Percy the Potty Pigeon (to give the game its full title) was coded by Tony Crowther and published by Gremlin Graphics for the C64 in 1984. It was a minor hit at the time.
Written by Mark J. Moore and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1985, Rescue From Zylon I would say is one of the best games ever released for the Commodore 16.
Tornado Low Level (aka TLL) was written by Costa Panayi and published for the Spectrum by Vortex Software in 1984.
It is a classic action flight game whereby you control a ‘swing-wing’ Tornado jet and must ‘hug’ the terrain in order to wipe out enemy targets.
Raid Over Moscow was a controversial release for Access Software in 1984. The game depicts a fictional nuclear war scenario between the USA and Russia and involves US forces fending off nuclear attacks, then flying into the Russian capital to attack what is supposed to be The Kremlin.
Another excellent Hijong Park retro tribute game – this one possibly his best so far – Steel Alcimus is an overhead helicopter shooter with either twin-stick joypad, or keyboard and mouse controls. I played it with mouse and keys and found the control system to be really quite ingenious.
This game is a bit more complex than Park‘s other games, Rolling Bird or Frantic Dimension, so requires a number of tutorial missions be flown before you can start a campaign. Which is fine because the tutorial is well designed, fun to play, and much easier than the missions themselves!
When you finally get to some actual missions you really then start to see how good Steel Alcimus is. It’s a game that’s been made with real love and care, kept simple and playable, and polished like a game with a Nintendo Seal of Approval. Which it doesn’t have of course. But maybe should have. 🙂
Steel Alcimus – like Hijong Park‘s other games – is very interesting to play, but devilishly difficult to master. And – like his other games – it has a distinct graphical style. And it feels great to fly the helicopter around and blow stuff up. Steel Alcumus reminds me of a few good old games: Raid On Bungeling Bay, Cyclone, and Carrier Command, to name but three.
Steel Alcimus is on Steam now. There’s a free version, and also a very low-cost donationware version. If you like helicopter action games you should give it a try, and if you enjoy it you should consider buying the donation version. I did, because I like what Park‘s doing – he’s making fun games that are worth playing (he’s actually making the type of games I’d make myself if I could code). And I support that wholeheartedly.
The ColecoVision conversion of Venture Line‘s Looping is much easier than the arcade original, which is a relief because the original is mind-bendingly hard.
This version is much slower, allowing for more thought before reacting. But not much thought – Looping is still quite difficult to play.
As good as Looping is: its lasting appeal is limited because the level itself is so short. I’m not even sure if there’s a second level. I’ve never seen it. Same goes for the arcade game.
B-17 Bomber is a very early – but really rather excellent – WWII bomber simulation, released for the Intellivision in 1982.
B-17 Bomber came bundled with the ‘Intellivoice‘ speech module at the time, which gave very impressive speech synthesis within the game. Actually, the game opens with a voice that says “Mattel Electronics presents…” then a strongly recognisable Texas accent kicks in and says: “Bee Sevahn-teen Bow-mer!” Clearly a tribute to Slim Pickens‘ character in Stanley Kubrick‘s Dr. Strangelove, and also amazing that this early speech synthesis could successfully portray a Texas accent. Remember: this is not digitised speech – it is phonetically synthesised. Most Intellivision emulators will happily emulate the speech and it is quite useful in-game because it warns you of approaching enemy.
The game itself is surprisingly engrossing. Considering that it’s only a 16K ROM cartridge B-17 Bomber has quite a lot to it. The aim is simple: to go out on bombing runs to destroy enemy targets. In practise: you have to juggle a variety of hats, including fighting off enemy fighters; piloting the bomber; and of course dropping bombs from the bay doors with an overhead view of the area. There’s a map of Europe, dotted with potential targets, which always shows your position relative to everything else.
Considering the limitations of the Intellivision, and the fact that this was released in 1982, B-17 Bomber is a remarkable achievement – in gaming terms. It’s an impressive prototype flight sim, squeezed into very little memory; with good playability, and high quality synthesised speech.
More: B-17 Bomber on Wikipedia
Caliber .50 is an obscure arcade shooter from SETA Corporation, first released in 1989.
Like Ikari Warriors the player characters (in this game: USAF pilots escaping Vietnamese captivity) can run in one direction and shoot in another by using a rotary controller. You pick up different weapons as you go and can throw grenades to cause explosions.
Where I think Caliber .50 beats Ikari Warriors is in its surprises – at the start of the game you can optionally board a plane, take off, and strafe ground targets to make things easier for yourself later. That surprised me. As did the enemy troop formations, the weird boss fights, and the helicopters flying underground… It’s all mad stuff.
The levels are varied and interesting and the baddies come at you thick and fast. Caliber .50 is quite exciting stuff for an arcade shooter very few people have ever heard about.
SETA chose a highly vertical screen configuration for this game, which I think hampers it a little. Might have been better square, or horizontal, to give a wider view of the battlefield (like, for example, in Total Carnage).
Still, Caliber .50 is a fine game. Definitely one to play now. Especially if you’ve got a friend on hand to help with two-player.
One of Cinemaware‘s last games, Wings was released in 1990 to critical acclaim.
It’s a First World War-based scenario, with you piloting a biplane over German lines, dogfighting enemy fighters and bombing positions on the ground.
Dogfighting uses a third-person cockpit view, with simple 3D graphics, and bombing runs use 2D bitmapped graphics (with overhead and isometric viewpoints). Cut scenes – like in all Cinemaware games – use high quality 2D graphics throughout.
As you create and lose pilots you get a great feeling of loss from the game, which is as it should be. You don’t recreate First World War battles and have everyone cracking jokes every ten minutes… The subject matter is treated with respect, and the result is: Wings is one of Cinemaware‘s (and the Amiga‘s) best games.