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Chris Wilkins

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FeatureFred Gray on C64 Music

Best SID down for this one.

Tempest

Storm warning.

Sensible World Of Soccer

Play sensibly now.

Dropzone

Defending at home.

Defender was widely acknowledged by many as an instant classic upon its release into the arcade. Fans of the game held their breath in baited anticipation as they waited for the first home versions to appear in the shops. Surely the bespoke controls of Defender parent could never be replicated on the humble Competition Pro Joystick. Could it?

Mercenary

Palyars, Mechanoids, and a highly pissed off brother-in-law.

Gamers today have an easy life compared to yesteryear. Tutorials, hand-holding, subtle pointers and a gradual increase in difficulty all help to ease the player into the unknowns of a new title. In contrast, Mercenary unceremoniously throws the new recruit into an adventure with little knowledge of what’s going on bar a brief overview of their ship's controls.

As the race to release the next generation of video game consoles comes to a photo-finish extravaganza of cutting edge technology and universe-expanding games, the most prized possessions of the videogame enthusiast are not coming from the high street stores but from car boot sales and internet auctions. Once again, Sir Clive Sinclair is racing down the final stretch at the heels of newcomer giants Microsoft and Sony, with many other old campaigners like Atari, Commodore and Amstrad in hot pursuit.

Last Ninja 2

Final cut.

The atmosphere of early games on the Commodore 64 was somewhat 'enhanced' by crude beeps and bops, complimenting the action on screen. It wasn't until the arrival of the likes of Rob Hubbard and David Whittaker that musical scores became part of the overall package when buying a new game on the beige machine. By the time Last Ninja 2 was released in1988, a score of superbly released anthems and musical scores had been composed for a myriad of games, often helping sales of the title on their own merit. A select few continually appeared in Zzap! 64's Top 10 SID tune list on a rolling monthly basis.

Moon Cresta

Two's company, Three's a crowd.

Before the introduction of the sublime Midway cocktail cabinets (designed for such titles as Namco's Pacman and Galaxian) the somewhat angular Taito design was king of the roost, showcasing many of their offerings such as Space Invaders, Phoenix and Moon Cresta.

Astro Fighter

Old ship that flies well.

Space Rockets are thirsty beasts requiring large amounts of quenching juice on their journey through space. So with your fuel level indicator alarmingly approaching empty, your only salvation in Astro Fighter is to destroy the end of stage boss who will re-fuel your tanks allowing you to carry on your quest to reach the top of the high score table.

Scramble

Screwball.

Playing Scramble takes me back to my early teens, and a small chip shop in a seaside town in West Wales where I grew up. On pressing the Player 1 button and hearing the "here we go" jingle, I swear I can smell vinegar in the air and hear seagulls calling in the background.

Robotron

Do it for Mikey, please?

Robotron:2084 is the epitome of organised chaos. An unbridled jaunt into insanity and the ultimate in twitch gaming. This is a title that all shooter fans must play at least once in order to experience the finely balanced gaming perfection achieved by the legendary Eugene Jarvis.

Phoenix

Rise from the Fire You Alien Scum.

The simplistic concept of the initial arcade shooter was somewhat short lived. Left, right and fire had proved to be a successful formula for a vast number of releases after the arrival of the seminal Space Invaders in 1978. To ensure the continuing success of the arcades, however, publishers had to innovate.

Jetpac

Simple and effective.

Ultimate Play The Game is a company synonymous with producing ground breaking titles for the ZX Spectrum with their 1983 debut, Jetpac, re-setting the benchmark for shooters on Sir Clive's Technicolor wonder machine that other game developers thereafter had to measure up to.

1942

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky.

In 1942 (the game and the year), the world is in the throes of global conflict. Your contribution to world peace surmounts to taking on the might of the Japanese air force with a single war plane decked out with twin machine guns and a nifty loop the loop trick that baffles and bewilders the dim-witted enemy.

Valhalla

Heavenly.

To play Valhalla upon its release back in 1983, the gamer had to spend a whopping 14.99 for the privilege. For most people this amounted to many weeks of accumulated pocket money, and suggested the game must be something extra special to warrant such a price.

Trashman

Rubbish!

Some would argue that those involved in developing games on the 8-bit computers had a much easier time of it than their equivalents today. With a clean inspirational slate, the creative juices of the game designers could really let rip and turn pretty much any concept, idea or situation into a title the public would lap up.

3D Starstrike

Holding out for a payrise.

Star Wars euphoria over spilled into the arcades in the early 80's with Atari unleashing Star Wars the arcade game onto a public hungry for an immersive experience in a galaxy far, far away. After spending your weekly pocket money shooting down Tie-Fighters and generally saving the Rebel Alliance over and over again, playing the latest Star Wars clone on your home computer did not really live up to the arcade experience. That was until Realtime Games Software Ltd released 3D Starstrike on the Spectrum, a blatant clone of Atari's flagship title.

Manic Miner

Time for text.

6031769 is a sequence of numbers etched on to the inner thought waves of every Spectrum users crania, involuntarily regurgitated at the mere mention of Mathew Smith's stunning Miner 2049'er inspired game Manic Miner. Rumoured to be his driving licence number, this code opens up numerous cheats in Bug Byte's version of the game; some would say the only way to get through the twenty levels of psychedelic platform mayhem.

FeatureSpeedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

Mike Montgomery on today's XBLA release.

Whenever I talk with friends about the top games on the Amiga, a number of games by the Bitmap Brothers inevitably end up on the list. They were truly masters of the 16-bit machine, each of their releases receiving universal acclaim and setting new benchmarks in game design that other developers invariably failed to meet.

Fairlight

One to show friends.

It's a common adage by both gamers and game journalists alike that graphics alone do not necessarily make a good game. Fair comment you might say, but Fairlight proved both camps unceremoniously wrong back in 1985 when its outstanding visuals blew everyone away. Gamers rushed to the shops in droves to purchase this title on its beauty alone.

Flight Simulation

Simulation Nation.

When released back in 1983, Flight Simulation flew (pun intended) off the shop shelves selling more than 130,000 copies to would be Spectrum pilots that fancied a trip into Britain’s cloud infested sky.

Avalon

Project yourself.

The Hewson blurb on the cassette inlay proudly proclaims "Avalon - The 3D Adventure Movie". A bold and brash statement suggesting an interactive gaming experience comparative to playing the hero in the latest blockbuster movie.

Ant Attack

Ants in Your Pants.

The walled city of Antescher is inhabited by ants. Not the teeny weenie type you find under the paving slabs in your garden, these are huge bloody things - at least 6 pixels big with vast, snappy jaws and spindly legs, which home in on you for a bite as soon as you get close.