Battlespire, PC

An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire is a spin-off from the famous Elder Scrolls series of RPGs by Bethesda Softworks.

It first came out in 1997 – between Daggerfall and Morrowind – and is an MS-DOS-based action/RPG with fairly primitive 3D graphics.

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Wanted: Monty Mole, ZX Spectrum

Back in 1984 in the UK there was an infamous, historic miner’s strike that lasted for over a year and caused hardship for many communities.

Rather than sit and spectate, young Peter Harrap wrote a satirical platform game about a mining mole and published it, with all the profits going to help the struggling, striking miners. That game was Wanted: Monty Mole, and it launched Pete Harrap on his career making video games, and also the Monty Mole ‘franchise’. I can’t really call it a franchise because it really wasn’t. It was simply a series of games.

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Solstice, NES

Solstice is a neat isometric platform/puzzle game from British developer Software Creations. It was published by Sony for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 and is the (spiritual?) predecessor to the Super Nintendo game Equinox.

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Equinox, Super Nintendo

Sony‘s Equinox is an isometric platform adventure that was first released in 1994. It was a Super Nintendo only release, and wasn’t converted to any other platforms. It is also a sequel to the NES game Solstice.

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, PC

Nihilistic Software‘s 2000 release, Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, is a 3D RPG with real-time combat and is held in very high regard by those who have played it.

On the surface Redemption is similar in style to Neverwinter Nights, although Neverwinter Nights came two years after Vampire, which demonstrates how ahead of its time it was.

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Mercenary: The Second City, Commodore 64

Not a sequel to Mercenary, but a ‘data disk’ add-on, although you don’t need the original Mercenary to play it. No, the real sequel came on 16-bit machines later.

The Second City starts off pretty much the same as Mercenary – crashing on a planet (this time the other side of the one you explored in Mercenary, and also a different colour) and having to explore to get on and eventually escape.

Again: the two local factions – the Palyars and Mechanoids – are at war with each other and both will offer you missions to sabotage each other for cash.

The Second City is another great exploration game with wireframe graphics – just like its predecessor – and the simple interface makes for a pleasant exploration experience. That is: until the shooting starts.

More: Mercenary: The Second City on Wikipedia

Mercenary: The Second City, Atari ST

A 16-bit conversion of Paul Woakes‘ classic 8-bit exploration sequel to Mercenary. Well, not really a sequel – more a continuation… The real sequel came later.

The Atari ST‘s power (relative to the Commodore 64) means smoother, faster 3D graphics; more colours (useful, when colours are used to identify rooms and places underground); and more sensitive controls.

As a stand-alone game, Mercenary: The Second City is fun to play. More complex than Mercenary, with a bigger underground section and more challenging missions, given to you by two warring factions. You can choose who to side with and who to sabotage.

The Atari ST version of The Second City was released in 1988 by Novagen Software as part of a compendium with Mercenary.

More: Mercenary: The Second City on Wikipedia

Mercenary, Atari ST

A fine 16-bit conversion of the classic Mercenary by Paul Woakes, written by Woakes himself it seems. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s a great game and deserves doing right, so who better to code it than the original creator?

The extra frame rate – and less chunky wireframes – are very welcome. ST Mercenary moves quickly, compared to the original and is a joy to zip around in.

All the original puzzles, tricks and traps are in there. The game benefits from a few extra colours, but I don’t think anything else is different.

The Atari ST version of Mercenary was released as a compendium with The Second City in 1988 by Novagen Software.


Tutankham, Arcade

Konami‘s 1982 arcade game Tutankham is a weird horizontally-scrolling shooter where you play a gun-toting archaeologist, fighting off snakes, mummies, and other meanies, inside a maze-like Egyptian tomb.

The ‘rub’ is: that you can only shoot horizontally, and not up or down tunnels, which makes moving around the tomb difficult. Monsters appear from ‘generators’ and come thick and fast – too fast, to be honest. Getting past certain places is almost impossible and requires more luck than judgement. Like many early arcade games…

Tutankham could have been a great arcade game, but its difficulty lets it down, in my humble opinion. It’s still an interesting game, and a decent challenge, though.