Written by Tony Crowther and published by Mirrorsoft in 1987, Zig Zag is a weird and wonderful isometric shoot ’em up where you fly a wedge-shaped ship around a maze collecting crystals.
Shaun Southern‘s Trailblazer – I’m reliably informed – originated on the Commodore 16; not the Commodore 64 (on which it is probably better-known).
Trailblazer is a well-regarded, ball-based racing game written and designed by the prolific Shaun Southern of Mr. Chip Software and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1986.
Trailblazer did apparently originate on the Commodore 16 and was expanded to take advantage of the Commodore 64‘s extra memory, and the result is a suped-up version of the original game.
Costa Panayi‘s Revolution was published by U.S. Gold in 1986. It is an isometric puzzle/action game with well-designed, monochrome graphics and a bouncing ball that you control around a series of rooms, levels, and puzzles.
Jackie Chan himself was involved in the making of this Canadian PlayStation game, and not just in terms of lending his voice talents.
Developed by Radical Entertainment and released in 2000, Jackie Chan Stuntmaster is a non-stop kick and punch-a-thon through various 3D environments. The game looks quite basic, but is actually reasonably subtle, like having a breakable environment and extra points for combos and style moves.
The most important thing is that the fighting feels good, and it does. There is a weight of feeling to the blows, like you’d expect from a Jackie Chan game. Jackie‘s fight repertoire is limited to punch, kick and jump though.
Jackie Chan Stuntmaster is a scrolling beat ’em up in the vein of Final Fight or Streets of Rage. Every now and then you might get a special action sequence, like riding on top of – or running away from – a truck. Plus every stage has a boss battle at the end. There are 15 different stages in total.
It’s a pity the game is limited to single-player only. If Radical had included a two-player versus (or cooperative) mode, or more unlockables, the game might feel a bit more complete.
Designed by the same guy who created Tetris (Alexey Pajitnov), Knight Move is a weird kind of puzzle game, with a bouncing chess piece knight who can only move in that funny ‘L’ shape that a knight moves in a real game of chess.
The knight must collect hearts by landing on top of them on the same square on the board.
The catch in Knight Move is that the bouncing knight never stops, and in fact speeds up as the game moves along. Another catch is that portions of the floor start to disappear as you bounce on them, and the holes must be avoided otherwise it’s game over. Thankfully you can reset the holes in the floor by collecting a certain number of hearts. That said: the more holes that are open, the more points you are awarded for collecting hearts. So risky play is rewarded, even encouraged.
Although the appeal of Knight Move is relatively limited there is no doubting that it is a clever and absorbing game. The simultaneous two-player game is particularly good.
Knight Move was first published for the Famicom Disk System by Nintendo in 1990.
Back in 1985 Bounder was a fresh idea, like a bolt out of the blue to gamers.
It’s an overhead ball/maze game where the maze is miles above the ground, and the idea is to make sure the ball bounces on the platforms of the maze, and not in the air. Bouncing when you’re in the air will result in a long fall to the ground below, and a lost life. So you have to judge the timing of bounces using a combination of rhythm, and also of sight (since you can see in the ball animation where it is in the bounce).
It’s like an overhead platform game with a bouncing ball. Very weird, but also unique and extremely well presented. Bounder is a retro-gaming classic on the Commodore 64.
This brilliant single and multi-player overhead shooter by LucasArts is a parody of every single horror and sci-fi film you’ve ever seen.
Chainsaws, zombies, UFOs, mummies, werewolves, demonic babies, spiders, shopping malls – you name it, the game will throw it at you during at least one of its 48 stages.
Two players can play Zombies Ate My Neighbors cooperatively, which is great fun. The aim being: to run around destroying monsters, and rescuing any human survivors you find along the way. Nice little touches, like the trampolines that bounce you over walls, and the potions that turn you into a monster, add variety to what is a fairly straightforward blaster.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a great party game too. A retro-gaming classic from 1993. Also came out on the Megadrive/Genesis, but the SNES version just edges it in terms of colourfulness.
Note: because we often have a set of retards running the world, and have a particularly vicious press when it comes to horror films and video games, the game was released simply as “Zombies” in Europe and Australia. A watered-down bastardisation of a title if ever there was one… The censors are always wrong, but in the case of this game they took a great title and turned it into kitty litter… Still a wonderful game though.
Andrew Braybrook’s 1985 cult hit Gribbley’s Day Out is a strange kind of platform game in which you control a bouncing (and floating) head on a foot thing, called Gribbly Grobbly, and have to collect baby gribblets before the creatures roaming the landscape get to them first. Once you’ve found a gribblet you have to pick it up and return it to the safety of a nearby cave.
Gribbly can also blow bubbles out of his mouth and sometimes these bubbles will dislodge captured gribblets from the jaws of your enemies. Parts of the landscape can be turned on and off, and the gravity effect is reasonably forgiving. Rescuing gribblets is still a tough – but rewarding – task though.