Of the three versions of Kokotoni Wilf released by Elite Systems, the Commodore 64 version is arguably the worst.
Compared to the Spectrum original, Amstrad Kokotoni Wilf is pretty ugly. The developers have chosen a dark blue background with green caves, and the odd splash of colour in the (very flickery) sprites and landscape decorations. The graphics are very poor in my opinion.
A leading contender for the game with the silliest name of all-time, Kokotoni Wilf is an early platform action game with you in the role of the titular Mr. Wilf.
This 1992 sequel to the arcade classic Terra Cresta is a PC Engine exclusive – it did not appear in arcades first.
It’s more of a remake than a sequel, but is incredibly varied and a more than worthy successor to Terra Cresta. As far as mainstream ‘Bullet Hell’ shooters go there are few better. It’s not quite as weird as a shoot ’em up from Cave or Treasure, but Terra Cresta II is just as varied. And thankfully it is a little easier to play than the first Terra Cresta, which was nails.
The speed and smoothness of the game; the varied and imaginative backgrounds/sprites/bosses/sub-bosses; the excellent weapons progression; the time-travel bonus sections (replaying scenes from the original Terra Cresta); the boss rush(es); the quintessentially Japanese-sounding video game music – all add up to make an outstanding shooter.
Even better: the game has a number of play modes. Normal, 2 Minute, and 5 Minute. The latter two being high score attacks for those periods of time. There’s also a Formation Design mode (useful because – with the upgrades you pick up – your ship is quite configurable); and a Sound mode (for playing the tunes from the game, which are pretty good).
Terra Cresta II is one of the best shooters on the PC Engine – no doubt about it. I think that it might even be better than the legendary Gunhed, and that is saying something…
Terra Cresta is the sequel to the classic Moon Cresta and is a beautifully-made, vertically-scrolling shooter with progressive weapons build-up, and challenging ‘Bullet Hell’ action.
It was developed by Nichibutsu and released into arcades in 1985.
While Terra Cresta was not considered to be particularly ‘cutting edge’ at the time, it was a solid blast and did garner respect among shooter fans.
The ship you pilot is called the “Wing Galibur” and it can pick up extra ship pieces to enhance its firepower and defences. There are four individual pieces to collect and when you have all four you can temporarily transform into a fiery phoenix-like bird and decimate everything on screen.
Terra Cresta is great fun. Until you lose all your weapons. Then it becomes almost impossible… That said: this, and its 1992 sequel on the PC Engine, are both challenging and memorable blasts. The overhead T-Rexes are hilarious.
Dino Crisis was a 1999 PlayStation release for Capcom and features soldiers taking on dinosaurs in a futuristic setting.
It was probably made to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park and plays a bit like an early Resident Evil game. No surprises when you consider that Dino Crisis was made by many of the same team who made the Resident Evil series.
Dino Crisis is pretty good. It’s got a female lead. Maybe too many door entry sequences though? It has sold more than two million copies worldwide, so someone out there certainly loves it…
Where Time Stood Still is a conversion of a classic ZX Spectrum game made by Denton Designs. The Atari ST version was publish by Ocean Software in 1988.
It’s an isometric adventure game played in a small window, with pop-up, icon-based menus. You’re trapped in a hostile world after a plane crash and must survive your way back to civilisation. You play Jarret, the lead hero guy, and three other AI-controlled survivors accompany you (Clive, Dirk and Gloria). You can shoot, pick up and carry things, and use things that you’re carrying. The AI controlling your companions is at best, skittish.
Once you’ve collected all the items nearby that were strewn in the crash, you then have the first puzzle to solve: Clive, the wealthy, fat businessman survivor (who complains a lot), falls through a hole in a bridge you’re crossing and you have to use the rope to save him. Well, you don’t have to save him, but the general idea is that you’ve a better chance of survival the more of your group you keep alive. And there is some truth to that, because later – when you reach the native village – Clive’s translation skills come in very handy.
Where Time Stood Still is a very frustrating game. Keeping all four of your group alive is extremely difficult, especially when playing the game at a fast frame rate. This is definitely a game that was designed to be played at a low frame rate!
Trying to cross the swamp with all four characters alive is almost impossible. I tried over and over again, and finally managed it, but only due to a bug in the game. Clive seemed lost (not killed by a tentacle, but left behind by the screen), then suddenly appeared on the other side intact, as if by magic.
I then found a nearby native village. The native chief offered me food and water, told me he expected a gift in return, then attacked me with spears before I could give him Gloria’s compact. We ran away and were immediately confronted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which promptly killed us.
Thankfully the magic of HAGA saves allowed me to reload and try again, but overall Where Time Stood Still I think is just a bit too frustrating to enjoy, unless you read up about it beforehand. The only real way to get any enjoyment out of it is to know how to play it, and have a map of the game for reference.
E.V.O.: Search for Eden was a wonderfully original Role-Playing Game back in 1992, when it was first released, and is still quite original now, nearly three decades later.
E.V.O.: Search for Eden is basically the story of the evolution of life on earth, and within which you take the form of various historical creatures – fighting it out for survival, and gaining experience points. And, when you’ve accumulated enough EXP, you can then evolve into something bigger and scarier. Which you ultimately need to do because E.V.O. contains some tough boss fights.
Evolving better jaws or horns, or scaly armour is only half the trick. The other half is knowing how to fight the various other creatures. The boss battles, for example, don’t require you to hit them a lot of times, although getting those hits in does require some degree of strategy. Luring a shark in, so that it hits its face on a cave wall, allowing you to bite it while its stunned, is just one example.
Some people might find E.V.O. a bit boring, but I’m not one of them. I’ve played it and enjoyed it many times over the past thirty years.
I remember playing and reviewing this game back in 1993 and loving it then. Playing E.V.O.: Search for Eden now is still great fun. The atmosphere generated by the game is unique and relaxing, and the action is absorbing. Eating your way up the food chain is a different kind of fun.
3D Monster Maze was developed by Malcolm Evans for J.K. Greye Software in 1982.
This classic black and white maze game was one of the first ever video games to use a first-person viewpoint inside a 3D maze. Well, I say “3D maze”, but what I really mean by that is “blocky representation of a 3D maze”. And inside this maze you’re being pursued by a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex. You have to find the exit before Rex finds you.
In spite of there being no sound on the ZX81, and no colour, 3D Monster Maze manages to tap into something primordial when you play it. The fear of getting caught is palpable and learning how to evade when spotted is key.
Back in 1982 it really blew our tiny minds. Now… 3D Monster Maze is still great fun to play. Trying to evade capture is a still a tense and challenging experience. Mainly because programmer Malcolm Evans did such a great job of turning a good idea into something not only playable, but compulsive.
Some old arcade games are instantly recognisable. Toobin’ – by Atari Games – is one of them.
It’s the only video game I can think of that utilises ‘kids floating down a river on a rubber tube’ style gameplay mechanics.
To control the kid (Biff or Jeff) on the tube you can paddle (using your hands), left and right, and backwards. Two players can splash it out simultaneously, although Toobin’ also has an AI-controlled opponent in single-player.
You end up battling it out to get through gates to pick up bonuses and cash. As the levels progress the obstacles get more intense, and weirder. From fishermen launching lines at you, to dinosaurs in the water. The water also gets rougher in certain places.
Toobin’ is still great fun to play now, and those distinct Atari graphics are still quite lovely. Well worth checking out!