Dateline 7th February 2012


Game 42 marks the 10%-ish mark of the Commodorathon. To say it’s been an arduous trek so far is to say that elephants are made of sheet metal. Still it doesn’t help that the six games chosen at random tend to be just that – random. Cacky old arcade conversions, lame film-tie ins and the great, great grandson of Championship Manager lay in wait in this next batch……..


The first landmark of the Commodorathon



This is Nancy at Chase Headquarters, we've got a crappy arcade converison here.......


Scum rules the roadways and it’s up to you to track down the criminals and ram them off the road. Armed with a high powered car, fitted with a turbo boost, and in constant communication with Nancy at HQ, you simply have to drive as fast as you can to find the criminals. Once located you have a short time period to ram them from behind until their car explodes and you can make an arrest. There are 5 major criminals out there and only you can stop them.


You get the feeling of the speed of this game from this screenshot, and yes static is a good way to describe it


Given how painstakingly slow this game is, I am amazed you are able to get anywhere near the criminals. This game is an absolute abomination of a conversion. I am really not sure where to begin.


Firstly it’s a multi-load so any level failures and you’ll have to rewind the tape. Secondly, the game looks as if it has been ported across from the Spectrum, as it is all green and yellow, and the backgrounds and course layouts do not change from level to level. Thirdly, the sound effects make your ears bleed and the music is not much better. The absolute undoing of this game, however, is the speed. You cannot have a high speed car chase game where the high speed chase in question is the equivalent of a sloth chasing a worm with a brick tied to its back.


The big red arrow gives the criminals away. You'd have thought they would have removed it before they went on the run


The C64 was home to some pretty torrid conversions of great arcade games. You only have to see how good both the Amstrad and Spectrum conversions were to see just how bad this was. Of course the C64 has limitations, but even so, there is nothing to recommend here other than simply to never play it. A disgrace.




Rounders with gloves


Taking yourself out to the ball game, it’s time to wear some silly pyjama type uniforms and spend some time playing the American version of rounders. You play either a friend or the computer over the course of a 9 innings game, with the object being to get more runs than the other team. You take turns at batting and pitching, with the latter being viewed from behind the pitcher. You have a small variety of “ball types” to throw, such as slider, curveball or fastball. You also take control of the fielders, making catches or picking up ground hits and throwing them to the bases.


Despite the limitations and age of the game, this is one of the best baseball games out there


Compared to American Football, baseball is pretty easy to follow, it’s just all the statistics I can’t get to grips with. The good news is that, while Hardball is full of stats it is also incredibly easy to play. You don’t really need to know if a player is left or right handed, or if they have a good average – you just select your team and off you go. Pitching is pretty easy, fielding is strange to start with but easy to pick up but I did find batting quite hard. It seemed almost a miracle to hit the ball hard in any direction. The graphics still look pretty good nearly 30 years since release and the spot tunes and crowd effects actually make you feel you are at a game.


Controlling the fielders does take a bit of getting used to but you'll soon be pulling off catches and whizzing throws back to base


There haven’t been too many memorable baseball games down the years but, even though it is very much a golden oldie, Hardball is one of the best and most playable examples out there.




The sillier the haircut, the faster the car - so it seems anyway


Taking part in a series of races, in what can only be described as a quad bike/buggy type vehicle, you battle 12 other opponents in your quest to win the racing championship. There are many different levels and courses to choose from, ranging from the more basic tracks to those that go up and over hills, round big bends and down steep inclines. All this is done at a fair pace and with competitive drivers, winning the title is not a forgone conclusion and you will have to battle all the way.


The courses vary greatly and provide a challenge from start to finish


Personally speaking I have always enjoyed the sort of racing games that you can pick up, put your foot down on and just drive. All this changing gear cobblers and slowing down into corners etc – can’t stand it. With Power Drift you get 2 gears and just the warning to avoid contact with other racers and roadside objects. That’s probably the reason I absolutely loved this game back in the day and still do after revisiting it. The whole thing is done in one load which means you can keep going without reloading tracks – you can play all the different levels, choose different drivers etc. It’s just a great package. Obviously, compared to the arcade original, graphically it’s a bit sparse but actually benefits from the lack of detail. I played the Amiga version years ago and that suffered from too much detail. The speed of the game is at the other end of the scale from Chase HQ and the music is awesomely good.


Without trying too hard a top notch conversion was possible and one of the best racers on the C64


This all adds up to one of the best racers on the C64 and a must have. It’s the sort of pick up and play game that I love so much. So imagine my surprise when one casts an eye over the developer – Activision. If you have seen any of my reviews of Activision games here at RetroSection you’ll know that they are responsible for some truly abhorrent C64 arcade conversions. It seems that on this occasion they got it all rather right for a change.




Everybody needs somebody to love (someone to love)....


Jake and Elwood are on the run once again. Through 5 levels of platform mayhem, they have to trek across the city, through a prison and a river to reach freedom. Along the way you need find the missing records to complete your collection. It isn’t an easy task as pretty much everything in this game is against you, including the grannies in the shopping trolleys. All this is done to tunes of the Blues Brothers films so you can bop along whilst gaining your freedom.


This game has little to do with the film and more to do with being fun


In the hands of the wrong developers or a team after a quick buck by cashing in on a licence name this could have been a quite dreadful gaming experience. Whilst it wasn’t as much fun as I remember, it is still a good game to play. It’s easy to play, the graphics are great, the music is quite superb and, whilst it is a little samey and a little easy, there is no denying the charm of the Blues Brothers.


A late addition to the C64 roster but one of the better games


There isn’t a lot here that you couldn’t get anywhere else, but then again not a lot of that has been done as well as this. Titus were not renowned for bringing out quality games but this was a very nice surprise indeed.




Who you gonna call ? Anyone but Activision.....oh they did call Activision


5 years since they came to the attention of the world, things are not going well for the Ghostbusters. Reduced to appearing at children’s birthday parties or on dodgy cable TV paranormal programmes, it seems that the almighty heroes are but a distant memory. However, when strange ooze begins appearing in the sewers which changes with the moods of the city’s inhabitants, it soon becomes clear that more ghoulish goings-on are in the pipeline and there are only one set of people you can call.


The opening level does take some mastering but after that it's rapidly downhill


Like many sequels that which made that had you wondering why they had bothered, Ghostbusters 2 the film AND the game of the film are both inferior to the original. The game is multi-load which can only lead to more hair being pulled out. While there is little to complain about in terms of the graphics, the music is mostly hideous and the sound effects just non-existent. The fact the game is only three levels long is unforgivable, although the first two levels do take a little time to master. Once done, there is little challenge or little desire to go back and have another go.




This is a thoroughly unsavoury package courtesy of my old friends Activision. As the police would say – keep moving, there is nothing to see here.




Now you can do a Graham Taylor and call time on Gary Lineker's career - it's not as if it will amount to anything special anyway


You can’t get any tougher job than this – why not try your hand at the England football manager’s job ? Either that or choose from any number of other countries, but your goal is the same ; bring success, and quickly, to your nation after years of failure.


Choosing from a pool of 100 players you pick formation, select tactics, study individual stats and then finally pick your squad. Arrange matches, scout the opposition, suffer squad withdrawals before knuckling down for the important qualifying games. If you get through your group, the cup competition awaits and the fate and the glory of the nation is in your hands.


This is the memo all new England football managers get when they come into the job


At the time there was only one other football management game on the market – the aptly named Football Manager and it’s sequel. This was an area that would get increasingly saturated as time went on and there is no doubt that the success of Tracksuit Manager ultimately had an influence on the successful Championship Manager series.


At the time, the game played out the match in text form, something not done before. There is great depth to the management side, from scouting to selecting players (and having them withdraw – damn you Glenn Hoddle) to picking formation and tactics. For a tape based game there is an awful lot to get your teeth into and your head around.


It might look quite dated but don't forget this is exactly how Championship Manager started out


It is one of the best examples of the management simulation from the 8 bit era. If you can get used to the fact that most of the players in the game are now managers themselves or are involved in the media, and can turn the clock back to 1988, you’ll be in for a treat. Tracksuit Manager is not one of those games left back in the dressing room.