News Archive - 2024



Anyone who associates platform games with fast action might think of Sonic the Hedgehog. However, the conversion for the C64 lost much of its speed when it was ported from an advanced console to the home computer. If you take another step back, you might end up with The Heart of Salamanderland on the Amstrad CPC and be amazed at how far back the roots of this genre can reach.


40 years ago, the first wave of established novelists lending their names to computer games occurred. Michael Crichton was an exception insofar that his involvement was not just a licencing deal. Before even being approached by the eventual publisher, he started designing Amazon by himself, programmed scenes and logic himself and hired a programmer to translate his BASIC code into a more efficient language.



If that email interface doesn't scream 90s, I don't know what will! And wait until you see their website. Straight out of Frontpage Express. Uh… that was a horrible "WYSIWYG" website editor from Microsoft in case you don't remember. Jagged Alliance 2, the game in which this virtual mail application and those virtual websites appear, has aged a bit better, thankfully.



Wonder Boy in Monster World is an often overlooked part of the eponymous series with a very unique graphics style. This visual impression was the main reason for trying out a Wonderboy-game in the first place. You can easily realize the Japanese origin all over the place, but without – in my case, fortunately – being fobbed off with the usual manga-imagery.



Don't we all love these moments in classic text adventures? The obligatory maze, intended to make the game longer! What's worse, you have to traverse this one without any memory. Because Mindshadow has you stranded on a remote island and with amnesia. Oh boy, retrospective trope alert!



To the chair with him! Next case. To the chair! Next. The chair! Who said that being a judge cannot be fun? And what's fun must have a computer game made out of it. Crime and Punishment – if that doesn't spell fun, I don't know what would.



Another one of these extremely obscure games from the past which very few remember and even fewer have any nostalgia for. Safe to assume that this one will remain at the bottom of the pageview statistics. Though that is one of the nicest things about doing this for no commercial interest at all: it doesn't matter. Those who want to have a look, enjoy Intrigue!



A title screen in full, ugly CGA glory. Thankfully, the game itself uses a different, much more pleasant screenmode. Which, in a game such as Empire: Wargame of the Century, is a necessity. It lies in the nature of strategic wargames to have their players staring at hardly changing maps for hours and hours.


Spoiler: the encounter with the Bone Demon is indeed a memorable one. It is, however, the only demon in a book called Demons of the Deep. What a fraud! Balancing it out, there are a couple of other quite spectacular encounters with non-demonic creatures to be found. Even if not particularly consistent in its theme, individual scenes will certainly stick to my mind.



Here is our attempt to be totally up-to-date. Galastrad has been out for only few days. To be on top of recent development, we even shifted our regular schedule. Good thing that you're subscribed to our RSS feed, so you've caught this unusual Tuesday addition!



Galleons of Glory: The Secret Voyage of Magellan. Never heard of it? As a total addict of any "new world exploration" type game, I had to fill this knowledge gap, obviously. This one was easy to get into, unlike certain… ahem… other games which may or may not appear in this place at a later point.



Which year has this been released? Any guesses? No, no, no. The correct answer is: 1989. Double Dunk is a very late entry to the Atari 2600 library. How much care would you assume has been put considering the small remaining market? Surprise, it's quite a decent one. Not up to the technical standards of the time, but with good ideas and well playable.



Sentient Software, probably a typical American garage company – or a start-up, as we would call it today – was founded solely for the purpose of publishing the text adventures produced by owner Michael Berlyn himself. Reportedly already addicted to science fiction literature as a teenager, the game he first published, Oo-Topos, was naturally also from this genre.



Into the mine, out of the mine. Descent 2 repeated the original game's formula with very few changes. I remember being quite annoyed by it at the time. Time passes, I got older and more forgiving. The game not being all that expensive anymore may help as well. You should play it!


You're about to embark on an epic journey through several kingdoms. On a mission of no less than to save the whole world. But, you know, as the main evil henchman says at the end, himself and the hero are not that different. Yes, it's a huge bag of trite clichés. Though presented in a self-aware, ironic way. At its core, Xeonjia: Ice Adventures a humble, entertaining game.


Appointment with F.E.A.R. took me a longer time than usual. With more sections than your normal book and no less than four mutually exclusive paths inside, plus a mechanic which makes parts of the solution impossible to brute-force, it is no wonder in retrospect. The surprising thing about it: I felt entertained the whole time!



Soon, this land will be mine! In today's indie gaming world, there are so many things to discover. The issue being to find them. Or, from a developer perspective, to receive any attention. Having discovered this humble little game called There is Only Power through semi-random browsing on itch, and having enjoyed it, here is a recommendation for you.



Yup, it's Sonic! But, of course, it would be too easy to take the one everyone knows. Let's be honest, nothing to add to the public opinion about that one. Though the semi-recent release of a C64 port motivated me to take a look. Hoping to raise some awareness of this amazing work.



In Quack A Jack, the player encounters many weird opponents, which are loosely based on a rather strange story and somehow seem to have nothing to do with the actual game. The crowning glory of the bizarre humour, however, is a nose. Yes, a nose. But not just any nose, but Sue's nose, who is even mentioned in the credits and was supposedly also responsible for food and drink. So much for the female role in the 80s.



Diving into my own past of (virtual) warmongering again. Well, sort of. By the early 2000s, it was not even remotely my favourite genre anymore. But old love never dies. After enjoying Paradox Entertainment's Europa Universalis immensely, it was a given I would also buy their next title, Hearts of Iron.



Have you ever seen such colours on the C64? Mayhem in Monsterland was a brave attempt to bring a console style jump'n'run, modelled closely after Nintendo's and Sega's mascots, to the best-selling home computer of all time. While at the same time, paying homage to one of the iconic games of that system: Wizball.


The mid-80s were a good time for Activision in a creative sense. A good number of unusual titles which at the same time were highly professionally produced came out in '86 alone. One of them: Alter Ego.



When Sierra handed over the development of Space Quest V to Dynamix, they let appear the logo of their company's own brand in more or less hidden places in the game. On top of that, they integrated the logo of a real sponsor. The brand name of the American telecommunications company Sprint appears on the spaceship terminal after every intercom transmission. You can read here whether the outsourcing has affected the usual quality in any other way.


It's Fighting Fantasy time again! Well, Sci-Fi-Fantasy. The Rings of Kether are not magic artefacts to battle an evil sorcerer, but rather drug trafficking "rings". And that creature on the cover is a woman, by the way. She, at least, is defying all stereotypes. Bravo!



The large lettering of Chinese characters on the splash screen is pretty much the only thing that makes DIF-1 Laser Tank recognisable as a title from the Far East. With a good American publisher, the game would certainly have been much better known to Western audiences and might even have been a success there. In any case, the developer softstar – not to be confused with sunsoft – still exists on the market today.



What could lend itself better as source material for a jump'n'run game than the Looney Tunes? All the slapstick, coupled with cartoon graphics as it became possible on home systems in the early 1990s, what could go wrong? A lot, as Taz Mania illustrates.



Yeah, well, you kidnapped my family first, you bloated bastard! Creatures 2 – Torture Trouble not only demonstrated technical excellence as often found towards the end of a system's lifecycle, but also exhibited the fundamental difference between the then dying home computer ecosystems and the tightly corporately controlled game console world. We gave up a huge amount of freedom of expression when we made the latter win.



Have you heard of Cypherpunk? Yes, this is not a typo. Night/Shift is aimed at all those who don't feel comfortable around today's world, with surveillance tech everywhere. Appropriately, it is also nostalgic for past tech which was (so it claims) not used for evil yet. It even namedrops Speedball. This must be great, right?


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