Category Archives: Celebration

Tony Crowther Week

Born in Sheffield in 1965, Antony Crowther is a prolific and highly-regarded British video games designer/programmer who has had success across a number of different platforms.

Crowther is particularly well known for his Commodore 64 games, although he has worked on pretty much every gaming system known to man. He still designs and programs games to this day.

Continue reading Tony Crowther Week

Commodore 16/Plus4 Special

The Commodore 16 is a somewhat underrated home computer that had a relatively short lifespan and was intended as a low-cost replacement for the Commodore VIC-20.

It had 16K of RAM (thus the name) and a 6502 compatible CPU that ran twice as fast as the CPU in its older and more expensive cousin, the Commodore 64. It had a video and sound chipset called “TED” that offered a colour palette of 121 colours, and more efficient use of video memory than the C64, but it had no hardware sprites (it did however have a built-in software sprite routine with fewer restrictions than on hardware sprites).

Continue reading Commodore 16/Plus4 Special

Bad Games Week #2 Ends

Bad Games Week #2 has now ended.

[“Phew!” you’re probably thinking.]

Here’s a summary of links to what was published:

Chuck Norris Superkicks, ColecoVision,
Cap’n’ Carnage, Atari ST,
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Atari 2600,
The Evil Dead, Commodore 64,
Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, Atari Jaguar,
Kung-Fu Master, ZX Spectrum,
Jail Break, Commodore 64.

Back to *GOOD GAMES* from this point onward! 🙂

Thank you!
The King of Grabs

Bad Games Week #2

It’s time for another celebration of bad video games on The King of Grabs!

Every game featured on the blog this week is guaranteed NOT to be in your top ten. These are some of the worst video games ever made…

From today onward there will be one sh*te game per day, and we will be returning back to normal in seven days from now. When it’s all over I’ll post a full list of what was published here.

Here’s a summary of links to what was published:

Chuck Norris Superkicks, ColecoVision,
Cap’n’ Carnage, Atari ST,
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Atari 2600,
The Evil Dead, Commodore 64,
Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, Atari Jaguar,
Kung-Fu Master, ZX Spectrum,
Jail Break, Commodore 64.

Oh, and here’s a link to the last Bad Games Week, in case you’re a connoisseur of terrible video games and want more.

Enjoy!
The King of Grabs

Sam & Max Comics

A little bonus, on the back of our Sam & Max Hit the Road feature published today: not grabs, but a small selection of high quality Sam & Max comics, as written and drawn by LucasArts veteran and all-round master of the paintbrush, Steve Purcell.

I love Purcell‘s artwork so much – not to mention Hit the Road itself – that I had to share these with you.

Continue reading Sam & Max Comics

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Level-Grinders; Dungeon-Crawlers; Role-Playing Games – whatever you want to call them – they are my (and many other people’s) favourite type of video game.

They allow you to build up your characters via the process of levelling. That is: by gaining experience, which in turn increases your character’s power levels.

Level-Grinders also allow you to hoard virtual items that don’t exist in the real world; accumulate unimaginable wealth in an imaginary world, and solve mysteries while you’re doing it.

Over and over again. For the love of the grind…

So here we go… The 100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Note: I did think long and hard about whether to include Zelda games or not, and decided to include them, because they are dungeon-crawlers at a fundamental level.

To see the individual games in more detail, click the links.

Enjoy, The King of Grabs

01. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, PC
02. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, PC
03. Dungeon Master, Atari ST
04. Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo
05. Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City, Nintendo DS
06. The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, XBox
07. Fallout: New Vegas, PC
08. Fallout 4, PC
09. Deus Ex, PC
10. Final Fantasy VII, PlayStation

11. System Shock 2, PC
12. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo 64
13. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo 64
14. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Nintendo
15. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, PC
16. Fallout 3, PC
17. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, PlayStation 2
18. Shadowrun, Super Nintendo
19. Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard, Nintendo DS
20. Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition, PC

21. Earthbound, Super Nintendo
22. Legend of Grimrock, PC
23. Paper Mario: The Thousand year Door, GameCube
24. Dungeon Master II: The Legend of Skullkeep, PC
25. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, GameCube
26. Legend of Grimrock II, PC
27. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, Megadrive/Genesis
28. Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, Game Boy Advance
29. Anachronox, PC
30. Shining the Holy Ark, Sega Saturn

31. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, GameCube
32. Neverwinter Nights, PC
33. Final Fantasy Legend, Game Boy
34. Mother 3, Game Boy Advance
35. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Game Boy Advance
36. Fallout 2, PC
37. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Super Nintendo
38. Final Fantasy VIII, PlayStation
39. Shining In The Darkness, Megadrive/Genesis
40. Skies of Arcadia: Legends, GameCube

41. Chaos Strikes Back, Atari ST
42. Super Mario RPG, Super Nintendo
43. Phantasy Star II, Megadrive/Genesis
44. Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds, PC
45. Wasteland, Commodore 64
46. Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, PC
47. Vagrant Story, PlayStation
48. Paper Mario, Nintendo 64
49. Fallout, PC
50. Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, PC

51. Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, PC
52. Baten Kaitos Origins, GameCube
53. Breath of Fire II, Super Nintendo
54. Breath of Fire, Super Nintendo
55. Golden Sun, Game Boy Advance
56. Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Game Boy Advance
57. Earthbound Zero, NES
58. Final Fantasy Legend II, Game Boy
59. Eye of the Beholder, PC
60. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, PlayStation

61. Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, Super Nintendo
62. Phantasy Star, Sega Master System
63. Shadowrun: Dragonfall, PC
64. Icewind Dale II, PC
65. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, PC
66. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, PC
67. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, PC
68. Grandia II, Dreamcast
69. The Legend of Dragoon, PlayStation
70. Nox, PC

71. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, PC
72. Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo DS
73. Parasite Eve, PlayStation
74. Grandia, PlayStation
75. Dungeon Master: Theron’s Quest, PC Engine CD
76. Eye of the Beholder III: Assault On Myth Drannor, PC
77. Dragon Quest VI, Super Nintendo
78. E.V.O.: Search for Eden, Super Nintendo
79. Amberstar, PC
80. Albion, PC

81. Final Fantasy VI Advance, Game Boy Advance
82. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, Game Boy Advance
83. Final Fantasy V Advance, Game Boy Advance
84. SD Snatcher, MSX2
85. Grandia: Parallel Trippers, Game Boy Color
86. Chrono Trigger, Super Nintendo
87. Dungeon Hack, PC
88. Tales of Phantasia, Super Nintendo
89. Dragon Quest V, Super Nintendo
90. Final Fantasy Legend III, Game Boy

91. Arx Fatalis, PC
92. AD&D: Treasure of Tarmin, Intellivision
93. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, PC
94. Secret of Mana, Super Nintendo
95. Dragon Warrior, NES
96. Final Fantasy, NES
97. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Game Boy Color
98. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Game Boy Color
99. Swords and Sorcery, Amstrad CPC
100. Out Of The Shadows, ZX Spectrum

  • This list is subject to change at any time, of course. Why, even the mighty Witcher 3 is sure to be usurped at some point… Maybe with Cyberpunk 2077? Or the next Elder Scrolls game? Who knows? Who cares?! If you do care, please leave a comment below. 🙂
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Jonathan Smith’s Classic ZX Spectrum Games

A British programmer/developer who made a name for himself with his very first game, Pud Pud, which was published by Ocean Software for the ZX Spectrum in 1984. Smith was just 17 at the time Pud Pud was released, but was fortuitous in that his pitch to Ocean, and them signing him up as ‘talent’, was all filmed and later broadcast on television in an episode of BBC TV’s Commercial Breaks, which gave him an instant profile to an appreciative audience. Bob Wakelin‘s ace cover art also did Smith‘s early games a lot of good.

Unfortunately Jonathan Smith isn’t with us any longer; he sadly passed away in 2010, but I do know – from having read a few interviews with Smith – that he was very embarrassed about his appearance on Commercial Breaks. Which is a pity because he was great in it. And he really put himself on the map by agreeing to do it. Smith liked to work hard and “keep out of the limelight” as much as possible, and seemed to be a humble man. His work on a series of classic ZX Spectrum games will never be forgotten.

Between 1984 and 1988 Smith programmed 13 games for the Spectrum. At least five of which could be considered ‘all-time classics’.

LISTS: as created by The King of Grabs, in chronological order:

Pud Pud (1984)
Kong Strikes Back (1984)
Mikie (1985)
Hyper Sports (1985)
Daley Thompson’s Supertest (1985)
Street Hawk: Subscriber Edition (1985)
Cobra (1986)
Green Beret (1986)
Terra Cresta (1986)
Hysteria (1987)
Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988)
Firefly (1988)
Hyper Active (1988)

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan M. “Joffa” Smith (1 February 1967 – 26 June 2010).

To Infinity And Beyond: The Infinity Engine Games

The Infinity Engine by BioWare is synonymous with great RPGs. You think Infinity Engine, you think Planescape: Torment, or Baldur’s Gate. Or Icewind Dale. All great level-grinding adventures and all published by Interplay in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

When Canadian developer Beamdog (founded by ex-BioWare staff) set out to remake the Baldur’s Gate series – and remake the Infinity Engine in the process – they set out to make gaming history for a second time, by revitalising these good old games and hoping they’d be hits again. And to all intents and purposes they succeeded. And are still succeeding.

The new engine is a veritable mouse wheel zoomfest, and having the larger play window makes the game feel so much more epic than before. Yes, there are some people who prefer the original versions – and that’s fine with me – but these newer incarnations feel sleek and modern and grand. You can see so much more of the great buildings and landscapes. It makes a difference.

There is one anomaly, though. Icewind Dale II – the only Infinity Engine game yet to be given an enhanced make-over – is in limbo (at the time of writing), apparently because the original source code is missing. Boo. Whether it will ever get an enhanced remake or not is unknown, which isn’t great because I have a soft spot for Icewind Dale II… Never mind.

Listed here are links to all the individual Infinity Engine games on this blog – plus the enhanced versions, in chronological order.

Baldur’s Gate (Dec 1998)Baldur's Gate PC 040

Developed by BioWare and Black Isle Studios
AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset; Forgotten Realms campaign setting

Planescape: Torment (Dec 1999)Planescape Torment PC 28

Developed by Black Isle Studios
D&D custom ruleset; D&D Planescape campaign setting

Icewind Dale (June 2000)Icewind Dale PC 21

Developed by Black Isle Studios
AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset; Forgotten Realms campaign setting

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (Sept 2000)Baldur's Gate 2 Shadows of Amn PC 36

Developed by BioWare
AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset; Forgotten Realms campaign setting

Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (June 2001)Baldur's Gate 2 Throne of Bhaal PC 78

Developed by BioWare
AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset; Forgotten Realms campaign setting

Icewind Dale II (Aug 2002)Icewind Dale 2 PC 053

Developed by Black Isle Studios
D&D 3rd Edition ruleset; Forgotten Realms campaign setting

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (2012)Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition PC 15

Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (2013)Baldur's Gate 2 Throne of Bhaal PC 24

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (2014)Icewind Dale Enhanced PC 64

Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition (2017)Planescape Torment Enhanced Edition PC 111