Complete Guide to Spectrum Games – Part 4

There’s been some talk over just how long it’s going to take me to review every Spectrum game ever. From three years, to nine years, to twelve years. I’m touched, really, by everybody’s confidence that I’m actually going to finish reviewing every Spectrum game ever. Anyway, here’s the latest batch of gaming gems…

Action ReflexMirrorsoft, 1986

The ball on the loading screen didn’t bode well – I immediately started psyching myself up for a crappy Breakout clone. (Seriously, there are about three decent Breakout games – Breakout, Arkanoid, and Arkanoid 2.) But it turns out that Action Reflex is in fact a sort of puzzle game. You control a ball that has to get through a series of obstacle-filled screens. (Why? To get to the other side, I guess.)

It’s actually rather engaging, and held my attention for a good ten minutes (and would probably have done so for longer if I didn’t have an article to finish). The only real flaw in the game is that you have to stop moving in order to jump, which is, rather than a straightforward jump, a series of increasingly hard bounces on the floor to increase your height. Holding down fire to determine the height of the jump would have made the game play a little smoother. Also, the obstacles that throw you back a few screens if you mess them up are really, really annoying. Still, not a bad game, and hopefully a good omen for the rest of this installment – seven out of ten.

Ad AstraGargoyle Games, 1984

This one’s a bright little into-the-screen space shooter. Look at those brightly-coloured planets! Great aren’t they? It’s just a shame that they’re quickly replaced by a bunch of badly-drawn enemy spaceships, and that your ship is too big to effectively dodge more than a couple of bullets at a time, and that the game generally isn’t really worth more than about three out of ten.

Still, those planets, eh?

AddaladdaContrast Software, 1983

The snapshot file I got didn’t work, so I went and got another one, mentally knocking two points off the score out of pure spite. Still, once I got a working version, I did get to see one of the best instruction screens ever:

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the game itself…

Don’t say ‘press any key’ if you don’t mean ‘press any key’. This game scores only toadstools.

The Addams FamilyOcean, 1991

Y’know what bothers me about seeing the Addams Family? Christina Ricci. See, she’s almost exactly the same age as me, so when the first film came out, well, she was hot, and it was okay, because I was eleven too. But now, whenever I see it rerun on the TV, it’s kinda weird, like seeing pictures of your girlfriend when she was a kid. Only Christina Ricci’s not my girlfriend. Tch.

Oh, the game? It’s a platform adventure, somewhat inspired by Jet Set Willy, only with more colour (and colour clash) and so hard I can’t get more than a couple of screens in any direction. Also, whenever you lose a life, you start back at the beginning. Yes, really.

Getting anywhere in the game is a struggle. Imagine fighting your way to The Cold Room, missing the rope and going back to The Bathroom. Two out of ten.

Adder AttackMogul Communications, 1982

Here’s a weird one. It’s sort of like Pacman, only with a more open layout, more dots and no power pills, and with a bunch of snakes chasing you rather than ghosts. And that cyan one is a vicious sod, I can tell you.

It’s simple, and it’s a lot of fun. Eight out of ten, and a request for someone to remake it with a four player mode!

Adding And SubtractingWidgit Software, 1983

Gah, an educational ‘game’. The computer drops some blocks onto a train, you count them, add them up, and the train drives off. That’s it.

Now, while I could actually use this to teach a child to count, and it therefore succeeds at its aims, how on earth am I meant to mark it in relation to all the other games? I suppose the only ethical thing to do is rate it by how well it does it what it’s trying to do. Erm… ten out of ten.

Add-VentureAWA Software, 1983

Oh, that’s not a good sign.

Right, so, there’s a bunch of addition that needs doing. Alright, I’ll have a go…

Ta very much. Next I get the choice which game to play: catching apples, or guessing a number. Well, I think I’ve had quite enough numbers for today, so how about some apple-catching, eh?

Oh dear god. What these screenshots can’t give you are the Cassette 50 sound effects. How is this a reward for doing some actually pretty tough sums? I’d feel more rewarded if the game had stopped at the gold star and just crashed or something. -1/10.

Adidas Championship FootballOcean, 1990

First things first – this game took about a minute to speedload on RealSpectrum. If I’d been loading this off a tape, I wouldn’t have had time to actually play it. Especially after the dozen or so splash and credit screens and animations it goes through THAT YOU CAN’T SKIP THROUGH.

Anyway. After picking your controls, you get to pick your international team. I went for England, natch. Then it takes another minute or two to pick groups for the World Cup.

Bugger. Oh well, I’ll make the best of it, once I’ve ‘chosen my options’…

What the hell is any of this supposed to mean? I guess the joystick means ‘play the goddamn game’, but what about the rest? There’s no text anywhere, apart from the ridiculously large game logo.

Right, turns out the joystick actually takes you to ‘Game Options’. Again, there’s no text to tell me what any of this crap means. The shoe and football picture is the one that actually starts the game.

And that’s the only thing I’ll be winning today…

Oh, sod this. It’s taken me nearly ten minutes to actually get into a game, and I’m playing up the pitch in a tiny, tiny little letterbox with crappy graphics and a ball that doesn’t let you know how high it is off the ground. This is awful, and it’s annoyed me so much with those menus AND making me play against Brazil that I’m giving it minus ten. That’s right, -10 out of 10. This is worse than Ack Ack Attack, because at least that didn’t make me waste ten minutes of my life to find out how bad it was.

Adidas Championship Tie-BreakOcean, 1990

This one’s a tennis game, then. And one that doesn’t take anywhere near as long to load, thankfully.

A tennis game that looks almost exactly like Adidas Championship Football. Y’know what, I’m not even going to play it. It’s a tennis game with a scrolling view so you can’t see the whole court. I’m going to give it no points at all just on principle.

Admiral Graf SpeeTemptation Software, 1982

This one opens with a beeper rendition of the German national anthem. (Not a great start, I have to say, but at least I can skip through it, so it’s automatically better than Adidas Championship Football.)

The game itself looks extremely… well, I’ll be honest – it looks like crap. I don’t know what’s going on, which blob is me, which blob I’m supposed to begoing after, or how to do anything at all apart from hit reset and load the next game. At least I can see the entire playing area, however, so it gets one out of ten.


Crikey, there’s a title, eh? This is bound to be one of those dodgy Spanish porn games, with atrocious graphics and colour clash in all the wrong places…

No, wait, it’s a text adventure. To be fair, I did actually try playing this for a good ten minutes, but I couldn’t get anywhere with it, and there’s only so many times you can read ‘Thee can’t do that.’ before you get bored. One out of ten.

Well, we’ve hit both the highs and lows this time around. On the bright side, I don’t think I’m going to run across anything worse than Adidas Championship Football in the next eight thousand games. Next up – it’s Advanced Lawnmower Simulator to Adventure.


  1. Action Reflex sounds like a 2D version of Impossaball (which I notice there is a Spectrum version of, so you’ll get to play it in about 4 years if you haven’t given up by then)

    Adder Attack looks pretty much identical to Squirm on the C16, but that had glow worms and better graphics. It’s well worth checking out, as there isn’t a Spectrum port. There is, however, some game called Squirmy Wormy, which looks crap. I look forward to reading your review of that in 2014.

    Adidas Championship Tie-Break should have got Love out of Ten, shirley?

  2. Yeah, it should have, but Adidas Championship Football made me so angry that it actually drove out every sense of logic and humour that I have. It’s so bad that I actually swore out loud at the screen when I finally got to ‘play’ it, and that carried over to Tie-Break.

    And to be honest, ‘Tie-Break’ isn’t even an accurate title. You’re not going to get to a tie-break with the screen scrolling all over the shop, so Adidas Championship Ace is a more appropriate title. That said, Probe did an excellent job of not making it as crap as Football.

    I’ve been trying to remember Impossaball, but could only recall the general rubbishness of Impossamole. (And I’m not even sure that was the title of Monty’s alleged final game.) Still, only four-ish years, eh?

    And I’m going to track down Squirm now – Adder Attack really is quite entertaining, so a better version of that would be quite nice. A multiplayer version would be even better, though, if only to give that bleedin cyan worm something else to think about.

  3. While I haven’t played Adder Attack or Squirm, Snake Pit–a 1983 effort by Lord of Midnight’s Mike Singleton seems to be very similar to that and, if memory serves, quite well executed. Or at least it seemed so at the time.
    And you will have Snake Pit fresh in your memory when reviewing Squirmy Wormy.

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