The ZX Spectrum version of John Van Ryzin‘s classic rescue game, H.E.R.O., looks pretty basic when compared to other versions, but plays just as well as all the others.
Published by Activision in 1985, Tour de France is one of the rare times in gaming history where cycling has proven to be a hit with gamers.
The actual, full title of this 1986 adventure game from Lucasfilm Games is Labyrinth: The Computer Game, but I’ll refer to it from now on as Labyrinth.
Labyrinth was the very first Lucasfilm Games adventure game and is based on the fantasy film of the same name – the one written by Terry Jones, directed by Jim Henson, and starring David Bowie in a big white wig.
I’m not sure if it’s the game or the emulator – or something else – but controlling the spinning top-like device, GERALD, in the Apple II version of Spindizzy is like trying to navigate Cape Horn in a rowing boat in the depths of winter. It’s suicidal…
In my mind: one of the best 8-bit games ever made. Spindizzy is part Marble Madness tribute; part completely original game, with you controlling a spinning top-like device, called GERALD, exploring a large, isometric game world that is suspended in space.
Another Lucasfilm Games‘ classic that originated on the 8-bit Atari, Ballblazer is a one-on-one, futuristic ball game played out on a giant checkerboard, with players inside floating hovercraft.
The game gives you a first-person view of the action and the aim is to get the ball and hold onto it for long enough to shoot it towards the goalposts and to score a goal. The further away from the goal you are when you score: the more points you get.
The other player can ‘hit’ you to try to get you to drop the ball, but otherwise it’s you and him in the small arena, trying to outwit each other in these weird floating ships that always snap in the direction of the ball.
Droids with various difficulty levels give a single-player game, and of course a split-screen game like Ballblazer is made for two-player games, so playing against a human opponent is where the game is best.
Ballblazer might be simple, but it is also video-gaming at its best, and this Atari 8-bit version is the daddy of them all.
Note: I previously said that the Commodore 64 version of Ballblazer was the best. It really is debatable which version is the best. The Atari version runs faster and has a neat little intro. All the 8-bit versions are top notch. Which do you prefer?
David Lubar‘s 1984 classic, Pastfinder, originated on Atari 8-bit home computers.
It’s a strange, vertically-scrolling shoot ’em up with strategic overtones. You control an unusual ship that can crawl along the ground, jump, and of course shoot bullets up the screen. The aim is to blast the enemy and retrieve the alien artefacts, all the while trying to keep radiation levels down on your ship.
In between levels you can choose which direction to explore next, and also buy supplies to increase your defences.
Pastfinder is an imaginative game that has stood the test of time well. If you can be bothered to learn how to play it properly you will probably get some serious enjoyment out of it.
Commodore 64 version of Pastfinder on The King of Grabs