Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Bluetooth ZX Spectrum!

Elite, the computer games publisher from the 1980's that released home computer games like Airwolf, Commando and Bomb Jack is still going strong today. Their latest venture is a Bluetooth computer in a ZX Spectrum case that is able to be linked to an iPad or Android device and used to play retro games or even type a letter in a word processing program!

Prices so far start from £50 but don't expect to see it released until late this year or early next year.

I must admit that it looks wonderful but is it too good to be true for die-hard retro fans?

Detail is pretty vague at the moment, especially around how much the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will be tied down in terms of what you will be able to install or play on it.

For more information click here.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Cambridge museum's arcade games brought back to life

The UK Computer Museum in Cambridge asked for volunteers to fix their old arcade games that were in non-working order.

Thanks to the volunteer's help some of the old arcade units which have been out of use for up to 17 years are now working.
Read more about this here.

The UK Computer Museum is worth a visit for all retro game fans and features tons of old computers, consoles and even calculators from the past!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Retro Gamer Magazine Issue 131

Issue 131 is now out in the shops. This month features:

History Of Rampage
- Discover how George, Lizzie and Ralph went on to rule the world

20 Years Of Elder Scrolls
- We trace the origins of Bethesda's successful RPG series

The Making Of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
- Discover how Neversoft made its hit game, without ever making a sports game!

The Bluffers Guide To Interactive Movies
- Discover why FMV games were the next big thing, and why it went wrong

Also inside...
- History Of Rampage
- Ultimate Guide: RoadBlasters
- A Moment With Bill Harbison
- Reader Revival: Advanced Pinball Simulator
- 20 Years Of Elder Scrolls
- Future Classics: Bioshock
- From The Archives: Gang Of Five
- The Making Of Tau Ceti
- Marathon Men
- Retro Revival: Mario Is Missing
- Retro Inspired: OlliOlli
- Minority Report: Amstrad PCW
- The Bluffer's Guide To Interactive Movies
- The Unconverted
- The Making Of Monster Max
- Retro Revival: WWF Smackdown 2
- In The Chair: Mev Dinc
- Classic Moments Super Turrican

Friday, 11 July 2014

Listen to over 2 hours of the best Spectrum 128k music!

Prepare your ears for the best in Spectrum music! Click on the video link below to listen.

Games featured are:

Agent X 2
Auf Wiedersehen Monty 128k
Batman: The Movie
Battle Valley
Bear a Grudge
Bionic Commando 128k
Bubble Bobble
Canyon Warrior
Chase HQ
Combat School
Cue Boy
Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge
Destiny Mission
Fantasy World Dizzy
Ghouls 'n' Ghosts 128k
Glider Rider
LED Storm
Magicland Dizzy
MASK III: Venom Strikes Back
Race, The
Raw Recruit
Rock 'n Roll
Saint Dragon
Super Scramble Simulator
Turbo Out Run
Where Time Stood Still

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The worst ZX Spectrum music!

The ZX Spectrum was capable of some really impressive music, whether on the humble 48k machine or the more advanced 128k model. Featured here are some what I think are the worst of the tunes to feature on the Spectrum.

Avalon - Great game but raspy music with no real tune.
Booty - Okay this was only £1.99 and the game wasn't half bad, but that continuous Sailor song music! At least you could switch it off.....
Bounty Bob - Another decent game but the tune is far too high pitched for my ears.
Con-Quest - Out of tune with screamingly high notes. Help!
Dominator - I'm not sure if this is an actual tune or if it is just continuous background noise?
East Enders - One of the worst games on the ZX Spectrum, and the music is no better. A poor rendition of the famous East Enders tune.
Gallatron - Reminds me of the 'music' I used to create in my early Spectrum programming days......
Gerry the Germ - An awful game with music that has no real tune. Very poor!
Gladiator - A tune more appropriate to a BASIC game. At least the 128k version was a bit better.
Goonies - A game that would be much better with sound effects during play rather than this awful attempt at music.
Heist 2012 - No music here, move along!
It's Only Rock & Roll - A classic strategy game but the demo of your band playing on stage is laughable....
Nemesis - Could have been so much better. Simple and repetitive.
Nonterraqueous - Good game for £1.99 but a noisy, irritating tune!
Pulse Warrior - A poor 128k tune. Again it would be better with simple sound effects rather than this amateurish tune.....
Tapper - Nice little game but please can you switch off the in-game tune!
World Cup Football - I used to love this football game in the early days but the tune is so annoying after a while! Impressive programming at the time though, I thought.

Listen to my worst selection of tunes below!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Indiana Jones classic Atlantis game Special Edition??

Some hints on-line are surfacing of an Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis remake. While the original game is wonderful I can't help but look forward to the game getting updated!

Read more about it at the link below:


Friday, 20 June 2014

Retro Gamer Magazine issue 130 out NOW!

Issue 130 of Retro Gamer magazine is out in the shops. This month features:

The History Of Crazy Taxi
- Creator, Kenji Kanno, chats about every key game in the series and

30 Years Of Amstrad CPC
- Amstrad's CPC range is an impressive three decades old, and Lord Alan Sugar himself was keen to join in the celebration

The Making Of Theme Hospital
- We speak to the key developers who were tasked with coming up to a spiritual successor to the excellent Theme Park

Bluffer's Guide To Football Games
- Jon Ritman, Jon Hare, Jim Bagley, Dino Dini and many other weigh in on the popularity of the beautiful game

Also inside...
- The History Of Crazy Taxi
- 30 Years Of Amstrad CPC
- The Making Of Theme Hospital
- Bluffer's Guide To Football Games
- Ultimate Guide: Yie Ar Kung Fu
- Reader's Top 25 N64 Games
- A Moment With Geoff Brown
- Minority Report: Commodore Vic-20
- Retro Revival: Video Poker
- The Unconverted
- The Making Of Super Cars
- Desert Island Disks: Karl Hörnell
- Future Classics: Okami
- From The Archives: Telegames
- Retro Revival: Putt & Putter

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Top 100 Spectrum Games - Final Part

Counting down from 50 to 1 this final part of my Top 100 Spectrum games features the best ever Spectrum games in my opinion. They all offer something unique, whether it be cool graphics, incredible sound, innovative gameplay or tons to offer in terms of value for money.

You may not agree with some of the games in this list but bear in mind that this is my own personal list so no doubt my judgement will be clouded by overly sentimental reasons....

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top 100 Spectrum Games - Part 1

Counting down from 100 to 51 this first part of my Top 100 Spectrum games features lots of classic games that you will recognise but also features a few games that you may not have played before - if so then give them a try.

You may not agree with some of the games in this list but bear in mind that this is my own personal list so no doubt my judgement will be clouded by overly sentimental reasons....

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Hampstead reaches the iPad!

Hampstead, the text adventure game released in 1984 by Melbourne House has made it to the iPad. Click the picture above to find out more!

Super Gran - the baddest of all Super Heroes

Stand back Superman, Iceman, Spiderman, Batman and Robin, too…In 1985 a superhero like no other emerged onto our television screens. A frail, elderly grandmother called Granny Smith was accidentally hit by a magic ray which was created by Inventor Black. This magic ray gave Granny Smith superpowers, including super strength and incredible athletic abilities.

Super Gran the computer game!
Set in the fictional town of Chiselton, Super Gran's main role in the television series was to protect this small town from it's variety of villains, mainly 'Scunner' Campbell (played by Iain Cuthbertson). Super Gran herself was played perfectly by Gudrun Ure who did a lot of the stunts in the series herself, having only one stunt double. Throughout the series you can see Super Gran driving a quad bike, playing football, doing a hand-stand while on a skateboard, flying a bike and stopping a helicopter from taking off by sheer muscle power!

Super Gran is out now on DVD!

The television series was broadcast on ITV from 1985 to 1987 for 27 episodes and was filmed in the North East of England, including the Beamish Museum.

Most memorable about the series was the fantastic theme tune, sung by Billy Connolly and actually released as a single which reached no.32 in the charts. The intro to the tv series featured an animated scene of how Super Gran received her super powers, and the ending credits featured clips of Super Gran performing her many stunts throughout the series. You can watch a classic episode below, I recommend skipping forward to the end credits!

Super Gran also featured on home computers like the ZX Spectrum. There were two separate games, both published by Tynesoft - one was a graphic adventure where you had to type in commands and solve the various puzzles. You can watch me complete this adventure game below:

The second computer game was more of an arcade game, where you controlled Super gran through 4 very different levels to find the invisibility ray. Once complete then the game made you invisible while you played through the same 4 levels again - finally allowing you to finish the game. Watch me complete this game below:

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tetris turns 30 years old!

Tetris, one of the world's most well-known games is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this week! Click the picture above to view the link.

Developed in Russia by programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, it only reached the UK in 1986. Tetris really took off in 1989 when the Gameboy version was released.

I bought the Mirrorsoft version for the ZX Spectrum back in 1989 and have fond memories of loading the game up time after time trying to beat my high score. 

Tetris sold extremely well on the Nintendo Gameboy, and total sales overall were over 170 million copies.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Elite: Dangerous Alpha Phase One!

Great to see that the new follow-up to the old Elite game is looking fantastic, can't wait for it to be released!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Retro Gamer magazine issue 129

Retro Gamer issue 129 out soon!
The latest edition of Retro Gamer magazine is out in the shops on May 22nd. This month's edition features:

The Bluffers Guide To Maze Games
The Making Of: Heartland
Atari Lynx 25th Anniversary
From The Archives: MC Lothlorien
ET Uncovered?
The Ultimate Guide: Midnight Resistance
In The Chair: RJ Mical
The Hardest Games Of All Time
The Making Of: Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters
Classic Moment: Robocop
The History Of: Driver
A Moment With: Ian Malcolm
Minority Report: Japanese Warriors

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Pearl & Dean the champions of old cinema adverts

Brings back many cinema memories this video!

Now to find Butterkist butterkist rah rah rah......

Kevin Toms: the return of Britain's longest serving Football Manager

Who can forget the bearded picture of Kevin Toms?
Kevin Toms, the original author of Football Manager one of the most famous games released back in 1982 is currently putting the finishing touches to a new football management game for the iPhone.

While it won't be a replica of the original games, the author still promises it will have a retro feel to it. 
Simple graphics, addictive game-play!

The game will still have match highlights but hopefully they will be improved over the 1982 version.

Look out for the game available on the App Store hopefully in time for this year's World Cup!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

While you wait for a better Indiana Jones film, check out the Fate of Atlantis!

The opening titles to the game showing the attic.
When Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis burst upon the home computer scene back in 1992 fans like me were ecstatic. The third movie had been released three years before and by this time we were desperate for another Indy film. But in the meantime we would settle for this utterly brilliant graphic adventure!

You mean it wasn't Harrison Ford's voice?! 
I bought this game for £34.95 in Boots back in 1992 for my Amiga and played this non-stop for years to come - who can forget the 12 disks that the game came on and endlessly swapping disks in that single Amiga disk drive!

Set in 1939 on the eve of World War II you had to control Indiana Jones in a point-and-click graphical adventure game and help him seek out the lost city of Atlantis and get there first before the Nazi agents.

Working your way down to the library. Ouch! 
The game used the SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) engine that featured in Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge. This game engine enabled you to use the mouse pointer to click on the screen where you wanted Indy to walk to, talk to a character or even pick up/use an object.

Just let me in, you ape!
So, starting out in Barnett College you first had to guide Indy in the task of finding a lost statue within the archives of the college library. Form the library attic you made your way painfully down to the cellar where behold, the statue was revealed in an old locker. Unfortunately the statue is soon taken from you by Klaus Kerner, a nasty secret agent of the Third Reich and using some clues from Klaus's jacket you begin your travels around the world meeting various characters that can assist in your search for Atlantis.

Cold, unforgiving Iceland. 
First up is a trip to New York and a theatre where Sophia Hapgood is lecturing about Atlantis. At this early point in the game you can follow three different paths in the game. The Team path is where you team up with Sophia to solve the puzzles together. The Fists path is more traditional Indy fare where you mostly fight your way through many of the puzzles. Lastly you can follow the Wits path which includes more tricky puzzles to solve than the other two paths. How you choose to get into the theatre here decides which path you take e.g. if you decide to fight the bouncer then further into the game Sophia will recommend that you take the Fists path.

The impressive Mayan temple. 
Thanks to Nur-Ab-Sal, Sophia's useful 'spirit guide', Indy and Sophia then end up in Iceland looking for Dr Heimdall who is leading a dig there. He isn't the most friendly of people but after asking him about the Lost Dialogue of Plato he advises that you seek out Charles Sternhart in Tikal and Felipe Costa in the Azores.

So on to Tikal and once you have navigated your way through the jungle you come across a huge Mayan temple ran by the very man you are looking for, Charles Sternhart. Once you convince him that you are not just silly tourists and with the help of a very knowledgeable parrot then Charles allows you to enter the temple and it is here that you find your first link to Atlantis. 

Your first Atlantean find!
Using kerosene from a lamp you find a spiral design that just happens to fit into a nearby elephant statue. A quick pull of this newly created elephants nose and the tomb of an Atlantean king is revealed! You also find a Worldstone (further on it is revealed that this stone is one of three keys that the Atlanteans used to unlock doors). 

Unfortunately Charles runs off with the Worldstone but you find a bead of orichalcum lying in the tomb. This bead is made of the fabled element that the Atlanteans used to power their amazing technology and it comes in useful when you head back to Iceland where you find a frozen Dr Heimdall and a half-uncovered eel statue.
Not the Azores that I remember.
Using the bead of orichalcum in the eel statue frees it from the ice and you can now head to the Azores!

Felipe Costa is an old man who deals in rare antiques and he shows great interest in your eel statue from Iceland. He agrees to trade the statue with information on where the Lost Dialogue of Plato book could be located. Amazingly it turns out that it is held in a collection back in Barnett College where Indy teaches. 
Some interesting information about Atlantis.
So back to the college to find the book! This now takes you back to the scenes from the beginning of the game but this time you can interact more with the background objects. Searching through each of the floors you should soon find the fabled Lost Dialogue of Plato and it contains some useful clues about how to reach Atlantis. 

This is now where Sophia reveals which path is more suited to your style of play. I will continue on the Team path for now but if you are interested in the Fists or Wits paths then you can watch my walk-through videos at the end of this article.

Time to scare someone out of their wits!
Now you are off to Algiers and Monte Carlo to follow up leads on two people that Sophia knows. Algiers first to pick up an old mask from an antiques shop you then go to Monte Carlo to meet Trottier and to convince him to attend a seance in the hotel.

Using the mask and a handy bed-sheet you manage to scare Trottier from leaving the room and leaving behind his Sunstone key behind. Now you have your first key!
It's a dangerous game being a knife-thrower's assistant.
Stunning views of Algiers from the balloon.

Back to Algiers and it's time to scour the desert in order to meet Omar who helps you locate at Atlantean dig out in the desert. But first you need to make some trades with a local stall-keeper, a beggar and also to convince Sophia to assist the knife-thrower in his act! Having done all that you should then be in possession of an all day pass for the balloon sight-seeing on the roof of a local house.

Handing your pass over to the balloon owner allows you to enjoy a superb view from the top of the balloon. And once you cut the balloon cord with the knife from the knife-thrower then you are free to float away and over the desert to find the dig site. Here is one of many in-games where you must pilot the balloon over the desert, referring to the map to locate the exact 'X marks the spot'!
Some tricky puzzles at the dig site.

Once you locate the dig-site you soon lose Sophia and have to work out a series of puzzles in order to rescue her, the first being to start up the generator underground so you can locate several useful objects (that ship rib really comes in handy). Then you find that using the Sunstone on the mural opens a door to enable Sophia to escape and once you work out how to start the truck then it's off to Crete.

A lot of bull in Crete.
Aaah, Crete. Probably my favourite part of the game. I remember spending hours at the Crete dig site when I first bought this game wondering what on earth you were supposed to do here with the surveyor's transit and I searched round every single ruined room looking for the slightest clue. Eventually I worked out that you had to locate the bulls head and tail statues and use the transit on them until you located another 'X marks the spot'. 
Another clue but what does it mean I wondered?

The Crete section of this game even encouraged me to visit the fabulous Minoan ruins at Crete a few years ago where there is indeed evidence of a bull's horn statue just like the game. Unfortunately I forgot my surveyors transit though.

Poor old Charles Sternhart didn't get very far.

Once you have all the Atlantean keys the Sunstone, Moonstone and Worldstone then you can at last gain entry to the labyrinths of Crete. Here there are many devious puzzles to solve and you will find yourself wandering the underground caves for a good long while. A useful item to have here is the amber fish on a string which will locate any orichalcum beads located nearby.

Who knew that piloting a submarine was so easy.

Unfortunately once you escape from the labyrinths then the Nazis turn up and kidnap Sophia and take all your stone keys, forcing Indy to secretly follow them onto their submarine. Once safely aboard you have to work out how to get your stone keys back, rescue Sophia from her captors then take over the submarine and pilot it to the correct location of Atlantis! Just another day for Indiana Jones.
It isn't exactly the fabled city you were hoping for.

And so you reach the legendary lost city of Atlantis. Frustratingly it's pitch dark when you leave the submarine and you first task is to make some light and also to open the first door into the main Atlantean concentric circle.

Atlantis is laid out in concentric circles just like Plato foretold!

And what do you find in Atlantis but a city that has long been abandoned by it's creators. The only residents now are Nazis and crabs and a few ruined robots. First thing Indy needs
An orichalcum machine!
to do is create some more orichalcum beads and for this you need some lava. 

Find the missing parts to the huge orichalcum machine, pour some lava into it and hey presto some more beads! Now you can get past the second door into the inner circle. 

But what's this? Sophia trapped in a jail cell and no way of getting out? And how do you deal with the giant octopus in the canals so that you can obtain the raft?

Help, tentacles!

Catching a crab is the way to deal with the octopus, then you can start the raft and float further up the canal. What you really need now is something to level Sophia's cell door open so that she can escape. A hinge pin would be ideal.....

Didn't Derek Acorah also have a 'spirit guide'?!

At last you have reached the centre of the rings. And this is where you find that Sophia is taken over by her 'spirit guide' Nur-Ab-Sal. Which turns out not to be a spirit guide but in fact a long lost evil resident from Atlantis which quickly possesses Sophia and refuses to leave Atlantis. The necklace is the key to dealing with this nasty spirit and once you destroy that then Sophia is free.

Nice lava effects.

Activating the machinery enables you to go even further into the centre of Atlantis and you soon find yourself in a huge cavern complete with a maze of entrances and exits. You also need to navigate a tricky lava field.

Help me!
Finally you reach the 'god room' which features ancient Atlantean technology to turn normal people into spirits and literally become 'gods'. Unfortunately the technology didn't quite work as planned, much to your amusement as you watch the Nazis turn themselves into evil beings that soon fade into nothingness. Be careful on the options that you choose for Indy here or you may find out that it's him that's turned into one of these spirits!

Atlantis slowly disappears.

And there we have a fitting end to a wonderful game. With Atlantis destroying itself and sinking back into the sea from whence it came then Indy and Sophia escape and the credits roll.

Who knew how useful a Fez could be?

You can watch me complete all 3 paths to this PC game below - Team, Fists and Wits paths. Each path has similarities and also differences e.g. in the Wits path you have to navigate the streets of Algiers trying to follow the servant to his masters' house. It only works if the servant is wearing a bright red fez though, otherwise you lose him in the crowds.


Team Path

Wits Path

Fists Path

The PC version featured above has 256 colour graphics and also full speech throughout. The first version that I had however, the Amiga version has neither of these things but  I think features improved music over the PC version. A walk-through for the Amiga version can be viewed below.

You can purchase the original game now at Steam here.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Were you a member of the Home Computer Club?

The leaflet that was in most magazines.
If you were a home computer user back in the late 1980's then you may be familiar with the Home Computer Club. Whether you were a member of the club or not you may recall the attractive full-colour leaflets bundled in most home computer magazines back then, similar to the myriad of leaflets that fall out of magazines today.

'Choose 3 items from only 49p each' was emblazoned on the front of the leaflet - certainly an astoundingly attractive offer for any computer owner, especially if you couldn't afford many full price games.

Upon opening the leaflet you were greeted with amazing cut-price offers on relatively new full-price software. For example, Ultimate Play The Game - The Collected Works compilation offered for only £1.45! 

Amazing introductory offers to make you sign up to the Home Computer Club.
Maybe you would have been tempted by the Taito Coin-Op Hits compilation pack for only £2.45! Or how about the excellent Match day II game for a measly 49p! A choice of any 3 was your opening offer to join the club - all you had to do was complete the form attached with your 3 choices of software, supply your name and address and post in the 

Pick your 3 discounted choices, complete your name and address, then post away and that's it!
nearest post-box. You didn't even require a stamp! And did I mention also the free gift of another full-price software product?! And of course, there was never a better time to join (according to the leaflet) as this was a 'special' club introductory offer. But you can hazard a guess that all the leaflets stated this fact throughout the years that the club was active.

The Program Magazine
Several days later you would receive your 3 software choices through the post, together with the 'Program' magazine. 

One of the conditions of being a member of the Home Computer Club was that you had to purchase one item of slightly discounted software from the Program magazine which was sent out approximately every 8 weeks, and you had to do this for a minimum length of one year from the date you signed up.

I must admit that I came very close to signing up several times over the late 1980's but each time at the last minute I did not post away the coupon to join the club. The introductory offers were really tempting but I just preferred the freedom of going into any High Street shop and choosing the game that I wanted, whether

Pick your choice from several pages of discounted software every 8 weeks or so.
a budget or full-price game - or even not to buy any game that particular month if there was nothing that caught my eye. I didn't like the fact that you were tied into buying a full-price game every 8 weeks from the small selection offered in the Program magazine. 

But many people were tempted, and happily signed up to the Home Computer Club. Were you one of them? I'd be interested in hearing about any memories if so. In the meantime I will just continue to look at the introductory offers and wonder 'What if I had joined?'