Category Archives: Beam Software

The Hobbit, ZX Spectrum

Written by Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler, The Hobbit is a legendary text adventure, with graphics, that was published by Melbourne House in 1982.

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Horace and the Spiders, ZX Spectrum

The third and final Horace game on the ZX Spectrum, written by William Tang and published by Sinclair/Psion in 1983.

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Horace Goes Skiing, ZX Spectrum

Hungry Horace author, William Tang, also produced this sequel – Horace Goes Skiing – the same year as its predecessor: 1982. It was again published by Sinclair/Psion.

This one is part Frogger clone and part skiing game, and is slightly more playable and enjoyable than its predecessor.

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Bedlam, ZX Spectrum

Another classic ZX Spectrum game from Beam Software, Bedlam is a straightforward vertical-scroller, but done in an incredibly finessed manner.

The graphics are fast and colourful and the “bullet hell” style action is “hard but fair”. Bedlam basically does on a Spectrum what people had previously only seen in an arcade, and it does it extremely professionally. There are even hidden mini games built in (pinball!), to break up the blasting action.

Bedlam was published by GO! in 1988 and is often mixed-up with another ZX Spectrum game called Bedlam, released in 1983. Type “Bedlam ZX Spectrum” into a search engine and you’ll find lots of confused web pages (administered by simpletons, clearly) trying to claim that this is a simple-looking maze game. It isn’t. It’s one of the best shooters on the ZX Spectrum!

Nightshade, NES

NOT the infamous 1985 Ultimate game, but an obscure action/adventure classic from Aussie developer Beam Software, first released on the NES in 1992.

Nightshade is a light-hearted, humourous point-and-click adventure with beat ’em up elements, based on a vigilante good guy called Mark. Yes, Mark.

Thankfully Mark’s superhero alias is the rather more snappy “Nightshade“. And as Nightshade you must ply your trade as a night time street-crawler, looking to batter bad guys and rescue women from burning buildings, because doing so increases your popularity. At the same time you must also hunt down the infamous villain “Sutekh” whose bad guy forces have overrun Metro City.

In many ways Nightshade is the spiritual predecessor to Shadowrun on the Super Nintendo, also developed by Beam and released the following year in 1993. Both games share a lot of simularities and Nightshade was obviously a big influence on the design of Shadowrun (considered one of the best games of all time on the SNES).

Nightshade is obviously more primitive than Shadowrun, and the fighting sections are a little too fast and skittish for my liking, but overall it is an original and entertaining adventure on the NES, still worth playing now. Find a guide and work your way through it. If the fighting sections are too hard: use quicksaves in an emulator to edge yourself along. 🙂

More: Nightshade on Wikipedia

Penetrator, ZX Spectrum

Penetrator is a side-scrolling shooter, developed by Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler (as Beam Software) and published by Melbourne House in 1982.

Basically, Penetrator is a ‘tribute’ to Konami‘s classic 1981 arcade game, Scramble, with you controlling a space ship, flying down a series of a side-scrolling caverns, avoiding collisions, and shooting things that get in your way. And – just like in Scramble – your ship can shoot forwards and drop bombs downwards too.

What made Penetrator so memorable on the ZX Spectrum was the speed, the smoothness, and the exciting nature of the gameplay and graphics. Although we know it not to be the case now, it really did feel as though Penetrator might actually be better than Scramble at the time. Be that: only in the minds of 1980s schoolchildren, way back in 1982.

Penetrator was one of the very first games available for the – then – brand new ZX Spectrum (48K version required though), so had a very long shelf life and benefitted from lots of exposure. If fact: as a game, Penetrator is still living on now, in the lives of many a retro gamer.

It’s worth noting that Beam Software later went on to create some of the best video games of all time, and that all started with Penetrator.


Smash TV, Super Nintendo

I was thinking to myself: “What’s the best out-and-out blaster on the Super Nintendo?” and a couple of names came to mind. Axelay I’ve already featured on here. Smash TV, I’ve featured the arcade parent, but not the 1991 SNES version.

Developed by legendary Australian outfit Beam Software and published by Acclaim Entertainment, Super Smash TV (to give the game its full and correct console title) is certainly one of the best shooters on the SNES. The SNES gamepad suits the eight directional shooting very well. The d-pad moves your guy, and combinations of the four fire buttons give you eight-directional firing.

All the screens and bosses from the arcade game are present and well-represented – all the speech, all the music and everything else. Beam and Acclaim did an exceptional job on the conversion, with the result being: one of the best and most fun shooters on the SNES – if not THE best.



Shadowrun, Super Nintendo

This classic Super Nintendo action adventure was developed in Australia in 1993 by Beam Software. It was published by Laser Beam in the UK, and Data East everywhere else.

Shadowrun on the SNES is a brilliant isometric, futuristic adventure that mixes guns, technology and magic from FASA’s infamous Shadowrun role-playing universe. You have to shoot and hack your way through a gigantic conspiracy, starting with your very own death. The opening scenes (and the music) still make me laugh to this day… But Shadowrun soon becomes serious, as you are constantly having to draw your guns in battle to survive. And – because the combat is real-time – how quickly you draw your guns has an effect on your health bar.

Considering the limitations of the machine, Shadowrun on the SNES is something of an achievement. Completing the game takes quite some time though. Is it worth it? Definitely!

Here are my grabs. From the beginning of the game to the very end.