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Complete Guide to Spectrum Games – Part 16

You probably weren’t expecting another installment quite so soon, but since I’ve had an abrupt disruption in my plans for the day I figured I might as well make the most of it. And then I thought “Why don’t I just review some more Speccy games instead?”

So here we are.

American 3d PoolZeppelin Games, 1992

Ah, pool – favoured game of people who spend far too much of their time in pubs everywhere. Many’s the time I’ve been challenged to a game of mini-Snooker by someone who’s spent most of their life doing nothing but alternately drinking and playing pool. And every time I decline, on the basis that I am absolutely terrible, having spent very little time in pubs playing pool, they take offence.

When I go to a pub, it’s to have a drink and a chat with likeminded people. It’s not, as a rule, to try to fumble around a table in an effort to not hit any innocent bystanders with a bit of wood while poking balls into the table edges. My goals and those of pool-players have just never crossed over at any point. So please, please, stop asking me to play pool when you know full well that the result is a foregone conclusion. I’m not paying 50p a go to find out that you’re really good at pool and I’m not. I’m not trying to hassle you into a game of Quake, so just go away and let me finish my beer, alright?

Oh, American 3D Pool? Well, look at it. It’s a regular 2D pool game with less balls and with a pointless, badly thought out and badly-drawn 3D view tacked on. Colour-clash all over the shop, and the balls don’t even change size as they get further away from you. It’s about as fun as having a drink with someone intermittently whining that they want to play pool.

American FootballMind Games, 1984

In my line of reviews it’s not often that I get asked if I want instructions. Naturally, since this is a game from 1984 I don’t want any instructions at all – because if I do ask for them I’m almost certainly going to get seventeen pages of typewriter simulation with lots and lots of beeping.

Sadly that means that when it asks for a defence (‘defense’, surely?) all that’s going to happen is I get beeped at and told that I’ve made an illegal play. So, a quick reset and a look at the instructions reveals that there are about a dozen different ‘plays’ for me to print out as a reference while playing. Since I don’t have a printer handy, I just remember about four of them and started the game again. There’s not much point in having a big list, since there’s no clue as to what any of them mean anyway. No diagrams or the like that people who really play American Football get to look at.

So all in all it’s a bit like an American Football management game, only without any of the numbers or anything. Or any sort of tournament options. Or doing anything except calling the plays, in fact. It’s an odd way to play a game; it might as well be a text adventure for all the difference the graphics make. It does what it does well, but… it’s not much fun.

American FootballSoftstone, 1984

Sometime in the early eighties, somebody came up with the idea that it’d be really cool if computers beeped when they wanted an input. Not just once, mind you – over and over and over and over until you either press a key or smash the computer into a million tiny pieces. One day I’m going to get my hands on a time machine, and when I do the first thing I do is going to be to get a copy of every set of winning lottery numbers ever. The second thing I do is find out who the person with the bad idea was so that when I go back in time I can murder them horribly before they come up with it, in the hope of never having to hear BEEP BEEP BEEP while I’m picking a team to manage (or whatever).

See, it’s not just those little choices, like picking your team. It’s when you’re at a fairly important menu and considering what approach you’re going to take while managing your ‘football’ team, like, I don’t know, this one:

I didn’t even get to the game – there’s nothing that it could possibly do to make up for that incessant noise. No points for this game.

American Tag Team WrestlingZeppelin Games, 1992

One of the best books I’ve ever read is Mick Foley’s autobiography, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. It’s the epic tale of one of the most unhinged wrestlers in its modern history and I recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone.

What I don’t recommend is this wrestling game. Regardless of what characters you pick, there are precisely two types of wrestler – you and the other guy – and regardless of what you do with the controls you’re going to get the crap beaten out of you in short order. You get knocked over and hammered while you’re on the ground, then you get up, are immediately thrown to the ground and then stomped on some more. It’s stupid and pointless.

Nice graphics, though.

AmmytrisDream Makers Software, 1995

It’s a Tetris clone.

There’s a lot of Tetris clones out there, as I’m sure you’re aware. This… this is excellent. It’s got smooth controls, a fair speed-up from level to level, and a pleasant enough tune in the background too. In fact, it’s better than the last official Tetris game I played, Tetris DS.

There are precisely two flaws with this game – there’s no two player mode, and the ‘next block’ graphic isn’t coloured. Neither of these are particularly bad, either, so I’m quite pleased to give the first real score in absolutely ages – seven out of ten. Hurrah!

Amo del MundoCrom Software, 1990

Apparently this is based on a book by Jules Verne. It’s a scrolling shooter in which I can’t tell if I’m actually firing anything, or what’s dangerous and what’s not. I think I’m supposed to be grabbing bits of paper with codes on, but I’ve no idea why since everything’s in Spanish. They’re probably for a bomb or a power plant or something.

Anyway. It’s very bright and colourful, as you can see (and as you’d expect from a Spanish game). And I’ve an inkling that there’s a fairly solid game under it, too. It’s just a little confusing in places; I managed to grab a couple of code thingies by running/flying through and avoiding everything that moved.

Amoto’s PufSPE, 1988

I moved house at the beginning of the year. While there was no small amount of stress involved (not least the realisation that a good third of my belongings is made up of Sinclair-related hardware), it also brought some relief. You see, I used to live quite close to a man who believed himself to be the Incredible Hulk. Honestly. Nary a day would pass without him screaming at his colleagues/family members (he repaired cars right across the street from me) and declaring that either they did as they were told, or “I’ll smash!”. What first seemed to be endless entertainment soon became quite tiresome, and I grew to love the double-glazing.

The second most annoying neighbourhood noise was the sound of some wee bairn on a moped. Invariably with an L plate on, as it had been for the preceding five years or so, and always with some damage inflicted on the moped to make it as loud as possible. A fighter jet could have landed in the road and nobody would notice, because the sound of its engines would have been drowned out by the incessant whining of mopeds.

Anyway. This here’s a Spanish clone of ancient arcade machine Head On, only with mopeds rather than cars. It is not particularly interesting or fun, but not as bad as my former neighbours.

Amtrak Rail PassAshley Greenup, 1989

I hate trains. Actually, that’s not entirely true – I don’t hate trains, just the system. I once spent four hours at Guildford waiting for a series of trains that didn’t exist. And I’ve no idea how long I’ve spent at Didcot Parkway (twinned with the seventh circle of hell), but it’s a long time. And don’t get me started on the cost…

So this game is, essentially, a bit like Dante’s Inferno. You get to travel the USA by train. I don’t know if you’re supposed to be going anywhere in particular or just seeing how far you get before you run out of money, or if you’re supposed to be collecting things along the way in some bizarre parody of Trans Am.

Anyway. It took me a little while to figure out the keys, so I’ll tell you what they are in case you want to try it – your options are on the left of the screen, just above the picture window that shows you where you are. 5 and 8 cycle left and right through the options, and 7 selects.

It’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure how long I can stand pretending to wait for a train.

Well, that wasn’t all bad, I suppose. Next time it’s Amusement Park 4000 and some other games too.