As another new year of possibilities begins for us all, and one of truly 48K proportions for some (!), the PFTP gang got back in the groove, excavating another rich seam of Zx Spectrum history. Following our recent trip down the Ultimate memory lane, this time we were digging a selection of our earliest gaming memories from the powerhouse that is Ocean Software…
With some serious question marks over whether Esmerelda was actually worth rescuing haha (seriously have you seen that last level lately!?), Hunchback was a challenging opener but one of pure nostalgia. Jumping along the ramparts, swinging over the fiery pit, dodging the arrows and fireballs all while keeping ahead of the chasing Knight, this was 15 screens of high-skill, pixel-precision action. Transported back to that sneaky game before school, Steve lead the way here with a super bonus display to really give the others the hump lol.
Meanwhile, in the land of Cavelon, Guinivere needed a rescue too. Demanding gameplay once more but this game set the scene and created an atmosphere with nice tunes too. To escape each of the 6 levels of the castle you’re required to collect the pieces of the door amid the onslaught from Archers and Knights. Utilising the Excalibur to the smart-bomb effect, Gaz fled the first level in style with mere pixels to spare. Good memories, good game!
Not quite so good to see Eskimo Eddie, it has to be said, but the Polar Bear animation was something on the Frogger-style level yet the sound effects were probably the best part of pushing ice blocks into the deadly snowbugs. Pogo, however, gave the Spectrum an excellently playable, Q*Bert-style game, with clever use of the limited ZX colour pallette. Change the colour of 28 steps whilst dodging glass balls and springy things in a fast paced game that looks and sounds good, and has stood the test of time very well.
Fast food, my arse! Probably comment of the night by Bri on Ste’s not so swift opening level action haha but it was Gaz who clocked up the highest scoring burgers in the first of many commercial tie-ins that Ocean became synonymous with.
In it’s time Match Day was the benchmark football game, and, almost 30 years later, just like a seasoned profession. Bri had kept his touch. Sweeping cross field passes, subtle slide rule through balls, winning all his head-to-head battles before sending the keeper the wrong way, Bri’s locker knew no limits, brushing aside opponents, 5-0 and 5-0. Go Bri!
DALEY THOMPSON’S DECATHLON
He might not be ethnically accurate lol but Daley Thompson’s Decathalon has still got it by the stadium load! This is an absolute waggling classic, even if ‘going for gold’ was far more energetic than we remembered. A.c.h.i.n.g was the understatement, and after 1500m, Daley was not the only one left pale faced haha! World class performance indeed saw Bri take the podium with pride.
Accelerate, brake, jump over canyons, blast rocks, zap the aliens and above all keep a cool nerve and nothing less is required in the horizontal scrolling, shooter, Moon Alert. Neat graphics and sound, and a responsive game play keep this fun all these years later, especially for moon beam, Steve.
Next up NOMAD (or Nemesis Organisation Mobile Attack Droid if you want to be clever) is a vast maze game with complex physics. A demanding if rewarding game providing you have the patience to master the controls and your war droid’s inertia. Cue Bri who blasted the robothugs and navigated the switches in the vast Capital City the best of all of us.
The final two games are to this day sheer class and much should be attributed to the programming genius that is Joffa aka Jonathan Smith, an absolute ZX legend! As vigilante cop, Marion Cobretti, you take on an army of psychotic killers with your most sophisticated of weapons, the ‘HEAD-BUTT’ lol Smart sprites, pixel-smooth, parallax scrolling platformer-shooter, this pushes the humble Spectrum to the limits. What a game! If crime is a disease then Bri was the cure in this one.
Firefly, another example of Joffa’s coding magic, is a highly playable multi-directional scrolling puzzle-shooter. And as commander of the Firefly your task is to destroy the mechanoid system framework no less or, put simply, blow up the four energy points and you’re all clear kid haha He might not have accomplished this but Gaz at least proved high score hero for this one.
And just-for-fun, we each scored each game a rating out of five, to give the PFTP rating out of a maximum of 15 to find the game that still rides the crest of Ocean’s wave….
1. Daley Thompson 15.0
2. Firefly 13.0
3. Match Day 12.0
4. Cobra 11.5
5. Hunchback 10.5
6. Moon Alert 10.0
7. Cavelon 9.5
7. NOMAD 9.5
7. Mr Wimpy 9.5
10. Pogo 8.5
11. Eskimo Eddie 7.5