Spectrum S-U

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle – By Adventure International

I used to love text adventures. Back in the days of the Spectrum, they were the only real genre that offered a level of freedom that we take for granted today. Of course, I was utterly useless at them, and many years later when I finally complete this game with the aid of a walk through from World of Spectrum, I realised that I could have sat in front of my Speccy for months and I would never have completed The Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle back in the 80’s. You play a Beanwick, a wizard’s apprentice whose job it is to retrieve 13 magical stars hidden away in the mystical Claymorgue Castle. You have a few spells to help you and standing in your way are various beasties and some devious puzzles. I got Claymorgue on the Beau Jolly 10 Computer Hits compilation. I spent a long time wandering around the castle not really sure what I should be doing so in the end gave up, frustrated. But if you’re actually into your adventures and any good at them, I’m sure there’s much to admire here.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Starglider – By Rainbird

The winter of 1986 was a great time to be a Spectrum owner. Game after superb game were still being released and the machine was arguably at its peak. For the Xmas market, Rainbird released their epic shooter Starglider, and for me, a simpleton who found Elite far too complex and boring, this was the perfect wireframe shooting game. Developed by Argonaut Software and coded by Realtime Games for the Speccy, the game took place on the player’s home planet of Noveria which has been invaded by an alien force known as the Egrons, who cunningly dodged Noveria’s defence systems by disguising their battleships as migrating birds. That’s some bloody big birds! Your goal was simple: rid Noveria of these invaders using your AGAV fighter craft, equipped with lasers and television-guided missiles (which were pretty cool). Starglider came in a lovely big blue box with some nice artwork and a novella explaining the plot. The game was raved about in the press (even the Speccy 48k version) and Crash Magazine awarded it the honour of their game of the year. All this glossed over the fact that it was actually quite basic in terms of gameplay; but that never bothered me one bit. Shoot, shoot and shoot some more!

Review by jdanddiet

8/10

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 Transformers – By Ocean

Long before Michael Bay got his greasy mitts on the adjustable robots, Ocean secured the license to a Spectrum game based on the toys and cartoon series. Despite not owning any of the toys, I looked forward to this just like most other 12-year old boys. And like most, I was disappointed. Being 1986, this was before the multi-stage movie licenses that became the norm for Ocean in the late 80’s Instead, they opted for a dull platform game where you control various Autobots in their quest to defeat the evil decepticons who turned in an occasional appearance. There was a fair amount of anticipation for this game, and whilst it wasn’t terrible, it failed to live up to any expectations and was a fairly average effort. As I said, the backgrounds were dull and whilst the Transformers themselves were nicely drawn and animated, the lack of action tolled heavy against the game. The Autobots were also a pig to control, with the robot versions especially prone to crashing at inopportune moments. A missed opportunity.

Review by jdanddiet

5/10

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 Universal Hero – By Mastertronic

Mastertronic weren’t renowned for quality games, yet they released a few gems that were well worth their standard asking price of £1.99 and Universal Hero was one of them. Starting off in an underground cavern, the eponymous hero must assemble the missing parts to his space ship before jetting off to an errant asteroid that’s threatening life as we know it. It was presented in a flick-screen format with your man equipped with a useful jetpac. He had nine slots in his inventory which came in handy as there were many objects in the game which needed to be experimented with. The first part of Universal Hero is brilliant – puzzles which are thought-provoking but still solvable. The second part (on the asteroid) is a lot trickier and some of the puzzles quite bizarre, but overall it’s still a good game, helped by some lovely colourful graphics.

Review by jdanddiet

7/10

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 Uridium – By Hewson

They said it couldn’t be done – yet it was! Uridium was a stonewall C64 scrolling shooter and one particularly suited to the Spectrum’s great rival. Most publishers would likely have left it at that, but with ace Speccy programmer Dominic Robinson up their sleeve, Hewson decided to see what he could do. And what a result it was…Uridium on the Speccy is fast-paced, frantic and great fun – if a little monochromatic! There are a few elements missing, naturally, but the scrolling is smooth and the sprites clear, making Uridium one of the best horizontal shooters available on the Spectrum.

Review by jdanddiet

8/10

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