RetroReview : April Amiga Apolcalypse – Part Two
Dateline 21st April 2012
This is most definitely a trip down memory lane which I am going to relish. Looking back at some of the old Amiga games I used to play, it’s funny how many come back to surprise you and also some that shock you. I am hoping that the mix of games will at least give you an idea of the wealth of titles, the vast array of styles and a feel for what makes me love this machine so much.
Just out of interest I have decided to exclude Kick Off 2 from this list, purely because I have banged on about it in the past and I’d like to save it for a footie retrospective once we get to the 2012 European Championships in the summer.
So away we go with our first batch of Amiga games…..
ALIEN BREED – With an overhead viewpoint, which was fairly common back then, and with the sort of title that would be a precursor to horror survival games, Alien Breed was a breakthrough for the software house Team 17. Heavily influenced by the Alien films, you had to battle your way through corridors collecting keys to open doors and escape the level. Your path is blocked constantly by hordes of alien monsters which you have to keep blasting to continue. It’s a real cross between the classic Gauntlet games and Alien the film, but it works. It is tense and dimly lit, the sound effects are creepy and the graphics, while on the small side, are well defined and animated. It’s a tough old game too and was successful enough to warrant a couple of sequels and more recently a couple of current gen makeovers. Make no mistake about it though, this is the definitive Alien Breed game.
BC KID – If you remember the PC Engine console which only ever got a proper full release in Japan but was wowing readers of C&VG and the like back in 1989, you would have seen a prehistoric-themed platform romp called PC Kid. A full 3 years later a version arrived on the Amiga which looked every inch a great conversion of the original game. It’s the usual platform fare with the unique idea that BC Kid goes round headbutting things, rather than the usual Mario idea of jumping on stuff. It’s pretty simplistic stuff and given the late release date (1993 was pretty late in the Amiga’s lifespan) it doesn’t make the best use of the Amiga’s technology. That said, there were many worse platformers around than this but you’d be better off hunting down the original PC Engine version.
CIRCUS GAMES – I’ve always been fascinated by curious games such as this. You get to try your hand at various circus acts such as tightrope walking, riding a horse standing up and flying through the air with the greatest of ease on the trapeze. I guess my nature is to find out just how much fun a computerised version of those things would be, seeing as I have absolutely no interest in doing them for real. Sadly, unless the thrill of endless disc swapping, broken controls, a high difficulty level and the raging feeling inside that you want to punch the next clown you see are how one should feel then don’t play this game. Sometimes it’s best to remain curious and not to know.
DAYS OF THUNDER – Oh joy, yet another film tie in designed to rob you of your cash whilst the game producers sit back and count their profits. Chances are, if you owned an Amiga you’d have a copy of this game because the damn thing was eventually bundled with the machine as part of the various freebie software packages. The only thing this has in common with the awful Tom Cruise film is the racing aspect – so no stolen encounters with Nicole Kidman whilst Maria McKee warbles in the background. The car driving aspect of the game sucks like never before, with everything moving at a rate of 1 frame per second. It’s just too slow to be enjoyable and before you know it it’ll be consigned to memory, never to be resurrected again. Pretty much like the film really. God this game sucks…..
E-MOTION – Right up there in the top 5 of games my Dad has played. That list may stand at perhaps 10 games in the whole history of time. This was a rather novel attempt to make a puzzle game of a different sort, whilst trying to throw a bit of Einstein in there. It’s basically a cross between snooker and the old game Thrust, where you have to link the coloured balls together to clear the screen. Make a mistake and the balls start multiplying. If you are really careless (like me) then you’ll end up with a screen full of balls, a lot of screen slowdown and no chance of completing the level because of the time limit. It is quite a fun game but you get the feeling it’s a bad trip someone had when they dropped a load of acid and then played Asteroids. It gets quite tough quite quickly and the time limits really are unfair. Still if you fancy a weird puzzler then you can do a lot worse than this.
FACE OFF – Ice hockey games really didn’t hit their stride until the EA NHL series on the Mega Drive so this early entry from Anco didn’t quite do the sport justice. You get the feeling, after the success of Kick Off, this was rushed out hoping to have the same winning formula. It’s all a bit rough around the edges, with some lazy programming. The controls aren’t the best and the visuals and sounds are of a very average nature. There are plenty of options but you really need a grasp of the rules, especially so if you play it with the fouls turned on. If that’s the case then you’ll spend alot more time hearing the disc drive load the “sin bin” scene over and over again. Is it a fair effort ? Not really, you are definitely better off with the EA console games than seeking this one out.
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