Michael Jackson once sang that ABC was easy as 123. If only he knew what that meant at the time. This week, Retrobear has a walk through his collection, stopping off at letters D, F and Q as well as the other 23 in the alphabet. Sesame Street this isn’t and any comparisons to Muppets will be frowned upon….


An every day occurence for Retrobear - the endless struggle against the simple things in life

Its quite often hard to pick a favourite computer or console, let alone a favourite game from my collection of retro goodies. Quite frankly I would think about hurting the feelings of the ones I neglected and the amount of hours (or in The Running Man on the C64’s case, minutes) we had together, getting to know one another and the sheer joy that we gave to one another during those few stolen moments. OK, that is sounding a bit sick so I shall move on.

So I thought I’d just pick some games at random A-Z and give you my memories of playing these and how they rate in my own views (remembering these are my views and do not represent any mass consensus) :


Arcade quality graphics and sound ? Hmmmmmmm.....

A – Altered Beast (MegaDrive) – You wondered what Sega were up to when they bundled this as the free game when you purchased the console. It’s hard to imagine being blown away by it at the time, because the game simply hasn’t aged well. Poor graphics, unidentifiable speech and repetitive gameplay made for a harsh gaming experience. Still it was quite groundbreaking to see such big sprites in a game, and a decent (using that word loosely as there was very little to compare it to at the time) arcade conversion being on a home console.



The best driving section to a multi platform title ever.

B – Batman The Movie (Amiga) – Before Ocean got sloppy and started churning out clone platform games to go with their movie licences, this was the mould from which that was born. Platform levels, a puzzle levels, an awesome driving section and fly through Gotham in the Batwing made this one of the best tie ins of all time. It’s hard to fault such a game and it is revered now as it was then.




Those are planes and clouds, just so you know.

C – Combat (Atari 2600) – Probably the first game I ever played on the 2600. 27 video games in 1 ! Wow how spoilt for choice we were, although inspection found a lot of the games were different just with more planes and the invisible tanks. That last one gave me and my sister a lot of fun. Basic, aurally painful (bit like my sister) but so addictive – that is what games on the 2600 were all about. If only games nowadays had half the playability and less concerns with how they look and sound.



2 things that made Britain great in the 1980's - Daley Thompson and the C64

D – Daley Thompson’s Decathlon (C64) – The original joystick wangler, where strong wrists and a sturdy table were the order of the day. So began a fascination for teenage boys thrashing their wrists back and forth to achieve the crowning glory – a gold medal. With the advent of joypads the art of joystick thrashing was confined to history, and button mashing soon took over. How we all miss a good wangle now and then.



Hold on to your hats - if they have hats in the future.

E – Extreme G (N64) – Sort of like Wipeout but not actually anywhere near as good as Wipeout. Vastly inferior to F-Zero which remains the best SNES/N64 future racer. Extreme G isn’t bad, it’s just not very exciting. Quick yes, thrilling no. All substance and not a lot else.





"And it's Schumacher !!"

F – Formula 1 (PS1) – Do you remember the first time you not only saw this game move, but also heard what it sounded like ? It was like watching proper F1 with Murray Walker yelling in your ears. The proper TV on-screen graphics were there too ! Wow this was one of the games that defined the PS1 as the leading console of that generation. Fun to play, fab to watch and an absolute joy. It’s hard to say if this has been equalled by an F1 game since. If you disagree do let me know, I’d love to know what you think.


Arcade action looked like this in the mid 1980's on the C64

G – Green Beret (C64) – Also known as Rush N Attack on the NES. Either way this was one I couldn’t get to grips with. The basic premise of going left to right, stabbing or shooting anything that came your way looks incredibly dated nowadays. However this shouldn’t discount this game from its place in history. After all, every single game of this style after it owes a great debt. There have been better variants (Contra) and poorer ones (Cobra).



Not to be confused with the Texas song of the same name

H – Halo (XBOX) – Every machine has a defining game and this was it for the XBOX. It needed something fresh and something exclusive to show Sony and Nintendo that it could be Bobby Big Bollocks when it wanted to be. The fact the series lives on with the 360 versions says a lot. For me ? Well it was running and gunning in 3D which is fun for a while but it didn’t grab me and shake me the same way, say, Doom did on the PC.



Is it a bird ? A Plane ? No, it's a mole. A what ??

I – Impossamole (C64) – Monty Mole was one of the 80’s games icons, starring in a string of hit titles that got more and more difficult and hair pulling as they went along. Gremlin had the great idea to resurrect Monty for the Amiga and Atari ST owners, as well as existing 8 bit fans. Sadly Impossamole proved to be Impossible for a lot of gamers – whereas previously, frustration had been an element of the game now it was just plain annoying. Marked the beginning of the end for insanely hard platformers.


As we Brits call it over here - American Rugby

J – John Madden Football (MegaDrive) – One of the longest, if not THE longest running franchises in gaming history. Back when it wasn’t known as just Madden ** this was about as simple as it came when it comes to American Football. Simple playbooks, a small collection of teams and requiring the player to know less about America’s Game and more about just playing the damn game. Incidentally, the Madden series has been running since 1986 in some form or another and has survived on all generations of consoles and formats.


Back of the net ! Kiss my face !

K – Kick Off 2 (Amiga) – I have written about this game enough in previous columns, so all I can say is it’s the best game I have got that starts with a K. And it’s also The. Best. Football. Game. Ever. For. Console. Or. Computer. K also stands for Kick Ass, which is exactly what it does.





Pushing the Master System to the limit

L – Lucky Dime Caper Ft. Donald Duck (Master System) – There were many platform games for the Master System, with Psycho Fox probably being the best. I haven’t got that one yet so I plumped for Mr Duck’s first 8 bit outing. Not that it’s particularly groundbreaking, but it looks brilliant and plays very well. Donald went on to star in Maui Mallard (which I enjoyed immensely). It should also be noted that while this was released on the Master System, MegaDrive owners got the equally quacktastic Quackshot at the same time.


Mickey Mouse, (Mickey Mouse), Mickey Mouse, (Mickey Mouse)...

M – Mickey Mania (SNES) – From Donald to Mickey in one fowl swoop (enough bird related gags). The appeal of this for me was playing as Mickey through the ages, from Steamboat Willie onwards. A very fun 3D level being chased by a moose follows shortly after and while there are some incredibley difficult bits to negotiate, you just get lost in the charm of the thing.





Realistic looking isn't it ?

N – NBA Jam (SNES) – Now this I just found silly. I simply can’t go along with a sports game that isn’t trying to simulate it correctly. It has it’s many fans and while it is fun to play. I am not a fan of basketball and this just went over my head. Ashamed to say I have this on both SNES and MegaDrive as well as NBA Jam Extreme on PS1. Well thats what happens when you find them at 50p each at the car boot.



I wasn't expecting miracles - but come on ! Look at it !

O – Outrun (C64) – Horrid conversion of the amazing arcade game that drew punters in big style and caused much parting with 10ps at a very quick rate. Of course the Commie was never going to be able to match the arcade original, but what you got was a washed out looking, incredibly slow, pile of poop that wasn’t anything like the original it was based on.




Showcasing the very best the N64 had to offer

P – Pilotwings 64 (N64) – Now here was a game that not only improved on the original looks-wise but kept the great gameplay too. It’s hard to believe Nintendo didn’t attempt to make a Gamecube version of this game, which truly would have been stunning. Complete tasks and levels to earn your marks and pass your courses. A simple enough premise yet highly fun and challenging at the same time.



Errrrr quite literally unremarkable

Q – Question of Sport (C64) – Back in the 80’s there appeared to be a fad for converting popular TV quiz shows and board games to the home computer. This game us, for example, the home computer version of Pictionary, the popular drawing game. Retailing on the Amiga and ST for a mere £24.99 and £19.99 respectively in 1989 – yet the game could be played with a pad of notepaper and a pencil. Alas, QoS was not a good representation of the quiz show and was anything but remarkable.



The kind of game that gives motorcyle gangs a bad name

R – Road Rash (MegaDrive) – Upon first playing this game I was fairly nonplussed. Take a motorcycle along a road and beat some people up along the way. After an hour or so this became rather fun and eventually became one of the games I played most on that system. I don’t think other versions have come close to capturing this original version since, making it a landmark title in video games history.




"Easy left, over jumps, maybe"

S – Sega Rally (Saturn) – Not as smooth as the Dreamcast version and certainly looking raggedy in it’s old age, but the feeling you got from playing it was exactly the same as the arcade. It was one of the showoff titles for the Saturn, which sadly failed to make any impact on the market at all. Shame as it did have some good games for it, and this along with the conversion of Daytona, are two games any Saturn collector must have.



This game had time and involved a crisis. How about that ?

T – Time Crisis (PS1) – Having not played this in the arcade I was sucked into buying the PS1 version because it came with the Namco G-CON45 controller that looked totally awesome. Because firstly you could use said light gun with the other great Namco hit of the day Point Blank and secondly, I lost lots of time (literally) playing this back in the day. Recently I tried it on my LCD TV (remember folks, old school light guns won’t work with an LCD screen) and had to use the joypad. I still got close to the end but missed the feeling of crouching behind a crate, gun in hand ready to blow away some bad dudes.


Either that's Sesame Street or it's a meeting of the British Parliament.

U – Unbelievably I have no games beginning with U. Oh if only for a copy of The Untouchables !









So you create a rock hard character with a tough look....and then you call him Jeffry

V – Virtua Fighter (Saturn) – Like Sega Rally, this hasn’t aged well but was very much a precursor to what we have now in fighting games. At the time they were all 2D, but this was the first to explore that further and gave inspiration to the likes of Tekken and DOA. Both those games ended up being far superior and Virtua Fighter fell away. For me it’s not my favourite genre at all as I can’t be bothered to remember all the button combos. Punch/Kick is good enough for me.




Watcha gunna do ? Well pick Shawn Michaels, keep repeating his finishing move and complete the game very quickly if memory serves me correct.

W – WWF Super Wrestlemania (MegaDrive) – Every games console I have has to have a wrestling game for it. It’s like a tradition really, harking back to Ocean’s WWF Wrestlemania on the Amiga. This was the vastly superior version compared to the SNES release as it had all the proper finishing moves in it. Playing it now though, well it sucks on all kinds of levels. The entrance music themes are still good though.






As usual with games like this I have no idea whats going on

X – X-Men Legends (PS2) – Thank god for the X-Men otherwise this would have been the second blank entry on this list. Actually this is a damn fine game which is very like Marvel Ultimate Alliance in its gameplay, although predates that by a few years. Which reminds me I really should play more of it.





Quite a nice loading screen. Errrmmm not a lot else to add really...

Y – Yes Prime Minister (C64) – Not sure what to make of this. It seems incredibly like the TV show which was a bit before my time and does require a bit more concentration than I am required to put in at times. Maybe one for fans of the show as the humour seems to have been lifted straight from it.






I think Zool is in there somewhere, but my eyes are stinging from all the colour...

Z – Zool (Amiga) – The Miggy’s answer to Sonic in many respects, offering a platformer in the same style with the same speed. Whilst it was popular enough to spawn a sequel and made it onto the MegaDrive and SNES, the quite frankly ludicrous product placement and endorsement of Chupa Chups lollies was too much for some.





Well I hope you enjoyed that. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime, perhaps. Just as long as one of us remembers to bring a game starting with U. Oh, and Y as well as I have only got the one listed here. And maybe a couple more starting with X too……

PS You will notice a lack of games from the NES, Gamecube, Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, Gameboy Advance, Game Gear, Dreamcast and just one from PS2. I have all these consoles, I just didn’t include games I had on them. Maybe next time but this was done at random and that is what was chosen.