Uridium 2 is the sequel to Andrew Braybrook‘s classic Commodore 64 shooter, published on the Amiga in 1993 by Renegade Software, and it really is quite excellent.
Game designer Stephen J. Crow made some seminal games for the ZX Spectrum, starting with Laser Snaker in 1983 and Factory Breakout in 1984 for Poppy Soft.
Crow then produced two smash hit classics for Bubble Bus Software with Wizard’s Lair and Starquake, both released in the same year, 1985. He then went on to create Firelord and program Zynaps for Hewson in subsequent years.
This five-year burst of creativity, from 1983 to 1987, showed a young designer quickly becoming confident of his coding and graphical skills and gradually improving his game design craft from game to game.
It could be argued that Wizard’s Lair is a clone of Ultimate‘s classic Atic Atac – and in some respects that is true – but what Crow did was actually unheard of… He actually improved on Atic Atac with Wizard’s Lair… Maybe not in terms of overall gameplay, because Atic Atac is Ultimate‘s best game, but he did manage to cram more interesting features and special effects into his version of the overhead/room shooter than Ultimate did in theirs, and the gameplay was different enough to be unique. The ammo system in Wizard’s Lair is a bit frustrating, true. And the game is quite difficult to make headway in too. Crow, though, was working out some clever game design skills and inadvertently breaking new ground as he went with Wizard’s Lair.
Arguably Steve Crow‘s ‘magnum opus’ was Starquake, published by Bubble Bus Software in 1985. Controlling a cute walking head, waddling around a maze of colourful caverns, Starquake was given a unique twist with Crow‘s unusual take on platforming and shooting. Starquake also got more interesting the deeper you went into the game, and with its teleport and core puzzle game mechanic was graphically very interesting and varied too. At least for a 48K Spectrum game… Starquake is easy to play, but tough to beat. Like all of Crow‘s games.
Firelord, published by Hewson in 1986, proved to be Crow‘s last full game as programmer and auteur designer of a ZX Spectrum game. Beautiful graphics, combined with subtle, clever gameplay, with a maze/shooting element. A lot of people didn’t get it, but Crow still managed to show his prowess at Spectrum game design.
Special mention must go to SC‘s programming and graphical contributions to Hewson‘s hit scrolling shooter, Zynaps, the following year.
From 1986 through to 1988 Crow also worked on a number of conversions for Hewson and Graftgold. Pretty much all ZX Spectrum conversions of games from other systems, like Uridium, Netherworld and Eliminator. Finally Crow created the graphics for Probe Software‘s tank shooter Heavy Metal in 1990, then moved on to pastures new.
LISTS: as created by The King of Grabs, in chronological order:
Starquake even made it to the Atari ST in 1988 via Mandarin Software.
Another conversion, but a very good one. Andrew Braybrook‘s classic horizontally-scrolling shooter, Uridium.
Steve Turner‘s 1984 release Avalon is a groundbreaking adventure game with pseudo 3D graphics, released only for the ZX Spectrum.
Andrew Braybrook‘s classic horizontal shooter, Uridium, was given a 16-bit release courtesy of Joe Hellesen and Mindscape in 1986.
Fire and Ice is a platform game designed and programmed by Graftgold in 1992.
It features a ‘cool’ coyote traversing a range of themed platform worlds, starting off in icy worlds and moving towards warmer ones nearer the equator.
Thanks to British developer Graftgold the Atari ST has an almost perfect conversion of Taito‘s arcade classic, Rainbow Islands.
To all intents and purposes the ST version of Rainbow Islands is identical to the arcade original. Well, kind of…
Simulcra is a cool third-person 3D shooter set on a complex series of colourful courses.
The game was developed by legendary coding team Graftgold and is one of their least well-known releases, but also one of their best.
Zynaps is a smart side-scrolling shoot ’em up, developed by Dominic Robinson, John Cumming and Stephen Crow (with music by Steve Turner), and published by Hewson Consultants for the ZX Spectrum in 1987.
The graphics are colourful and smooth-moving, and the gameplay is quite tough.
Zynaps is definitely one of the better shooters on the humble Speccy and is still played and enjoyed by games-players today.