Tag Archives: Retro Games

Neo Geo Special

The Neo Geo is a high-end Japanese video games system, designed for use in both arcades, and at home. It was developed by SNK and first launched in 1990.

The MVS (Multi Video System) was for arcade cabinets. Arcade operators could buy a single cabinet and easily switch out the MVS cartridge inside for another game. Making them very versatile machines on the circuit. And very rentable.

A home console version of the Neo Geo, called the AES (Advanced Entertainment System), was first released in 1990 too (as a rental – 1991 for the actual home version) and it really blew people away. The capabilities of the AES blew other home consoles out of the water for the best part of a decade too. As did its price, which was eye-watering… The Neo Geo AES is and always was considered a “luxury” console, from the moment it was launched. It’s an arcade machine in your own home, and it’s not a cheap system to buy into.

Various multi-button joysticks and controllers were made available for the Neo Geo, but the standard AES four-button controller shown below is most common.

Neo Neo game cartridges still fetch high prices today, such are their collectability, although thankfully most have been dumped and preserved, or are still being officially re-released, so aren’t too difficult to find and enjoy.

Neo Geo cartridges are large too – much bigger than carts for other systems. They are packing a lot of extra information inside, it seems.

The Neo Geo is particularly well-known for its beat ’em ups, although – as you’ll see this week – there were games made across a lot of different genres. It’s not the kind of console you would play an RPG on, though. It’s was more geared towards fast action games. Although the Neo Geo was one of the first consoles to use ‘Memory Cards’, it wasn’t a system you could save your games on. I mean: in terms of saving and coming back later to reload and carry on… There’s none of that. Other than saving high scores: it’s pretty limited.

Anyway, this week I’m going to be proclaiming a burst of exclusive Neo Geo love, with screenshots of some of the best games I’ve found for the system.

Here’s a list of what was published:

Waku Waku 7
Shock Troopers
Neo Bomberman
Stakes Winner
Samurai Shodown II
Aero Fighters 2
Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy

The King of Grabs

See Categories for all Neo Geo games on this website.

More: Neo Geo on Wikipedia


Steve Crow’s Classic ZX Spectrum Games

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:

Laser Snaker (1983)
Factory Breakout (1984)
Wizard’s Lair (1985)
Starquake (1985)
Firelord (1986)
Zynaps (1987)

Starquake even made it to the Atari ST in 1988 via Mandarin Software.

Wizard's Lair ZX Spectrum 58

10 Best Intellivision Games

LISTS: as decided by The King of Grabs, in descending order of greatness:

1. Treasure of Tarmin
2. Tower of Doom
3. Cloudy Mountain
4. B-17 Bomber
5. Lock ‘n’ Chase
6. Stadium Mud Buggies
7. Chip Shot Super Pro Golf
8. Bump ‘n’ Jump
9. Auto Racing
10. Dracula

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellivision


Atari ST Special

The Atari ST was a 16-bit home computer that was a great breeding ground for video games in the ’80s and ’90s.

Many original classics were born on the ST (Dungeon Master, Simulcra, and Frontier to name but a few), and many older classics were ported to the ST to give them a new lease of life.

For ten years the Atari ST had a long and fruitful life. I used to be an ST owner, from 1988 until the mid Nineties, and played many of the games at the time. Always thought the ST was a wonderful machine.

Now, via the wonders of emulation, the Atari ST is being given a new lease of life – again.

I recently discovered the joys of HAGA, an ST hard disk loading system that makes disk swapping unnecessary, which has further revolutionised my appreciation for the ST.

Anyway, here are some grabs of a number of interesting Atari ST games. Along with a write-up for each. Writing this brought back some good memories, and also introduced me to one or two games I’d not played before. Which is always a bonus.

The King of Grabs

Here’s a full listing of what was published during our Atari ST Special, in chronological order of posting:

Where Time Stood Still
The Great Giana Sisters
Hard ‘N’ Heavy
Frontier: Elite II
Rainbow Islands
Mighty Bomb Jack
Highway Encounter
Fire and Ice
Starglider 2
Dyna Blaster
Elvira: The Arcade Game
Lotus Turbo Challenge 2
Super Hang-On
Flames of Freedom
Chaos Strikes Back
Life and Death
International Karate Plus
Boulder Dash
Formula One Grand Prix
Maniac Mansion
Crystal Castles
Cannon Fodder
Sensible Soccer
Dark Side
Buggy Boy
Laser Squad
Federation of Free Traders

Atari ST Special 01

International Lode Runner Day

In celebration of the late Doug Smith‘s iconic platform game I’m going to be publishing a series of screenshots of twelve (count ’em) different versions of Lode Runner, in a single day. Today, in fact.

We could call today “International Lode Runner Day”.

There’s a lot of joy (and pleasurable pain) in Lode Runner, and all the many different versions around. Lode Runner‘s precise, simple gameplay – and characteristic levels – still resonate to this day. You run around. You dodge the baddies. You dig holes to fall through. You pick up the gold. You escape the level.

Whatever version of Lode Runner you’re playing, the core gameplay should always be the same: a frantic game of ‘outwit the bad guys’, set on a series of platforms and ladders.

There are certain Lode Runner features and rules that appear in every version, and some versions have unique features of their own. Ultimately, though, every version of Lode Runner ever made has something different to offer.

We raise a glass to Doug Smith‘s contribution to gaming!

Load Runner versions on The King of Grabs:
Apple II, VIC-20, Atari 800, Commodore 64, Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, MSX, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Atari Lynx.

The King of Grabs

Lode Runner Atari ST 43

Super Nintendo Week

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES for short) was first released in Japan as the Super Famicom in 1990.

After the success of the NES, any follow-up console from Nintendo would really have to be “super” to keep the ball rolling, and the SNES certainly was just that.

Countless great video games were released for the Super Nintendo and the system stands out in retro gaming history as something unique and powerful – compared to what had gone before it.

We’re spoiled now. Modern consoles can render a hundred thousand polygons in an instant. But back in 1990 you were lucky if you got hardware sprites and smooth-scrolling backgrounds. Thankfully the Super Nintendo had all of that. And it had “Mode 7” too – a now legendary graphics technique that allowed flat textures to move around in 3D space. Later on it had a special chip, called the Super FX Chip, that gave it more power and better 3D graphics capabilities.

The Super Nintendo played host to thousands of games overall, and a percentage have gone down in video gaming history as some of the best ever. The allure of the Super Nintendo is still strong. Be that in real hardware, which is still quite easy to get hold of, or via the magic of emulation.

This week I’m going to be celebrating the brilliance of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System by adding a collection of grabs from great SNES games. Well, ones that we haven’t featured already, anyway. 🙂

Here’s a list of links to what was published that week:

Addams Family Values,
Super Mario Kart,
International Superstar Soccer Deluxe,
Sim Ant,
Dungeon Master,
E.V.O.: Search For Eden,
The Lost Vikings,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time,
Super Bomberman,
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals,
Krusty’s Super Fun House,
Pocky & Rocky,
Smash TV

Click here to list all the Super Nintendo games we’ve featured so far.

The King of Grabs

Super Nintendo Week 01

ZX Spectrum Week

The humble ZX Spectrum was first released onto an unsuspecting public in 1982 and was an instant hit with gamers.

It initially came in two varieties – 16K and 48K RAM versions – and had a curious rubber keyboard and a built-in sound speaker.

In spite of that it managed to dominate the UK (and arguably European) gaming scene throughout the 1980s and also inspire a generation of computer users and game designers (some of whom still make games for it to this day).

Later versions of the ZX Spectrum had better keyboards and more memory, but the games were still unique and distinguishable.

This week I’ll be dedicating this blog to classic ZX Spectrum games and will be featuring some of my favourites in this ever-expanding gallery of grabs. Hope you enjoy!

Here are links to what was published:
Roller Coaster,
Skool Daze,
Stop The Express,
Auf Wiedersehen Monty,
Wizard’s Lair,
Dark Side,
Starstrike 3D,
Starstrike II,
Nosteratu the Vampyre,
Sir Fred,
Lords of Midnight,
Doomdark’s Revenge,

More: ZX Spectrum on Wikipedia

See also: 100 Best ZX Spectrum Loading Screens:
Part #1, Part #2, Part #3, Part #4, Part #5

Nintendo Game Boy Week

I realised recently that I had completely neglected the Nintendo Game Boy on this blog, in spite of having owned one back in the day, and being a big fan.

Possibly because the black and white handheld’s graphics aren’t the best when it comes to dazzling grabs. The games are great though!

So – to rectify that – I’m going to dedicate a full week to the amazing Nintendo Game Boy and its games. Some of which are iconic.

A few famous franchises began on the Game Boy (the Mana series, for example), and – in spite of the Game Boy‘s limited graphical power – there’s a good reason why this early portable console sold more than 100 million units worldwide.

Here are links to what was published:
Monster Max,
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins,
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,
Final Fantasy Adventure,
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3,
Trip World,
Pinball: Revenge of the Gator,
Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge,
Final Fantasy Legend,
Final Fantasy Legend II,
Cave Noire

The King of Grabs.

More: Game Boy on Wikipedia


Arcade Special, February 2018

After the success of our recent Commodore 64 Celebration, I’ve decided to do another ‘special’ – this time about old, classic arcade games.

This week (from 14th Feb 2018 onward) I will be posting entries about some of my favourite arcade games. The kind of games that were released into video game arcades, in the form of cabinets, and you had to put money into them to play them.

Yes: believe it or not, that’s what people used to do back in the olden days.

Thankfully, though, you can still enjoy many of these games thanks to the wonders of emulation (and official re-releases). So, if you’ve never heard of these games: go and check them out. MAME, or MESS, or CoinOps. They’ll do the trick.

Anyway: enjoy this week’s Arcade Special!

Here’s what was published this week:
Rainbow Islands,
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs,
Space Harrier,
The Outfoxies,
Star Wars,
Operation Wolf,
Alien Syndrome,
Smash TV,
Donkey Kong,
Donkey Kong Jr.,
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior,
Atomic Runner Chelnov,
Ghosts ‘N Goblins,
Ghouls ‘N Ghosts,
After Burner,
Bionic Commando,
Total Carnage

The King of Grabs

Commodore 64 Celebration

I’m going to have a Commodore 64 Celebration this week.

I decree this week (beginning Saturday the 27th January 2018), to be Commodore 64 Week, and thus all the updates will be Commodore 64 games.

There are so many GREAT Commodore 64 games around that are still worth playing. And they grab like a grabber’s dream!

If you want to grab Commodore 64 games, get your hands on VICE, or if you want to go full commando: get yourself a real Commodore 64.

Here’s what was published that week:
HES Games,
World Games,
Winter Games,
Summer Games,
Summer Games II,
California Games,
International Karate Plus,
Paradroid Metal Edition,
Bruce Lee,
Gribbly’s Day Out,
Uridium Plus,
Friday The 13th,
Field of Fire,
Racing Destruction Set,
Rescue On Fractalus,
Impossible Mission,
Iridis Alpha,

The King of Grabs

Take that, you brute.