Posted by jdanddiet on Aug 11, 2010 21:40 (Aug 11, 2010 21:40)
5. Pheenix - Megadodo
The strangely-named Megadodo released one game for the Spectrum - and this was it. Cunningly changing one letter of the arcade parent's name (Phoenix) to give it a more phonetic spelling, Pheenix was a limited but supremely fun blaster that more or less included all the elements from the coin-op. As a result it suffered from the limited nature of the original game, but that's hardly the programmer's fault. In fact, he (Martin Ward) deserves fine praise for the excellent presentation and colourful, sharp graphics. The gameplay is indeed limited - Phoenix is not much more than a tarted-up Space Invaders clone - but for a quick, enjoyable blast, you'd do well to find a better 16k game, except perhaps...
4. Harrier Attack! - Durell Software
Mike Richardson was an early idol of mine on the Spectrum. Not only did he program this timely shooter, but he also came up with the super Scuba Dive and underrated Jungle Trouble, before going on to devise many a classic on the 48k Spectrum, not least the wonderful Turbo Esprit. Back to Harrier Attack!, and taking off from an aircraft carrier, the purpose was to scoot through a horizontally-scrolling landscape, dodging enemy fighters (that were intent on colliding with you) and flak from the guns below. After this hilly terrain was a set of factories, your target, onto which the Harrier could drop bombs: then it was back to the carrier for another (trickier) mission. Harrier Attack was an impressive game squeezed into 16k by Richardson. It didn't offer much in the way of complexity, but was just about one of the best pure shoot 'em ups at the time.
3. Sir Lancelot - Melbourne House
Ok, so it was a Manic Miner rip-off - of this can be no doubt. But Melbourne House's Sir Lancelot had enough charm and playability to set it apart from the 16k platform pack. Packing 24 screens into the machine, was a colourful adventure where your aim was to search the castle in order to find an elusive and stereotypical Holy Grail. Sir Lancelot had to collect all the items on each particular screen to unlock the door to the next room. Spare lives were depicted as marching versions of your own character and numerous nasties are out to stop him.
2. Jet Pac - Ultimate
It's a testament to Jet Pac's enduring quality that when I first got my Spectrum + in 1986, a full three years after Ultimate released this classic, that it was one of the games I played first and for the longest time. Like most 16k games, it has an uncomplicated premise: you must collect all three parts of your rocket which are spread over an unchanging platform level, drop them into one section and then collect the fuel before jetting off to the next level. The graphics for the time were very polished and colourful; but the key of course was the superb gameplay. Collecting rocket parts and fuel whilst leaping from platform to platform, gunning down aliens with your impressive laser was a whole lotta fun. The Stampers also expertly fine-tuned the movements of Jetman; he moved slowly when walking, quicker when flying but with predictably less control. Fortunately the screen was wraparound, leaving a get-out for sticky situations. A stonewall classic.
1. 3D Deathchase - Micromega What can I say about the superb 3D Deathchase that hasn't been said before? Not much, I reckon. Yes, it's furiously addictive, as you dodge the trees and try to shoot those elusive bikes over alternate night and day levels; yes, we all pretended we were Luke Skywalker on a speeder bike from Return of the Jedi; and yes, author Mervyn J. Estcourt has remained stoically elusive since. 3D Deathchase is still a fantastic "in the zone" game; it's so easy to get drawn in, speeding through the increasingly denser forest despite it's actual lack of gameplay depth: the bikes and tanks you are chasing don't fire back and the only real danger are the trees, the player's temperament and the awkward keyboard layout. If you haven't tried it before, you may struggle to see what the fuss was about: for those of us who grew up with the Spectrum, however, it's an experience we will never forget, and the best 16k Spectrum game ever!