure epic and it remains very playable today.
Green Beret was beautifully programmed, right down to the last guard sheep.

Friday the 13th, 13 Feb 2009 (Rating: 1)

Some strange sensation compelled me to write this review this very day. Perhaps it was the dull sound of the chainsaw in the tangled woodland nearby. Perhaps it was the shadowy masked figure lurking behind the garden wall. Perhaps it was the clean white cow skull the dog had unearthed in the night as he crunched and slavered into its eye sockets.
Whatever the reason I loaded up this game...
And was met by an apology that the promised music from the inlay did not fit onto the Spectrum version for lack of memory. Well, that's quite understandable I mused, lets see what we have got.

About 10 badly drawn flip screens to move around in (mostly green)
A save em up scenario (like an bizarre precursor of Lemmings)
3 buildings to visit
2 crappy FX (footsteps and scream)
The Spectrum font

Yeah, that should fill up the old Speccy!

Things that make this game worse than bad

Buildings with walls you can walk through as if you are hiding amongst the bricks
Bad keyboard responses and fiddly actions
Terrible animation
Characters that get stuck on the scenery
Clueless game concept
Inexplicable wrap round connections between screens

It actually should have been a good idea, creating a sanctuary for the good guys whilst hunting down Jason. But the implementation is bewilderingly poor for a game Domark hyped and hyped.

I can almost hear Jason weeping into his mask today, this day.

Pippo, 15 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

At school I used to have a column in my blue French Vocab book for Spectrum High Scores. Some games were simple and the only replay interest was to see if you could do better next time.
Had I had Pippo, it would have been in there. A straightforward game, you play the fat rabbit Pippo and paint the squares (as in Q Bert but on a single lavel). Bad guys move around on there but unlike Q Bert they cannot be predicted. It creates a different sort of strategy. I won't go on, its a simple cute game with great FX and nice tunes and it was strangely ahead of its time as Pippo works best as a coffee break game.
In the 80s waiting for Pippo to load would have taken about as long as I like to play it for. In emulation I can keep a snapshot on my desktop and be up and bouncing in seconds. And if I save afterwards I don't even need the French Vocab book anymore.

Bubble Bobble, 15 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

Its a competent conversion of the bubble blowing arcade game which features some of the most famous in-game music ever. It also has a strong reputation as a teamwork 2 player game.
For me the screen feels a little cramped and the levels all seem the same and I can't quite see how this game gets praised quite as highly as it does. I don't mind cute, I like platforms, and I enjoy Rod-Land which has similar gameplay and teamwork but Bubble Bobble still leaves me relatively cold.
It is addictive enough to rate above average, but is short of the top bracket.

Wanted: Monty Mole, 16 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

This was the first outing for one of the Spectrum's favourite characters, Monty Mole. It was Manic Miner derrivative althugh it did have ladders as well as platforms, doubling the directional controls. Als, not every screen had to be played in a pre set order, but it was a linear journey that took the minor miner Monty into the depths of Arthur Scargill's coal black mind (or something...), so that you could escape past the Union leader with your collected coal.
A rare element of political satire brought the game fame beyond the Spectrum.
For all that it achieved I'm tempted to give the game a 5/5 but that would be to overlook the crushers, those random mole squshers that could only be avoided with luck, not skill. It deprived many players of the will to persevere, a shame because Peter Harrap saved some of his best screens until the last few including the frantic coal train. Fortunately a poke to disable crushers now exists.

Double Xinox, 17 Feb 2009 (Rating: 2)

I've seen games like this on mobile phones I think. 2 balls (to start with) bounce around the screen. You use directional keys to draw lines to cut off areas of the screen making the ball's enclosure smaller and smaller. If a ball hits you or your trail before yo get back to the perimeter, you lose a life.
There are a few attempts at special targets in this game to liven things up but with no great gameplay cohesion.
I'd say there are multiple levels as the game weighs in at 640K on a TRD disk.
Each level reveal a pixel picture and the music, in common with many Russian language games is outstanding.
But it is still not a great version of a dull sort of time filler.

R-Type III, 17 Feb 2009 (Rating: 1)

At the time of writing this game has a voters score of 7.5 at WoS. It must be accidental voting from visitors loking for R Type.
It is not my intention to be rude about a piece of homebrew that probably never expected to be widely judged, but to clarify expectation, this game is not anything like R Type bar the borrowed sprites and is instead a very basic homage.

Android Two, 19 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

The claustrophobic maze, pace and precision required make for a difficult atmospheric game. The panic inducing Militoids are amongst the most evil villains of any Spectrum game.
I had to relearn this game to participate in the 2008 Speccy Tour competition and had a eureka moment when I cracked the techniques required to despatch the grim beasts.
Android 2 is ultimately much more rewarding than many easier games.

Solar Fire, 20 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

Its a nice turn based space strategy with accessible instructions in the game download zip file. Probably not ideal for experienced warmongers and strategists but a very nice one to try if your normal appetite is arcade and you want to indulge some slower thinking time.

Commando, 20 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

In 1985 we never really expected to see such a detailed, pacy and bold arcade conversion for the 48K Spectrum.
Commando, the classic run and shoot game was there for all to play at home and without a pocket full of 10p coins. The end of level overwhemimg riot and bullet spray was present and correct on the Speccy.
A host of imitators followed. Each one failed to meet the high playability watermark of Commando.
The task in Commando looks 'against all odds' but you just know that you can get past the next stage if you practice. The balanced challenge in Commando is just right making its appeal unlikely to diminish rapidly.

Missile Defence, 20 Feb 2009 (Rating: 3)

Only a true retro games fan can get past the awful look of this game, an 'inspired by' version of Missile Command.
It also suffers from silence.
But it is also a smooth playing and addictive wee number and recommended as a high score game.

Diver: Mystery of the Deep, 21 Feb 2009 (Rating: 3)

Its double emulation time as this game allows a Speccy to emulate a Game and Watch game, Diver, even down to graphical representations of the control buttons
A strange piece of nostalgia that succeeds in all it sets out to achieve.
One for the Game and Watch Spectrum emulation fans (there surely must be loads).

The Trap Door, 21 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

The surreal children's TV animated series was a perfect licence for the creative programming genius of Don Priestley. The combined forces unleashed some of the most extraordinary animated sprites into Spectrum gameplay.
I hated the idea of a licence from such a kid's show back in the day and I'm sure the licence didn't inspire as many teenagers to buy the game as it deserved. But fortunately I can now appreciate it as an adult.
In Trapdoor Priestly leads you, personified as the servant Berk, into participating in a crazed bizarre interplay. The scenes play out with comic gusto.
At one point you will flip a large bullet up a giant chicken's arse causing it, eyes bulging, to fire an egg into your awaiting sizzling fry pan. And if you lost the bullet down the trapdoor you can fire the friendly skull up the same jacksy. What other Spectrum game can offer up a skull stuffed broody bird for your delictation?
The Trapdoor is an absolute tour de force. Videogaming will never see its like again.

Deathchase, 22 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

Your object is to avoid the same fate as Marc Bolan, killed by crashing into a tree. You won't avoid it.
In this existential game only the inanimate trees can kill you. You can take two routes to clocking up points. You can ride your bike slowly, twisting between the trees, knowing it will soon get boring - you could go on almost forever - or you can go full tilt to hunt down the rival bikers and fire bolts through their backs.
As it is human nature we're dealing with here you will go after the thrill and ruthlessly gun down your fleeing rivals... until you misjudge your steering and crash.
Deathchase is a psycological masterpiece. You live your minimalistic biker life to the full until your inevitable death.

Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, 23 Feb 2009 (Rating: 5)

There were so many disappointing football games on the Spectrum. EHIS offered both the skills and the chaos of the game.
EHIS doesn't need all of the team slection options that it crammed in. The gameplay was good enough on its own. Back in the day the magazines didn't really rate EHIS but it has stood the test of time far better than the rest.

Frogger, 23 Feb 2009 (Rating: 2)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this version of the old arcade classic is that the author, a Spectrum programmer with a proven history, bothered to unearth it and finally complete it in 2009, uploading the finished product to World of Spectrum.
This nice preservation back story meant that I had to try it, and really wanted to find it frustratingly addictive - the magic ingredient that so many previous Spectrum versions failed to deliver.
Graphically very satisfying, with nice frog animation, this version sadly misses out on playability. The odds are too stacked against the player to make the game flow nicely.

Blind Alley, 23 Feb 2009 (Rating: 2)

Not a very good 'Tron' game.

Cannon Bubble, 23 Feb 2009 (Rating: 3)

Well presented, well-programmed tedium. Efficiently programmed Puzzle Bobble game that is, bar a bit of animation, an imagination free zone. The in-game music fits with the theme, well written but desperately bland. Cannon Bubble is a case of talented people who worked on an uninspired choice of project.
That said, there are many worse examples of games in this genre.

Mushroom Man, 28 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

The first thing to strike you about this game is just how awful it looks. It truly is a contender for the worst looking game ever on the Spectrum.
Mushroom Man is intentionally reminiscent of wearisome type-ins from 1982 and the famous Cassette 50 compilation and it was entered in the 2008 crap games comeptition, an annual celebration of new games authored in the spirit of Cassette 50.
If Mushroom Man had appeared on Cassette 50 however, Casette 50 would have been worth the asking price. The awful looks can't fool me any more than they fooled 2008 crap games judge Digital Prawn. For the dire appearance does nothing to detract from the playability of this puzzle game that features an astonishing 175 varied levels.
It is a simple enough premise. Use directional keys to get to the exit. In your way will be stationary obstacles - locks, guards, walls, explosives, holes, water and er, jellybeans and items to collect to help you get around them - keys, bombs, teleports, boats, bribes, pistols.
By combining these few items in different positions and order, the authors have set some very engaging trappy levels, many of which take a burst of grey matter to sort out. I have been through 60 levels so far and have yet to feel deja vu. Each level has its own uniqueness.
Mushroom Man was written for Windows by Spectrum fan and WOS/CSS member Paul Equinox Collins and converted for the Spectrum by Hajo Spuunup. The graphics look rather good on Paul's Windows version. On the Spectrum they are wonderfully dire; the death messages in particular are rendered in great Cassette 50 style.
The game is by no means original. The Adverntures of Sid Spider, is very similar as is Chip's Challenge and there are probably others in the archive.
But there is great affection wtitten into the game and, after some learner levels, no weak or lazy puzzles to solve. Each level provides a quick fix. You can restart anywhere too, making it perfect for a busy person who wants to slot a few minutes of Speccy buzz into each day.

Snare, 28 Feb 2009 (Rating: 4)

A well written screen by screen puzzle game that feels like a classic after the first few levels, but persevere through all 30 and it falls short.
Snare has one great idea in it - on some levels you have to control multiple characters at the same time - triggering wanted and unwanted actions in all parts of the screen. All other levels are well-executed but derrivative of Bomberman, Boulder Dash and Chip's Challenge.
Time limits are set and several levels end in an arcade showdown with the aliens.You desperately outrun them to grab the last few gems. These levels lack something in puzzle design making them a chore to complete. They are the undoing of the more strategic levels.

Splat!, 01 Mar 2009 (Rating: 4)

Avoid those perimeter walls as the moving maze moves. Don't whizz into other bad stuff. Be a cool character square. Snatch edibles. Get points.

Shout "Yippee"

Next Level (harder)

Tapper, 01 Mar 2009 (Rating: 4)

Tapper is played like a classic Game and Watch. It's that simple. Slide drinks to new customers who line up along 4 or 5 bars per round. Collect the empties when the slide them back. Don't drop anything or leave a customer unserved for too long (they'll grab you). Technically you can move along the bars but most of the action is spent timing service to be at the right bar at the right time.
Its a classic high score game where some players can get in the zone to be almost invincible, but few will find rounds 4 or 5 easy at the first encounter.
Collecting customer tips releases the dancing girls for extra razzmatazz.
A nice bunco booth bonus game of pick the unshaken beer can makes a fun break between levels.
The customers at the bars get themselves in a graphical pickle when there is a crowd but it barely detracts from the game.

Travel with Trashman, 01 Mar 2009 (Rating: 4)

If you've ever dreamed of scooping up wet Jewish hankies for a living then this is the simulator for you.
In the sequel to Trashman, the binman aimed to earn his way around the world doing demeaning jobs such as grabbing escaped frogs in Paris or presenting a buttocky target to a raging bull in Madrid in front of a magnificently jeering bloodthirsty crowd (who love it if you die) In Jerusalem you pick up hankies dropped by the Wailing Wall.
Travel with Trashman takes a Blackpool postcard view of all things foreign without quite overstepping the line between parody and xenophobia.
Depicted in graphics that scream Spectrum and with music at the end of the game that screams annoying, Travel with Trashman was an imaginative follow up to its surprising hit prequel.

Sword of the Samurai, 09 Mar 2009 (Rating: 3)

A Zenobi Shinobi clone, this late budget game brought nothing new to the Spectrum and takes shortcuts any Spectrum player should be familiar with - entirely monochrome graphics, pisspoor sound and repetitive mvements for end of section guardians.
Put all of that into the mix and this run 'n' shuriken game sounds quite unapealing but it does have 8 nicely drawn levels and offers a playable extra for fans of Shinobi and Shadow Dancer.

Cavelon, 14 Mar 2009 (Rating: 4)

The same team that made the Spectrum's first official arcade conversion Hunchback also made the second, Cavelon, converted from an obscure coin-op original.
And a much better job they did of it too. You have to beat a series of 'scrolling' mazes whilst keeping out of sight of sharp shooting arrowmen. And watch it as these boys really are sharp.
Crucifix shaped swords dance a beguiling jig around the maze from time to time. Grab them to use later for invincibility.
Now the scrolling is so poor it barely deserves the name 'scroll' and the in game music is grating but somehow the game survives and it is nicely progressive so that you can get a bit further each session.
At least the in game music was attempted and all the levels are present, there is colour and action and even a nice intro sequence. Cavelon was a major step forward for the Spectrum when it first came out.

Army Moves, 16 Mar 2009 (Rating: 4)

Army Moves and its sequel Navy Moves form the backbone of Dinamic's - and Spain's - reputation for rock hard Speccy gaming.
I'd never played either game and so tonight I must have been feeling especially sharp as I gave Army Moves a spin in the emulator.
An hour or two later, and with judicious end of level savestates and I have ploughed through to near the end. To get there I have driven by jeep through a hail of bullets, aircraft and armoured cars jumping holes in the route in the left right scrolling of phase 1. I have then flown three phases in a helicopter over land and sea scrolling smoothly right to left. Then I have run at the enemy Green Beret Style in two more phases, now flick screen though, and then stormed into the building itself, the final phase moving through doors to both left and right.
I'm emulating the game in 128K so there is just one load.
It sounds a big game, with all these phases and so it is, but it is designed to be played at speed. It is an intense beguiling experience requiring the player to learn the rhythm of each phase.
And after doing so I understand Dinamic's difficulty curve better. If it were easy it would all be over too quickly. I have enjoyed it all the more for setting a hard challenge.
Army Moves was criticised for bad collision detection but I don't agree. The collision detection simply favours death rather more than life. It feels unfair but at least it is consistent. In the scrolling phases you get sent back to the beginning which is a bit mean - but the game still has oodles of playability. I found phase one especially addictive.
I have really enjoyed discovering Army Moves. The run and gun phase is too messy for my liking so its a 4 rather than a 5 from me, but do give this one a run for its money. I nearly missed it out on reputation alone and found a much better and more accessible game than I'd anticipated.

Mountain Bike 500, 17 Mar 2009 (Rating: 3)

Played in a small window with minimal FX this is a typical budget release. Its quite good with competent multi direction scrolling in mono. The jumps required are sometimes spectacular.
This game did nothing to compete with Gremlin's Super Scramble Simulator that was already budget priced by the time this came out.
Not exciting.

The Last Courier, 18 Mar 2009 (Rating: 4)

First, as they would have helped me to get started, brief instructions in English, using QAOPSPACE. Q activates up/climb, O,P left,right You can climb up two blocks or drop down from a max height of 3. Collect bombs (you can carry up to 9) and you can also collect/carry a 'special' block like the one you start off with (you can only carry one at a time). You object is to get to the level exit door which is usually several flip screens across to the right of your start point. These special blocks can be used to bridge gaps using key A. They can only be placed directly to your left or right into vacant spaces below your feet. SPACE detonates a bomb, destroying the block beneath you and you have a second or two to get at least 2 blocks away or be blown up. You can also die by falling too far or falling through the bottom of the screen. There is a time limit for the whole game (not per level) and the blocks and bombs you carry also = your allowance at the start of the next level. So really it is one continuous game braoken into password encrypted levels.

Right, that's what you do, now how much fun is it? This is a nice logic game with simple rules and 'big' levels that are very satisfying to complete. Nice explosion FX and neat 'Prince of Persia' animation of teh main character lift it above average and a must try for fans of the puzzle genre.

Future Looter, 08 May 2013 (Rating: 3)

Future Looter scores 0 for originality. This is a poor man's Cybernoid in all respects and doesn't offer any new ideas or imaginative spin.
For a work so devoid of innovation, it is nevertheless an extremely playable game that looks terrific – a graphical cross between Jet Pac and Cybernoid, with jewels and gems dropping from the cutely drawn aliens. Good imitation of such esteemed classics is a significant achievement in its own right. It is a flip screen linear shooter with a greater emphasis on puzzle solving than its more arcadey inspiration.
There is one major departure from Cybernoid – the difficulty challenge has been massively reduced, presumably to allow for the more casual and time-sensitive approach of today's mature gamer. I liked this because I could reach the end of the game in one session, giving a sense of closure, and because it gave me a bit of head space to solve a series of puzzles that don't all benefit from a guns blazing assault. The author has a very good eye for a screen layout that is both aesthetically pleasing and satisfying to navigate through.
This is a very satisfying game to play.

Misc positive
A thumping tune from Mr Beep accompanies the intro screen.

Misc negatives
The fx has no noises for firing and just the odd fart or squelch from a deposed enemy. When you lose a life the sputtering explosion goes on long enough to really rub it in. The endgame follows a somewhat miserable but well-precedented Spectrum tradition of offering no word of congratulations on completion, and no high score table.
The general lack of courtesy to the player such as 'guess the keys unless you have read the relevant WoS thread' isn't great. A simple QAOPM on the greeting screen, also naming compatible joysticks and offering 'press fire to start' seem simple omissions.

I didn't like Wizard's Lair when it came out because I already had Atic Atac, and the plagiarised ideas annoyed me. This would be the same, except of course the passing of time and the intended homage make it much more palatable.
Seen as a homage it is a super effort standing up well in the shadow of true Speccy greatness and worthy of a 60-70 per cent score in Crash. Back In The Day it would have made a nice budget game (assuming no Hewson law suit). I'm giving it 3/5, erring perhaps a little on the mean side as 3.4- 3.5/5 seems fair (but isn't an option on this site).

Rally Driver, 12 May 2013 (Rating: 2)

In this driving game with a twist your job is to steer your car down a road without crashing off the road. The twist? Its twitchy man, well twitchy. You will need lighter fingers than a Ramblas pickpocket to play it.
A rediscovered cult classic, Rally Driver resurfaced in 2013 as a high score challenge on World of Spectrum, which led to a sad group of ageing men trying desperately not to touch their keyboards any more heavily than the bare minimum required in order to break its Ready Brek aura - all in pursuit of a few more seconds towards inevitable roadside doom. Inevitable? One insane player, The Starglider, actually completed the game and it is rumoured that he did so by ensconcing his Spectrum under 20 mattresses and dropping red split lentils onto the uppermost to inact each minuscule key depression. Peas were too heavy.
Depression is a major part of the game play. It will set in the minute you decide to pursue a respectable score. One irate player even endangered his breakfast cereal, such was his monstrous anger whilst playing this game. Hopelessly addictive, Rally Driver is fully worthy of a score of at least 2 out of 5. Its a headrush 5 whenever you beat your previous best but all other attempts bring on low grade misery and there will be many.
Rally Driver has generated COL after COL (C=Crying) in many corners of the globe.
You have been warned.

Invasion of the Body Snatchas!, 13 May 2013 (Rating: 5)

Outstanding blink-and-you-miss-it Defender clone, with great explosions and sound fx that truly evoke the arcade excitement. Emulating Fuller Box for sound is a must.
Underrated as the speed takes a bit of getting used to, but once you are on it, its game on.

Turmoil, 14 May 2013 (Rating: 5)

In all the single screen platform games that followed Manic Miner into the Spectrum cannon, only one surpassed it. It was Turmoil, and it was a better game because it reached a brand new technical level of achievemnet, delivered perfectly, that few attempted to emulate in the years that followed - namely free roaming baddies who bounced on trampettes, climbed ladders and swung on ropes, and the conveyer belts you sped up along, just as you could. This alone + the oil you could drop for them to slip on, made Turmoil the madcap game its title promised it to be, a comic chase and evade game that often mixed the need for frantic evasive action with precision platforming.
It was a mix that defied the gamers who make progress by learning enemy patterns and weren't prepared to live by their wits. Every attempt at Turmoil will be different to the last.
That the screen designs are genius is a bonus.
That the game is also a massive task to complete gives it true longevity. Turmoil is only 26 screens but it is a true challenge to play right through it.
The review on this site by 'The Law' is absolutely right.

3D Seiddab Attack, 15 May 2013 (Rating: 3)

Back In The Day (BITD) Crash captioned their screen picture of this game 'a fistful of baddies bomb the bezzazz out of Birmingham' whilst Your Spectrum complained that the action was hard to follow on a monochrome TV.
It was a passing era, and 16K games, such as this rail shooter, (in which you shoot down Seiddab - Baddies spelled backwards) were already a diminishimg return.
Anyhow 16K it was and with Spectrum heroes Steve Turner and Hewson on the case no game was likely to be a duffer - even now there is that elusive 'have another go' compulsion to this game.
You must defend your drone which gets chipped away at like a Missile Command game by incoming fire. The Seiddab arrive in clusters and they are satisfying to despatch. Every 10 or so shot down and you can go on a boss hunt - assuming you can work out the 'route finding' system.
The 3D was soon surpassed by other Spectrum games and the navigation radar was hard to fathom - monochrome TV or colour - but there is still a good, albeit repetitious game in there that made a big enough deal of a very mean amount of K.
AKA: Crapbert Buttslut in the Muthafuckin' Damn Stone-Circle of the Devil

At the start of this game you are kindly invited to 'Fuck off to hell' a challenge I willingly accepted.
Collecting devil stones and vodka is only part of the platforming obstacle if you are to consequently escape from hell as you also have to contend with the most joyously lurid screens to ever grace the Spectrum as well as overcome a devil-may-care attitude to colour clash that often renders our hero, a kind of square headed calipers, to camouflage into the platforms.
CBITMDSCOTD is one of a raft of Arcade Game Designer (AGD) games to hit the Speccy in the last couple of years, testament to AGD creator, Jonathan Cauldwell's unique prowess in 'keeping the scene alive'.
Bar the lurid coulours it is nothing original on the surface – jump, collect items, reach exit, next screen – but there is a strong sense of identity about this game that is every bit as trippy aurally as it is to look at.
99 lives are given. Let the strange twitchy-trippy rhythm of the game suck you in and you will piss these lives away. I lost 50+ lives in the first 15 screens, before turning off the sound on my laptop and trying to come out of the trance, eventually limping across the completion line – screen 35 - with just 19 lives intact.

Misc Positives
Manic Miner, Egghead and Sir Lancelot are all influences, but taken as a whole, the game creates an atmosphere all of its own. The screen also wraps around and you can move a bit in the air leading to some nice novel challenges. Each screen is fairly well designed and is gurarded by up to 4 types of devil. The Flying Devils are the most fun to evade.
Not only that but you can learn some useful curses in Polish if you download that version from the archive.
Oh, and the musical composition is skilled beyond the call of duty.

Misc Negatives
Each screen is headed with 'Devil Will Tear Your Head Off!!!' and is accompanied by the same picture to the right of the playing area. It would be nice to change this in favour of variety, both to lend the player a sense of progression through the game and also to flourish more insults and threats and so be more in keeping with CBITMDSCOTD's arsy attitude.
It is a bit too easy to press jump twice when once was enough.
It would be nice if taking the vodka changed some element of the play - perhaps some staggerring, haze, vomit or an invite to become a Polish MP.

Its a bit gangsta. Its a lot magenta. It'll save you a stack of cash wasted on LSD. 3.1/5

Full Throttle, 14 Jun 2013 (Rating: 5)

Such a cracking race game, easily the best race game on the Spectrum. Its unforgiving, but that's the challenge.

If you are easily disheartened Full Throttle will beat you, but perservere and you can still make mistakes and win.

Race games converted from the Arcade don't do it for me. Those 'Extended Play' mechanisms were so false, and designed to eat coins. Why translate coin greed to a home cumputer?

Full Throttle is about starting at the back of the grid and aiming to win the race vs. 40 others. It is fast and the tracks give a real sense of speed and momentum. Passing the lead flickery biker on the final straight feels sensational.

Given that the benchmark race game in 1983 was a time trial without competition - Chequered Flag - then Full Throttle was a massive leap forwards.

Humphrey, 23 Jun 2013 (Rating: 5)

Really good 'paint' game with a unique 'jump out of the screen' visual perspective. Loads and loads of levels to puzzle over and enjoy.

Masses of variety and enemies with different methods of attack.

Quirky scrolling, which should be annoying is used to good effect.

Nice cartoony graphics including the decapitated head of Stalin chasing after you.

Lost in My Spectrum, 24 Jun 2013 (Rating: 3)

Here he is, the author making his best benign smile on the loading screen, holding up the very Spectrum that has been his continual passion for 30 years, wondering, like a bemused Pirandello, if the sprites rattling around inside that rubbery box would allow him to morph from player to creator...
Lost in My Spectrum (LIMS) is a love letter of a game, so much so that playing it feels a bit like trespassing in the author's imagination. That was once a quality in Manic Miner, the inspiration for so many pixel precise platformers, you had to embrace Matthew Smith's weird world to get through the caverns of his mind.
For this author, the miracle of Jonathan Cauldwell's Arcade Game Designer has allowed him scope to enter the great canon of Spectrum games as creator for the first time. Getting across that line has been a long time coming, and more games have since followed. As a player, realising this, you want this first game to be an unqualified success.
And for some it will be just that, plenty of really unforgiving single screens of pixel exactitude to leap around, and an attention to presentation – especially sprite detail – that show a lot of care has been put in.
I have been a passable enough player to defeat a few challenging platformers in my time; in Manic Miner the thrill comes when a puzzling screen clicks into place and you can then flow through it. What started out as a series of fussy jump line ups becomes a scoot through – remember the floor collapsing behind you in the Menagerie?
As it probably should expect to, LIMS suffers by comparison. The challenging screens never really unravel and roll over so that the same problems can get you again and again after you had thought them solved. Only one screen of the dozen or so I reached, taking MM's old foe Eugene for inspiration, really hits the mark.
Part of the problem is this version of AGD, I think. Its collision detection is hard to second guess sometimes making many deaths feel unfair. Partly it is the author's taught timer. Bar Solar Panel Generator, the timer (air supply) in MM's caverns is there to keep you moving, but rarely used to suffocate. Here, stopping to check out the scenery for a second from a lofty platform is a crime that will certainly be punished by death.

Misc Positives
Much imagination in the screen designs – conveyors and up arrows are put to good use. Colours are very well used and varied.

Misc Negatives
Bar the pernickety difficulty, the biggie for me comes at screen 6 where the author indulges his passion for Mondrian with a screen that masks all of the platforms. Rather than embracing this challenge, after many attempts and even resorting to 'infinite lives' I felt conned and gave up with it, had to get a Spec-chum to put me back into the game on screen 7.

A colourful outpouring of Spectrum love from an estimable contributor to the Spectrum scene, marred by badly flawed level design.
An updated version is apparently a prospect (I'm writing this in June 2013). 2.6/5

Factory Daze, 27 Jun 2013 (Rating: 3)

A puzzle/arcade hybrid, Factory Daze fits perfectly into the Spectrum scene and could so easily be of mid-eighties origin – bar the twangly modern - and excellent - in game tune.

Playing it calls to mind so many Spectrum classics from Klax and the Tetris style games at the puzzle end of the scale through to arcade games that demand busywork from cool heads like stage one of Tribble Trubble.

In this game you have to man the assembly line by colour and shape matching up to four toy making machines on a conveyor belt connected line. Like plate spinning you have to be relentlessly restless – in this case continually rotating the machines in time to make the right imprint on the right toy as it passes underneath it. Co-ordinating several machines at once is a dizzying task; fortunately the player is equipped with a kind of wizard wand with which to fix one machine onto autopilot. The wand can be used 5 times in the game so you need to reserve it for times of extreme conveyor crisis.

Get the wrong machine print on the wrong toy and it is sucked off the assembly line. Lose too many toys and you'll get a warning from the boss (lose a life)

Its a colourful game both for decoration and to help the player match machine to toy. My eyes struggle to quickly distinguish green/yellow or white/cyan on the Spectrum emulator, a major setback when playing this game but not one that ruins the fun as each toy is also different in shape.

Misc Negatives
The gameplay is a tad repetitive.

Misc Positives
The music is great. There is humour in the game that reminds me of the struggles of working class heroes on the Spectrum, like Wally Week and Trashman. It is all very slickly programmed. Passwords help you from having to start from level one.
Quick witted puzzle fans will love it.

Factory Daze is the job poor Eric ended up after in after failing to retrieve his skool report from Mr Whacker's safe. 3.4/5

Freddie Laker's Airline Capers, 30 Jun 2013 (Rating: 4)

In the 80s we saw a few strange tie in celeb licences, and often they were retired footballers. Emlyn Hughes' Arcade Quiz and Saint and Greavsie were 2 bizarre choices. Peter Shilton's Handball Maradona had the strangest name. Jack Charlton's Match Fishing was especially sublime, a man who regained fame for recruiting workmanlike Englishmen to hoof the ball forwards for Ireland and who also liked fishing... perfect inspiration for a Spectrum game.

Sir Freddie Laker wasn't a footballer. But his innovative budget transatlantic airline did go bust spectacularly in 1982, the year the Spectrum was born. Laker was one of a trio of Thatcher's favourite businessmen (according to Laker's Wiki page). The other 2, Sirs Clive Sinclair and Alan Sugar both owned plenty of Spectrums, so this game finally brought Freddie into the Speccy scene.

As to the game, it was rediscovered as a lost gem in 2012, 6 years after Freddie had gone into permanent MIA. Dated copyright 1984, the game was received via World of Spectrum forumites with bemusement. It was too good for such an early game said one, perhaps the 4, of 1984 should be a 9?

Then the geeks got stuck in and the game before the game was revealed. The WoS directory page points towards the relevant forum thread, where more canny codes and secretive clues than a Dan Brown mystery were revealed. The author was intrepidly unmasked and April Fool's day 2012 identified as the true date of publication.

And so to the game itself, which starts with sampled speech and yes, looks and plays better than most 1984 era games.

Played in four strongly nostalgic sections, part one is busywork in the Pssst or Cookie fashion, clearing litter (a la Trashman) and iterlopers from Freddie's runway. Part 2 sees you shooting contraband luggage items dead – but don't shoot the wrong item. In Part 3 you side scroll the plane past birds and aliens and balloons etc until you can land it. Part 4 tests your platforming skills and logic as you jump about fixing gas and oil leaks in the baggage handling system. This bit is evocative of Spectrum jumping mechanics in classics such as Turmoil and Automania. You have a 60 second countdown to complete this section, a shame because like Part 1 this Part could be an acceptable game in its own right; I could have stuck at it for longer.

Misc Negatives
Part 4 has the timer set a bit tight.

Misc Positives
Everything about the game – conception, name, launch, gameplay, presentation – is the work of a true wit. It embraces fun all the way and is very well programmed and immediately playable. Once all four sections are complete you get new baddies to deal with and the difficulty ramps up on every level. It has quite a bit more to it high score addiction, though it would be an excellent games for a high score challenge.

Nostalgic gameplay at its most recent! Wonderful. 4.4/5

Laser Squad, 01 Jul 2013 (Rating: 5)

Much appluded strategy game that I didn't know back in the day and which lives right up to its hype now, under emulation. So much tension as each turn unfolds...

Bomb Jack, 02 Jul 2013 (Rating: 5)

Brilliant acrade conversion of an excellent game. As good as you get on any 8 bit.

Jumping Jack, 03 Jul 2013 (Rating: 4)

The classic 'jump em up' where you have to reach the top of the screen avoiding the approaching hazards and not slipping through the holes as the ascend and descend towards you.

Simply drawn, clever premise, with a simple addictive hook of revealing the poem.

It is hard to separate out the nostagia when reviewing this one, but I'd say it remains very playable - a feeling that is backed up by the many remakes.

The author authorised a tribute port made for sale on Andriod recently expressing his charm and delight at the work (rather than crushing the project as other lees open coders may have chosen to). As a consequence the game is finding new favour from retro and new gamers, with strong reviewer approval for the game on the Android Play site.

Crack-Up, 04 Jul 2013 (Rating: 2)

Budget Breakout clone from 1989 with too many better predecessors on the Spectrum to be worth much consideration.
Neat and clean graphics are an advantage over Arkanoid but that's where it ends. Movement is a bit random, occasional invisible bat syndrome, but the ball speeds up too steeply, and often changes up and down through the gears mid air.
I reached level 12 out of 35 but primarily because of the B = next level power up.
Level design is average at best, but the big issue with Crack Up is that for easiest progress it is advisable to avoid the more exciting power ups - for two balls or a slow lasergun - in favour of the more mundane ones to slow the ball down or grip it on the bat.
A few extra marks for the Sunday Sport stylee game title.

Tarzan, 04 Jul 2013 (Rating: 2)

Supremely softcore erotic nostalgia for anyone with Basic urges. Just one look at these cute sprites and you are immediately drawn back to those hazy days in the old barn when a finger was for fingering rather than for paying the bills.

Tarzan eh?

The Way of the Exploding Fist, 04 Jul 2013 (Rating: 5)

I got my kicks out of it.

Lovely clean graphics and a great moves, all smoothly animated. Stylishly rendered with a better graduated computer AI than we could have expected.

Top dan.

Bombscare, 10 Jul 2013 (Rating: 1)

A recent share from the programmer of this game showed how British Telecom snapped up the game from bedroom coders for Fiebird's Silver range with an advance of £2000, a decent sum in late 1984.

What the Telecom giant was plundering amateur coders attics for was surely the elusive financial magic of Booty, a massive sales success on the fledgling Silver budget label in 1984. A look at the letter (search WOS Forum for Bombscare to find it) and the resulting release shows BT's fair disregard for its consumer in the chase for a quick buck – which given the original publisher called themselves Dollarsoft seems appropriate.

The game is a hotch potch of platforming ideas inspired by Chuckie Egg and the arcade cabinet Bombjack and adds the finicky pixel perfect ropes already well established in the Spectrum canon via the infuriating ilk of Hunchback and Jungle Fever. The resultant game lacks any of the fuidity of its inspiration whilst adding to the infuriations present in the rope problem.

'Issues' include terrible stodgy key response leading to bad and mistimed jumps, bad collision detection that sees you fall right through some platforms whilst bouncing off others and a slow porridgy feel to the whole presentation. An over taught timer, unnecessary energy bar and a long delay after losing a life add to the terrible experience of playing this game. FX are the bare minimum.

Dollarsoft gain bravery/lazy points for not obeying some of BT's bullet pointed edicts including the ones that so obviously try to help sidestep the distasteful 'nuclear bomb terror in major cities' scenario and a welcome screen in the Firebird release still depicts a decapitated Statue of Liberty as a mushroom cloud rises above the New York skyline (Twin Towers intact, sorry conspiracy guys).

I had to cheat a bit to get anything from this game, speeding up the emulator first (x2) and then nullifying the bomb countdown with a Poke. I got past the Taj Mahal bomb threat, and then the Eiffel Tower (alongside mad Dollar shaped platform) and moved onto some industrial cityscape. That was far more than enough, though there are passwords to fast track to the later screens also in the Tipshop online.

This game was moderately well received in Crash when it was released, a sign that sympathy for the £2.50 pricetag combined with the giant publisher and matching giant advertising budget to help the reviewer err on the side of generosity.

What they didn't say was that you would rather have bought 1 good full price game than four, or even 20 as terrible as this.

Following an intersting letter share from the author, I wanted to like this game, but sadly its awful. 1.4/5

Mad Mix 2, 29 Jul 2013 (Rating: 4)

Its a 'Pacmania' variant, but it does differ considerably from its inspriration, sometimes for better, sometimes worse.

There are 9 large levels to clear and they are full of variety and a number of methods to get your own back on the various cute enemies including ghosts, skeletons, mummies, dracula and frankenstein. You can roll balls at them, flatten them with rollers, grab a power pill or even cork their nasty holes (!)

I played this game right through to the last level, saving at each level completion becuase it takes a bit too much time to play through.

Nice game generally.

Level 9 (the top level) was so frustrating as it amalgamated many of Mad Mix's faults - pills you bounce out of the graound but where timing errs on fussy, badly designed mazes where your not always sure where you can turn and where you can't etc.

In other words it isn't all thought through perfectly, but its still a playable game.

The main criticism though is the random AI. There's no sense of being chased here, just chanced upon by some of the hoard of enemies, and so no sense of power pill reversal of fortunes.

Some lovely graphical touches indicate that a considerable level of fine tuning and effort was put into making Mad Mix 2

Plummet, 30 Jul 2013 (Rating: 3)

Charming and infuriating platform and ladders game with an old fashioned 'to hell with it' attitude to colour clash.

Set over 3 'towering' screens your job is to collect rope to secure the lift before it plummets.

Its a nice enough game but has that caught in bad dream feeling about it - feels more like playing John Cleese in Clockwise than starring in an all action Towering Inferno thriller.

Mag Max, 30 Jul 2013 (Rating: 4)

Total devil may care attitude towards looking even vaguely good can't mask the fact that there is a finely honed high score horizontal shooter in there.

A good fun game that fights hard to overcome the vomity mcsplurry of the bullets, backdrops and sprites.

Strangely addictive.

Speedboat Assassins, 02 Aug 2013 (Rating: 3)

Its a very competently programmed game where you steer your boat around enemy vessels and mines in the water whilst hunting down other vessels and shooting down towers.

The game is on rails - there's no stopping your boat.

I first reviewed this game for The Spectrum Games Bible a few years ago. It is similar in gameplay to the Spectrum classic Deathchase, and adds 'variety'.

In doing so it 'waters down' the immediacy and intensity that Deatchase pioneered on the Spectrum.

The result isn't awful, just not in the top ecehlon of Spectrum games.

3D Pinball, 02 Aug 2013 (Rating: 2)

Desperately uninspiring with the 3D table view being the only innovation.
It is a very lame table.
For pinball on the Spectrum try Time Scanner.

Ice Breaker, 06 Aug 2013 (Rating: 3)

Surprising slippy slidy reworking of Spy Hunter style gameplay where your shoot and jostle enemies in what are presumably motorised bobsleighs.(motorised in that you can run out of fuel)

Shooting is a bit indiscriminate, making it a fire button fest, Ice Breaker might have been better as a racing game.

Buggy Boy, 08 Aug 2013 (Rating: 4)

As per the first reviewer, WhenIWasCruel, this game showed its true colours in gaming competition on the old Speccy Tour.
The best players showed just what could be done to get those big chunky graphics shifting, in what turns out to be a game with more pace and excitement than revealed at first play through.
An ambitious and clever arcade conversion that deserves to be seen in the top bracket of driving games on the Spectrum - there are a few better, but not many.

Couldn't find any bugs in it either.

Bouncing Bomb: Redux, 09 Aug 2013 (Rating: 4)

Bingo bango, this game has nothing to do with the bomb bouncing Dambusters but it will make you want to thrash a hole on the damn wall in angst and frustration and would certainly be more irrelevantly retro if you slap on a WW2 pilot's hat when playing it. Still, better not, as you'll need a cool head to get through the well designed levels.
This game, a 2012 remake of the authors 1986 machine code experiment Bouncing Bomb, is a smashing platformer that looks like most of the legion of single screen platform games on the Spectrum only better than the vast majority with clean use of colour, background shading for depth and well animated sprites.
Gameplay, it obeys all the usual rules of platforming except you, a bouncing bomb, are forever on the move. You can't stop bouncing and have directional control as well as a button to push for a slightly lower bounce.

There are 20 trappy 'oh not, why the hell did I do that' levels to bounce through, as well a selection of secret levels and hidden surprises. It plays as the classic retro game that it is, but it also features modern stuff including achievements and continues.

Only trouble is I'm surprisingly shit at playing it. I completely lack the patience and required. I can see its not that hard but I just cant rein in my desire to race through each screen and I am expert at the delivering the low bounce when high is needed and vice versa.

Misc Negatives
A bit more sound and music would be a plus.

Misc Positives
Despite being poor at the game it remains addictive, playable and surely have made a commercial impact in the 80s and scored highly in magazine reviews of the day.

Invasion of the Zombie Monsters, 12 Aug 2013 (Rating: 5)

This is a game I had in mind for a longer 'new game' review, until deadpan's excellent overview which nicely covers off most of what I would have said.

Suffice to add that this colourful side-scroller would be in the top section in any era of Spectrum gaming and that the several levels are designed to give the player a feeling of great gusto and fluid achievement when leaping through them.

Excellent game, a great achievment for the programmers who have created this game with evident pleasure.

Web Runner, 14 Aug 2013 (Rating: 1)

Move your spider around the web to catch flies.
Features graphics to depict spider, web and flies and QAOP movement.
Beeps are also present. There is also a scoring system.
For extra fun, type it in.

Atom Ant, 18 Aug 2013 (Rating: 3)

Its quite a cute jump em up, with more precision platforming and less controlling the mayhem than Bombjack, and it loses a lot vs Bombjack by having less fluidity in its gameplay.

As the first reviewer said, the game is hardly more than a graphical nod to the micro super hero Atom Ant, which though a lesser known comic hero, would have great potential for fun in a game where super strength could be used vs suitably massive enemies.

An opportunity missed, and even ignoring that the game that is presented can best we described as worthy rather than exciting.

Gregory Loses His Clock, 18 Aug 2013 (Rating: 4)

Madcap comic mayhem in giant sprite stylee from the inventive programming skills of Don Priestly.

Its a cracking game that has all types of action to play through. Sadly some of the choices you have to make are beyond obscure but using the Tipshop tips somehow doesn't spoil it. Back in the Day the playground collective unconscious would probably have solved it.

Anyway its a dream of a game, astonishing in places. Scores plus points for a title that is either intended to sound rude without being rude or simply a celebration of a time where not every game had to have a title borrowed from a Hollywood thriller.

Gregory Loses his Clock would be a title for a Mike Leigh or even Derek Jarman film and plays out just as stangely as Jarman directs.

Its always going to be a bit hard for some players to take a game that throws so many adsured curveballs into the gameplay, but this is a true great - though not as good as Trapdoor so its 4 instead of 5/5

Renegade, 18 Aug 2013 (Rating: 5)

Superb beat em up where you battle crowds of bad guys and gals all at once. Its flowing. colourful, easy to get into, allows for show off moves, has good enough sound and does a great job of mimicking the arcade game.

Apparently its also a lot better than the C64 version, so would have added bragging rights Back in the Day.

Factory Breakout, 19 Aug 2013 (Rating: 3)

Stephen Crow is highly regarded in Spectrum circles primarily for a series of games that owe a great deal of inspiration to Ultimate.

Wizard's Lair is the most derrivative - shamelessly plaigerising Atic Atac, and shows up a highly competent coder who lacks in original concepts.

This game is an early attempt at creating a unique game around his smooth moving sprites and slick gameplay, and it is a mixed bag, successful in its ambitions but sidestepping any truly innovative features that would have the game brought more longevity.

Its still a nice game, played in 3 stages with the third stage a creative platform game using lifts alongside power pill thingies that enable you to get back at the maurauding fiends that populate the screen.

It works with the smoothness of the early Ultimate games such as Pssst or Cookie, and will keep your attention until you've seen it all. Should suit high score chasers.

Section 2, seems over-easy in the first couple of rounds but becomes quite tricky. It is, perhaps uniquely for a game with a robot factory setting, patrolled by a 'killer canary' who will pounce if you are too slow. Any game with a killer canary automatically scores extra points, but in this case not quite enough to elevate the game from a 3 to a 4.

Mr. Wong's Loopy Laundry, 20 Aug 2013 (Rating: 2)

A proper museum piece. "Don't wing the wong number wing Artic now" implores the racial strereotyping full page advert, whilst Your Spectrum reviewers - 'Joystick Jury' suggest that the problem of the game being too easy with a joystick can be solved by struggling with the keyboard controls - not that these seem in any way terrible.
Mr W's LL is a platforms and ladders single screener, in a game strongly reminiscent of Burger Time, and which suffers from an over-reliance on luck.
You will also get caught turning onto a ladder if an enemy is near enough however artfully you run away.
FX, movement and use of colour are all either poor or flawed.
I did get a bit of fun out of this, mostly becuase the premise of Burger Time is fun even when you make a botched interpretation of its gameplay.

Big Ben Strikes Again, 21 Aug 2013 (Rating: 2)

A resonable average score of over 7 currently from WoS voters, togther with a still screenshot make it look like this Booty style platformer might be worth a look, but it isn't. When everything moves it all looks horrible and the in game music is equally grating.
Political caricatures and a room editor are enough to life this one out of the basement, but only just.

Big Baps, 25 Aug 2013 (Rating: 3)

Big Baps is a 4K minigame from 2007

Minigame competitions are quite an odd modern phenomenon; I suppose they are designed to test out the programming skills of likeminded time-pressured coders of today, but with the Spectrum already limited to 16, 48 or 128K it seems a bit of a shame to lower the ceiling even further. One good thing that often comes from this is available and shared source codes as is the case with Big Baps.
This game is, however, perfectly enjoyable 4K or no, a very nicely animated and balanced version of Burger Time, smooth and free flowing. It even has a few Jonathan Cauldwell special touches such as an ingredients collection panel to collect items for and a chance to gain extra seconds for your time limit in a pick the number game that has its heritage in the fruit machines that are a big influence on this coder.
The Burger Time gameplay mechanics are ably replicated, bar, frustratingly, the pepper fire button, which seems to have been left out.

Misc Negatives
The 4K competition limit means that niceties like sound FX are very sparse. A high score table would be a great addition.

Misc Positives
The saucy title, of course, is near enough perfectly chosen for a game designed to appeal to an audience of steadily aging men recapturing their juvenility.

Mad Nurse, 01 Sep 2013 (Rating: 3)

This is not a game for Stanislavsky style method gamers. Trying to get into character as Mad Nurse Brenda Bumwasher led me into all sorts of problems in the local maternity ward.
To play this game you must dump babies into cots to stop them jabbing sticky fingers into the open elctric sockets, scoffing poisonous drugs or plumetting down the untended lift shaft.
Yes, its dead baby mayhem amidst frantic 'nursing' fun for all the family.
A game and hospital ward simulator that is locked in the 80s, it is hard to imagine some EA 'In the game' creative think tank coming up with the electrically fried baby premise instead of going with Fifa LXIX or whatever. Even the listless Firbird Silver folk must have had a slight doubletake when they realised what some hopelessly drunk employee had signed off for publication.
Anyhow, its quite a good busywork collect em up arcade game, but which suffers from being too easy and not offering variation or even, given the its reliance for any longevity at all on high scores, a HS table.
A poor game elevated by by the real insanity of giving it commercial status. Playable for one game only, maybe two, the temporary appeal is outweighed by the way that the Spectrum's graphical limitations ensure that the sick subject matter is instead stangely evocative of the innocent humour of Carry On Matron.

Benny Hill's Madcap Chase!, 12 Sep 2013 (Rating: 4)

Benny Hill, a gurning comic, whose televised saucy Blackpool postcard cheeky humour made so much impact across the world... Each episode always ended in a silent movie Yakety Sax madcap chase. It was an unlikely candidate for an official ZX Spectrum game licence.

So cue the irrelevant platform game with a sprite wearing a cap to vaguely represent Benny? Not if you give the job to the amazing Don Priestly, who delivered a game that is more true to the source material than almost any other Spectrum tie-in licence.

What you get is a large sprite, a colourful character that anyone can see is Benny Hill, goose step running his camp way away from chubby spinsters, eyebrow raising farmers and porcine policemen, all of whom want to stop him collecting washing from their line, scrumping apples or nicking off with jumble. The chasers all have funny movements and facial expressions as if they are doing comic asides to the camera.

If they should catch Benny, they'll not just swipe the item he has fetched back, they'll jump up and down on his foetal corpse in anger accompanied by comic caper beeps and peeps.

Anyone familiar with Don's work will know what to expect in terms of animation and the strange '3D that is 2D' perspective, though normally these are used in his problem solving games, not this type of arcade chase.

This game sees Don Priestley’s design in playful mode; run like hell from the pursuit and avoid the street furniture or you bounce off it and onto your arse, losing points and ground to the daft chasers.

The more you play this game the more it reveals of its grasp of comic timing. Dodge the farmer and watch him brain himself on a lamp post and whilst stopping to cheer, get flattened yourself by a reckless tractor...

The essence of slapstick in a 48K game? It's a true marvel. 5/5 for the witty response to brief, 3/5 for average playability and the only true sadnesses, no chasing girls in lacy bras, and no Yakety Sax soundtrack whilst playing.

It's the Wooluf!, 12 Sep 2013 (Rating: 2)

Cute sprites and nostalgic gameplay arn't enough... I remember seeing those adverts from Crystal Computing where this type of game was announced as if the next big thing had finally arrived - and sure enough when I checked this single screen sheep herding game was offered up as something to trust and buy because they'd made Halls of the Things and Invasion of the Body Snatchas.

Two Crystal 'hallmarks' also seem intact, NM keys for up and down and eerily silent gameplay (for a game where bleats and death screams would seem an obvious addition.)

EastEnders, 12 Sep 2013 (Rating: 1)

This is an East London simulator apparently, but I don't remember East London being this terrible, not even Forest Gate.

Misfiled in the WoS archive in the 'games' section, this program, Eastenders, is a psycological excercise in schadenfreude. In the 80s, you would load this on your Spectrum to make actual 'games' (like Transylvanian Tower for instance), look entertaining.

A bit like the TV show of the same name is designed to make real life look less shit in comparison with the wooden misery being so haplessly portrayed on the screen.

Should have been buried right up the programmer's dirty den.

Cerius, 15 Sep 2013 (Rating: 4)

This one was a bit of a surprise.

Games by The Shaw Brothers were often graphically neat and stylish and are typical fare for the better-rated budget game. They often borrowed ideas from other Spectrum games and never quite reached the heights of the game that inspired them. Shaw's were worthy games, that gave budget purchasers a more colurful experience but were never top class.

Cerius meets all of those Shaw preconceptions, on the surface a poor man's Exolon, a game made immediately worse than Exolon by virtue of the very small playing area and the lack of a jump control. Teleporters dominate for scenery, action and strategy, as these are the only way up and down the platforms.

So far so predictably below average.

But with a bit of perseverance it seems Cerius has something rather playable about it, a fluidity that keeps you moving, progressing, and just enough variety with new stages and areas to reward that progress.

Its flawed, of course. Often you may scramble to a level end, hoping that reaching a new landmark is rewarded with some kind of upgrade or energy bonus. It isn't. The reliance on the teleports also means that the map feels repetitious. Sound is present, but not good. Level design is competent, but nothing witty or clever about it.

Yet I came back enough times to chalk Cerius up as 'game completed' It is addictive enough and my evaluation has doubled since I first thought to write this review.

Boatit, 17 Sep 2013 (Rating: 1)

Not sure if this game title should be one word or two - perhaps a Boa lurks in the water to grab any Tit that falls in?

Fall in the water you will do in this interesting engineless boat simulator that makes a virtue out of unresponsive keys by making it part of the strategy for avoiding the submerged hedgehogs.

Get past 20 hedghogs and you will get a chance to dock your craft, but this isn't easy and a deadly waterfall awaits.

Some funny scripts and cute sprites rescue thtis nice home made effort.

Hard Cheese, 18 Sep 2013 (Rating: 2)

Its an attempt at a game in ths style of Mr Do, but with all of the characters overdosed on aspartame.

Xevious, 18 Sep 2013 (Rating: 4)

What does a good shmup need? Certainly not power ups and bosses as these often make a game worse, not better.

A good 8 bit era schmup needs first and foremost a balanced challenge, interesting attack waves, visible bullets and good collision detection. Xevious scores in these departments. At least the balanced challenge lasts until 'the deadly indestructable spiralling planks of wood' come at you at random, somtimes in unavoidable patterns and the collision detection seems a bit off very occasionally, though often in your favour.

I've seen much worse, that's for sure.

The bad? There's not enough variety - in terms of enemies, attack patterns or scenary. The samey scenary means you get little impression of progress, and not even a cheery jingle on completing a level.

Its a shame because this is a game where you'll make a bit more progress each go, so the gameplay has classic 'one more go' appeal whilst the look of the game fails to reward industry with any surprises.
I was torn between 3+4/5 on this one but have gone for 'good' as there are so many truly average vertical shmups on the Spectrum.

The Brick, 18 Sep 2013 (Rating: 2)

Yes, its Breakout time again, possibly the most cloned game on the Spectrum and since Thro' The Wall played it with a straight bat as the first ever Spectrum game, everyone that followed tried to put their own spin on it, whether Arkanoid or Batty with power ups, Krakout with its sideways appeal, Exploding Wall with scrolling, Chicks with Bricks with its soft porn or Arkanoid Revenge of the Doh with its garish colours.

And so, The Brick, which came after The Doh with a team that must have said,

"You know what, Revenge of the Doh makes my eyes sore"
"Yeah, great feature. That's why its my favourite"
"How can we ever top that?"
"I don't think they overdid it enough."
"Yeah, how about we make a Breakout game where your eyes actually bleed?"
"Doh, okay then!"

And so The Brick was born... And they even managed to make the ball speed unpredictable, hide the bat against a coulour matched background, and make the first screen really discouragingly hard to complete.

In summary, The Brick looks horrible and its gameplay is a mess.

Subscan, 18 Sep 2013 (Rating: 2)

Released in 1999.
Move your boat left and right to bomb the submarines below, based on an early Atari 2600 game apparently.
Cute enough piece of homebrew from a year when very few arcade games were released.

Moon Buggy, 01 Oct 2013 (Rating: 2)

There are two games called Moon Buggy.

This one is a forgivable 1983 effort at mixing some Moon Patrol elements with some space invader elements. No scroll, just a wrap around screen with holes to avoid, and alien attacks from the side and above. The side attacks force you out of your comfort zone as they can't be hit every shot, flickering above and below your set projectory bullets.

Colourful enough simple shooter stylistically reminiscent of games like Arcadia, but with a touch more sprite flicker and poor collision detection.
Its this last defect that brings it down - so hard to know what a safe jump is, and plenty of bullets going through sprites - both in your favour and against.
The speed up at the end of a level adds tension though whether this is by accident (less sprites on screen) or design is hard to tell.

Star Warrior, 01 Oct 2013 (Rating: 2)

3 stage game
Stage 1 a precision shooter - precision in that you need to wait for your last shot to leave the screen before you are permitted to fire again. At a certain point I played this stage whilst drinking tea.Main challenge is seeing the return fire, but you can normally guess where it is. The enemies here may be sea urchins.
Stage 2 you must drift to the bottom of the screen without colliding with asteroids. No firing here.
Stage 3 is a mad maze dash to get what I think is fuel for your craft and return without being boinged by a nutty sphere baddie.
Then its back to the shooting range only the urchins are now gstrings.

Escape, 01 Oct 2013 (Rating: 2)

I got quite a nostalgic buzz plaing this again after so many years. Escape shows how to make the absolute most of very little - the tiny characters have character, the game has ablend of charm and tension.
The footstep sound,the partially obscured view, the movements of the dinosaurs and the slow down caused by holding the axe all make you really anxious to escape.
A lovely touch is the option to save the game with your high score intact. I think I may have actually done this back in the day.
I got a good buzz from playing this, even though I think I knew back in 1982 or 3 that Escape wouldn't hold anyone's attention for long.
Cursor keys are also a personal bugbear, though perhaps these do add to the tension!

Super Crap Invaders, 03 Oct 2013 (Rating: 3)

Invaders game hybrid where your fire power comes from your Jet Set Willy. Willy is attacked by the aliens who drop arrows on his head and is also attacked from the side.
I was reminded of this game when playing Moon Buggy (Vision) which shares some similarity in terms of pat-your-head-whilst-rubbing-your-stomach gaming skillz.
The tricky bit is the jumping - as Willy jumps in the same fashion as ever, on a set trajectory. Once committed to a jump, youu can't out manoeuvre an arrow. And there is some AI in the sideways attacks that will try and get you mid air.
Like the venerable Dean of Games I reached level 5 before tiring of this though the reviewer in the Spectrum Games Bible persued it to level 19, fuelled on by the exrtra life every 1000 pts, which does, indeed balance off the sense of unfairness when jumping.
Probably not much of this matters to the author, Woody, who may not have meant this game to be taken seriously, but it is playable, nevertheless.

Game over is reassuringly philosophical and knowing. However far you do progress Super Crap Invaders makes only one judgment when you do capitulate... You're Shit!

Bear Island, 05 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

Points awarded for being called a stupid lummock by this game when I fell down an eskimo hole.
Bear Island sees black, yes black, polar bears chasing you around their compact island and you'll need to 'go with the ice flow' until the pursuant bears fall into the holes.
Cursor keys to run away one lump of screen at a time.
Further plus points for a scoring system that seems to reward early death.
Still not enough for more than 1/5 though for this Quill predecessor from Gilsoft.

Birds, 05 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

According to the WoS archive this is 'Inspired by Galaxians'. Well, it isn't inspired.
Prompted vague memories of type in disappointment.

Bimbo, 05 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

Its a Rally X clone with rabbits instead of cars in a maze/chase game, collect the carrots and slow your pursuers by dropping apples.
Fair enough but dogged by unresponsive keys and jerky scrolling, 2 essential failings in a game like this.

Buriabeast, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

Panic clone that lacks fluidity. Some quite nice animations. Mad D/F key choice for Dig/Fill. Very speeedy andhard to line up for ladders if you choose speed setting 3.

Bullion Raider, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

Single screen maze-chase game, run over the bullion to collect it, but avoid the cop cars. Charming neeee-naaah beeps to set the scene/soothe you whilst you read the instructions and played again as a bonus when you lose.

Bronx, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

Routine beat em up, plus points for the outrageous ambition with colour and nicely sized and animated sprites, as well as good intro and in game music.

Minus points, little surprise, misbalanced gameplay that causes you to find a move that connects and repeat it endlessly in order to wear your opponent down. Trying clever combos doesn't pay off at all. Responses are sluggish and the result is immobility whilst your opponent lands blows.

Sound FX are dull thuds - why so few BEU's after WOTEF picked up on its crisp fx I don't know.

Poor game for 1990, worth a play to see the second opponent, a really camp mincer called Sheman.

Bouncing Berty, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

Q Bert clone, 16K. Not absoutely terrible, at least its fast paced, but its hard to control and harder to like after a couple of goes.

Falls a bit short of 2/5 even with some consideration for its memory use and era.

Boomer, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

Evidence of the misery that was the Spectrum Type In program...
Plus point = the instructions, as follows: "Some people think I'm mad but all I do is drop bombs on folk. It just so happens that I am going to drop bombs on you. So get catching."
So in this game you must move left and right to catch the bombs, though however skillful you are you won't catch them all as your man is too slow.
Really poor 'game'.

Bonio, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

According to the instructions, dogs will love this game. And if they like really really slow flickery basic type in maze games where you can sometimes avoid enemy detection via the flicker, then they will.

Further bad memories of that sinking feeling when typing in RUN at the end of a keying in marathon and trying to justify the effort as worthwhile!

Blitz, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

As the archive shows, there ar Blitz clones and there are Blitz clones. They feature a cityscape and a single key for the player with which to time bombs suffiently well to raze the city to the ground. The plot runs against the modern understanding that you can always use your aircraft as the weapon of devastation. If you fly into a building it is game over but only for the plane and no one jumps.

This version was a labour of love, revisited and polished to its current playable level years after its original basic release. It must have nagged at the author/author's family and a commendable desire to have a playable Blitz game in the Potts name.

That has been acheived. This version does all of the simple things right. Its still Blitz, simple and repetitive, but it shows up why the original was regarded as so addictive those many years ago.

BMX Kidz, 06 Nov 2013 (Rating: 3)

Lets start with the bads, the playing area is monochrome, cramped and small, and soundless (very odd without any spot fx at all) and the game, ostensibly a Kickstart variant, is in fact an uncomfortably close copy of Milk Race from Mastertronic the previous year - only not as good.This time you power on Coke instead of Milk.
Milk Race suffered from the player and competitor sprites being the same. So does this.
However it is quite well balanced and quite fun to play and the jumps feel like flight when you pull them off.
On balance, not all bad.

Angler, 07 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

The instructions are the best bit, but the real catch is the game which doesn't carry through the wit and won't get you hooked through its bonkers but repetitive gameplay.

It is however a game that dares to ask, how deep do you dare dangle your bait before you tickle a fishy treat?

Armageddon, 07 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

Centipede with a hint of Phoenix thrown in, best bit is the baddies' fearsome name Yogthulu, although the mad up down positions chosen for the left and right keys run that close in the leftfield stakes.

Some kudos for being a 16K game.

I wonder why Firebird renamed it Armageddon from Terra Force, which it is still called on the intro screen?

Feeling cocky? Load this game and play it at speed level 5. Damn that's quick!

Accelerator, 07 Nov 2013 (Rating: 3)

Quite a surprising schmup with action in two directions, good use of colour and a variety of attack waves.
Decent controls, everything works,fast moving and better than some higher rated shmup titles from 1984.
The downside is some unfair deaths on restarts and a fairly rapid rinse and repeat.

SHUTTLEBUG, 07 Nov 2013 (Rating: 4)

Shouty title from the International treasure of World of Spectrum Dave R-Tape, SHUTTLEBUG is a little unappetising by looks alone but on inspection is richly enrobed in a roux sauce of humour and playability. It is the cauliflower cheese of Spectrum gaming, delicious and satisfying. But just when you think you have finally outmanouevred the Sunday afternoon SHUTTLEBUG inertia along comes a fearsome Gronk blobbing his way between you and a well deserved mow.

SHUTTLEBUG is a wonderful step back to an era when the Metro was a car, Gary Numan sang about Cars and Top Gear was carp. This game is far from carp, though it may drive you round the block.

Thank you R Tape

Penalty Soccer, 09 Nov 2013 (Rating: 1)

A very poor game, bad enough to be popular on a iPhone in the current era (2013). Move the goalie left and right to save the ball, and unless you have chronic athritis you will probably suceeed in saving nearly every ball off the boot of legends such as Keegan or Dalglish.

Scrambling here for postives... errm the keys kind of work... errm the goalmouth mud is a nice touch... uhm, its not as bad as Sqij..that's about it.

Mole Rat!, 10 Nov 2013 (Rating: 3)

An early attempt at a ready meal from the masterbaker, R Tape, but the choice of ingredients, especially the slow-turning motheaten rat has proofed less of a recipe for success than its spiritual successor SHUTTLEBUG. The long-life preservatives are just too misbalanced.
Nevertheless the orgasmic 'Oh Yeah' at the climax of each course of Mole Rat confirms the author as the true Nigella of WoS. With titilating FX and fiesty play it warrents a warm reception.

Cauli-gosh and thank you R Tape.

Run Baby Run, 11 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

Last played this in 1983, 30 years ago. Surprisingly the nostalgic pull to rediscover this jerky excercise in angst and frustration just wasn't that strong enough... until right now.
RBR is a perfect example of the 'it was only a couple of quid, be bloody happy with it' school of budget gaming.
RBR is a strange game of follow your leader and don't crash, set in the mazy backstreets of places like Huddersfield and Oxford.
Just now I absolutely had to play until I had beaten a level. And thank god I just did, I was hooked to this grim banality for 20 minutes or more...

Spectrum Cross, 12 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

After reading that this was the best rated game on Cassette 50, having originated as a magazine type-in I was intrigued to try it.
Its Frogger of course (in spite of counting your lives as 'MEN') and simple enough. Its not faithful to the original as this frog can swim and so the river crossing is not a raft across but a chance to swim in the current from crocs and ships.
Anyhow its a reasonable implementation of Frogger, bar the difficulty I had in differentiating between one key depression or two which is crucial in the game.
Better than most type ins, and understandably nostalgic for anyone who put the hard hours of typing in. Without nostalgia is just above the bottom rung so 1.6/5

Yumiko in the Haunted Mansion, 18 Nov 2013 (Rating: 3)

Creating a new game with a whole new look and feel against such an enormous archive is a heck of an ambition. Only a few - Jonathan Cauldwell (many titles), Bob Smith (esp. SplATTR) – have managed it in recent times.
Fun Forge (Leszek Chmielewski Daniel - LCD) has joined the ranks of those who have dared to be different. I think I have seen Spectrum games before that require you to light your way, but with Yumiko the pace is all about creepiness and this game, which is reliant on atmosphere for success, manages to build creepiness with a handful of rooms that start off dark and can be lit by little Yumiko’s candles.
A quick word on Yumiko, whilst we are at it. You play a little girl in this game, a character drawn and inspired by Japanese animé, those wide-eyed populous of the cartoon genre. I find something about anime+adult audience a wee bit creepy in the first place, so this game was an unlikely choice for me.
I played Yumiko in the Haunted Mansion when it came up as a choice in a Spectrum Games club and was outvoted as the game to play by the deranged Soft and Cuddly. I was surprised to note a similar plot, rescue your own ghost-world parents, features in both.
Anyhow, the Games Club made the wrong choice really as this game offers more to discuss, including clever use of compiled Basic, the aforementioned graphics, some inspired offbeat 'lost in translation' storytelling between stages, and graded skill requirements from Easy which the author describes as too easy, only for babies, and Madness, which the author has made because he believes players like a skill level that makes the game impossible to complete.
Anyhow, I played on Hard, and found that I tip-toed through about half the levels first go – thankfully getting level complete passwords on the way.
The first time I played I loaded 48K and was rewarded with nice footstep FX as Yumiko crept about the place. 128K, it turns out, has a brilliant welcome and in game score by the masterful Yerzmyey whose soundtrack is haunted and brilliantly composed, though a nitpicker might call it too busy for the tip tap gameplay offered here.

Misc Negatives
The main one is repetitive gameplay. LCD tells of his trials to make the required code fit into the Spectrum but new challenges on later levels would have added a lot. As it is the game is more atmosphere than actual game, and, like a scene demo, once you've been impressed by it, there's no real motivation to continue.
Some kind of timer or life bar on screen would also help.

Misc Positives
If you die you are told “Worse than hell. Endless pains! This is the end of my human life and the beginn of ethernal damnation.” Which would, strangely enough, be just the sort of thing that John George Jones (author of Soft & Cuddly and also Go to Hell) would have approved of, especially if there is enough ether to last us in ethernity.

Soft & Cuddly, 18 Nov 2013 (Rating: 2)

The most disquieting thing about Soft & Cuddly is the impression it leaves of the gore obsessed author almost certainly nowadays pacing his ward, tattered beret in hand, Bauhaus on his Walkman, muttering off the 666 days to the next big event, doodling skulls in his notebook.
Soft & Cuddly perfectly encapsulates Sepctrum Hell if you imagine continually playing it until you have mastered it and then starting over.

Moon Alert, 04 Jan 2014 (Rating: 5)

Great arcade game conversion that we used to crowd around and take turns on. Very well balanced one more go appeal. 4 or 5/5 was a hard call but for an early game Moon Alert has lastng appeal, so 4.5 rounded up!

Vegetable Crash, 06 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

Quite tasty.

Hunchback, 08 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Oh yes, the game that really got Ocean going with reputedly very big sales. Also a notably early official arcade licence/conversion.
Sadly, as a game, Hunchback is truly dire. As Hunchback sets off, camply tottering on his stiletto heels, you think 15 or so screens of left-right step and jump will be a breeze, and they would be except that the many ropes swing right through our hero death comes often through exasperating pixel imperfection.
The marvellous FD Thorpe loading screen completely wrongfoots expectation of a polished and playable aracde romp.

Lazy Jones, 08 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Q. Why play one game when you can play a game that links 15 sub-games? A.Because the 15 sub-games will inevitably be 15 sub-par games.

Lazy Jones, created by Dave Whittaker and converted to the Spectrum by Simon Cobb has strong nostalgic resonance for most players who had a copy in 1984 because in 1983 people were taking a bow for writing Space Invader clones and here it was as just 1/15 games. Sadly in Lazy Jones the aliens don't shoot back rendering it meaningless and all of the other 14 games - played in a cramped mini-window - are equally pointless and badly presented. So 15 terrible Cassette 50 style games all loaded in 48K and no real object or challenge bar high scores...
Sub-game success finally arrived on the Spectrum in 2006 with Gamex, a J Cauldwell special where the game challenges were linked to a bizarre twist on the stock exchange.
Lazy Jones is highly rated on WoS, clearly a nostalgia score.

Treasure Island, 08 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Bizarre sword management meets Sabre Wulf maze game in a flickery epic swashbuckling story which opens with 2 dreadful minigames, develops into something quite quick moving and playable and in the end frustrates by being too pernickerty.

Alien Kill, 08 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Laser through the wall to get through to the alien who has a jittering shield for further protection. More exciting than incontinence, but only just.

Arena 3000, 08 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Very nearly unplayable Bezerk clone with aliens who sometimes wander out of the arena or get stuck untouchable on the arena wall. A Curse-or keys special, made the more frustrating by having to line up with and shoot a particular pixel on each enemy or its a miss.
The whole game is a miss, a mess.

Catwalk, 09 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

A nine screen 9 lives thriller, which is defined as Platform on WoS Infoseek, but is in reality a mish mash of perspectives sometimes on platforms and sometimes on terra firma.
You are a cat (su-purr-ise!) drawn in the pixel art style of Trashman, who must devour the birds, mice and cat food whilst avoiding witches, nutters, dogs, aliens and even some scenery (but you have to guess which bits).
Catwalk throws a huge v-sign to colour clash concerns and just gets on with it, plays some 3 blind mice and lets you pounce into action.
One screen, about screen 6 or 7 changes the play perspective at the halfway line, though the characters are portayed side on throughout so it is a good brain trick required to play through it.
The same screen also features Horace as a baddie and Willie in his Jet Set finery, although here he flickers badly.
Screens to pass include a graveyard, a factory and an everyday missile silo.
I enjoyed this game right through to screen 9 where is pooped on itself by offering a seemingly endless regenerating bird to catch.
I resored to the RZX archive to see what I was missing but there, the venerated Albert Valls ended his rzx still chasing that flipping bird and so did I.

Bomb Alley, 10 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

aka Skrambler
A nice enough Scramble clone that does everything competently without the polish of Penetrator, but with five satisfying phases to battle through. Its a bit flickery, but more than acceptable for a Type-In - though in the time it would have taken me to type this in I could have delivered more than enough newspapers to buy Penetrator... everything is present, bombs, bullets, fuel dumps, rockets and radars and more and you can even choose how fast you want it to run at.
One amusing touch, at game over the author mocks you with his own high score!
The real story follows the Type In publication as this game was picked up by K'Soft following, for a commercial release it didn't deserve, appearing as Lunar Attack and after that this game became a wonderful example of recycling, seeing a rerelease by Alternative, with an alternative name and was renamed again and rereleased in Spain before, yep, it was rereleased as late as 1987 by System 4.
So Bomb Alley (or Skrambler) itself a clone, later appeared as Lunar Attack, Electra 9000: Lunar Attack Vehicle and perhaps most misleadingly Attack on Atlantis.

Maggot, 10 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

coded by Jason Charlesworth

Fast paced Centipede clone that was the reward for hours and hours of typing in. Bar the over-prolonged death rattle at end game this clone is very competently programmed, though just a tad on the Simon Brattel side of insanely fast for my taste.

Bug-Eyes, 10 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

Quite a nice game where you have to drop through 10 linear flick screens of bug-eyed monsters with left and right your only means of control. A game of timing that favours combined haste and precision.
Coulouful gfx, crisply drawn, poor FX.

10 screens would have been poor value back in the day.

Tales of the Arabian Nights, 11 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

5 screens of finickety platforming jug collection are separated by 3 scrolling journies between settings - by pedallo and flying carpet of course.
You are bolloxed in this game if you can't spell ARABIAN.
Plenty of annoyances to contend with including a jug you have to collect placed too high to safely drop down from right on the first screen (though the screen is completeable) and plenty of Speccy platformer favourite nuances such as brick work you can in fact pass through.
Its a nicely drawn platform game, no music or notable fx, short, fussy collision detection but neverless slammed more harshly than necessary in quite a funny Crash review, and in the end analysis, passable.
If you love playing around with big jugs even if the endgame is frustrating, give Tales of the Arabian Nights a try.

Carmania, 11 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Dreadful game devoid of any nostalgic charm and without any redeeming feature.

Barchou, 11 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Early Ultimate meets Ziggy (The Pyramid), but on speed. A 99p game that recievd 29% in Crash, Barchou comes at you in a psychedelic rush. First game you'll blink and miss, but it is marvellously responsive and collision detection fair and so you can go that bit further each go. Stangely addictive.

Handy Andy, 11 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

According to the instructions of this game, by the same coder as Barchou, midnight at the general store and the bottles start to sing - typical Spectrum game scenario really. Handy Andy is a hapless caretaker, like so many others central figures of Spectrum games, a downtrodden working class hero. Then toys get jiggy (as with Ah Diddums) but

"the Dolls have decided they want more, they want to show the
world what they can do. The Dolls begin to march out of the store."

Andy is there to catch them. A frenzied collect-em-up Hnady Andy is less successful than Barchou and every bit as hard. It is a very poor relation to early Ultimate games.
Top tip: Get on the left and catch em early.

Chambers of Horrors, 12 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Chambers of Horrors has a cool loading screen whilst the game itself brings togther 5 or 6 minigames any one of which alone might have earned itself a place on the fabled Cassette 50.

Stage 1 sees you fleeing past udg spiders and blocks of marsh and nettles to reach the exit

Stage 2 has you shooting udg crabs with a 'catapult'. 1st go this glitched and crabs went into infinite minus figures until I died.

Stage 3 is a game of time when to jump so that you land on the eagle's back. Its a do or die press one key stage

Stage 4 is flatten the stalacmites so that the eagle can land. Its a very basic and near unplayable bomber clone. I fluked my way through it.

Stage 5 looks a pile of shit but is actually quite fun and fast. You have to hold off the chasing wolves by runnning as fast as possible past the potholes without falling. Play this stage and it will make your eyes go funny.

Land of Hope and Glory plays at the end.

I may have forgotten a stage that was so bad I wiped it from my memory mid game. I'm not sure.

The final tense chase from the wolves was enjoyable but not enough to raise the score above 1/5.

Mr. Freeze, 14 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

A very glitchy jump key and an absurd means of attacking the player whilst on a ladder turn this nicely presented 6 screen budget platformer into a dire experience. Its hard to know whether the awful jump and ladder attack were last minute amends to make this otherwise short game last longer.
As YOR comments, the inclusion of Mr Freeze in the YS top 100 all time reader poll is nigh on unfathomable. You have to assume the voting system was as glitchy as this game.
A passable 5.92 at time of writing, by WoS voters also mystified me to the point where I started blaming the sticky jump button on the emulator (Spin) but its just as bad in other emus...

Millionaire, 14 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

Enduringly popular strategy game with those who knew it back in 1984.
Millionaire sets you out to start up a software business with the target of big money.
It differs from many Spectrum business management games by bieng:
- relatively rapid in its calculations
- graphically quite appealing. Its looks even generated on of the more pointless Tipshop maps you are likely to witness.
- strategic
Yep, whilst most Spectrum strategy games lack any real strategy, boiling down to guess the number I'm thinking of, Millionaire does take a bit of working out and with a sense of humour too.
The major negative is the limited options. Every round is so similar and even Honest Harry, a kind of wheeler-dealer gamble you can make - has only 4 or 5 offers for you.
It seems a strange lack of inspiration for a game that had tried so hard to be witty and playable, but rinse and repeat makes the initial appeal wear off rapidly. Don Priestly's peerless 1983 strategy Dictator shows how much more might have been crammed into Millionaire to give it much longer lasting appeal.

1984, 14 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Political 'strategy' game with too much reliance on 'guess the number' when negotiating wage rounds. You maybe in the moist sweaty shoes of Nigella's dad in this game, but the unions still have a make or break hold over this Spectrum vision of government at Westminster in the 80s.

Sonar Salvage, 14 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Intriguing one this one, clearly not a top selling strategy game, no magazine reviews, no recorded advertising or press mentions, but also certainly a commercial release and, like most even passable strategy games, a good rating on WoS.
And... its OK. Nice premise, salvaging shipwrecks in the Carribean, some strategy required, some nostalgia - 80p for a gallon of fuel anyone? - and a few boat pictures. Search for treasure is an 'action' sequence as you move a tiny cross around in the sea seeking little pixels on the sonar. These are few and far between and movement in your search is slow to the point of tedious, interpreted in the instructions as
"100% machine code for superfast action"
A very nice creative concept for an absorbing strategy game but not brilliantly delivered.

Exolon, 15 Jan 2014 (Rating: 5)

A fine piece if work from a Spectrum master, others have said what I would say about Exolon, especially the one by Alessandro Grussu. Its a true landamrk Spectrum Game.

Kane, 15 Jan 2014 (Rating: 4)

A rootin tootin chance to hone your cowboy skills in 4 stages, bow and arrow shooting, fast riding into town, a shoot out in town using crosshairs and a horseback chase along the railroad, aftert the train. All stages are enjoyable with the riding ones a bit too close on the pixel perfect requirements to make this an all round 5/5. Short of being a budget classic by this flaw in the playability.

River Raid, 18 Jan 2014 (Rating: 4)

This Atari conversion was, even by 1984 graphical standards, all about the playability and never mind the looks. It was a good game with poor graphics then and it is a good game with poor graphics now, and so it will remain.
The premise is simple, shoot the enemy craft whilst flying your tiny plane upriver, with 48 bridges (levels) to pass. You have to monitor fuel levels throughout.
The game selection allows you to drop in at level 20, and I can see why. I reached this level losing just a couple of lives on my first go. Soon after that I completed River Raid. Its not a tricky game although the last levels the route narrows, more ships block your way, more helis fire back and more planes pass across. But best of all the fuel is scarce and going faster uses proprtionately less, so finally from around level 35 you are forced to play the game full tilt, slamming on the brakes to pick up fuel.
All in all a satisfying experience that might be prolonged with a friend to high score against.
One unanswered question, why does a plane crash into a river bank?

Braxx Bluff, 18 Jan 2014 (Rating: 4)

In video games alien worlds often comply to some preconceptions. They rarely alienate or disquiet the player.
Braxx Bluff is an attempt to do just that with its weird colours, psychedelic 3D, outlandish honks, buzzes, pips and squeaks, stocato welcome tune, even the name, Braxx Bluff.
The bravery of this game project is exceptional and without convention, at least until the last stage which borrows abit from Micromega's success with Deathchase.
Stage 2 is my favourite as you stagger slowly forward on foot in search of your buggy, whilst intermittently keeping your gunsights on the swooping Krittas.
Sadly the gameplay is not as good as the concept however, leaving Braxx Bluff in just-above-average territory. I make its a 4 not a 3 to acknowledge the coders success in making an alien landscape that doesn't look like moon craters and alien enemies who are not green and equipped with heads and legs.

Orbit, 18 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Terrible messy shmup with no sound and zero playability. Not Mr Sides finest hour, though I have yet to try his other masterwork, Hampton Caught.

Man Hunt, 18 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

The casette cover shows a photo of a panicking boy being hunted down. The instructions build up expectation for what was. after all, £6.95 of 1984 money invested (about £20 today)

"You are on an expedition to an unexplored planet. While
searching for valuable dilithium crystals far away from your
ship and fellow crew members, you find yourself in an area
where there are a large number of deadly acid pools.
Suddenly you are confronted by four aliens who immediately
begin to chase you."

Exciting stuff... until it loads and you get the chance to use a bad set of keyboad keys, including separate keys for diagonal movement, in order to udg-'run' away from the udg-aliens in acton packed single screen of utterly shite mayhem.

Man Trap, 18 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

A commercuial release.

Two buttons control your man in this arcade action game of skill where you jump left (press 1) or jump right (press 0) until you reach the summit, the red zone, of each screen. Makes Jumping Jack look the height of gaming sophistication.

Thunderhawk, 18 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Its part Galaxians clone, part Phoenix, and not half as good as Galaxians (Artic) or Pheenix (Megadodo). Thought it might be for the 16K Spectrum (as Pheenix was), but seemingly not. Not the worst of this type of game, but only because it is a genre with some absolute stinkers in it. The coder is clearly competent (went on to write Mailstsrom for Ocean)
Verdict: a bit of a lazy effort

Apple Jam, 19 Jan 2014 (Rating: 3)

Not a game liklely to get a 3D sandbox adaptation for the modern era (sadly? thank goodness?)
The plot, as noted so arrestingly in reviews by The Dean of Games and dm boozefreek, is more than a little bizarre but probably went virtually unnoticed in the blur of far out experimental games scenarios of 1984.
Worth a look if you have always dreamt of being a jam guzzling rat splatting fatty-slim OCD hornet hater.

Turbo Girl, 20 Jan 2014 (Rating: 4)

Forgetting that you are on a bike is probably helpful in this game that is part space shooter, part platformer with a God view of the playing area and very little or no motorcycle riding sensation.
You need to shoot down enemies and jump over holes in the terrain across three scrolling levels.
Fortunately moments when jumping and firing are required simulaneously are very rare as the game is tricky enough without and space always feels cramped - a victim of quite large sprites and a small playing window.
Stage one blends a bit of shooting with a bit of jumping. Stage 2 is nearly all jumping and will require patience and pattern learning as most of the ground collapses into thin air. Stage 3 is all about steering and shooting, with the jump key redundant.
When I redefined my two fire keys to be next to each other (space and m) then I found progress easier.
There are 3 basic boss spacecraft to beat which will test your Space Phoenix/Galaxians/Centipede skills.
Everything in the game is above average, but too fussy for classic status.
As dandyboy so astutely notes, Turbo Girl herself is very like 80s singer Roxette. She is deployed gratuitously for a screen loader image, in stockings, suspenders and an open shoulder padded power jacket, astride her throbbing motor, nipples taut and ready for the adventure - those damn hotheaded coder Spaniards!
The graphics of the biker in the game make no attempt to convey gender which is probably why the British, immune to Roxette's pixel-porntastic charm, relreleased the same as the much less evocative Turbo Bike. But they were too lazy to change the game name once it had loaded.

Fire Hawks, 20 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Terrible jerky shooter meets rugby game in which the Hawks don't shoot back at you but instead try and sneak past your defensive line to score a deadly try.

Flak, 20 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

Your Spectrum noted that Flak 'should have been drowned at birth' but they were too kind for this abortion, the most dismal of attempts at a Xevious game from a devious software house.
US Gold had the production budget to do so much better than they did with nearly all of their games, but were seemingly happy to disregard quality control when a release was needed fast.
Flak was an early warning signal for the label. It was so dire its a wonder anyone trusted them after it. How it came to be released at this substandard showed a cynical indiffernce for the Spectrum player that should have been US Gold's low watermark in consumer disdain, but the publisher would later plumb new depths in with World Cup Carnival.
The thick skinned marketing men at US Gold decided a year later to include Flak on a compilation, Arcade Hall of Fame, allowing geater exposure for this embarrasing abomination.

1000, 21 Jan 2014 (Rating: 2)

Congratulations to the Dean of Games, for today reaching the landmark of 1000 reviews, all of them readable.

Oh, and this game, I did look at it. Its a TRDOS (I emulated Pentagon in Spin to get it running) dice gambling game played like dice poker, lots of options to play vs computer etc, all scripts bar one English paragraph are in Russian Cyrillic from a Urkanian guy called David Willis.

The in game music is extremely good.

Room Ten, 22 Jan 2014 (Rating: 4)

Its Pong in 3D, and its absorbing,and playable.
I've heard that the computer opponent is quite easy to best, but haven't put enough time in to find every game easy.
A nice clear idea well implemented - as you might expect with Pete Cooke's name in the credits.
Probably a lot of fun 2 Player as well.

Paranoid Pete, 22 Jan 2014 (Rating: 1)

This might have been a cute grow-em-up in the Pssst! style if only the people who tried to sell it, full page advertising and all, had been able to write a Spectrum game. Unfortunately it is unplayable.
That they tried to sell it after Weetabix rejected, but without changing the main character from a Weetabix amused me. (WoS archive news)

Frank N Stein, 24 Jan 2014 (Rating: 5)

Its hard to say what I like about Frank N Stein, which does nothing spectacular but succeeds so well in what it sets out to achieve. Its a cute imagiantive smooth runnning platformer with puzzle levels alternating with slightly wicked Donky Kong style levels - all as you might expect except you can't jump, you can only activate springs.
This very little idea is maybe what makes Frank N Stein stand out I think, because you have to plan your way out of trouble. The levels are very nicely designed so that you can just collect the arm you need for the body, step slowly back through the slime, slip along the ice and reach the spring just in time to activate and evade the onrusing baddie.
There are 50 levels, though one of them quite late in the game is bugged so that you will run out of time no matter how well you play, but it doesn't stop Frank N Stein getting 4.6/5 from me.
Also, it was great to get 'Rebooted' an updated version from author Colin Stewart a couple of years ago, though in my mind the original game still holds up and remains playable to new players now.

Miles Mad Mission!, 22 Feb 2014 (Rating: 4)

A World of Spectrum special with many members put on display.
This game is dmBoozefreek's open pixel love letter to fellow forumite mile. In it you play mile and follow his highly charged kink beset homoerotic journey to find Boozey in his trailer. Get past Soottie's gaylord mirror, Kaija's whips, the inevitable mongy lard and Gamestage's projected gobbets and you are on the right track to gaming glory.
This Jet Set Mod is quite a creative outpouring.
And I'm in it, a cameo guardian in the charming Bumchums room, so it can't be a low score.

Ad Astra, 18 Mar 2014 (Rating: 3)

The 'stunning graphics' (Crash 1984 review) were in a nick of time ahead of many games that looked better and functioned better. Ad Astra left me indiferent in 1984 and that holds today.

The most annoying aspect of the game is that you can run right round a bullet and back into its path again making your clunky looking craft feel implausibly quick!

The '3D' perspective is just plain odd.

Galactic Gunners, 11 May 2014 (Rating: 4)

Excellent side-scrolling shoot-em-up with many long levels and presentation polish only marred by some repetitive end of level bosses.

This game - along with a smattering of others - represents a tiny marker in the sand that shows the important influence of the Spectrum and early home computing in crossing political and national borders ahead of the physical reality of the Berlin Wall coming down.

Elven Warrior, 25 May 2014 (Rating: 4)

Somewhat ponderous gameplay and the inability to jump in any direction other than vertically count against this game in the etes of many but thses facets are also the ones that take it away from being just another platform adventure and force the player to tackle it more as a puzzle game to solve.
This is a nicely presented and completeable Spectrum game, not in the absolute top echelon, and a 3-4 in terms of scoring here. I'll say 4.

Lord Harry, 02 Jun 2014 (Rating: 2)

A cheerful, cute and frustrating collect em up in the Hungry Horace mould. Lacks sound and variety.

Laser Snaker, 03 Jun 2014 (Rating: 2)

Stephen Crow established his programming credentials early on with this game proving that he would focus on embellishing someone else's idea for better or worse.
There's quite a lot 'for better' in this Snake variant with various speed and difficulty settings and a snake equipped with a laser to blast with.
The high speed of the snake also makes the most of this soporific genre and various extras are added with each passing level.
The third screen, with its spiral lanes is a real sod, erring on the side of bad design.
Using the Joystick option to help redefine the keys away from the curse of cursor was essential - and made the game seem much more responsive. Perhaps this why I didn't notice the lack of response witnessed by the previous 2 reviewers.
In summary, the extra baddies and laser lift this but its still only a snake game and its current WoS score of over 7 seems very generous.

Gangsters, 03 Jun 2014 (Rating: 1)

Cute and home grown, its a lovable game of line up with the movong UDG and press fire.
It would be perfect for any Crap Games plaigerist.
Cruel, I know,to give it 1/5 but it is awful in spite of the charm.

Death or Glory, 03 Jun 2014 (Rating: 1)

Badly named game as neither death nor glory really feature as the alien hordes are so witless and weak.
This game looks nice and scrolls well but has zero playing appeal. Your task is to bomb and obliterate the mother ships by moving over them pressing fire whilst persued by the aforementioned useless defence. And so you will 'succeed'.
Anyone who wants to add a game to their completed list should play this and clock it. Anyone else, avoid.

Fizzy Wizzy, 09 Jun 2014 (Rating: 2)

A platform gaming exercise in frustration as the jump action is fussy and difficult.

After a few quick goes I thought I might have stumbled across a little played gem but I got to screen two and the layout was uninspired and the decor was the same as screen one, and I just didn't feel any 'one more go' effects at all.

The MMiner derrivative end of game graphic exemplifies the lack of imagination that dogs this one.

Fire 'n Ice, 09 Jun 2014 (Rating: 5)

A labour of love conversion of quite an obscure game and the result is just an astonishing feast of brilliant music, graphics and gameplay.
Best puzzle game on the Spectrum by a street.
Purists frown somewhat on games that run on clone machines like the Russian Pentagon but this game looks and feels like a Spectrum in action and a hacked version now plays passably well on some 'real' hardware. It deserves a decent go by any Spectrum game enthusiast.

Scuba Dive, 29 Jun 2014 (Rating: 4)

Yes,it is fiddly and frustrating, and yes the animation and cool caves help build an atmosphere few Spectrum games can match. Play it for high scores and then this is truly revealed as a game with hidden depths.

Tutankhamun, 29 Jun 2014 (Rating: 3)

A version of the coin-op and a rewarding one if you give it tine as you can make progress each go...
It also rewards the hold fire continually method of gameplay which is a shame as well as producing a very garish fx.
Playable enough.

Stop the Express, 30 Jun 2014 (Rating: 5)

When you first note that the Space Bar is the allocated button for 'Set Bird Free' you know that this isn't your run of the mill express train chase.
Stop the Express brought a high energy action thriller to the Spectrum with a runaway train and armed bandits to escape, whilst you try to reach the front of the train. But then they threw in some offbeat cartoony graphics and a bird you could catch and turn against your tottering enemies and send them spirallng to the tracks... odd to describe but deeply satisfying to achieve...
A quirky classic.
The first time I stopped the Express was a mini gaming achievement that has stayed with me.

Power Drift, 30 Jun 2014 (Rating: 5)

Charming conversion that captures the essence of the coin op well enough to pass muster and delivers a great slidy drivy experience on the humble ZX.
Its quite a joyous game, relaxing to play with the focus on fun.

Milk Race, 09 Jul 2014 (Rating: 4)

Cracking game Milk Race, made all the better in Speccy gaming competition a few years ago. Pushing this cycling game hard made it show its true colours - a game that requires bursts of fast action and some careful strategy, its all rather well designed and pitched at the right balance of frustrating to still be addictive.
Much better than it first appears to be.

Jungle Fever, 09 Jul 2014 (Rating: 3)

The Spectrum produced a vast number of games in the NIRG genre (Nearly Impossible Rope Games). This one joins unclassics such as Hunchback and Sir Fred in appealing to masters of the pixel perfect jump 'n' swing.
There are other levels without ropes too, but you will definitely waste the most time time landing badly in the black rectangular pit
Scores points for cuteness and comedy, especially if you have a friend to watch falling repeatedly to his doom.

Spy Hunter, 09 Jul 2014 (Rating: 4)

A game which demands little more than that you head north without incident, Spy Hunter is nicely drawn, smooth and has immediate appeal.
Spiralling innocent bikers to their doom is a small but strangely appealing option.
Spy Hunter just gets to rinse and repeat too swiftly to be a 5/5 top ecehelon arcade conversion but is surprisingly good for a game published by US Gold.

Tribble Trubble, 11 Jul 2014 (Rating: 5)

Sadistic farming, a truly original game where you protect and nurture your Tribbles through five sheets of gameplay. Each stage is against the clock as air will run out if you don't shift so you will be tempted to take risks.
Each level is fairly well judged in terms of balanced gameplay with the third one, in which you must burst the bouncy things out of the way of your silly Tribbles, the most toe curlinglyy unforgiving in true old skool style.
Well designed arcade fun, a collection of 5 minigames with all of the playable, levels 1,2 and 5 especially so.
Weird squelchy sound FX also feature.
Classic Speccy weirdness.

Flip Flap, 11 Jul 2014 (Rating: 1)

Dreadful attempt at a pinball game that tries to be different by giving you four buttons for four flippers and abets the player by giving you very little control over an thoroughly unpredictable ball.

Making pinball virtually unplayable takes some doing but this manages just that.

Raider of the Forgotten Ark, 11 Jul 2014 (Rating: 1)

The reason not to forget the Forgotten Ark is as a reminder of how much less precious and fearful we all were of a bit of harmless semi-commercial fanware back in the 80s.
The best that can be said of the game is that the loading screen is not bad.
Oh and, at the end of stage two, if you have battled through the maze of slowly moving circles and get to the mythical character top right of screen you will get your next gargantuan task presented thus:
"The old man says 'You must collect 4 pieces of stick.'"
Yep, just when you are in the Indy zone, jumping pits, dodging and swerving you get just a little bit of carry over from the Barbara Woodhouse Dog Training Simulator official licence that may have been the original plan.

Pogo, 12 Jul 2014 (Rating: 5)

Hard to add anything to the Dean's review. There is a great sense of fun in this playable, fluid and well-presented Q*Bert clone.

On Reflection, 04 Aug 2014 (Rating: 5)

Successful text adventures are quite rare - most fail by overcomplicating. All the best ones thrive by unfolding a great story that develops with each successful intervention from the player - is challenging but never unfair. The puzzles therefore need to be balanced and canny, driven by the plot and the reader's ability to solve the story as much as the puzzle.
On Reflection is a sci-fi mystery and is marvellously told. It lives without adventuring cliches - orcs and wizards etc and works up instead a classic country house mystery plot distorted by smoke and mirrors.
On Reflection is very well titled and is well worth stopping to ponder over.

Krakout, 30 Oct 2014 (Rating: 4)

From the 'inappropriate' loading screen through to the sting of each sticky wasp Krakout looks and plays like the work of a Breakout enthusiast who has whacked off a hot knock off version, played, just like cricket, from a side on perspective.

In principle I'm onside with sideon ball batting and can only suggest that the gravitational threat of dropping the ball evoked by this game's vertical cousins is more suggestive of a good time to some.

Krakout will offer a lonely old man a chance to perform a defensive display like Chris Tavare and so it should be at the top table with the better of these intentionally hit and miss games.

Tarzan Goes Ape, 03 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

There's an irony in the distribution denial of this game which could presumably have been closed down at birth by the Burroughs estate had they spotted it/ been so inclined. Nothing here indicates an official licence of the type so exhaustively achieved by Codemaster's budget cartoon-style rivals Hi-Tec.
From the advert slapped on the loading screen through to the heavy borrows for inspiration from Jack the Nipper 2's setting and Rainbow Island's jump-up strategy, there is very little new or inspiring here, but nor was there meant to be.
Whilst £ for £ you were always better off with either of the above 2 games, Tarzan Goes Ape fulfils its budget expectations and a little more as it is playable and fun.

Ping Pong, 03 Nov 2014 (Rating: 5)

The allure of a good game of Ping Pong was never that strong and the game itself is a darn site better than any video version. The requirements of finding a friend, table, bats and a ball was too much for some introverted kids though.
And for the lonely ageing man reliving this time killing youth under a veil of nostalgia, this game holds up as an exceptionally good arcade conversion, deserving of its high regard and fractionally more of a 5 than a 4 on the scoring system available here.

Pac-Mania, 03 Nov 2014 (Rating: 5)

A great conversion that loses the bare minimum of performance vs. the 16-bit era machines.

Jet Set Willy, 03 Nov 2014 (Rating: 5)

The endless stream of modifactions and clones has come about for a reason. Jet Set Willy fired up imaginations like so few other creative works in any field have managed to do.
As you walk/jump your way around Willy's loadsamoney mansion you reveal a map with intrigue around every corner.
We wanted the yacht to set sail to a distant island or to leap from the rooftop battlements to the moon - and these are things that followed in the official and unofficial chapters that eventually followed.
JSW is a rare example of a masterwork that transcends its media, yet in passing helped elevate the ZX Spectrum as a creative device from practical to astonishing.
No wonder Sir Clive was reputedly so fed up with hearing about JSFW as one young man, Matthew Smith, took his homework home computer and turned it into such an epicurean adventure box.

Egghead 5: Egghead Round the Med, 03 Nov 2014 (Rating: 5)

In which Jonathan Cauldwell out Monty's Auf Wiedersehen Monty and out entertain's Dizzy in a platformer that can be played in two ways - as a collect and explore or for solving puzzles.
Wonderful game with slick graphics, no major annoyances in room layouts, great music and a nicely balanced challenge.

Horace & the Spiders, 04 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

The prelim jump and rope stages are a source of frustration but the Panic clone section in the spider's web itself was great fun to play back in the day, and it still impresses with its impatient fluidity now - a great deal more so than other Panic variants from the same era of the Spectrum.

The spider sprites themselves are a mini work of excellence - repugnant and threatening.

Pheenix, 05 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

Excellent unofficial Phoenix conversion from the very early days. I'm not sure how so many people ended up with a copy as it wasn't backed by a software house with much retail distribution, but it is still well known and liked on the Spectrum scene today.

So many much worse attempts at similar games exist on the Spectrum.

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, 09 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

Really good race game with beautifully balanced gameplay that makes the racing feel very immersive and intense.
The letterbox view is the only reason to make this less than 5/5. You can get used to it, but it does just take the edge off.

West Bank, 13 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

Addictive reactions testing shootout game, slick and well implemented.

West Bank is gameplay at its most primordial. Shoot or don't shoot. Kill or be killed. Try not to twitch and kill an innocent.

West Bank really comes into its own in high score competition.

Boulder Dash, 14 Nov 2014 (Rating: 5)

So much better than the sum of its parts, this genre defining classic is absurdly addictive and offers beautifully balanced gameplay. Even the bad scrolling adds something to the tension.

One of the great games of the 8 bit era and because it was never reliant on graphics or sound to impress it has aged without withering.

Match Day, 14 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

A total eye opener when it first came out. You could head the ball! You could deliver a cross. You could go on a mazy run.
One of my favourite games back in 1985. It hasn' t aged well but still has 'something'.

Abu Simbel Profanation, 15 Nov 2014 (Rating: 3)

Charming platformer that plays with fun and fluidity but which errs on the side of too difficult, especially with a steep learning curve that makes it unnecessarily hard to get into.


Savage, 16 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

Three games in one, and a brave explosion of colour, what Savage gains in graphical ambition, amount of game for your money and impressive music, it loses in originality and though gameplay isn't entirely overlooked in favour of animation it isn't of the highest order.

The first load, Level One, is the best, a camp cartoon crusade with Savage on the charge across platforms left to right, run and gun style. Its hard to play but there is some good stuff in there.

Level two, preposterously protected by a password that they gave wrongly at the end of level one (!), is a more ambitous version of Deathchase with some up/down movement and psychedleic colours that only Braxx Bluff can out-weird. Unfortunatley the level gets nowhere near Deathchase for balanced gameplay. I didn't really enjoy it at all.

Level 3 sees you flying a congested side on maze as an eagle. I can see the merit in this, but its really one for the cartographers. It is also very challenging. The eagle gets killed with a series of good animations that you are likely to see a lot. Spiked to death is good, but squashed is my favorite.

The 3 levels are so different from each other and the story line so contorted that you suspect they may have been dragged in from other projects.

So level one is a solid 4 out of 5, level 2, 2 to 3 out of 5 and level 3 3 to 4 out of 5.

I'm giving Savage 3.5/5 and rounding up as level one is the most important bit for the programmers to get right.

Elevator Action, 20 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

An unpromising name for a game...

Early stealth shooter that can deliver quite a bit of tension though some of it through bad game design as you can't always crouch to avoid a bullet etc if you are, for instance, a pixel too close to the lift shaft.

Still, it is nicely drawn and challenging with satisfyingly dumb - but improving - enemy AI and a randomiser on the layouts of each level so that it is new every game.

Plus points include the ability to shoot out the lights, to kick your assailants when you don't shoot them, and watching the bad guys getting crushed by the lift.

Alien Swarm, 20 Nov 2014 (Rating: 2)

Loosely modelled on Galaxians and Pheonix with three different alien swarms to destroy, this no frills game, from the very early days and semmingly 16K is quite challenging and playable though the controls are too sensitive to make it truly playable.
There was much worse than this around in 1982-83 but the lack of smooth control over your ship is a significant flaw.

Devil Diver, 21 Nov 2014 (Rating: 3)

Nice movement and action in this Jetpac and Scuba Dive hybrid single screen harpoon-em-up
Not quite as good or finessed as Jetpac, nor as evocative of the submarinal world as Scuba Dive, but certainly recommendable to anyone who loves Jetpac an wants to try a test similar skills and reactions.

Uridium, 26 Nov 2014 (Rating: 5)

Superb action shooter in which manoueverability is all. Uridium shares surprisingly little in common with other horizontal shmups in that you need to turn back on yourself whilst avoiding buildings and the enemy. The quick-slow pace -with inertia - is challenging, successfully defeating a level is very satisfying.

The game plays well to the Spectrum's clean and well defined mono graphics. The shading creates atmosphere and is especislly impressive.

Shockway Rider, 28 Nov 2014 (Rating: 4)

A bleak future is writ large in this mug the muggers brick an blood-fest.

Shockway, with points and bonus lives to be won for murdering the innocent, was ahead of its time - both in terms of the imaginative vigilante setting and the three lane, 3 speed Shockway itself, sliding you forwards all of the time towards the threat of decapitation. By subject and gameplay it is very much in tune with games that trend on Android or iOS in 2014.

Black humour and the gesticulating cartoony characters lift the gloom in a game that balances sophisticated theatre with quite a simple hit or be hit game mechanic that is very compelling to play in the short run but lacks truly lasting appeal.

Mrs Mopp, 07 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Uninspiring panic game, with aspirations to a game like Pssst, but with a stereotyical 1980s housewife as hero.
Humour and cute graphics rescue Mrs Mopp which has low playability. Gliding around the screen soon becomes impossible.
The addictive quality seen in other reviews passed me by.
Four simple levels would seem to point to 16K but it is 48.
Mrs Mopp walks out if the house gets too messy and can quell her anxieties with wine; Maybe the game really was a cry for help.

Cyclone, 07 Jan 2015 (Rating: 5)

Supreme search and rescue copter game that is testing, immersive and great to look at.
A classic game that has ZX Spectrum in its DNA - made specifically for the Speccy by one of the best 8-bit authors.

20 Tons, 07 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Author Pete Cooke had a few doodles amongst his early software releases and this Boulder Dash clone coded in Basic and Machine Code is one of them. Cute UDGs and clever puzzles prop up this clone which suffers from timing issues brought about by the stuttering movement.

It lacks polish - indeed polish wasn't attempted. It's playable though, and even includes a level designer.

Brian Bloodaxe, 07 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

I should have loved this game... a big scopey platform puzzler with wonderful surreal sprites and a madcap sense of humour, Brian Bloodaxe is an imaginative work of Art, albeit a flickery colour clashed one.

Back in 1985 I loaded it up and thought my version was botched, not because of the Spectrum reset gag, but because of the soft-hard nature of the walls and platforms. I was used to the precise and fair minded platforms of Jet Set Willy and I just couldn't get my head around the fudgy-fuzzy design of Bloodaxe.

Nowadays I understand it better - the spiky helmet that kills adversaries and slows your descent, the ability to create platforms out of collected objects, jump safely off adversaries heads etc were nice fresh ideas.

Overall though the lack of crispness and precision throughout the game still leaves me feeling somehow cheated and the room designs seem thrown together. Even with a revisit 30 years on I can't get much out of it.

Ali Baba, 08 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

The preservation of this arcade game, even with inlay is a tribute to WoS and its reach, as, 30 years after its launch in brittle Yugoslavia at 990 dinars per cassette, we can still enjoy Ali Baba, a very good unofficial conversion of a very rare Sega arcade game.

The game itself is British Bulldogs in a maze. You are chased and chasing. One baddie can get you the other 3 are trying to sneak loot south to north through the maze to the top of the screen.

Catching the looter baddies slows their progress down and if carrying loot forces them to drop it back whence it came.

Occasionally a key is revealed, if collected it is a chance to grab a bag of successfully looted cash back.

It is simple and frantic stuff, creating choices for the player - how close to the killer baddie will you dare go to apprehend a looter?

Stupid 'why did I do that?' moments and frustrating near misses abound. Get caught a few times or lose all of the money and it is game over.

You can also place a piece of wall, presumably some sort of protection, but I'm not sure how to make it stay in place...

Its playable, smooth running (sometimes too slippery, Hungry Horace style) and has a 'classical' in game tune that is nostalgically grating.

Level 4 was insanely fast so I got put off. Until then this was a 4/5 review but I'll settle for 3 and be happy with the short diversion. Nice discovery.

Revolver, 08 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Not on a par with Gunfright, this is nevertheless a satisfying isometric shooter.

It would be nice to see a map and know if there are any bigger objectives other than points and bounty, but it works OK as a high score game.

Better indicators of the direction off the screen, better use of sound, and a variety of enemies would make the game a lot better.

Galactic Raiders, 09 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

A why-the-heck-did-I-type-all-that-BASIC-stuff-in waste of time invaders clone.

Ian Botham's Test Match, 09 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

The teams took the field in the shape of theses cute little chaps and we were ready to bowl and field. I choose the medium pacer and was allowed to control him by starting his run up (but that was all). A white dot duly spewed randomly forth and missed the wicket by a big wafting stick of celery on the offside. The crowd liked that. Appeal for LBW! OUT!, our first wicket taken. Textbook Shakoor Rana decision!

The graphics here are deceptive chums, look ready and set for a long British Summer of leather on willow but are only a vague representation of what the jolly old Spectrum CPU thinks is going on. Spin balls, bouncers, caught or dropped, its all game of guess what happened. The saving grace is the CPU's batsman were as flummoxed as mine, their all out score of 73 in the Test edging my button mashing 63 all out.

Fortunately tea (and whisky) was served at the end of the Test and this travesty of a tie in (which seems to trademark Ocean not Tynesoft in the instructions?), a complete let down to the genius mullet haired Shredded Wheat monster who endorsed it, could be put back in Beefy's Box forever.

Verdict: One flipping short googly in a maiden over* (1/5).

*Nevertheless a contender for Tynesoft's finest hour on the ZX!

Desert Burner, 11 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

One from the indistinguished Poole and Murray programming team (full softgraphy overrated at a lowly 4.51 on WoS) and nothing to delight in from a game that takes the concept of Moon Patrol and delivers a scrolling game with a motorbike replacing the buggy and trees and cars to jump instead of craters.
Suffers from a golden trumvirate of terrible flicker, hideous colour clash and dreadful collision detection.

Having to jump the trees that are not in the way adds a little bit of Spectrummy weirdness, a minor saving grace.

The Rocky Horror Show, 12 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

A perfectly chosen theatre and movie tie in for the closet and non-closet cross-dressing Spec-chum community, the Rocky Horror picture show sits alongside Frankie Goes to Hollywood contending for 1985's strangest official licence brief.

Here, in the heart of a game that swapped hands in playgrounds, is a game with an illicit drug repository room with bouncing wacky mushrooms and madcap hyperdermics!

But enough of the needle as in terms of atmosphere and cute graphics Rocky Horror is a winner, with most characters present and immediately recognisable. The humour and some of the storyline is intact as well, a rarity for any Spectrum licence.

The game also feels unique, the graphics, independent sprites, the slight 3D perspective, the lines from the film the characters spout, and the strange lack of threat to survival combine to evoke odd.

Yes, dying is perfectly possibly as Riff Raff can blast you or the spark can zap you, but there are moments of strolling the spaceship mansion trouble free.

Tension is accordingly often missing amidst the drama, although anxious clockwatchers will feel the heat - the time limit for the game is very tight.

Anyhow, Rocky Horror looks nice, and plays well enough, but it isn't a classic. For completionists the back and forth time tight project stops being charming and becomes a traipse, whilst 15 rooms is not enough mansion or variety for would be explorers of Frankenfurter's darkest desires.

Superman: The Game, 12 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

At first you might enjoy the joke. Sneaking a C64 game into a Spectrum archive (with the obvious collusion of the Spectrum emulator authors to make it run) seems funny at first, but in the fullness of time people may even think Spectrum games were blocky messes like this.
Its a risky joke too as one of Britain's largest Telecomms businesses has had its name attached to this superhumanly bad official licence that supposedly has seen every level passed for fit purpose by DC Comics!
I suppose the 'scrolling' levels are a chance to see C64 action at its finest, but, really attaching the Spectrum and Superman's good names to this is shameful.
Abysmal, disingenuous and fallacious. One for C64 fans only.

N.O.M.A.D., 14 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

A nicely put together precursor of flick screen shooters like Cybernoid, NOMAD bravely gave you quite a crappy craft/android to control.
No swooping like a champion here, the control method is a personal nemesis, rotate and thrust. You are also limited by weak shooting capacity, inertia and awkward crabby movement. In some rooms magnets come into play too, making accurate movement very tricky.
This awkwardness protects an otherwise quite easy game as the gun placements and alien traps are not that challenging.
Patience is required as the puzzle-shooter skills reward dogged play rather than flair.
NOMAD is repetitive, slow and has some bad game design, but it remains strangely compelling.

Star Firebirds, 19 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Surprisingly playable primitive shooter which suffers from slow down, lack of variety, indifferent collision detection and some hard to predict attacks from beneath you, yet nevertheless has a one-more-go factor many more polished games lack.

Moon Cresta, 19 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

I remember this when it first came out. Moon Cresta seemed like a major breakthrough, a colourful single screen shooter that flowed freely, had a variety of attack waves, great collision detection and a nice docking sequence.

Its power ups seemed like an exciting innovation.

Its role as a breakthrough game was short lived, better shooters soon followed, and what we are left with today is a nice high score game that becomes repetitive fairly quickly.

Saboteur!, 22 Jan 2015 (Rating: 5)

I have a fairly low tolerance of mapping. Back in the day, Saboteur, awash with more atmosphere than any game I had seen, was a disappointment to me when I found out it was less about the ninja knock out arts and clocking dogs with bricks and more about finding your way about quickly.
Nowadays I can cheat a bit in games where I feel a bit lost and come to appreciate the tension, stealth and anxiety that is written into the game.
Saboteur is a graphical triumph in that without the stairs and lift shafts and underground metros and disk terminals it would have been much less absorbing. The tip tap fx are minimal, but also work well for atmosphere.
With help from the map and a reminder of the key objectives – find the bomb, swap for the disk and find the escape helicopter – I eventually completed Saboteur on ‘extremely easy’ today - a first ever success.
Now I understand why some Spec-chums say it is very completeable – I made it through with time and energy to spare. The 8 higher difficulty settings, each with variety in the challenge and timings – show that replayability was a strong consideration.
It is a superb piece of programming from Clive Townsend and well worth its place in the Spectrum hall of fame.
Gameplay is 4/5 but the top score for atmosphere is enough to drag it up to a 5.

Cosmic Wartoad, 22 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

An Emperor's New Clothes game, the extraordinary plot and characters and the game board to cross serve to dress up action consisting of 3 unexceptional minigame shooters. These 3 minigames are further protected by the ungainly manoeuvres of the Wartoad. Wartoad is large and easy target with a bad gun and limited ammo operating in a confined space vs quite random but nimble opponents.
Denton Designs came up with some unusual games, and deserve some praise for the outlandish premise and scenario, and somehow having a board to cross within 90 minutes does give the game an addictive pull, but blink away the spell and you'll find that you have been lured into playing a fairly crappy game trio for too long.

Roland's Rat Race, 22 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Terrible levels and ladders 'arcade' adventure where you play the puppet who inexplicably reinvigorated a decaying breakfast TV show in Britain in the 80s.

The nasties are not challenging, this game will let you wander around for hours without dying. The game is all about solving the illogical layout with a map - which the mapper on WoS has failed to do by missing the lower levels out.

The game is all the worse because Roland can't even jump and clashes horribly. A rat in a sewer that can't jump?

Looks like a bad C64 conversion.

Alien 8, 23 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

In 2012 Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France for Britain, was knighted, an Olympic Gold hero and named Sports Personality of the Year. Everyone knows his name, his fashion sense and listens to his pearls of wisdom. He will be remembered. He is Sabre Man. He is Knight Lore.
In 2013 Chris Froome repeated the feat. It was worthwhile but nothing new. He was worthy, just as good as Wiggins, core fans even said he was better. But (as a one time winner currently) he is not a national hero. He is Alien 8.
Ultimate can hardly be blamed for writing a graphical makeover of their boundary breaking game, offering fans more of something so popular. But the impact was so much less.
I don't like playing Alien 8. I lean towards 3/5 for it but will be more generous after playing some bland stuff lately. This is an above average for a Spectrum game, but not a slice of history.

World Series Baseball, 23 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

A rare occasion of 'better than I remembered' this sim has cute quick graphics, cheerleader razzmatazz, big screen advertisers like Pepsi and John Menzies and simple intuitive controls for performing a variety of functions - pitching, batting and fielding.
Options abound including difficulty, innings number and a 2 player I can't review but which I suspect is marvellous.
If only someone had nicked the AI, control method and big screen/full pitch visual approach and made a cricket game. Cricket was fumbled attempts all round in the Speccy years.

American Football, 23 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

A tactical coaching sim, you call the play for your team and the computer tries to second guess you.
I sunk hours into this in 1984, calling for a Shotgun pass and then watching my stickman quarterback try and complete the pass or playing the risky Bomb in the last minute.
Plenty of tactical fun to be had here with a slight question mark hanging over how much of the game was based on genuine liklihood of a move coming off, and how much fate played a fickle part, but I guess in that respect the game reflects the reality of touchline frustration in sports fans and coaches all over the world.

Airwolf, 23 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Matt B's review sums it up near enough. 10-12 sceens didn't represent value and protecting them with pixel perfect skill requirements to make the game last longer was cynical.

Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge, 23 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

Oh dear. I liked Brian Jacks, unlikely hero of the squat thrusts.
A piss poor attempt at a Hypersports lookalike.

Monty is Innocent, 24 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Good grief this is really bad.

The saving grace is Chris Kerry's naive colourful graphics, but only before they animate as they clash, are glitchy and collision detection is awful. The Jack and the Beanstalk coder strikes again!

As with J&tB you know that there is a game in there somewhere, but the awful illogical map is cluttered with frustrating decisions as to where the screen routes and exits may be and hindered by enemies who materialise right on top of you.

This games' current WOS rating of around 6.5 is surely too high.

Monty on the Run, 24 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

As Rebelstar says, the escape kit guessing game is an incredibly stupid device for prolonging the action.
Some classic Spectrum logic - eat the cake to remove a wall? But of course.
However, Monty and his adversaries are a joy to see in action and the game is tough but playable.
Monty's first adventure was better balanced.

Harrier Attack!, 24 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Good fun for 16K, and controversial choice of recent history gives this Falkland's gun and bomb flying game some notoriety and it is fun to play albeit with limited appeal and addictive qualities reliant on its simplicity.

Falcon Patrol 2, 24 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

No major advance here on Harrier Attack! which was itself a 16K remake of an Oric game and inspired by Scramble and Defender.
The simplicity of Falcon Patrol 2, a wrap around flying and shooting game from the Defender school, and its satisfying takedowns give it some one more go appeal, but this was still quite a lazy release that could have offered a lot more variety.

Gyroscope, 24 Jan 2015 (Rating: 5)

Really excellent Marble Madness clone with beautifully balanced addictive gameplay and stages that are challenging but never feel out of reach.

Bugaboo the Flea, 24 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

Bugaboo is an absolute triumph of design. The drawing and the colours show off the Spectrum palette well and the cave design and dragon build great atmosphere.
That little cave seemed unfathomably huge, yet it only takes an expert a matter of seconds to leap out and complete the game.
Remarkably few players ever bring the hapless flea to the surface in this flea flee to fleedom epic.
Its a beautiful and simple game, just jump left or jump right and try not to panic.
A strange anomaly is that the authors behind it created a few more games for the Spectrum but delivered nothing that can touch Bugaboo for quality.

Zoot, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Curious slow and steady puzzle platformer which certainly requires the player knowing a few basics from the instructions as every level has a different solution.
The nice cartoony graphics cause slow down problems.
I had this as an original back in '85 and spent some time on it. Score well for originality and the shouty greeting
"Hey hey heh heh he hey Zoooot!"

Highway Encounter, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 5)

Brilliant Panayi at his brilliant best. This was an unappetising game for me, rotate and move isometrics... but the game compelled me to get the hang of it, the excellent look and feel, the clever options and solutions to the player, the road itself - it was so nice to know how far you had progressed into the challenge.
I don't much like time limits either, but the device works here and the pressure to keep going forces Highway Encounter from methodical puzzler to reaction based action shooter - and you'll need moments of gung ho action and steady patience to get through to the end and see the exceptionally rewarding winner sequence.

Bazam, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Battlezone clone pared down to run in 16K.

3D Tank Duel, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Quite a nice Battlezone clone, with a good balance of lumbering tanks and heated battles.
An early effort from the Real Time team who became the go-to vector specialists.

Xcel, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

A potentially interesting space shooter with nice movement and a responsive fire button but it is dogged by a lot of plot related bullshit designed to try and make it more complex and worthy.
The Galaga sequences are fun but the 'strategic' elements stall the action.

The Drinker, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

One in the great tradition of Spectrum Games that celebrates inebriation.

Subject is inspired by Tapper, gameplay by Travel with Trashman. Somehow an Italian fictional hero called Alan Bond, famous in the authors homeland (once known as Yugoslavia) is also involved but the reference passes me by.

Not a terrible game. Clear the place up whilst avoiding the cowboy waiters. Don't understand the balloon. Don't miss the beer, you'll die without it. Odd keys, RFOP. A Aborts. At the yellow demand press T for Terminal Onslaught and L for Less Bother.

This game inspires me to celebrate the archive. A 1985 programming competition entry has somehow been preserved and labelled...

Halaga, 26 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Its not like Galaga sadly, or even much like Galaxians, though it resembles that more.
There are plenty of speedy swirly aliens - it looks a proper prospect, but the waves very quickly lack variation, the game is flickery and the challenge misbalanced.

Knockout, 27 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

A pain in the ring.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu, 27 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

Potentially a great game but like so many in the genre you don't need much more than one button mashing move on repeat in order to win, a shame given the clever animation of Oolong

Dominator, 27 Jan 2015 (Rating: 4)

I bet System 3 were bewildered by the 'yet another shooter' response in 1989 as this is at times quite a special game.
A wonderful atmosphere is created by 4 big scrolling levels, 1 vertical, 3 horizontal, showing off exceptional colourful graphics, grim enemies and destructive scenery. The fish faces and bulging eyes of level 2 are drawn with real excellence.
For colour scrolling shmups only R Type, does better. Dominator's scroll is not startlingly quick paced but the massive variety of aliens and their attacks is amazing and the power ups when they come, are very welcome.
Sound is also well used.
The mistake System 3 made was that first vertical level. It is congested, requires attacks to be memorised and has not breaker points to stop you being sent back to the beginning. Where the first level of R Type is challenging but accessible, Dominator sets out its hard core stall too soon and cuts a number of its potential fanbase adrift. Level 2 is even harder, even poked for infinite lives its a heck of a challenge. There are very few let up moments where the player can revel in the carnage from his newly upgraded craft.
If you are the sort of player who made mincemeat of games like Airwolf then Dominator is a chance to see a really detailed and colourful game scroll across your Spectrum screens. The huge effort that the programmers made in setting this hard core challenge is relatively unknown, a shame, albeit understandable given L1.

Devil's Descent, 27 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

If you love to go down this could be for you.

Mica Spremacica, 27 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Another programmer competition game from Suzysoft (as per The Drinker)

Very busy game, collect the red items and drop them off at the intended spot, lose time to do it in if you run into a nasty.
Frantic single screen gameplay -the result is surprisingly enjoyable.

Sam Spade, 28 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

Quite a passable Panic game that came to light as the only Spectrum game title my friend could remember and she insisted on seeing it again!
Not as good as Horace and the Spiders though...
That dig button is a tad too sensitive, but the game is quick and duly delivers panic.

St. Crippens, 29 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

The sad truth, for anyone with a nurse/uniform fantasy is that there are as many dragons on the wards as bra-busting cuties. At repugnant hospital St Crippens there are only the vicious types who prefer to make you sicker rather than let you off the ward without permission.
St Crippens is an eccentric gem of a game that shines not because it is especially playable but because of the Carry On humour. Played like, and resembling New Generation's Escape, only with several mazy screens to negotiate and a much more ramdon and unpredictable enemy AI, you have to out fox the pack of angry nurses and genetic mutants whilst gathering the patients' requests for contraband goods to exchange for clothes. When you are dressed properly, you can leave.
You'll also need to avoid slipping on bedpans or other hazards including the grim mould in the kitchen or even stepping in front of the TV in the lounge (the inmates get irate).
Stick man animation is made funnier as you get more and more ill. At first you limp, then it is crutches as you hobble about the wards swapping cigarettes for underpants and beer for socks.
In typical Spectrum budget tradition, bad controls make the job much harder and avoiding the nurses, who don't need to actually reach you to give you a dose, makes the chance of getting far into the game all but impossible.

Aztec: Hunt for the Sun-God, 30 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Pondorously slow adventure with an excruciatingly yawn-inducing map.
On the plus side, fairly logical puzzles and quite a bit to do. On the minus side, its dull.

Its not llama-entable though.
(I'll get my poncho.)

Street Hawk - Catalogue Edition, 31 Jan 2015 (Rating: 1)

It was a terrible idea to rush out this game in order to fulfil catalogue orders and sadly Nigel Alderton and Joffa Smiff had their names attached to this bad motorbikes meets Defender game.

Macadam Bumper, 31 Jan 2015 (Rating: 2)

Dreary pinball game with bad physics and a poor default table to play.
The whole game lacks imagination as Allessandro says.
The table designer would be a major plus IF the game physics were more playable.

Pinball, 31 Jan 2015 (Rating: 3)

A nice pinball game, in 16K, and quite addictive.
Its short on surprises, but was a game I came back to quite a bit back in 83. Because of its focus on delivering the simple things well it still retains some playability now.

Trivial Pursuit, 01 Feb 2015 (Rating: 3)

Intriguing precursor to the mini era of social board gaming brought about by Nintinedo and the Wii.
This highly rated game has one mini nod to the computer game format in terms of an animated MC asking the questions, but otherwise only detracts from the board game that it mimics.
Could have done a bit more with format to make this a fun alternative to more simply and sociably getting the board out.

Chickin Chase, 01 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

Cute graphics busywork game with frustrating ladder detection that gets in the way of our hero cock.
Fails to rule the roost.

Super Brat, 01 Feb 2015 (Rating: 1)

Terrible attempt at a tennis game.

Sam Stoat Safebreaker, 02 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

Move from room to room, collect the bomb, match and jewels, find the safe and blow it. Its a simple concept that's quite appealing...
Peter Harrap's name is on this but the game has little of the Monty Mole appeal and all of the slapdash hallmarks of colleague Chris Kerry's early work, author of the poor Monty is Innocent game featuring Sam Stoat and the Jack and the Beanstalk debacle for Thor/Odin.
Very cute graphics clash merrily away and glitch on the scenery, routes and dead ends are not obvious, the enemies are often unavoidable and the energy (a blood syringe???) is insufficient for anyone to complete the game (there's no RZX or video after 30 years and its hard to imagine anyone now having the blend of skills and patience required)
There is one Harrap special though, a mini jumping game between sections that requires outstanding timing to cross rapidly rising and falling pilars, strongly reminiscent of those unpopular crushers in the first Monty game. This stage is especially unfair in the way it rapidly empties your hyperdermic if you do dip just a stoaty toe in the toxic stream.
Overall, there are just too many (nicely drawn) turds in the Sam Stoat sewer.
The challenge and the glitches spoil a rather nice game. I poked it for immunity so that I could at least see the safe blowing bit and it was satisfying to blow it, scarper and then scoot back for the jewel. It is a shame so few players could get that far.

Subterranean Stryker, 02 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

I thought this might be an undiscovered gem. Defender meets Scramble with big Wheelie style caverns to explore, I hoped that this was just too flickery and jerky to get good reviews but might be fun for anyone who can put up with that, as I can.
But its pretty shoddy, with no real flowing feeling of flying, its all about fitting through impossible bottlenecks again and again whilst the scenery kills your shields. Keeping shielded is next to impossible in truth, and sometimes you actually have to fly right through earth or brickwork to get to where you want. The RZX recording, together with spectacularly poor ending, uses a poke of some sort to boost shields.
Mike Follin's good intro music aside, this is a game that looks bad and plays badly too.

Helichopper, 04 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

Unheralded budget Firebird title, a helicopter bombing and rescue game.
This is a very busy single screen action game that takes its cue off Ultimate's early output without being as good or with the same balanced difficulty progression.
There are 23 levels, level one being hard, 2 easy, 3 hard...
Dropping off the rescued 'clones' is frustratingly fussy and the chopper is quite a large sprite to get about in amongst very many enemies.
I had some fun loading this up, but not enough to want to progress through many of those 23 levels.
Mind you, level one features killer homing ducks, which has to be a plus!

Luna Rover, 04 Feb 2015 (Rating: 3)

Moon Patrol clone, jerky scroll but everything works. Not as good as Moon Alert, but you can make nice big scopey jumps and the collision detection errs nicely to being fair on the player.
The major issue is that you get to the start of section B and when you crash get returned to the start of Section A. Disheartening. I didn't try to get through several stages but fear you'd be back to the start over and over... and it's potentially a long jumpy journey.

The Dukes of Hazzard, 05 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

Good graphics and frustrating, bad gameplay. Pressing M repeatedly to accelerate, making the helicopter such a regular presence, and the lack of variety (I was longing for a bridge to jump from whilst Rosco drove into the swamp), prevent what should have been a superb licence from being fun.
No yee-hah here.

Wild West Hero, 11 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

Great Robotron clone, very enjoyable.

Cauldron, 11 Feb 2015 (Rating: 3)

Highly frustrating game that has a great atmosphere, nicely drawn graphics and a large play area. The shooter/platform combo is well-conceived too. Sadly the fussy and deceptive platforming and the vulnerability of your walking witch when landed undermines the fun and the result is a badly flawed game that could have been a classic.
Cauldron was hailed as a great game by Crash, Sinclair User et al but it hasn't held up as well as the true classics.

Jungle Jie, 12 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

Jungle Jie, from the arcade game Jungle King, in which you star as Jie a bespectacled naked old man, running through the wilderness, head back like Chariots of Fire, through landscapes reminiscent of the trippy running in the Russell film of the rock opera Tommy.
Incredible programming evokes an old Spectrum favourite from the word go, the uncatchable rope. So the most unplayable section - far worse than The Hunchback- in this deranged soup of a game, is the very first bit you see. Only the insane will progress.
I progressed. I swam on through the croc swamp and then into the 'bombarded by giant popcorn' section, which proved to be moderately good fun, and then I penetrated the jungly inner sanctum, leaping the fauna and the agitated natives and ducking the tunnel-top snakes.
There were more ropes ahead, and decapitated death-bringing heads...
No sign of Mr Kurtz in the darkness and yet I was so close to rescuing my Jane, my Esmerelda, whatever she was.
I failed.
The gnashing heads bit me to shreds.
The horror, the horror...

Maziacs, 13 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

Few demises are more thrilling than death by Maziac.

Dead or Alive, 23 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

1995 Gunsmoke clone - vertical scrolling shootem-western by Jonathan Cauldwell, the man who has done more than anyone else to keep new Spectrum game making (on the UK scene) alive with a consistent high standard of new games together with programming aids, tips and game designers.

It is a competent and enjoyable game, short of the fluid fun found in greats in the genre, such as Commando, but nevertheless well worth buying and playing.

SurfChamp, 23 Feb 2015 (Rating: 2)

Wonderful 'only on the Spectrum' oddity that is buggy, finicky and slightly mad even before you lay the expensive plastic surf board that it came with across the rubber keyboard.
This is a game that takes itself very seriously with multiple meaningless weight and gear settings that could potentially make a difference if the key squashing skillz via the plastic interface really gave much feel for the surf.

Its fiddly and fussy all the way though - even in 'Practice' you will run out of energy, or be returned to the menu for having a board without a leash (which you can't select as the menu doesn't work properly).

30 years ago I was a teenage surfer and I really wanted this game to be what it wanted to be and even though I knew that the board-thing was plain silly, I would have loved a surfing game that carried out even a third of the true simulation ambitions that SurfChamp aims for but fails to ride out.

Trailblazer, 23 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

Playable and addictive reactions based ball game, I really enjoyed it 29 years ago and the premise holds up well today though there were probably other 8 bit versions with more colourful zones.

Astroball, 24 Feb 2015 (Rating: 5)

Excellent ball and platform game where you reach for new heights with a controllable bounce and ingenious power-ups.
Great game mechanics, wonderfully implemented and the scroll works really well.
The steep learning curve and sometimes uninspired level design combine to make it becomes slightly too challenging too quickly, and a bit short on out and out fun, but not enough to spoil it.
Top marks - just - for this one which is borderline 4 or 5/5.
A superb SAM Coupe version is worth hunting out if you enjoy this.

Albatrossity, 26 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

Very good golf/puzzle hybrid full of ingenuity coupled with a strong sense of fun.

MODERATE RETRIBUTION, 27 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

An absolute must for anyone who loves to viciously stick a doughnut in the ring, or even shoot your load into an onrushing boss winkle.
At first this game lives up to its moderate billing, a nice but andante scrolling experiment of a game that is showing us what can be done using the SEUD game making utility, but the slow movement - reversing is treacle - is perfectly suited to the softening reactions of its haggard old audience of Spectrum Die-Hards, who have somehow managed to keep their wrist action supple enough to have a good old play on special occasions.
Its an admirable plan, flying in the face of Spectrum history by being eminently completable, so that you can actually get to go through all the loveable stages with a little practice. Some beforeplay to warm up is advisable before any all-in assault, or you may find the final passage too narrow in spite of your best attempts at rapid fire finger work.
So you can penetrate this space tunnel right to the brief congratulations climax without gathering a 'reward' brood of nagging teenage winkles.
Moderate Retribution at last.

Meganova, 28 Feb 2015 (Rating: 4)

Classic Dynamic, the graphics are ambitious, the game veers recklessly between too tough and too tame, the relentless monochrome and overbusy backgrounds make some attacks hard to spot and the attacks from behind are guaranteed to get you until you have learned the patterns.
And the last level has unnecessary let ups that level 2 badly needs...
However, there are quite a few levels ad it has a certain hook about it and the adictive qualities that kept me coming back are just enough to score this a 4 when it feels more like a 3/5

Squamble, 01 Mar 2015 (Rating: 3)

Pleasing Scramble clone with the addition of indestructible meteor clouds and innocents to rescue to change around the strategy.

Sir Fred, 22 Sep 2016 (Rating: 3)

Cutely drawn and animated, but lacks fluidity in gameplay, is too exacting and frustrating.

Legend of Kage, 30 Jan 2017 (Rating: 3)

There's something charmingly daft about this leaping ninja game.