Written by Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler, The Hobbit is a legendary text adventure, with graphics, that was published by Melbourne House in 1982.
NOT the infamous 1985 Ultimate game, but an obscure action/adventure classic from Aussie developer Beam Software, first released on the NES in 1992.
Nightshade is a light-hearted, humourous point-and-click adventure with beat ’em up elements, based on a vigilante good guy called Mark. Yes, Mark.
Thankfully Mark’s superhero alias is the rather more snappy “Nightshade“. And as Nightshade you must ply your trade as a night time street-crawler, looking to batter bad guys and rescue women from burning buildings, because doing so increases your popularity. At the same time you must also hunt down the infamous villain “Sutekh” whose bad guy forces have overrun Metro City.
In many ways Nightshade is the spiritual predecessor to Shadowrun on the Super Nintendo, also developed by Beam and released the following year in 1993. Both games share a lot of simularities and Nightshade was obviously a big influence on the design of Shadowrun (considered one of the best games of all time on the SNES).
Nightshade is obviously more primitive than Shadowrun, and the fighting sections are a little too fast and skittish for my liking, but overall it is an original and entertaining adventure on the NES, still worth playing now. Find a guide and work your way through it. If the fighting sections are too hard: use quicksaves in an emulator to edge yourself along. 🙂
More: Nightshade on Wikipedia
Penetrator is a side-scrolling shooter, developed by Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler (as Beam Software) and published by Melbourne House in 1982.
Basically, Penetrator is a ‘tribute’ to Konami‘s classic 1981 arcade game, Scramble, with you controlling a space ship, flying down a series of a side-scrolling caverns, avoiding collisions, and shooting things that get in your way. And – just like in Scramble – your ship can shoot forwards and drop bombs downwards too.
What made Penetrator so memorable on the ZX Spectrum was the speed, the smoothness, and the exciting nature of the gameplay and graphics. Although we know it not to be the case now, it really did feel as though Penetrator might actually be better than Scramble at the time. Be that: only in the minds of 1980s schoolchildren, way back in 1982.
Penetrator was one of the very first games available for the – then – brand new ZX Spectrum (48K version required though), so had a very long shelf life and benefitted from lots of exposure. If fact: as a game, Penetrator is still living on now, in the lives of many a retro gamer.
It’s worth noting that Beam Software later went on to create some of the best video games of all time, and that all started with Penetrator.