ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games

24 Jun 2010

Spectrum Game - Galakzions - Classic ZX Spectrum Game

Galakzions ZX Spectrum
Since I'm in ultra-retro game mode at the moment, and the last game I reviewed was Galaxian, I'll stick with it and look at Galakzions from Mikro-Gen.

This game was basically an un-official version of Galaxian, and I tell you what, it's actually not bad.

There is no loading screen (it was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1983 - a time when you could 'copy' arcade originals and get away with by changing the name) and the main menu screen is extremely basic.

Galakzions main menu - ZX Spectrum
Anyway - 99% of you will know the score. Alien space ships attack in the usual Space Invaders formation at the top of the screen, moving left and right in unison.

You are at the bottom part of the screen and can move left, right and fire. And that's it. Simplicity itself - but this is what makes the game so good.

In a twist from Space Invaders some enemy ships would break from formation and 'swoop' down the screen towards you, firing as they went.

As you cleared each wave, the amount of swoopers increased, making each wave more difficult than the last.

Galakzions ZX SpectrumJust like Galaxian the game featured a backdrop of a scrolling starfield. There were also three 'speeds' you could play the game at: Slow, Normal or Fast.

Play it on fast for a real challenge.

There isn't really much more to say about this; it's a version of Galaxian and it's good. Considering this is an earlier ZX Spectrum game it's pretty decent and plays nice and smoothly. Good stuff.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Galakzions for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Shoot Em Up)
RELEASE DATE: 1983
RELEASED BY: Mikro-Gen
DEVELOPER(S): Stephen Townsend
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

More classic arcade action...
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Arcade Games and Classic Games

18 Jun 2010

Spectrum Game - Galaxian - Classic ZX Spectrum Game

ZX Spectrum Galaxian
Surely Galaxian is one of the most well known arcade games of all time?

Atari-soft treated us to the official ZX Spectrum conversion of Namco's classic game in 1984 - and to be fair it did the arcade original justice.

Galaxian basically expanded on the formula pioneered by Space Invaders. As in Space Invaders, Galaxian featured hordes of attacking aliens that took pot shots at the players ship at the bottom of the screen.

ZX Spectrum Galaxian Galaxian added a further element of gameplay by having alien ships dive bomb the player's ship (which was called the 'Galax').

Atari-soft managed to cram in the arcade game features, including the opening sequence which proudly stated that 'we are the galaxians' and displayed how many points you would get for each ship type destroyed.

The opening got you in the mood for Galaxian:
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The gameplay was relatively simple. Swarm after swarm of alien ships attacked your ship which could be moved left and right at the bottom part of the wraparound screen.

Your ship could only fire sparingly by default, but rearmed instantly when an enemy was blown out of the stars. Once you defeated one swarm of invaders it was replaced by another more aggressive and challenging swarm. As you progressed the amount of 'dive bombing' aliens increased which made things more difficult for the player.

This repeated infinitely until all of your lives were lost.

A plain starfield also scrolled in the background too which looked quite nice.

Blast those aliens out of the stars before flying home for tea and crumpets
On Release:
Well Galaxian was considered a bit 'old hat' by 1984 - and even though this version was pretty faithful to the arcade original gamers wanted more. I suppose with games such as Manic Miner, 3D Starstrike and Night Gunner to play, the concept of Galaxian was a bit limited. At £7.99 it was also overpriced.

The test of time:
Well it's not bad to play and captures the spirit of the old arcade machine (which I can just remember). In fact, it's so retro now that it's more relevant today than it was back in the mid 1980's. If you're a fan of Space Invaders or Galaxian then give this a go.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Galaxian for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Shoot Em Up)
RELEASE DATE: 1984
RELEASED BY: Atarisoft
DEVELOPER(S): David Aubrey Jones
PRICE: £7.99 - UK

Classic Arcade Action... (needs a decent player though!)
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Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

11 Jun 2010

Spectrum Games - Krakout - Classic ZX Spectrum Game

ZX Spectrum Krakout
The Spectrum went through a spate of breakout clones, and this was yet another one from the folks that brought us the likes of Trailblazer and Avenger.

Okay, so it's basically Breakout or Arkanoid except turned on it's side. Here you bat from either side of the screen rather than the bottom. One cool feature of the game was the fact that you could select to bat on the left hand or right hand side at the beginning of the game.

Krakout ZX Spectrum - always looked a little dodgy
You could also select from six 'speeds' of play which added a little variety to the gameplay. The highest speed was only humanly possible if you'd drank 2 litres of Jolt Cola.

There was some real 'clutching at straws' back story about an 'awesome ogre' who had to be defeated, but we won't even go there.

So we've got coloured blocks, a bat and a ball. Time for some classic arcade action. Game on.

Decent breakout style action in Krakout
As usual for an Arkanoid type game there were various powerups and block behaviour within the game.

For example some bricks when hit rolled over to reveal bonuses. Bonuses that could be got included:

Glue: The Ball sticks to the bat
Bomb: There is a massive explosion destroying adjacent blocks (wo-hoo!)
Shield: Makes a barrier appear behind you (nice)
Missile: Gives you one missile to fire (not very exciting)
Slow down: Slows the ball down slightly (handy)
Times two: Doubles scoring (More precious points)
Double bat: Gives you another bat in front of your present bat. (super!)
Extra man: Gives you an extra life
Expand: Makes your bat expand (no dodgy comments please)

Aside from all this you had the blocks that took multiple hits to destroy and the aliens floating around the screen which could divert the path of the ball if struck by it.

If you like Arkanoid then you will probably like this game. It's easy to pick up and play, the graphics are okay for the era and the controls are responsive enough. The fart noise that accompanies the destruction of an alien becomes a tad annoying after a while though.

On release:
Well this game perhaps came at a time when us ZX Spectrum gamers were becoming a little fed up with Breakout type games. I remember Crash magazine gave it less than favourable review - but this was a rare occasion where I didn't really agree with them. At only £4.99 this game represented great value for money and was a playable Arkanoid type variant. It ended up being a reasonable hit for Gremlin Graphics.

The test of time:
This classic game is easy to get into, playable and you know what you are getting. Not a bad way to pass half an hour and to be fair this game hasn't aged too badly at all.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Krakout for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade game (Breakout Clone)
RELEASE DATE: 1987
RELEASED BY: Gremlin Graphics
DEVELOPER(S):Rob Toone, Andy Green, Greg Holmes, Ben Dalglish, Marco Duroe
PRICE: £4.99 - UK

Classic arcade action in this breakout variant:
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Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

4 Jun 2010

Spectrum Games - Hunchback 2 - ZX Spectrum Classic Game

ZX Spectrum Hunchback 2
Well ZX Spectrum gamers loved Hunchback by Ocean Software - which is strange because it was, in the main pretty much crap.

With it being popular a sequel was on the cards, and out came this follow up platform game in late 1984. Was this incarnation any better and would it contain any decent arcade action?

Hunchback 2 ZX Spectrum
Well sort of. Once again poor Esmerelda had been captured and was impisoned in a castle stronghold - so you would play out your rescue over seven screens.

The game was of the classic platform game variety, with our hero having to collect bells in order to progress to the next screen. As well as being able to jump your game character could also grab onto moving ropes and use them to travel upwards and downwards.

There were the usual items to avoid such as arrows flying across the screen, bouncing fireballs, bats, large rats and moving platforms atop pulleys had to be negotiated with care.

The menu screen was quite nice
The menu screen was quite nicely presented and had a synthesised version of the William Tell Overture (which was quite good before the advent of plip plop music). It certainly had that 'Ocean' feel to it anyway.

You began the game with five lives - and you needed them. The game was all about timing your jumps and waiting for the right moment to move upwards or downwards.

You had to collect all of the small bells (by walking over them) on each screen before making your way to the big bell (usually at the top of the playing area) where you would be transported to the following screen.

It would take a while to master, but once you knew the pattern it was easy to work your way through the current level you were on.

The worst part was that if you were killed at any point the current screen was re-set and you had to do it all again - as in re-collect all of the items. A bit of a bummer that.

The bells! The bells! They made me f*ckin' furious...
All in all Hunchback II was an improvement on the first game, and it was a decent enough platform / arcade game. The traversing and climbing of ropes was a nice feature that made it stand out from other platformers a litte. Even so, it was never in the same league as the likes of Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy or Chuckie Egg.

On Release:
This game was highly anticipated due to the popularity of the first title. I reckon it was a big improvement on the first offering and was more playable. The graphics were improved also - although the main character could have been animated better (especially when he jumps). Still, this game was playable enough and sold plenty of copies.

The Test Of Time:
It hasn't aged at all well. I just can't get into it and can't be bothered to re-learn the patterns to each screen. It all get's pretty frustrating due to some dodgy collision detection and having to re-do each screen from scratch every time you lose a life. I'd rather play many other arcade games of this type - even the uber difficult Fahrenheit 3000 grabs me more than this. I do like the high score table entry though. Not bad - but not one of the best.

It used to be classic arcade action.... but now it's so so:
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Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

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