Ziggurat

Occasional ramblings on games, generally retro related

​When my parents brought home a ZX81 one day (complete with wobbly 16K RAM pack, of course) I discovered the joy of programming. But it wasn't until I got my hands on a ZX Spectrum that my obsession with games really began, which continued with the C64, Amiga, right through to this day. The 80s and early 90s were an amazing time for games, not just for the games themselves but for the fascinating people behind them - it was truly a time of pioneers and creativity.

I myself have spent the last (almost) 20 years working in the games industry on all manner of platforms, most recently iOS. Ziggurat Development Ltd is my company here in NZ that provides contract programming services.

November Games Revisited

I had hoped to have a number of opportunities to spend some quality time playing these games (and more) this month, but one of the downsides of travelling so much for business is that such occasions are rare. Very rare in the case of this month: I managed a pathetic few hours last Sunday.

At any rate... Here's a brief look back at a few games that hit the shelves in November many years ago to rave reviews.

I wanted to include "Speedball" (reviewed in C&VG '88, 84%) as I played that a lot when it came out, but sadly I'd forgotten about the compatibility issues with the Amiga 1200 and older titles - nothing I tried got it to boot. Ah well.

World Games, Epyx, 1986

World Games, Epyx, 1986

Reviewed in Zzap!64 November 1986.

Out of all the games this month, I played this one the most back in the day. I didn't have a disk drive for my C64 which meant multi-load games like this were rather painful. On the plus side, it did mean that once I'd loaded an event I sure as hell stuck with it. The funny thing is that upon booting this up on Sunday I found all that muscle memory kicking in and was able to get playing without consulting any instructions. Well, that's not entirely true. Slalom Skiing had me baffled, then my confusion grew for Log Rolling, and I got no where with the Caber Toss. Thankfully looking up instructions helped with the latter, but screw the skiing and log rolling. Five out of eight isn't bad.

Zzap!64 scored it an incredible 98%, the highest score I recall seeing them dish out. Looking back I'm not entirely sure I agree with that, though I do have fond memories of playing the Cliff Diving for many hours. Most of the events are still enjoyable and the presentation with all it's nice - often humourous - little touches is still great.


Tass Times in Tone Town, Activision, 1986

Tass Times in Tone Town, Activision, 1986

Reviewed in Zzap!64 November 1986.

I'd never actually played this one before (I imagine it was disk only), but I remember seeing glowing reviews of it.

I don't know quite what I was thinking when I decided I'd try to cram it into those precious few hours on Sunday. Things started off okay and it seemed like a quirky fun adventure... and then I died and had to restart... that happened a number of times. My frustration was rising as I felt the time slipping away, and I was getting no where. I caved and looked up a walkthrough. "Aha! now I can get past that bit and really get into it", I thought. And a few minutes later I was dead again.

This is not a game to pick up and play for an hour or two, which is a shame as Zzap!64 game it an impressive 95%. In fact the White Wizard opened his review by saying:

"Every once in a while, there is an adventure so inspired, so beautifully crafted and so ingeniously devised that it leaves its mark on everything that follows."

Blimey.

I really should go back to it again sometime...


Microprose Soccer, Sensible Software/Microprose, 1988

Microprose Soccer, Sensible Software/Microprose, 1988

Reviewed in C&VG November 1988.

Somehow this passed me by when it first came out on the C64. I guess by then I had already moved on to the Amiga, and my poor C64 was left to gather dust. I do remember playing the Amiga version at some point, but it never really stuck... which is interesting because "Sensible World of Soccer" is my fave game of all time.

The first thing that struck me upon loading it up was how un-Sensible it all looked... as in, it all looked way too sensible (small 's'). And was that music really by Martin Galway?!

Putting my initial impressions behind me I started to play. My first couple of games were a confusing mess. It's really hard to go backwards from Sensi Soccer. I was ready to put it down and move on, but figured I'd play a couple more times as I was waiting for a game to boot on my Amiga. I'm glad I did, because I finally started to get the hang of it. It's still a pale shadow of SWOS, but there's a good game in there.

C&VG awarded it 95% and Game of the Month, saying that it was "undoubtedly the best football game ever produced". Which, I can imagine at that point, was an accurate statement, but I'll stick with SWOS thankyouverymuch.