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  1. A lot of you are probably confused by my review of Heli Squad if you haven't heard the podcast. It was mentioned as being a great example of one of many games being made with the utility reviewed this month, Shoot-Em Up Construction Kit or SUECK as it would become known. I bought this sight unseen because I just had that much trust in Sensible Software. I couldn't code worth a damn but I could try my hand at using the utilities included. It surpassed my expectations. Everything could be made using just a joystick and it was all a single load. A simple menu graced the front end. You could create sprites using a handy sprite editor Use the object editor to sort animation cycles Edit character blocks for your background. Create sound effects using a mixing desk that allowed you to play with the SID in realtime. It contained four games that were I suspect put there to lure Sensible fans into buying this. But the best thing about these four games was that you could load them in and then pull them apart, seeing how everything was constructed in the background and remixing it for your own use. These games were Slap and Tickle A Slap Fight / Lightforce style shooter which was enjoyable as it's own thing (I enjoyed this a lot more than I did Slap Fight and it's almost equal to Lightforce.) Outlaw A Gunsmoke style game that puts the C64 conversion of Gunsmoke to shame demonstrating Commando style push scrolling. Transputer Man A decent enough Robotron style arena shooter which has some drawbacks in terms of the limits of pushscrolling. Celebrity Squares A bit of a mess with sprite contributions by some C64 luminaries. This was well ahead of its time and spawned a mini game scene that pushed SUECK to its limits (and then some more with others creating modded versions of SUECK to make horizontal shooters.) I was having a pretty rough time by 1987/88 and was pretty alone for most of it but spent a lot of free time on the weekends pottering around with this and trying to make a Mad Max inspired horizontal shooter in the vein of Jackal. Did I ever finish it? No. But I had a lot of fun just playing around with trying and pulling apart the demo games. It gave me an insight into how the C64 worked in terms of colour restrictions, sprite animation and character based backdrops. Revisiting it I'm even more impressed by how much they were able to put together in such a way that you could make something playable in memory, no multiload here. A lot of SUECK games do have a certain feel to them but if they're put together well they're so good you could argue it destroyed the market for below average shooters on the C64. Why spend 2 quid on something rubbish when you could spend some time playing a half decent game your mate knocked up last weekend? I think the Amiga version didn't do as well partly because the results from that version felt like Atari ST games, but mainly because by then there was more competition from utilities like AMOS and Blitz Basic. The C64 version though is the first game engine I'd ever messed around with and while Buggy Boy is my favourite game from this episode I think SUECK is the most important release of this episode, possibly 1987. This allowed anyone to lift the hood and poke around inside the C64.
  2. Heli Squad is one that totally passed me by not even receiving a commercial release. It's bare bones but it's a great Tiger Heli clone that quite frankly puts many budget and some full price efforts to shame. It controls well and the pace is fast. Most of the enemy waves are challenging but fair with the fighters taking me down pretty quicky near the huts...inspired by The Vikings? A great effort that's a lot better than many of the other shooters released this year.
  3. Jul 02/07 Zero Wing (Megadrive/Switch) Booted this up out of curiosity, completed because I noticed it was a Toaplan shooter. Yes, it's the game of the meme but it's a decent enough shooter and tricky even on easy mode with rewind scumming. Was also amusing when my partner woke up from her nap next to me to see her reaction "What on earth are you playing?" Earlier this year
  4. I love computer pinball although I feel it only really came into its own in the 16 bit era with Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies. I was going to skip this but then I saw that Microball is by Steve Evans, a great coder who came to my attention back in the day due to his Phoenix clone Eagle Empire. This is....ok. The ball feels like it's made from rubber and sometimes it gets "stuck" while the computer catches up to the calculations. It's not a patch on Pinball on the NES, the most obvious point of comparison at the time. Good budget fare but unlikely back then to keep your attention long.
  5. I think that's been my big frustration with packages of emulated games. A lot of them use bespoke control schemes. In the old days with ports the game would be changed to fit keyboard, controller or mouse (or a combination of all three.) But when legal emulation compilations started coming out you'd get the code and the emulator and no way to actually play the game. We've been able to play an emulation of Super Sprint on consoles since the PSOne but good luck actually making it around a lap! Things have started to change in this space. With the SNK classics collection they changed the code for several games that used the SNK bespoke stick/dial solution that the arcade game used (Ikari Warriors being the most high profile example) so that those games would play like twin stick shooters. The decision being made to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of gameplay since those specific arcade sticks hadn't been in production for 20 years.
  6. The lineage of Sprint goes all the way back to 1974 with Gran Track 10 in the arcades. Super Sprint is a sort of remake or iteration of sorts and despite being based on a design over a decade old it's three steering wheels and high resolution monitor made it a bit of a head turner. The C64 should have been an easy port given that we had clones already appearing on the platform including the likes of BMX simulator. My flatmate owned this and I remember it not being too bad. I remembered incorrectly. This is awful. The feel is off. One clip and you're facing the wrong way and the AI players are perfect making races maddening but mercifully short. Part of the blame lies with the control method. The original really required you to spin the wheel wildly, hands off at times and I haven't played a home port of this that was playable. However many more games would copy this format on the C64 and end up ranging from average (Badlands) to excellent (Ivan IronMan Stewart's Road Race.) Avoid this one, it's an exercise in frustration.
  7. I remember the Christmas issue of 1988 being so thick it was almost a bookazine. Loads of games reviewed. Loads of them bad.
  8. Excellent and I'm not just saying that because I'm not up for trying to work out the arcane practice of emulating the Amiga. Mind you at the end of the mag's life I suspect you're going to be able to do multiple magazines in one episode.
  9. How to be a Complete Bastard Buy someone this game. I mean look at the state of this. The top and bottom screens are "you" from two different angles. Why? WHY? Why not just resort to a flat side on dolls house view like....I don't know....The Young Ones? Borderline unplayable. An absolute disgrace.
  10. We can talk about how confusing Barbarian gets really soon. Speaking of which about 89-90 Zzap starts covering the Amiga. Are you going to stick to the C64 stuff or expand into the Amiga as well?
  11. Street Hassle is going to be a weird one as I'm going to have to describe it from memory since I can't find a non-corrupted version to play. It's a weird game. Set in Melbourne (originally) you stride around wearing your sunglasses, underpants and punch random "bad guys." Which include blind men gorilla's (probably a drop bear in disguise) grannies and dogs. I remember it feeling a lot like an improvement on their earlier work Fighting Warrior but in much worse taste. I do remember this being passed around the playground as a kid but the appeal was rather limited and I didn't even keep a copy of it. It's certainly....er....unique.
  12. Action Force was never going to be my thing. I wasn't a big fan of contemporary military toys like GI Joe and all the reviews at the time made the game sound like a pain. Think Falcon Patrol crossed with an escort mission where you have to pick up and drop bridge segments in order to get a car to the end of the level. The sprites are big and bold but your helicopter is such a big target and the swarm so relentless that on trying this I died several times in five minutes. Was anyone actually proficient playing this back in the day? It makes Airwolf look like a walk in the park. Oh, and you only get one life. Unless there's a way to get more. Not one of my favourite Gang of Five games, stick with Dan Dare or Scrabble.
  13. I was thinking about this today on the way home from work. Why Captain America? Why Yogi Bear? These were at the time almost dead properties. Comics weren't doing great and Yogi was known purely through syndication and I'm pretty sure I wasn't alone in only having it on in the background because of a lack of content. There's a few licences like this and I think Graham and @squirtle identified why these sorts of titles were licensed. Not only would they have been fairly cheap (compared to say Indiana Jones) but they have name recognition among parents at the time. I wouldn't be interested in buying a game based on a Marvel comic at the time or on Yogi. But my mother or grandparents would be tempted and if I wasn't a reader of Zzap at that time I probably would have received a "Sunday Best."
  14. I watched a lot of Yogi Bear as a kid but for some reason I developed an irrational hatred of the character. Something about bears wearing ties rub me the wrong way. So I was never going to buy this or even pirate it. I do remember seeing the map of the game in Zzap and the structure of skipping above ground parts using underground tunnels being very much like Pitfall. I will give it this, it looks like the cartoon. I could not work out how to get past the first river despite trying several times before realising "hang on, I hate Yogi Bear. Why am I playing this again?" Sorry Boo Boo. Get used to that cage.
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