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Retrospective: The Acorn Archimedes • Page 2

Yes, it had games on it. Shut up.

Every furious bout of washing and clothesline-pulling would end the same way though, with the worried pair of washers standing in front of the boss, and an evil rival with his hand on a trapdoor lever. What happened next? Well, let's just say that two decades later Eurogamer can exclusively reveal that Alan Sugar is nothing but a copycat fraudster.

Gosh, where next? Well, as noted earlier, the Archimedes was well serviced by ports from other systems. We got Cannon Fodder, Wolfenstein, Lemmings, Magic Pockets, James Pond, Sensi, Zool, Gods, Speedball 2, Populous, Flashback and the forgotten gem that is Manchester United in Europe - and secretly I feel that because our choice was so limited we probably ended up appreciating them all the more.

On the Archimedes, if there was a game you played it and you played it relentlessly. It simply didn't matter what the subject matter was. As such I became an expert at Jahangir Khan Squash, slammed my head on a slow-motion steering wheel repeatedly in Saloon Cars Deluxe, earned a fair few tricks in Omar Sharif's Bridge and learned to fly enough planes in MIG 29 and Chocks Away to forever curse me with an inverted mouse affliction.

3

The greatest stunt game ever. Although Stunt Island comes close.

Stunt Racer 2000 was where it was at though, a driving game that provided jollies almost on a par with the almighty Carmageddon, which would appear around five years later on the PC - the system to which I would later defect.

Stunt Racer had mountainous tracks that managed to go above and beyond even what TrackMania has produced in recent times; some would even undulate back and forth creating moments of freefall terror you could actively feel from gut-to-groin. Even better was its split-screen mode, which didn't so much let my brother and I merrily perform death-defying stunts together as allow us to choreograph the most ridiculous and spectacular deaths we could manage. It was our first exposure to in-game camera replays, and our tiny minds were blown every time we played.

From the same stable in 1994 came Star Fighter 3000, a game that saw a green spaceship blast away at the varied scenery of 3D worlds and asteroid belts. Like Stunt Racer before it, vertical scale was what made it magical - allowing you to blast higher and higher into the stratosphere until the sky turned black and the only noise was your engines and the lasers streaming past of enemies trying to keep up.

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Destroying one building would cause a demolition chain reaction if you'd weakened them enough.

The feeling of diving back down again, knocking out a target building and watching the resultant explosion kicking off sequences of destruction in the structures around it really was pretty magical. You might have played the sloppy Acclaim ports on the PlayStation and Saturn, but I can assure you that these are rubbish in comparison. If folklore is to be believed then the 3DO version is the greatest, but the venerable Acorn isn't far behind.

Yes, the Acorn was a gaming backwater. I'm not going to deny it. Like most tepid shallow pools though, there was a ton of interesting stuff growing in it and occasionally some great stuff floating in from elsewhere if the wind was in the right direction. My Acorn gaming habit was in a gated community, but I'm oddly proud of my hectic spanner-chucks in Mad Professor Mariarti, spherical space platforming in Fervour and mushroom tree destruction in Apocalypse. God bless the Archimedes. For the middle classes shall not see her like again. Amen.

You can all start calling me a posh nob for owning an Archimedes now.

Images and video courtesy of Vanpeebles' Acorn Games Video Archive.

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