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Beyond Columns

Brad P. Taylor 1989
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Freeware
System: PC

+++ Warning! Nostalgia Alert! The following review may contain – more than the usual – traces of idealisation and glorification. +++

Everything begins somewhere… This text started about three sentences ago, your current session in front of your computer right at the moment when you felt like diving into this brave new networked world. The idea to assemble some silicon, gold and other more or less common elements into circuitry, allowing them to busily move some 0s and 1s through virtual places, so the screen in front of you does not just gather some dust or mirror your friendly face, well this idea comes from somewhere around the middle of the last century. Of course the actual origins go back even further, but let us stay in the 20th century and with computers, or rather to be more precisely with first contacts thereof. From a strictly technical point of view, the game I am going to review today even qualifies as such: It is the first implementation of a Columns clone on an IBM Personal Computer.

Bi-Fi Roll: Snackzone

Art Department 1993
Genre: Adventure, Action
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Amiga

The 'production secret' of 'Bi-Fi Roll' (greasy 'meatbar' imported from BSE-infected countries, hidden in a bread container), a single sheet of paper, has disappeared. Instead of taking the usual route of calling the lawyers to sue everybody in sight, Bifi can depend on volunteers who scout their cities for free, because they're aware that without constant supply of their drug, they won't survive for long.

Biing! – Sex, Intrigen und Skalpelle

reLINE Software 1995
Genre: Strategy
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

Eh???? What is this? Biing! is a completely whacky and erotic hospital management simulation, or to sum it up: something absolutely crazy.

So you are the head of a hospital (not the boss, that guy is just sitting in is armchair, smoking cigars) and it is your task to earn every day's rent for the location, because if you don't, you're bankcrupt immediately and you have to start over.

Biker Mice From Mars

Konami 1994
Genre: Action
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: SNES

Concerning its concept, "Biker Mice From Mars" straightfowardly had the successful classic "Rock'n'Roll Racing" in mind. Unlike the original, you drive motor cycles and other unorthodox vehicles around more or less well-built tracks here. Although the game produced by Konami labels itself as being "powered by Snickers", you permanently suppose that the programmers wanted to make fun of this ridiculous piece of chocolate-peanut-mush.


DOKA 1993
Genre: Sport, Action
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

If nothing else, this game is at least noticable for its relaxed attitude towards the German language and its grammar and spelling rules. The game is full of goofey and daft phrases which the opponents let out, and which can't really be analyzed by the common rules. The game itself is basically also not very exact with its physics and its application in the field of billiards (which, in fact, is spelt Billard in German, so another clue about the groundbreaking knowledge of the German language of the programmer - see the title).

Bio Menace

Apogee 1993
Genre: Action
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Shareware
System: PC

You will play as Snake Logan, a top-secret CIA agent sent to the most dangerous mission ever - to deal with the hundreds of monsters attacking Metro City and destroying everythig in their path. No one knows why and you are our last hope. Original, no? Well, to make things even more difficult, your plane is shot while flying over Metro City and after salvaging the destroyed plane, you find one machine gun. Time to secure the perimeter.

Black Crypt

Raven Software / Electronic Arts 1992
Genre: RPG
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga

[Mr Creosote] Black Crypt is the first game made by Raven Software who later got relatively well-known for their more action oriented (but also first person/3D) games. Their first one is a fairly straight RPG in the tradition of Dungeon Master, though.

Black Dahlia

Take-Two Interactive / Interplay 1998
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

[Herr M.] Interactive movies… you might say that if you have played one of them, you have played them all. From the humble beginnings with pixelated miniature slide shows up to the fullscreen full motion video titles, all of them have one thing in common: A shallow plot combined with bad acting, interspersed by obscure and out of nowhere puzzles. The game we are going to discuss today, Black Dahlia, tried its best to leave this reputation behind by turning things up to eleven, with really high production values and an even somewhat creative story.

Black Gold

Starbyte 1991
Genre: Strategy
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga

Coal mining: an industry living 100% from subsidies. Here in Germany, they only stopped training new miners quite recently, i.e. until then, they let people go to their doom job-wise by pretending this still has a future. Unbelievable! Obviously, there were different times, too. 100 years ago, coal mining became the backbone of the industrial revolution. And that's the time this game is about.

Black Thorne

Interplay 1994
Genre: Action
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

Blackthorne - the 2-D scrolling shooter that doesn't really scroll. That simple sentence is the most complete and accurate description I can come up with today. Looking back several years I can only ask myself: why did we love this game so much? Because we didn't know any better? Probably so. But then again, nothing can change the beautiful memories and give back the countless hours we spent in front of the small, low-quality 14" monitor playing what we thought was the greatest game ever made. Does this sound unfamiliar to you? Probably, if you have never experienced it.

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