Posts Tagged ‘Lemon Amiga’

My Amiga 500 (Some time later…)

December 6, 2011

Working Okay, just no mouse!

I was doing so well with the blogging! I even had a long list of Amiga games lined up ready to play, however, after just over 20 years of constant use, my Amiga 500 has developed its first fault. Not bad I’d say for such a well used and old machine. Still, Amiga gaming in the last 2 months has been pretty non-existent and I’ve been on a little research mission to identify the problem, and begin preparations to try to repair it.

First off, Amiga games and software I’m pretty comfortable with, opening up and poking around inside the hardware less so, still, always up for a challenge. The problem began when the mouse stopped working in Joystick Port 1. The buttons worked fine, but the cursor wouldn’t move at all. I decided it was probably the mouse that had given up, so I bought another off eBay, and had one kindly donated to me from another Amiga user, both of these didn’t work either.

Burnt Out R401 on my motherboard

Not wanting to be defeated I decided to open up my Amiga, I managed a peek at the motherboard, and, with a large amount guess-work and common sense, thought I saw what looked like a burnt out thingy-ma-jig near to Joystick Port 1. Turning to the interweb I sought help from the knowledgeable folks at EAB and Lemon Amiga, who asked me for more details and came up with a pretty conclusive point that the ‘resistor’ in question was burnt out, or at least no longer working, and would need to be replaced.

Some of the advice given:

  • Most common problem is damaged U15 chip but first check mouse port +5v pin. (Mouse needs +5v, joystick don’t)
  • Problem has to be missing +5v – Check resistor R401 first.
  • Swapping CIA chips

U15 Chip and Resistor (Not my board, illustration purposes only)

The problem seemed to be the R401 resistor, I now need to repair it.

For this I’ll require:

Replacement R401 resistor (4.7 Ohms)

Soldering Iron

Solder

Steady hands

Lots of luck

Joystick gaming, repairs to follow!

This post is coming to you before the repair, as you can see from the pic, my Amiga still actually works and I can play games using Joystick Port 1, like James Pond shown. However, I love playing point n’ click adventures amongst other games and software, the mouse is pretty essential to me and I need to get it working, especially as some of my favourite games require a mouse (Hunter, Monkey Island, Sim City, The Settlers) Depending on how succesful the repair is, you may or may not see a follow-up post to this one.

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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.

Amiga Classic Reviews: The Settlers

September 19, 2010

The Settlers

Developer: Blue Byte

Release Date: 1993

Disks: 3, plus save disk

Genre: Strategy

The Settlers is a genre favourite for a lot of retro gamers and Amiga aficionados, and especially me, it remains one of the few games on the Amiga I can still play for hours and always find it a fresh and enjoyable gaming experience. The game falls into the familiar ground of ‘god simulations’ where you control the hearts and minds of the people and pretty much everything they do. Other games like The Settlers include Populous and Mega Lo-Mania, and if you then combine these with games like Sim-City and Civilization you get a good picture of what this game is about, just with extra pretty animations and an awesome intro sequence thrown in for good measure.

The game can be played in single player mode, where you square off against a number (up to 3) of computer controlled opponents, from a choice of 10 suspicious looking characters. The difficulty of the game can be set by adjusting the amount of starting resources each player has, you can give yourself maximum resources and the computer minimum for the easiest setting or level the resources out to make it slightly fairer for all. The game menu has a few other options you can use to customise the game, if playing on the A500 you may need to adjust certain settings (especially sound effects) to get the best out of the game.

You start by selecting a good place to put your castle, this holds all your settlers and resources, use a geologists report to begin with to find a good place with plenty of raw materials, coal, stone, gold and iron and place your fortress nearby. Locations rich in granite, lakes and trees are also good for basic building resources and food.

Once the castle is placed the game can begin, you will need to build paths to point your settlers in the right direction as well as to begin building structures. By using the mouse to highlight areas of the map you can see where to place certain types of structure, economic structures can be placed almost anywhere but military and advanced structures such as the blacksmith need to be placed on certain spots (these choices can be highlighted using a right/left mouse click combination on the building tab) Once a path is created and building placed the builder and settlers will begin carrying resources to the site (via flags) and begin building. 

You need to gather resources to expand your empire, food to feed the miners, settlers to work and build, and gold to pay the soldiers. In order to expand your borders you are required to build military style buildings (huts, guard towers and garrisons) on the frontiers of your empire, you’ll hopefully do this before the enemy expands theirs and burns down vital buildings.

In order to win you must defeat the enemy settlements; this can be achieved by sending knights to the enemy and defeating their knights in one on one combat, eventually you’ll want to send them to the enemy castle, do this well and you can even cut off vital resources and buildings in the process by pushing your borders in certain directions. There’s certainly no room for complacency or alliances when facing the computer and saving before any major offensives or building projects is advisable.

The game also has a 2 player option, demo mode, tutorial and missions setting, depending on the amount of free memory available (ah good ol’ A500) but I’ve never actually tried any except the tutorial, which is slow but really helpful to get to grips with the basics of the game.

The intro sequence exceeds expectations and is the perfect introduction to the game, obviously the loading times ruin its flow slightly along with the disk swapping but it’s definitely worth seeing the whole thing through at least once. The animation is cartoony, bright and colorful and its fun to watch each settler at work, whether they are fishing, mining, chopping down trees or sword fighting. The geologist also does a little back flip if he discovers raw materials. The sprites are well drawn and really add to the fun of the game.

As mentioned before the sound is slightly limited on the A500, even with the obligatory memory upgrade to the full meg, this leads to some sounds not loading, it also limits the size of the maps. You usually get different sets of sounds occurring each time the game is loaded. You still get some great sounds, (hammering, sawing, messages, swords clanging and the geologists “yippee”) but it is a lot more pleasurable to play and a more engaging experience with all the sounds available.

Fun and addictive The Settlers is a classic, and in my opinion has not been bested by any of its sequels so far, although one or two have come close.  Spent many hours playing this and still do, and it’s certainly not a game for people with short attention spans, although being able to save the game at any point to disk is always an advantage. For those not wanting to sit through the intro sequence each time either the game can be loaded straight from disk 3. The Settlers certainly has a lot of comparisons with other games, but Blue Byte produced a game which had ‘Sid Meier’ playability and addictiveness, (anyone who has played Civilization and Pirates will know what I mean). Certainly in my top 10 Amiga games and proud owner of the big box version still. Too many hours sitting, playing and watching the little people go about their business.

Review of The Settlers from Amiga Power 32 December 1993

Review of The Settlers from Amiga Format 54 Christmas 1993

Some comments and opinions on The Settlers from Lemon Amiga:

MartinUK – Best strategy game on the Amiga. Original, balanced, varied and extremely lovable, with a character and sense of fun all of its own. Each level was a significant challenge, and there were 32 of them, as well as the ability to make random missions and play 2-player. It also took full advantage of souped-up Amigas, with hard drives and extra memory allowing for bigger maps and extra sound effects. A real work of art.

dan.hutch – Great game, spent many many hours over the last 10 years or so absorbed in this game – still playing even now. Timeless..

Press Play On Tape – This is one of the best games on any platform. No other God/Strategy games compare, old or new! Well, I haven’t found anything yet 😉

Masterblaster – Fantastic gfx, great music that goes on forever and incredibly detailed and well made game. The only let down is the fighting which is a little bit random. Me and my brother used to play cooperative with two mouses. One of the best games ever!

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)

Golden Axe

January 10, 2010

Great title screen with that action packed title music to bring you into the game

Developer: Sega/Virgin Games

Genre: Side scrolling beat ‘em up

Year: 1990

Platform: Amiga 500

Disks: 1

Golden Axe takes me back to the first days of my Amiga and has always been one of my favourites. Why else would I own it the Mega Drive as well? The story is simple and revolves around three warriors who are seeking revenge against a murdering tyrant called Death=Adder, who has subsequently done each of our heroes a wrong in some form. You can play in 1 or 2 player mode and you must select from 1 of the 3 choices of character, each with their own agenda in seeking to take on Death=Adder.

Ax Battler

Ax=Battler: ‘Conan the Barbarian’ warrior type complete with stylish blue underwear and a look of “if you laugh I’ll lop your arms and head off”. Ax uses his sword and brute strength to defeat his enemies but is lacking in the magic department.

Gilius Thunderhead

 

 

Gilius=Thunderhead: Small, powerful and angry, the dwarf character is a popular choice and has a funky rolling axe to the crotch move. Nippy and reliable, not as strong as Ax but has better magic skills.

 

 

 

Tyris Flare

 

 

Tyris=Flare: ‘Red Sonja’ warrior type, with princess Leia type bikini, enemies stand and drool as you swipe at them with your sword repeatedly. Tyris main strength lies in her awesome magical ability, there’s nothing like having a huge dragon to do your bidding.

These guys have a long reach and can knock you for six…

The game play is brilliant, and although stages are short you cannot fault its pace and fighting system. In either 1 or 2 player mode you must battle through six stages, meeting different enemies throughout including skeletons, club wielding thugs, giants, knights and the odd dragon riding, axe wielding dominatrix. I’ve never liked the skeletons as they always seemed to be more nasty when attacking, especially that sword swipe across the stomach.

Your goods or your life Sir! But my goods are life…. *kick* Hey!

At the end of each stage you have the chance to replenish your health and magic by generally being rude and abusive to some passing hobbit like creatures either dressed in green (food) or blue (magic potion). A swift kick to the sack (ouch…) forces them to give up the goods. Magic is your greatest ally when taking out multiple enemies, each character, depending on how full their magic meter is, will have different creatures or natural elements to help them dispatch a number of foes on the screen, very useful if you’re low on energy and are being over whelmed. I always found by the time I’d got to Death=Adder I’d forgotten to save them up.

Tyris shows us how to balance a dragon on our heads whilst taking out the enemy…

The graphics are superb and I love the way the characters are drawn, each having their own unique special moves, strengths and weaknesses and magical abilities. The level designs are colourful and detailed and you’ll find yourself being surrounded by enemies from all sides. It’s always fun making them run off the side when the opportunity arises, all it needs is an animated look of confusion on their faces as they fall to their doom. Kicking and throwing them off the edge works just as well. Its only real drawback (certainly in this version) is the occasional pause to load, which can slow the game down a bit, otherwise it’s a stand up conversion and a game that looks just as good now as it did back in the day. The game music and story scene music is good, and the sound effects are brilliant, right down to the knocking sound of hilt to head and then a swift boot to the face.

Seems to be a distinct lack of armour around these parts…

Golden Axe on the Amiga is a great game and great conversion from the original coin op. Death=Adder is a great boss fight and always satisfying when he finally goes down, making sure of course he falls in the middle of the screen so you can experience the ‘spinning axe of death’ to its fullest. I feel the length of this version is just right, otherwise the game play would become to repetitive, which is the feeling I get after playing the Mega Drive version with the extra levels. Golden Axe is classic game and brilliant conversion and one that I keep coming back to and replaying. Its charm and appeal is timeless and if you can find someone to join in, 2 players is the way to go.

Bit o’ gameplay below if you’ve not seen the game before!

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

Mid Week Mini: Captain Dynamo (Amiga)

December 23, 2009

Captain Dynamo

Date: 1992

Publisher: Codemasters

Developed by: Derek Leigh-Gilchrist and Leigh Christian

Genre: Platformer

Thought I’d give this Codemasters title a chance and really try my best to finish it. All I can say is: “I tried”. I must admit its appeal back in the day were the graphics, playing it now though I tend to look for a little more than shiny characters and level design. To put it into perspective, I own the original Amiga boxed version of this game, 3 times I’ve tried to sell it on eBay at 49p with free postage. Not even any views. I took it as a sign and decided to review the game!

Dragged out of retirement, the aged hero Captain Dynamo must once again amble into action and stop his evil arch nemesis Austen Von Flyswatter (who has just stolen the world’s largest diamond collection) from getting away. The general objective is to retrieve the diamonds, (scattered throughout the levels) and whilst doing this dodge, duck, jump and swing your way past spikes, lasers, monsters and lava pits. At the end of each level you must make it to the transporter at the top which then teleports you onto the next booby trap laden lair. Every floor of this cavernous underground lair holds quite a few diamonds that can be recovered before teleporting to the next, although it doesn’t seem to matter how many you collect.

The game play is smooth and the controls are simple, which is a good thing because in places it can be quite challenging. The nature of this platformer means timing a jump is crucial and can be frustrating if you don’t get this right. For some reason, including the fact you ‘climb’ the level rather than the usual side scrolling left to right, makes this game feel more of a slog than a fun game. The graphics are very nice and the level design pretty well thought, certain effects and shadowing give the main character a nice rounded 3D look and the diamonds appear, well, shiny. The music is repetitive and annoying, even with the change of level do you get the same looped piece of music, there is also a distinct lack of in-game sound effects which would be more appealing than the music.

Overall you get the feeling the testers either hadn’t played anything exciting ever before this or they were just so nice they couldn’t bring themselves to be honest about the game. On the plus side the game has simple and smooth controls and nice looking ‘cartoony’ graphics with plenty of shading to give it a 3D look. However, the smooth game play doesn’t make up for what is basically a mind numbingly dull and repetitive platformer which feels as slow and old as its protagonist. Captain Dynamo is great for Sunday afternoon gamers but certainly nothing special here for the majority.

Here’s a couple varying opinions from CU Amiga who gave it 42% and Amiga Action who gave it 86% back in late 1992.

I guess you either love it or hate it!

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!