ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games

20 Nov 2009

Spectrum Games - Way of the tiger - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Way of the Tiger
Gremlin Graphics entered the ZX Spectrum beat em up arena with Way of the Tiger in May of 1986.

It was the prequel to Avenger (both tied in to those adventure game books - remember those?)
This arcade style game was a little unusal as it had separate 'levels' featuring different styles of fighting such as unarmed combat, pole fighting and swordplay.

The back story tied in the the adenture game books:

You had been abandoned on the shores of the Island of Tranquil Dreams (sounds a nice place for a holiday) and were adopted by an old monk named Naijishi, a Grand Master of the Dawn (whatever that is!)

Spectum Games Way of the tiger
Way Of The Tiger Has Loaded
The monks on the island worship Kwon the god of unarmed combat, and your adopted father had trained you in martial arts - it was a Ninja you were to become, not just an ordinary man!

Before becoming worthy of the noble title of Ninja you had to pass three tests of endurance and skill in combat against opponents chosen by the Master.

The different fighting scenarios were loaded in seperately from cassette - and so Way of the Tiger began.

A nice oriental sounding tune kicked off the action - which took place on a large window on the game screen.

The status area showed how much Endurance and Inner Force you had (represented by circles at the bottom of the display). This was a novel way of displaying your energy levels - for every complete circle of endurance used by a combatant, one point of inner force was deducted. The fighter who's inner force was drained first lost the contest.

The opponents sent to fight you had different levels of endurance and inner force along with a variety of skills. As a fighter's inner force waned, the power of the blows he landed was reduced. Pretty cool really.

The playing area featured a nice triple scrolling effect which allowed three stages of animation on the screen (a decent parallax effect) and gave the player animated backdrops to look at.

As you would expect the fighting took place in the foreground of the screen whilst in the background birds would fly by, logs would float down the river (in the pole fighting level) and so on. These features made for nice environments to brawl in - and this sort of thing was very impressive at the time.

Unarmed combat in Way of the Tiger
The Ninja's Fight It Out
The first section of the game had you wandering the desolate desert land of Orb without a weapon. The Master had collected a range of opponents to pit against his trainee Ninja (you) and some of them were bizarre creatures.

A pointy-eared goblin could jump out from behind a rock to take you on in unarmed combat. Control was setup in the usual (then) beat em up manner using eight directions combined with fire to make a total of sixteen moves.

Each time an opponent was defeated your status levels were topped up in readiness for the next fight. The level continued until all the Master's challengers were overcome - or until you were killed.

Once the desert of Orb had been finished it was on to pole fighting.

This took place on a pole spanning a river - and once again you would be faced by skeletons, dwarves and Ninjas' - all of which were handy with a bo-staff. Once you had overcome this set of bad guys you could make your way to the Grand Temple in the final part of the game...

The scene of the 'final test' was very nicely drawn. Snow-capped mountains reached the sky behind the temple behind you. Birds fluttered by overhead, labourers trundled wheelbarrows across the screen - all in all it was rather serence. Serene until the mad swordsman popped up and started swinging at you.

In samurai sword fighting the Master pitted you against the greatest warriors he knew of. Some of these combatants could perform fighting moves which you could not. The final level was difficult to overcome - it took me twenty or thirty goes before I finally beat them all.

As if that wasn't hard enough you now had to fight the grand master himself! If you managed to overcome him you were finally a fully fledged Ninja - who had sucessfully trodden the Way of the Tiger. Cue dramatic music...

On release:
This game was a big hit back in 1986. Gamers likes the large and well animated fighters, the variety of fighting styles (and moves) and the superbly drawn backgrounds. The 3 layered scrolling was a joy to behold - and Way of the Tiger was a superb addition to the beat em up genre. One niggle was loading in the different sections, but the fact that you could practice each section before playing proper was a bonus too.

The test of time:
Well I used to love this arcade game (especially the unarmed combat section) - but I just can't get into it these days. I dunno - the opponents don't show much AI - it all seems a bit random. The graphics are nice to look at - and the background/foreground movement is pretty cool. I must say I still prefer Way of the Exploding Fist.

Maybe stick on a bit of Eye of the Tiger and give it a go.

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair ZX Spectrum hardware, but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Way of the Tiger. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

GENRE: Arcade beat em up game
RELEASED BY: Gremlin Graphics
DEVELOPER(S): Shaun Hollingworth, Chris Kerry, Pete Harrap, Marco Duroe
PRICE: £9.95

Unarmed Combat - classic arcade game action:

Swing your sword wisely... more arcade gaming:

Classic GamesArcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

Spectrum Games - Arkanoid II - ZX Spectrum Retro Game

Spectrum Games Arkanoid II
Far better than Arkanoid (which I can't get running properly on my emulator), the classic arcade game Arkanoid II by Imagine Software was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1988.

I used to be really good at this.... how times have changed!

In another twist on the gaming genre of breakout, Arkanoid II (The Revenge of Doh) proved that classic playability was.... well still classic.

In an attempt to shoe-horn a back story around a souped-up version of breakout, it went something along the lines of:

ZX Spectrum Arkanoid II
A huge alien spacecraft (the crappily named ZARG) had entered our universe - which was a tad naughty. It was known to contain the dimension controlling force DOH who was supposed to have been destroyed forty thousand years previously in the Arkanoid Spacewars (or in Arkanoid).

Doh had now metamorphisised into an even greater adversary - and with his new found lust for power threatened to destroy the universe.

Only your skill and split second timing could save the day! Deploy the bat (sorry I mean the new Vaus II spacecraft) to defeat this dimension controlling scoundrel!

Anyway... enough of that. Arkanoid II was a simple but addictive arcade game - and this time the Spectrum conversion did it justice.
Arkanoid II - Level 1 on the ZX SpectrumYou controlled the Vaus craft (bat), which could be moved to left and right. You had to deflect an energy bolt (ball) which gradually broke down the wall confronting you. Certain coloured bricks had to be hit more than once and others were completely indestructible.

To spice things up alien life forms descended at random to hinder you but were eliminated on contact with either the Vaus or the energy bolt.

There were various powerups which would drop downwards when certain blocks were destroyed. Some of these powerups were really helpful:

B - Allowed you to escape (through the side wall) to the next level
C - Enabled you to catch the bolt and move to the desired position before firing it off again
D - Split the bolt into five separate components - giving you five times the destructive effect
E - Expanded the Vaus in length
G - 'Ghost Vaus' which trailed along behind the Vaus but could not deflect the energy bolt!
L - Laser Cannons allowed you to shoot through bricks and aliens
M - Broke the bolt into three separate components which regenerated when each one was lost
P - Awarded you an extra life (nice)
R - Reduced your Vaus in size (making it harder to deflect the energy bolt - not nice)
S - Slowed the speed of the energy bolt - making it easier to deflect
T - This caused a twin of the Vaus to appear - so you had two Vaus 'side by side' - Jedward Vaus
Extra lives were awared for every 50,000 points scored, and as the levels progressed you did need them.

I think there were 34 levels in total - the last one being a confrontation with Doh itself. Defeating Doh handed you victory - and let me tell you it wasn't easy.

On Release:
Both Arkanoid games had been popular in the arcades - and the first game (Arkanoid) on the Spectrum had been disappointing. Revenge of Doh was a good conversion that crammed most of the playability of the original into 8-bits and 48K. The only niggles were the lack of trackball or dial control and the colour schemes used on some of the levels made it difficult to keep your eye on the ball / energy bolt.

The test of time:
Well Breakout style games were already retro then being simple in concept and requiring responsive controls and excellent physics to work well. Arkanoid II still does the job pretty well - if you like a bit of Breakout then you can't go wrong. It's just a shame about those colour schemes!

Play it again, D'oh!

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

GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Lamb, Mark R Jones, Gary Baisillo, Ronny Fowles
PRICE: £7.95 (£14.95 on disk) - UK

Bat n Ball could still be good - Arkanoid II is classic arcade game action:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

18 Nov 2009

Spectrum Games - Flying Shark - ZX Spectrum retro game

Flying Shark
This classic game was released very early 1988 by Firebird Software and developed by the same guys behind the excellent shmup Zynaps.

The original Taito coin-op had been a popular choice down the amusement arcades - and was similar to the other classic arcade shoot em up 1942.

Anyway - this shoot em up was a top down view vertical scroller (top to bottom of the screen) and had you as an ace pilot on a lone mission within enemy territory. Dun dun daaahhh!

ZX Spectrum Flying Shark
Flying Shark Loads Up
Piloting your WWII Bi-Plane across the landscape you had ground based gun emplacement and tanks taking pot shots at you - and they were pretty damn accurate too.

Enemy squadrons of planes would swoop across the screen and try to take you out, so you had airborne and ground enemies to avoid and destroy.

Luckily though your plane was armed with a machine gun/cannon that had limitless ammo (A-Team style!) which could be powered up to a 'double barrelled' gun by collecting the floating tokens left behind by downed enemy aircraft. Powerup tokens were a staple of arcade games in the 1980s.

You also had a supply of bombs which blew everything on screen away which were handy if you found yourself in a tight spot. These bombs were in short supply and had to be used wisely - but more could be collected as you flew along.

At the end of each level you would have to take on a boss enemy (such as giant multi-turreted tanks) which required a bucket load of hits to destroy.

Chocks Away old chap! Flying Shark - ZX Spectrum
In-Game Action In The Excellent Spectrum Conversion
 You began the game with three lives and more could be earned by scoring lots of points. There were five levels to play through with each one being different from the last.

The levels ranged from jungle type terrain to war over the sea against destroyers and battleships.

The game took a monochromatic style (probably sensible on the Speccy) which gave it smooth scrolling and nicely detailled graphics. It was a good conversion of the arcade game and was nicely playable - tough but not impossible.

One annoying aspect was the fact that the enemy bullets sometimes blended into the background (due to the monochrome graphics) which did make me loose my cool on more than a few occasions. Ahem.

Still - Flying Shark was a good arcade conversion and was only a little short of being a classic in the shoot em up genre.

On Release:
Well Flying Shark was a fairly popular arcade game and this was a good version on the Speccy. A few issues with the graphics aside (which did affect the playability a little) Flying Shark was a competent game that was a good game for shoot em up fans.

The test of time:
As far as Spectrum Games go, Flying Shark is a decent enough shooter. Hard (but not impossible) to defeat with responsive controls, it is playable enough. Can anyone dis-assemble it and make the enemy bullets easier to see? ;-)

Play Flying Shark again - it's still got a bit of bite.

Please see our other Spectrum Games reviews and programmer interviews - all links are in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

We recommened downloading a ZX Spectrum Emulator and downloading Flying Shark for the Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Scrolling Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: Early 1988
DEVELOPER(S): John Cumming and Dominic Robinson
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Flying ace air commodore Lawrence Bartle Frere cuts a swathe through the enemy in Flying Shark - a fantastic arcade game :

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

16 Nov 2009

Spectrum Games - On The Run - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum On The Run
Design Design were one of those companies who released solid games and were well known for their sense of humour.

On The Run was released for the ZX Spectrum in September of 1985 and was well recieved by us demanding Speccy gamers.

This game was yet another (quality) flick screen arcade adventure game for the Spectrum that was actually quite large and complex (it boasted a whopping 300 screens in total!)

Spectrum Games On The Run
Rick Swift Is 'On The Run'

You played the part of Rick Swift (Another classic 80's name!) - a do-gooding character if ever there was one. This time though you had taken on something a little too dangerous.

You had accepted a task from the Defence Department to clean up an area that had become contaminated by a spillage of some rather nasty chemical weapons. Plants and wild life had suffered from the effects of the chemicals and mutated into strange new people eating life-forms. Time for a spot of classic gaming.

Running round the contaminated zone (I wanna go to The Island!) you had to cope with the angry mutations which included anything from giant mushrooms to chomping jaws.

You had been equiped with a suit which protected you from the effects of the chemicals in the contaminated zone. A jet pack allowed you to zip around at speed - and speed was of the essence in this classic game.

To complete the game you had to collect six flasks in a time limit of 1 hour (otherwise they would degrade beyond repair and it was adios muchachos).

The suit had the usual energy level which was drained whenever you came into contact with one of the mutations and which could be restored by collecting certain powerups. If the suit energy reached zero then it was game over.
Rick Swift is On The Run - ZX Spectrum
Check out the flora and fauna
There were lots of weird and wonderful objects lying around the game screens. Generally they produce one of four outcomes:

Death, more energy, instant transport to another zone or... absolutely nothing at all.

The mushrooms seemed to be the best and safest source of energy but for everything else you just had to experiment. As far as creatures went it was best to shoot everything in sight (you were armed) as almost everything was deadly.

To make life a little easier you may just discover a few smart bombs which were littered around the place. These were very useful for clearing areas chock-full of mobile mutants.

As we already know, the maze was very large (300 screens was very impressive) and was divided into a number of sections. You could only move from one section to another if you had collected one particular object from the area you were currently in.

Above the main display a bar graph showed you the condition of your suit, along with a timer that counted down to degredaton hour! Any smart bombs collected were also shown and there were some 'empty slots' to be filled with collected flasks.

You scored points for killing the mutants - but Design Design left out a high score table (they probably ran out memory which isn't surprising considering the game was so massive).

On release:
Design Design games were usually well anticipated - and this one was no exception. It was well recieved by us Spectrum gamers and was a big hit in 1985. Fans of this genre loved the massive playing area, large colourful graphics and problem solving elements.

The test of time:
On The Run is still a nice enough game with plenty of screens to explore. It does get a little repetetive after a while though and only the most determined of players would see it through to the end. Still, here in Spectrum Games we must put it down as a classic arcade adventure that happens to have a crappily named central character!

Go for a run and give it a go.

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

Please see our other Spectrum retro game reviews and programmer interviews - all links are in alphabetical order. Cheers all!

GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: September of 1985
RELEASED BY: Design Design
DEVELOPER(S): Graham Stafford and Stuart Ruecroft
PRICE: £6.90 - UK

Rick Swift goes On The Run - a slightly different arcade game:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

13 Nov 2009

Spectrum Games - Programmer Interview - Peter Gough

Interview with Peter Gough - ZX Spectrum Programmer
Peter Gough was a fine developer of games on the ZX Spectrum.

He worked on classic games such as Vectron and
Star Firebirds (along with Mike and Tim Follin) and developed quality budget titles (with Software Creations) such as Star Paws.

His solo list of titles included the excellent shoot em up
Gunstar and the slick platform arcade adventure Scumball.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Peter who was more than happy to reminisce a little about his days working on the
ZX Spectrum - and he tells us how he got into the games development scene....

My journey is probably similar to many other coders of the day in that it was born from a general interest from having a home computer.

I'd bought a ZX81 from a kid round the corner and somehow managed to sell it for twice as much two years later (probably because it was offered with a RAM Pack and some games).

I used the money to part-pay for the spectrum which I also bought in Wigan. I was so excited to bring it home, tune it into the TV and get typing. My dad got me a black and white portable TV which I used until the last day I ever worked on it.

This may sound strange but I rarely saw my games in colour until I'd nearly finished them. If they looked OK in black and white, they generally looked good in colour too.

I played a few games but got most enjoyment from typing in programs from magazines like 'Your Computer'. There was a growing interest in computers too and I remember sitting in front of the telly to watch 'The Computer Programme' on BBC.

On a trip to Smiths bookstore in Wigan, I found a Melbourne House book (Spectrum machine language for the absolute beginner) which became my programming bible - with easy examples of how to handle the different registers. Seems an age since I pushed 'HL' and 'DE'!.

Through my weekly visits to a games shop every Saturday where I spent the whole day (told my mum and dad I went swimming!), I got to know the owners and got a Saturday job selling machines and software. Each Saturday night I took home the latest games to play so I could advise customers what they were like.

I then got interested in making my own graphics using a paint program, again by Melbourne House. The owners of the software store offered me a job working on graphics for their new startup, Insight software. The new Amstrad CPC464 was difficult to develop for and we never made much impact.

We moved to St Helens to a new, bigger shop which had a first floor with just one window. We set up the machines there and before I knew it, I was working with Mike Follin, Mark Wilson and David Heaton.

Tim, Mikes brother was still at school but he would come over after school to do some music. Mike was the star programmer and he was a great help; Mark was the artist and I was OK with the graphics side too. Mike brought 'Subterranean Stryker' with him.

He had ran out of memory and couldn't find space to do a completion sequence so he made the game impossible to finish! We worked on titles like Vectron, Future Games, Star Firebirds and Agent X. Tim rapidly grew into a well respected speccy musician and wrote his own routines to make that little speaker sing.

Insight Software fizzled out a couple of years later as the owners appointed someone to set up a travel agency, only for him to single-handedly strip the business of its assets and failed to gain the ABTA licence they required to trade.

The owners said that I could never do a game on my own without Mike so that was all I needed for motivation. I worked flat-out to develop my first game on my own, graphics, code, sound, everything.

It was around this time I heard of Richard Kay who had worked at Ocean. I packed my Spectrum, microdrives and cables into a cardboard box and got the train to Manchester then another train to Whitefield near Bury. I met with Richard and he said he wanted to work with me to publish the game.

I travelled with him once to London to the offices of Firebird in Upper St. Martins Lane. I demonstrated Buccaneer to them and we signed the contracts there and then. I set about working on Gunstar but I had started college and had less time to work on it. I worked on a freelance basis for Richard Kay who was now well established with Software Creations on Oxford Road near the BBC in Manchester.

He provided me with a development system. A Tatung Einstein linked to a Spectrum and linked with an RS232. This made things a LOT quicker. I now had to just port over the code to the spectrum to test it, tweak a few settings then port over again.

Gunstar came on OK but was never what I wanted it to be; I was disappointed with it as it did not hold interest for long. It was slick but repetitive.

During the summer break from college I agreed with Richard on a publication strategy. I was given a completion deadline and a rather good incentive; for every day I finished early I got an extra £100, for every day late, a £100 penalty.

It was a push but I literally worked through the night to finish it two days early. I went without sleep for two nights and three days but I was young and fuelled by adrenalin and the thought of the money!

I still find that when I am interested in something, I can ignore time only to find daylight breaking behind me through the window and realise I have to go to work. Back to those days, I would sit in the garden through the day writing the code then Id just type it in at night while my parents were asleep.

I am easily distracted and the quiet helped me to concentrate.

My dad never saw me working through the night and thought I just dossed around all day. He tried to teach me the importance of hard work by getting me a job collecting glasses in a night club. I worked from 9pm until 4am for about £20 but it kept him happy.

When I got my first cheque for Gunstar, I didn't tell him but took him out and bought him a bandsaw, cash! I took my mum out next day and bought her a new outfit and lunch. That night I told them there were other ways of making money and I was allowed to quit the glass collecting job.

As part of the deal, I received a shrink-wrapped set of 10 Gunstar cassettes. I gave them all away to friends and relatives. I did a few conversions of other games such as Mad Nurse (yeah, I know) and some lightgun games that sold about 10 copies each!

I had been playing Starquake by Steven Crow and was well jealous; it was a gem of design, efficiency of code and beautiful to look at for an 8-bit. The sounds were quirky and fitting (especially the Cheops Pyramid I seem to recall). I liked the flick screen method as it made for a quicker game.

Arcade games such as R-Type had dedicated scroll ram to move the screen smoothly and to do this on a spectrum asked much of the Z-80 (Having said that, Mike nailed it in Ghouls n Ghosts).

I decided I wanted to have a go at the theme and played around with the game physics first, tweaking the gravity of the main character. 'Scumball' was on it's way.

A local kid offered to be a tester and was never away from the house. He was a poor choice as he never found fault with anything, he was just too excited to be in game design and to have his name on the high score table.

The development speed had been doubled by now as some code such as scoring, high scores, controls were already written; think of an early cut and paste scenario.

The mapping was the hardest part as I wanted variety in each room and to force the player to the absolute extremes of the tolerances of where you could jump from and too.

I created a series of graphic tiles and then each room was simply a sequence of 48 numbers (8 by 6). This allowed me to make quite a sizable map. I printed each one out on a Sinclair ZX-Printer and pasted them onto a big piece of plywood in my bedroom to make the map. The game got to number 18 in the national chart and I was chuffed to bits.

The main character, LINDA was my girlfriend and I remember taking a copy of Crash! to her house and showed her name printed in the review.I was now nearing the end of my course at polytechnic and I was programming less and less.

The strange thing is, my best work was never published. I had been working on a game with a working title of Parasite which used the flick screen method again but this time with a space theme. Things would grow on the environment (parasites) and make it more difficult to move around.

The gravity varied depending on the size of the planet so the control system varied too. I was about 90% done before I shelved it and powered down my spectrum for the last time.

I never was one for eye-candy over playability, even if my games did not reflect this. There seemed to be a growing trend for titles to look nice regardless of playability.

This was directly associated with the size of available ram that had kept on growing.

The two were linked; the greater the ram, the less the playability.

Did you have any favourite games on the Spectrum?
I had favourite Spectrum games with some predictable ones and some that you'd not expect!

I was a big fan of 'Match Point' by Psion and of course 3D Starstrike. Like everyone, I waited for the next Ultimate game to come out. I don't think anyone expected 'Knight Lore', it was a breath of fresh air and defined a whole new generation of games with the isometric viewpoint.

Platform games were done to the n'th degree (I added to it!) but one that stands out for it's sheer quality, speed and gameplay was 'Dark Star' by Design Design. They were based really close to where I live now in Denton, Manchester.

Of my own crop, I guess 'Scumball' is my favourite.

Are you still active in the games industry?
I'm no longer active in the industry but I do website work as a hobby / distraction / excuse for staying up late.

I'm still not a true gamer but I must admit that Quakelive has caught my attention. Online gaming is awesome but strangely humbling when some 14 year old from Wisconsin batters you 8 games to nil before you've even realised where you are. I guess I can blame it on ping latency!

I'm now a Mac guy and will never cross back to the dark side (even though W7 seems a decent build).

You mentioned 'Star Firebirds' and that reminded me of something else. Our boss at Insight said he wanted a nice slick shooter so we (Mike, Mark, Dave & Tim) convinced him that it would be good to go and do some research in the arcades of Blackpool.

We were given funds to go to Blackpool and play games (how awesome is that?!). Mark Wilson knew where all the best machines were and we set out to find a Star Firebirds' cabinet and succeeded in the Pleasure Beach arcade where we also found an Empire Strikes Back game which was vector just like Star Wars.

I still associate those days with great affection. Some really decent, talented people and a snowballing gaming scene. Its so nice to find there is still genuine love for the machine and the games.

Once again Peter - thanks for taking the time to do this with us. It's greatly appreciated.

Many thanks. Good luck and well done with the blog.
Classic Games and Arcade Games

7 Nov 2009

Spectrum Games - Star Firebirds - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Star Firebirds
Another conversion of a classic arcade game on the ZX Spectrum. Star Firebirds was released in October of 1985 - and by this point was already a 'retro arcade game'.

We're going old-old school!

No real story to the game - it was a standard shoot em up set against the backdrop of space. You basically had to fly across the vertically scrolling space-scape avoiding and destroying aggressive bird like creatures (not Stargliders!).

Star Firebirds on the ZX Spectrum
You could move your craft left and right as well as firing your lazers (no up and down movement). There was a move you could make if things got a bit too hairy - you could hit the warp button and 'warp out' at the top of the screen to re-appear at the bottom. This could only be used once per attack wave though!

Each attack wave contained 50 enemies. This was displayed by a counter which dwindled down as you took out more and more bad guys.

As usual for this type of arcade game the speed of each wave was faster than the last (both the scolling and the enemy ships).

Another quirky feature of the game was the large bomb (a large bomb floating around in space?) that slowy descended the screen every now and again.

You could shoot this bomb which would then spray shrapnel across the playing area - taking out a host of enemies if you were lucky. If you were caught in the blast then you would lose a life - so it was better to take the wimpy way out and shoot it whilst it was still near the top of the screen (giving you less points).

Arcade conversion Star Firebirds on the Spectrum At the end of the first wave you were given the chance to destroy the super firebird. This large creature would make it's way downwards and you had to hit it multiple times to blow that critter to kingdom come.

There was no real way to win the game - it was all about beating that high score (which loads of computer games were back then).

Star Firebirds had a funny high score table and nicely presented menu screen (with a cool roll-inside effect when changing menu screens). You could have a little fun cracking the high score 'names' which were all famous quotes from a rather famous movie! - I'm sure you can work out which one ;-)

Oh - cool music too!

The menu and humorous high score table:

On release:
Well this game was already quite 'old hat' when it made it's way onto the ZX Spectrum - and it suffered a little because of this. By late 1985 people were into the likes of more advanced offerings such as Space Harrier or even Commando. Still, for fans of this type of game Star Firebirds was a good choice.

The test of time:
Well as far as Spectrum games go in the shoot em up genre this one isn't too bad. It's a good rendition of the arcade original and is worth playing. The controls are responsive and the game plays nicely. Love the menu and funky music too!

This classic ZX Spectrum game is definately worth playing after all these years.

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

GENRE: Scrolling Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: October of 1985
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Follin, Tim Follin, Mark Wilson, Peter Gough
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Kicking alien firebird ass in Star Firebirds - a fine conversion of a classic arcade game:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

3 Nov 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Armageddon - ZX Spectrum retro game

Spectrum Games ArmageddonZX Spectrum Armageddon
Since we've been in Missile Command mode lately, here's another classic arcade game for you ZX Spectrum enthusiasts.

Armageddon was Silversoft's effort at Missile Command - and it wasn't too bad at all.

Released for the ZX Spectrum at the tail end of 1983 at £5.95 - Missile Command type games seemed to be going through a purple patch.

As was standard for Missile Command you had three missile silo's to use (and defend) as well as six cities to protect from the incoming threat.

No only were there plenty of missiles raining down from the top of the screen, low flying aircraft and satellites also roamed across the screen dropping their own projectiles. Nasty.

There were even some heat sensitive missles which could 'hover' over a mid air explosion, waiting for the cloud to dissapate before continuing downwards towards your cities and silo's. Once again, nasty.

Silversoft's Armageddon on the ZX SpectrumAs you progressed through the levels the difficulty increased with thicker waves of missiles to destroy which dropped from the sky more quickly.

There's nothing much more to say about this version. It was quite close to the arcade game apart from the movement of the cross hair. Your targetting reticle just didn't move on par with the arcade version or indeed other versions available on the ZX Spectrum.

This aside it was another decent version of Missile Command on your Speccy, but it wasn't quite as good as Oceans Armageddon or the best of the bunch - Missile Defence.

On Release:
Well this was a latecomer to those Missile Command type games on the Sinclair Spectrum and it didn't do quite as well as other versions. It's not a well known classic anyway!

The test of time:
Well what can I say? It's Missile Command and it's not bad. Playable enough but it won't hold your attention for a long while. Here in Spectrum Games we reckon you should give it a go - but if Missile Command is your bag then try the other versions.

This classic (unofficial) arcade conversion is worth another look after all these years.

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

Please see our other ZX Spectrum games reviews and programmer interviews - all links are in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: Tail end of 1983
RELEASED BY: Silversoft
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

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