Posts Tagged ‘Amiga Magazine Rack’

Puzzling, one disk wonders on the Amiga

July 13, 2011

Puzzling, one disk wonders on the Amiga

“You need the blue key… Hmmm, you don’t say. Is that the same blue key I just used in that blue door which didn’t allow me to pick up the other blue key for this door…”

One disk wonders is a selection of my favourite puzzle and maze games that I used to love playing on my Amiga, specifically on rainy afternoons when there was either nothing good on the TV or, for some magical reason, I needed a more thought-provoking and challenging game to play.

These games were always first to come out of the box, and have seen many hours of game play, even though I still haven’t completed at least 3 of them. All one disk games they were quick to load and difficult to play, the game play and graphics for each varied in style and quality but they all required quick wits, concentration and a minor amount of mental agility. Some of them you’ll need to play without music, after a while anyway, and some of them you’ll be wanting to launch through the window out into the road, as one silly mistake can cost you the game. Still, I always came back to them again and again, some might say it was stubbornness; I like to think it was just great game play.

In no particular order, some puzzle and maze favourites for the Amiga 500, the games I couldn’t give up on, and still hope one day, to complete.

Chips Challenge

Release year: 1990 Publisher: US Gold Music: David Whittaker Design: Chuck Sommerville

In Chips Challenge you take on the role of Chip, our nerdy hero who is trying to impress Melinda and get into the Bit Busters club and um, ‘integrate technologies’ with her (words on the advert, not mine). The game is a vast and spread over 144 levels of varying difficulty, enemies, traps and pitfalls try to prevent you from reaching your goal at every turn. Using your wits and cunning you must navigate Chip safely to each level exit, solving puzzles along the way.  Along the way you’ll use objects such as handy keys (blue, yellow, green and red) as well as shields to protect you from fire and water, boots to help you navigate ice, and a magnet to help you move about on what I’ve always thought was a demented escalator.

Chips Challenge is a great top down puzzle and maze game. Most memories of this game start with the musical score by David Whittaker (Alfred Chicken, Bubble Bobble, Kid Gloves) which, although lively and quite funky at first, does nothing to help your concentration when playing, especially on a tough level. The music however does add great pace to the game and almost causes that extra level of panic as you race against the clock to solve each level. Some of the levels in this are painful to play, the maze level called ‘Brushfire’, which is quite early on in the game, always gave me a headache.

The replay value on this game is second to none and the levels are very well designed and thought out with some really challenging levels. The game eases you into it gently and by the time you get the hang of it you feel that drive to keep playing, completing level after level until you realise its 2am. The level code feature (as opposed to saving) lets you put this down and return to it later, one of the many reasons why this game works so well, its fun to play, a challenge to complete and a classic puzzler.

Puffy’s Saga

Release year: 1989 Publisher: Ubi soft Graphics and Sound effects: Fabrice Visserot

I love the title screen, I love the characters and I love the enemy sprites in this game, the dragon is also pretty awesome. My most fond memories of Puffy’s Saga are from its aesthetically pleasing look, more than likely thanks to a certain Fabrice Visserot (Flashback). The game itself is very hit and miss, the ‘Gauntlet‘ style game play is fun and the first few levels tend to be very simple and easy to complete (as with Chips Challenge) however, what you get after this first few levels is a maze of confusion and frustrating game play, leading to small amounts of crying and chucking of the game across the room.

The game follows the usual good versus evil storyline, an evil wizard has turned two star crossed lovers into yellow balls and sent them to the depths of a dungeon maze, in order to break the spell our heroes must find their way out by completing each level, and restore themselves to their human form. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not really simple at all, by that I mean I’ve not beaten it, but I want to, this reason and only this reason brings me back to Puffy’s Saga each time. I do love the characters and design of the enemies, a little fine tweaking and not so much madness this could have been a half decent game.

A good puzzle game should be challenging, but not impossible, Puffy’s Saga is the Yolanda (shudder) of the puzzle gaming world, in that you get the feeling it was developed to be impossible and/or boring at points. However, I can’t help myself with this game and I must finish it!

I’d consider Chips Challenge a reasonably succesful game, in terms of popularity and critical acclaim, as well as being one of the more memorable and classic games of this genre. Puffy’s Saga I think belongs at the other end of this spectrum, however, both remain as appealing and playable to me today as they were in the early 90′s. Short of doing a top 5, there were 3 other games that for me sat between these two games in term of popularity, great gameplay and quality. I still have fond memories of the following 3 games, although I didn’t play them half as much as the two above, in fact, although I own them all for my Amiga I believe I originally played 1 of them on an old Acorn computer in Secondary School.

Pac-Mania (1989) The one game I may have played in break times at school (alongside ‘Moonquake’ a Bomberman clone), was a great looking update to the original Pac-Man, with a nifty 3D isometric look. A decent arcade conversion this game is brilliantly presented and fun to play, with some great level design and colourful graphics. The added bonus for me with Pac-Mania was that it actually held my interest, I’m pretty terrible at the original but I felt I could get into this one more and wanted to return to it to try again each time.

Magic Serpent (1991) Was a fast and frustratingly difficult maze game set within a relatively simple scenario. The general idea was you navigated the maze (starting off as a small serpent) and collected fruit, which in turn made your serpent grow in length, the longer you got the more difficult it was to complete the level without running into yourself and dying. Certain other bonuses throughout the maze allowed for more points, time or to reduce the length of your tail. The idea was to collect everything avoiding any collisions with yourself. Taking a wrong turn would, most of the time, result in game over! Magic Serpent is a pretty fun and entertaining addition to the genre, with some pretty memorable intro music and a wonderful selection of sound effects.

Supaplex (1991) I’m still not even sure how to pronounce it, was a great game as well as a variant on the brilliant Boulderdash. I was fascinated by the level design, the bad guys and the graphics, which, compared to other games aren’t great. however these are all superseded by the superior playability and gameplay, which in itself was on Chips Challenge scale of size and difficulty. Another one I have yet to complete but I always enjoy playing and exploring, it is rewarding to plough your way through the levels as well as having the handy bonus of being able to save your progress.

If any of the names Magic Serpent, Supaplex, and Pac-Mania ring any bells, specifically the first 2, I’d love to hear your opinion on these games. I loved them, but I don’t remember anyone else ever owning them let alone playing them back in the day.

Check out links and videos below if you want to find out some more about these games!

Supaplex game information and review in Amiga Action 26 (Nov 1991)

Magic Serpent game information, seems to be an absence of reviews on this one so here is a link to its page on Hall of Light 

Pac-Mania game information and review in Amiga Computing Vol 1 No 9 (Feb 1989) 

Puffy’s Saga game information and review in Amiga Format 8 (March 1990)

Chips Challenge game information and review in Amiga Action 17 (Feb 1991)

Check out the Chips Challenge intro and first level below, the first level of Supaplex, some gameplay fromMagic Serpent and Amiga Longplay for Pac-Mania.

Chips Challenge

Magic Serpent

Pac-Mania

Retro Adverts from Amiga Action

March 30, 2011
Retro Adverts

Amiga Action

Amiga Action 33 June 92

This post will take a look back at some of those more persuasive pages (tucked in between the reviews, previews and cheats sections) in gaming magazines of old, otherwise known as adverts! As an adult (subject to debate) I generally find adverts these days to be tedious and I skip over them as quickly as possible, however, as a child there was nothing better than seeing a brightly coloured, eye-catching ad showing me a glimpse of the next upcoming game to be released. These ads had much more appeal and I certainly didn’t skip over them. I now look back on these ads with fondness, I would turn the page  and the ad would immediately catch my attention with the selection of bright colours, words and pictures (some in-game if you were lucky) and usually persuade me to buy it.

I’ve decided to take a look first at Amiga Action, not my favourite of the Amiga magazines but definitely a good one for a wide selection of ads. Below is a gallery of some of my favourites and hopefully will also stir some similar memories for other Amiga fans! I’m very much an artist at heart and the presentation of the ads really appeals to me to this day, I have the same nostalgic feeling for certain pieces of gaming box art as well. Hope you enjoy and let me know if you have any particular favourite adverts from back in the day, or favourite box art! A few of my favourites from below will always be the great art work on the Gobliiins ad, the distinct word art of Sensible Soccer and the more cartoony looks of Dizzy, Hagar and Parasol Stars.

Please also take a look at the Retro Collect post below who have put together a selection of advertisements from a range of retro gaming magazines!

Advertisements from Retro Game Magazines Part 1

Thanks to Retro Collect for being a constant source of retro awesomeness and inspiration, especially for this post, and to Amiga Magazine Rack for the advertisement scans.

Stop making an egghibit of yourself… Treasure Island Dizzy

February 3, 2011

Treasure Island Dizzy

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Year: 1989

Publisher: Codemasters

Disks: 1

Music: Allister Brimble

Ah Treasure Island Dizzy, eggcellent game, you might even say… eggquisite? Ahem. I could crack plenty of those yolks but I eggpect I would lose those few loyal readers I have, and fear they would be poached from me to another blog. Right, all out of my system. Previously I reviewed Spellbound Dizzy, a game I actually don’t like that much, however I thought I’d take a look at the first Dizzy game I ever played, and made me into a long-term fan of the series. Treasure Island Dizzy was the first of the series to appear on the Amiga, but certainly not the worst by a long shot.

The graphics are cute and colourful (as expected) and by todays standards I could probably whip up similar looking sprites and backgrounds in Paint. However, this is one ofAlways good to be on top of things... the first things that attracted me to the game. The game starts with Dizzy trapped on an island, his only means of escape is to solve the usual array of puzzles as well as collect 30 gold coins to secure his passage off the island and to freedom. A simple scenario. The graphics are well drawn and look polished, despite the simple look of the backgrounds and characters. The puzzles are generally simple and follow a logical course, although can be frustrating at points if you leave certain items behind and have to move back and forth to get them.

The gameplay is challenging, not only do you have to solve all the puzzles, as well as collect all the coins, the challenge is more so as you have to complete the game with the single life you are granted at the start. No continues here and mistakes can be pretty deadly.

Snorkel, a valuable piece of kit...

However, because of this, there is pure satisfaction when completing this game as it is more than a trial at times. In this gamers opinion, the only downfall of this title is the music (let’s be honest, Dizzy games never really hit the mark with effective music? – begin debate…?)

The music was composed by Allister Brimble, who had worked on many other popular Amiga games including Alien Breed (1991) Mortal Kombat (1993) and Superfrog (1993), which all make great use of atmospheric and dramatic scores to bring the games to life, which is odd in this instance as I feel the music comes across as extremely (see – no egg joke) repetitive and just a little irritating in Treasure Island Dizzy. He also composed the music for other Dizzy titles such as Fantasy World Dizzy (1991) and Spellbound Dizzy (1992).

This is a gem of a game with some great and interesting puzzles, nasty traps and one particular nod to one of my all time favourite movies. Pleasant graphics and fun game play this isThis guy will take you for everything you've got, git...

by no means the best or greatest of Dizzy games on the Amiga but is certainly a classic and a great introduction to the series. The single life makes it a challenge and if you don’t like the music, turn it off! Simple.

One of the elements to Treasure Island Dizzy which can make the game very entertaining is the cheat codes (listed below), usually employed when I’ve forgotten a really obvious puzzle and then attempt to crash the game by taking Dizzy to areas of the game the developers didn’t intend you to go to.

Enter one of the following codes during game play to activate the corresponding cheat function.

Effect and  Code

Flight mode – icanfly 

Invincibility – eggsonlegs

High jumps – eggonaspring

Magazine Reviews:

Zero 5 Magazine (March 1990) gave Treasure Island Dizzy 78%

Amiga Longplay: Treasure Island Dizzy

Please go to the Yolkfolk.com for all your Dizzy needs and wants.

Treasure Island Dizzy has appeared in many other conversions, notably on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS,  NES and the ZX Spectrum.

Amiga Classic Reviews: P.P. Hammer

October 20, 2010

P.P. Hammer and his Pneumatic Weapon

 

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Devleoper: Traveling Bits

Publisher: Demonware

Date: 1991

PP Hammer, first of all, great game and one of the first games I actually played on my Amiga 500. Also another interesting fact, as much as I love it, I’ve never managed to complete it (but there’s still time!)

Until I replayed PP Hammer last month the only thing I ever remembered about it was the slightly annoying music (especially after an hour of playing) and the fact you could easily get stuck at most points on any level if you weren’t quick enough with the ol’ pneumatic drill.

I think it’s the reason why I left playing it again for so long, I remember it being good, I just also remember not being that good at it. Have you ever played a game you know is good? But when you play it you realise how bad you are at it? Frustrating. Luckily this time around I’m not as terrible at the game!

The game follows PP Hammer as he digs drills and hammers his way through a selection of levels designed to confuse and frustrate the most patient of puzzle guru. Set against the clock time is precious and PP must collect all the treasure on the level to open up the door at the end to move onto the next world.

He can drill through certain blocks (easily distinguishable) using his pneumatic weapon which either helps him find hidden treasure or proceed through the level. However, some routes through the rock lead to dead ends and the rocks actually reform after a certain time has passed to block your exit, paths must be chosen wisely and quickly.

The levels are well designed and require a certain amount of thought, the timer adds pace to the game play and makes it that more challenging. The colours are very bright and each level is distinguishable by its theme, Rome (statues) Castle (banners/shields) and there are also the familiar themed levels, Egypt, and an ice level. PP himself is drawn well and the animation of him drilling and moving is fun to watch and cartoon like, right down to the cigarette break he takes when you don’t move him for a while (surely he needs a cuppa too?)

Playing the game through its clear this is a great game and strangely addictive as long as you have the patience for it. End of level codes really help with this as you can come back to it later and continue once you’ve calmed down enough not to want to throw it across the room. The music also not as irritating as I remember and the opening tune is actually quite catchy, the sounds are simple and the controls take a while to get used to, time can be wasted quite quickly by digging in the wrong place and lining yourself up again.

The game is a great combination of platformer and puzzler, not only do you have to work out your route through the level, a danger in itself, but you have the usual array of pitfalls and bad guys to stand in your way. However, collecting the different treasure types in satisfying the there is access to a bonus round by collection gems near the end of the level. PP Hammer is memorable for its challenging and addictive game play against all odds, I think this game could easily have had sequels and added to the puzzle genre in the same way as the Dizzy games.

See the links below from some Amiga magazine reviews back in the day!

Amiga Action 23 (Aug 1991) 88%

Amiga Power 3 (Jul 1991) 70%

CU Amiga (Jul 1991) 85%

A few opinions from the very awesome website Lemon Amiga!

Graham Humphrey – An interesting platform-puzzle game that constantly mixes the sublime with the ridiculous. A great idea that’s obviously been influenced by games such as Lode Runner, it is initially enjoyable and quite addictive too. However it veers too much into Rick Dangerous territory with invisible traps, teleports, walls and the like that you have no way of avoiding, causing it to become immensely frustrating. However there is a load to it, it’s got a lot of character and the controls work well. Level design-wise it’s one heck of a mixed bag and I suppose how much you enjoy it depends on how patient you are.

stooart – I think after strenuous playing I managed to finish this little fiend of a game! Had to keep playing to see the next level. Again, aurual and visuals nothing special but a cracking wee puzzler/platform. Actually put me in mind of Lode Runner. Two thumbs up.

Predseda – Very funny, cute and ORIGINAL game. 8-bit styled arcade, which I like.

Top 5 Platformers (Amiga)

March 1, 2010

Top 5 platform games on the

Amiga

It’s always difficult to name a top 5, especially when there are so many great games on the Amiga to choose from. I’ve based this small list on games I love to replay, whether on my Amiga or emulated. They also tap into deep rooted childhood memories and good times to match!

I will emphasise this list “is in my opinion” (ah, the wonders of a blog) as with any “top list” on any subject it will spark debate, which is a healthy thing anyway and hopefully some of you will put forward some of your top platformers for the Amiga as well! 

After playing through a few of my favourites, and ones I haven’t played before, my list grew substantially from the initial 5. However, as much as I’d love to waffle on these games will be hailed as an honourable mention and came close to making my list; Superfrog, Rodland, Rainbow Islands, Harlequin, Gods and Wolfchild. 

 Flashback 

Flashback is an immensely good game with great graphics and great cut scenes to move the game along in-between each level. It moves away from the usual “bouncy, jumpy” platformer and provides more of an RPG feel to it. The controls are smooth and really run well with the graphics. The intense music really sets the atmosphere for the whole game and the sound effects throughout set the tone nicely. Gameplay and appearance is similar in style to Another World but Flashback has a longer, and in my opinion better storyline (the puzzles are trickier but also follow a logical pattern). A great mix of action and puzzle solving Flashback is one I can play over and over again, even the courier jobs in level 2 aren’t all that bad. I love the intro sequence to this game and it sticks firmly in my memory to this day, the graphics blew me away and with the upbeat music felt like you were watching the intro to a movie. Good times.  

Amiga Computing 62 (Jul 1993) gave Flashback 94%  

The Great Giana Sisters  

Whichever way you like at the Great Giana Sisters people will always shout out something about Mario, but I remember first loading this up on my Amiga and being hooked right away (for an eight year old boy the title screen was fascinating in itself). I felt no need to sit there and think “this is just like that NES game” and so I played through without the hindrance of over analysis that seems to limit the mind once you’ve reached adulthood. I took it for what it was, the graphics were bright and colourful, the gameplay fun and easy going but still retained that challenging aspect to it (timing some jumps was essential). It’s certainly not the easiest game to complete and the 2 player option is just basically the same thing over again but you’ll want to make it to the end, just because. It’s also one of the few games on my Amiga I remember my sister playing (alongside Monster Business, Magic Serpent and Chips Challenge) and as far as I remember she was able to get much further through the game than I could… probably had more patience. An awesome game and worth revisiting, the music is pretty lively too.  

Article in AUI Vol. 2 No. 9 (Sep 1988) for The Great Giana Sisters
 
Turrican II  

As soon as I read or think of the name Turrican the same funky signature theme tune pops into my head and I instantly feel the need to load it up. Turrican is a fast paced platformer and one where it’s not wise to stop for too long, the amount of enemies on screen doesn’t slow the game down and you’ll always find you’re up against an enemy. The game has a great variety of weapons in order to help you take out bad guys in more ways than one; namely bounce, laser and multiple, (add in the extra morph-ball move) and you have everything you need to make it through the games 5 distinct worlds, each with its own great piece of music by Chris Huelsbeck. I love it for its intensity and non-stop gameplay, the graphics look clean and polished and I find its one of the more challenging platformers for the Amiga. On more than one occasion this game has grabbed my attention, and is one of the few times playing it became more important than being called down for dinner. Turrican II is certainly my favourite of the series but I do have a soft spot for Turrican III, mainly for the cool swingy gadget.  

CU Amiga (Feb 1992) review of Turrican II scored 94%  

Magic Pockets  

I played this because I saw it being played on Saturday morning TV (either Motormouth or Going Live!). Either way during the shows the contestant played the game either by shouting the controls down the phone or by using a touch tone phone. I loved the little character (Bitmap Kid) and the ‘cool’ (for the 90′s) animated intro sequence. BK had a unique way of taking out the bad guys, although it never made much sense why a snail would change into a candy cane after being engulfed by a whirlwind which came out someone’s pocket… crazy as that sounds when you write it down it makes sense in this awesome game. Another great from the Bitmap Brothers! The game is long enough to keep you amused for hours, until you turn to look at the clock and realise your late for school (you then get to school and remember it’s a Saturday) and feel like a complete ninny, but with the added bonus you can return home and carry on playing. The level designs are brilliant and the secret passages add an extra puzzle element to the gameplay. The game includes an impressive variety of bad guys and extra levels to keep you reaching into to your pockets for a long time to come… ooo er.  

Amiga Action 25 (Oct 1991) gave Magic Pockets 93%  

James Pond II: Robocod  

Who doesn’t want to save a bunch of hapless penguins at Christmas time from the evil yet brightly coloured clutches of James Ponds arch nemesis Dr. Maybe? It’s certainly one of the most memorable platformers for me as I was a huge fan of the James Bond movies (still am, natch) and the first Pond game. In order to defeat Dr. Maybe (who has taken over Santa’s workshop in the North Pole) Pond is equipped with a robotic suit which allows him to extend is body and grip onto very high platforms, and then shimmy along them past all manner of bad guys and deadly traps. Robocod is a great game and a welcome improvement on the gameplay of the first game (I found the underwater controls far too sensitive and the gameplay very repetitive). Robocod also introduces a series of vehicles for our hero to use adding another dimension to the game, these include a car, plane and um, a bathtub. The game looks and feels polished and is definitely the best in the series (the third game felt like a combination of the first and second without the cool robotic suit) and for all its colour and overly cute level designs the game is the most challenging, and in some places just a little bit sinister.  

Amiga Power 7 (Nov 1991) gave James Pond II: Robocod 87%  

Hope found this Top 5 enjoyable and informative, 2 awesome resource sites for everything Amiga can be found here at Amiga Magazine Rack and Lemon Amiga!  

I have also previosuly reviewed Superfrog! Check it out here!

Amiga Classic Review: Chase HQ

February 7, 2010

Chase HQ

Published: Taito (1988) Ocean (1989)

Genre: Racing/chase

Conversion: Amiga 500

Racing games in all honesty are not my genre of choice, retro gaming or modern. Odd considering one of my favourite game series on the Amiga is Lotus Turbo Challenge. Still, after playing Chase H.Q for awhile I realised I am just as bad at it as I was when I first played it on my Amiga. Chase H.Q is originally an arcade racing game (one of those cool looking cabinets where you get to sit down at a steering wheel) released by Taito in 1988. The game was converted to the usual array of popular home computers and consoles at this time by Ocean and was released for the Amiga in 1989.

You play as a police officer who works within the special chase department of the police force. At the start of each stage you are given instructions from “Nancy at Chase H.Q” via your police radio on which criminal you’ll be pursuing next. You’ll start a certain distance away from them and only have a certain amount of time to catch up. There will also be a fork in the road early on and an arrow letting you know which way to take, the other direction usually means a longer chase. Once you’ve caught up to the criminal your time limit is extended and you must ram into their car a number of times until they are forced to stop so you can arrest them.

My initial reaction was pretty good on loading this up; I had no preconceived ideas of what to expect having never played the original arcade version. The funky intro music was nice and I loved the police radio setup to give you your mission. Unfortunately it quickly went downhill; firstly the fact I couldn’t play with the music on and have sound effects. After playing with one or the other I actually decided the sound effects made the game experience a lot nicer; nothing like the sound of overtaking people at high speeds and ramming into the criminals car.

The graphics (from what I’ve seen of other conversions) didn’t seem to live up to any of them, the scenery was lacking in any style or colour and sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between trees and buildings on the side of the road, the whole experience felt very shaky. It’s safe to say that beyond the intro music and mission briefing I didn’t like much else about this game, least of all the actual game play. For a relatively short game at 5 stages it wasn’t that easy to complete (not for yours truly anyway). I managed to get to Stage 5 but found the control system so irritating and slow to react I switched it off. You know, toys, pram etc.

To add insult to injury you only get the one chance on the final stage to catch the criminal, on the other stages you are given 3 credits or chances to do this, credits I desperately needed. Despite my admittedly biased opinion towards racing games I have tried to remain on the fence with regards to this review, but I can’t help but feel this isn’t as good as it could have been. It is still highly playable, if not short and a little hard in places, and this shouldn’t detract from the fact I can’t complete the damn game. The graphics seem to be lacking and the controls make game play and reaction times slow, in a game in which you need to go fast you inevitably end up spinning out of control through no fault of your own and begin to panic as you re-start in what appears to be slow motion.

I’m inspired to play other conversions of Chase H.Q and do a little comparison, but I don’t think I’ll be replaying this particular one anytime soon.

Check out a few other opinions back in the day!

Nice little review from CU Amiga 64 (Jan 1990)

Average stuff from Amiga Format 7 (Feb 1990) and a particularly scathing review from Amiga Power 9 (Jan 1992)

Amiga Classic Review: Superfrog

January 2, 2010

Superfrog

Year: 1993

Developed by: Andreas Tadic – Team 17

Genre: Platformer – Scrolling Screen (3 Disks)

It’s the same old story, prince meets princess, princess falls in love with prince, jealous witch turns prince into frog and kidnaps princess. Depressed frog sits next to river, (until some shameful in-game advertising goes floating by), sees the bottle and decides to drink the stuff. It’s not a good idea to drink things you find floating down the river. The aforementioned drink turns our depressed frog into Superfrog, who then sets off to rescue the princess and defeat the witch.

There are 6 worlds to play in this great platformer from Team 17. Starting off in the Magic Woods Superfrog battles his way to the witches ‘Spooky Castle’, and is then transported through a number of twists  and turns to a fun park, ancient world, ice world (always seems to be a standard level), space level (frogs in space?) down to the final confrontation with the witch.

The levels within each world have the same objective, collect enough gold coins to open the portal to the next level and so on. Each level is designed to be challenging with just enough enemies to keep you on your toes, although this can be adjusted in the options menu between normal and hard.

There are many items to collect including coins, fruit and jewels and special items including wings, red nose (invisibility), a strange bogie like side kick you can lob at enemies and energy drinks to re-fill your meter, also keep an eye out for secret passages. Blindly running into walls (only in-game) seems to be the best way to find them.

The graphics are great and everything is nicely drawn, Rico Holmes, Eric Schwartz have both created a game where each world has its own distinct theme, design and enemies to defeat making the game play varied and interesting. Too many platform games feel like they repeat themselves after only a few levels but this one doesn’t.

The intro sequence is amusing and a nice touch in setting up the story for our hero and the music is actually pretty good, with a different score by Allister Brimble created for each world. I keep mentioning annoying and repetitive music in some of these old games (no pleasing some people) but for once I am quite impressed. Superfrog’s only real downfall is the control of its hero. For a character that can move so fast and who seems to have been the Amiga’s answer to a certain blue hedgehog, the levels aren’t really designed to support that kind of character.

The game play can be very fast and frustrating at times as running into enemies and especially spikes can happen quite often. The game has very few flaws but the more specific annoyances come in the form of being killed when running into the sides of spikes (even Sonic didn’t have that trouble).   When playing you will want to move Superfrog quickly, because he was designed that way, but in fact you need to move him relatively slowly and carefully, otherwise it would be like trying to run as fast as possible through a mine field in the hope you don’t step on one.  

Once you get used to the speed and used to the fact you can’t just go hurtling off the game is brilliant fun and highly playable. Asides from the control issues, Superfrog performs well in all other areas such as level design, graphics, music and playability.

I love coming back to this game and love the animated intro sequence, although I’m never too happy about blatant product placement in games but I think I can forgive Superfrog (and Lara Croft for that matter). After each level there is a ‘gamble option’ which opens a great little side game which enables you to gamble coins in order to score more points (up to x2) win extra lives or a level code, it breaks up the game play nicely getting you ready for the next set of levels. Superfrog is a brilliant game from Team 17 and one that has stood the test of time.

Amiga Computing June 1993 gives Superfrog a relatively high 93%

Review in Amiga Computing

Amiga Power June 1993 a lower 78%

Review in Amiga Power

The Secret of Monkey Island

November 8, 2009

The Secret of Monkey Island

  

Developer: Lucasfilm Games

Design: Ron Gilbert

Genre: Point n’ Click Adventure

Release date: 1990

 

“My name is Guybrush Threepwood, prepare to die! The immortal words of Guybrush Drinkwater, um, Thrinkwood, eh, never mind. Squinky, just call him Squinky.” 

This is probably one of the hardest reviews I’ve written on my blog. This game has so many fond memories attached to it I could waffle on for days. I believe that Ron Gilbert is the best thing to have happened to point n’ click adventures in the entire history of the genre. He designed and created a game I still enjoy playing through again and again, even 20 years later. It is hard to express how much I love this game, (without resorting to interpretive dance or something) and unfortunately can never do it justice. However below are just some of my thoughts and feelings on what I think is a classic game, first played on my Amiga in the early 90′s, eagerly swapping 4 disks over and over, and pretty much the same game still being played on my PC, through Steam. My original big boxed version for the Amiga sits proudly on my shelf o’ gaming as I write.

The Secret of Monkey Island can be seen as one of the greatest point and click adventures of its time, and possibly of all time (begin debate) It remains in the hearts and minds of all dedicated adventurers since the beginning of the classic pirate series from Lucas Arts, and more specifically Ron Gilbert, master of dialogue and design behind The Secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush’s adventures continue to this day, with some of the original team returning for the Tales of Monkey Island from Telltale Games. The Secret of Monkey Island is an adventure game that utilizes the command verb-based system SCUMM (Script Creation Utility of Maniac Mansion), the kind of point and click interface first introduced in Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The technology was used in all subsequent Lucas Arts adventure games, with the exception of Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island. The branching dialogue system allows you to talk to characters in different ways without fearing a wrong choice, (if this was the not the case Guybrush’s’ further adventures could see him working down at the local fire station) after declaring to the pirate captains “I wanna be a fireman”. The game play itself revolves around inventory-based puzzles to solve. Items are picked up and saved in the players’ inventory until needed; they can be used with each other or with an object, place or character within the game.

Guybrush is the wannabe pirate hero of the adventure, our pony tailed protagonist doesn’t realise that his arrival on Melee Island couldn’t have come at a worse time as its inhabitants are being terrorised by the fearsome ghost pirate Le Chuck. To begin his dream of adventure on the high seas, drinking grog, swordplay, thievery, and eh, treasure huntery, Guybrush must seek the three grog swilling, foul-mouthed pirate captains who reside in the SCUMM bar, aptly named for the games interface system explained above. Guybrush must complete the three trials given to him by the pirate captains to succeed in becoming a pirate. With cracking dialogue, cut scenes and some very funny moments Guybrush’s adventure goes from wannabe pirate to captaining his own ship and crew in order to find his way to Monkey Island and rescue the woman he loves from the evil clutches of the ghost pirate Le Chuck!

Along the way Guybrush meets many other great characters; including Captain Smirk who trains Guybrush, used ship salesman Stan (this character also returns many times in other Monkey Island games, and excels in the second game as a used coffin salesman), Otis the prisoner, and most significantly, the love of his life, Governor Elaine Marley, who Guybrush meets whilst attempting to steal the idol of many hands (only because it belongs in a museum you understand…). However, Elaines ex, or Le Chuck as we like to call him decides to kidnap her and take her with his ghostly crew to the fabled Monkey Island. Le Chuck has been Guybrush’s nemesis throughout the Monkey Island series and is a great character, with plenty more villainous potential to return in further games, whether is be as ghost, zombie or human!

One of the most memorable of the three trials (for its longevity) is to defeat the island’s sword master Carla, an expert in the art of sword play and insults. A notable contributor to this very clever and funny part of the game was author Orson Scott Card. Orson wrote the insults and answers that the player has to collect by fighting stinking and bloodthirsty pirates on the road, and to  use the insults and answers collected to defeat the sword masters own unique brand of verbal abuse. This is also one of my personal favourites in the game, and even though I know when I have just enough replies to defeat the swordmaster, I will continue to fight and collect more. Other favourite parts of the game include the relatively short second part on the voyage to Monkey Island itself, the ‘self contained pirate sitcom’, whereby the mutinous crew reduce Guybrush to the highest and lowest rank on his own ship.

Gilberts dialogue throughout is funny and timeless, allowing new gamers who have not had the  pleasure of the Monkey Island experience before to appreciate the superior humour and the great characters in a new light, rather than focus on the outdated graphics and linear story line. However, with the recent release of the special editions on PC the graphics have been greatly improved with some fantastic character designs and background artwork, I highly recommend The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition as it looks great but has lost none of the originals great game play, humour and charm. 

A brilliant game and still one of my all time favorites, it all culminates into a timeless game with humour and characters that stick in the mind to this day, playable and simply one of Lucas Arts, (or more accurately Ron Gilberts) greatest point and click adventures, nothing yet in my opinion has beaten sword fight insults and the pirate ghost ship shuffle. For similar experiences in humour and game play see other classics like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Monkey Island sequels Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island tried to sustain the template set out by Ron Gilbert but are missing the subtle humour and charm of the first two games, and I think whole heartedly that Monkey Island 2: Le Chucks Revenge is a superior sequel, with an ending that can only be explained, or concluded (if he chooses), by Ron Gilbert. 

 

Monkey Island related business below… (Monkey Business)

Learn more about Ron Gilbert at his website Grumpy Gamer

Old but still interesting interview with Ron Gilbert over at The World of Monkey Island in 2007, plus includes plenty of other awesome Monkey Island info.

Amiga Power 2 (June 1991) review of The Secret of Monkey Island gave the game 90%

Amiga Format 23 (June 1991) review, gave it 92%

Having trouble wondering what the red herring is for? Not sure what to do with the cotton swab, eager to get a-head in navigating? Then check out the Amiga Longplay of The Secret of Monkey Island on Youtube below!


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