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This is a strange little shareware game I recall picking up at a trade fair once in the early 90s. In terms of graphics, animation, music and… well… just about everything else, it was pretty dire-looking. However, there was something about it that kept me playing. The fact that I refused to be beaten by it was one element, and that I paid nearly a fiver for it was the other.
It must have taken me days to realize that picking up the pumpkin and smashing it revealed the key, and working out which button for the green-skinned, purple underpants, color-blind Igor to press was a test of patience at its best. The game was spread over 50 levels, each individually named with the player whizzing around the world on a magic carpet, as the title suggests.
You collected Manna, which allowed you to cast spells in defense or attack against enemy wizards. All you needed to do was store enough Manna in your castle to restore equilibrium to the world. Easier said than done, though. You play as Leonard and Cletus, two deep south brothers whose prize pig has been stolen pignapped? Feel free to use your own prime minister joke here by invading aliens.
Featuring an immense amount of bad language and redneck stereotyping, there was something oddly appealing about throwing a stick of dynamite at a shotgun-wielding Billy Ray while drunk on "cheap-ass" whiskey across all fifteen levels. Further Reading: Google Stadia vs. Apple Arcade - What's the Difference? You could zip through valleys, overseas and mountains, and drop down on the enemy to deliver death and destruction from an ultra-modern attack chopper.
It looks quite dated now, but if you put a set of headphones on and say "Roger that" a lot, it feels quite realistic. The shareware version only had the first of three episodes available, and as far as I was aware, it was pretty difficult to get hold of from the game shops in the UK I purchased it via a 3D Realms BBS. The best part was the ability to save at any point in the game for a restart after dinner. This is one I picked up as part of a compilation MicroProse pack from a charity shop in the mid to late 90s.
Not many lived to survive that bit, though. Master of Orion , the game that invented the 4X strategy term. An immense turn-based game that basically took over your life once you started to play it. Where colonization, military, research, planning, and combat all come together in such a way as to feel like your brain is melting out of your ears.
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Anyone have this issue? Sadly, I never got to play version 1. Did you know that you could edit the messages that appeared on the screen? The floppy disk version, which came on about eight thousand disks, took an age to install.
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The CD version had voices from the original actors, better sound effects, and music too. The two parts to the game, one where you were on the away mission and the other on-board the Enterprise, were marvelously designed. The point and click adventure mode on the away mission took the majority of the gameplay, from what I recall, and trying to get a redshirt crushed by rocks or eaten soon became the main focus.
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Taking control of the Enterprise was immense fun during combat. I can only imagine the conversation on the Klingon bridge at watching me trying to bring the Enterprise about and continually missing. Classic point and click adventure gaming in a very LucasArts vein. After tossing it to one side, a portal opens and in goes Chippy followed by Simon, where he finds himself on a quest to rescue Calypso, the grand high wizard, from the evil sorcerer Sordid.
The missions were well conceived, and you could even create your own missions. A pretty amazing combat sim this. Mind you, your wingman had the nasty habit of flying off and taking out a target that was three hundred miles away for some odd reason.
I recall there being a huge manual with it, a veritable encyclopedia of ants as well as the instructions on how to play the game. There were several modes of play, where you had to raise your colony of ants, hunt for food, and defend and attack other colored ants as well other insects, which could also be used for food. It was oddly absorbing being an ant.
Further Reading: Hands-on with Google Stadia. You played as a space marine-type dude, heavily armed and up against a seemingly unlimited number of aliens. All you needed to do was find the exit to the next level and progress deeper into the station, all the while picking up credits to buy better weapons and health packs to heal yourself with. The levels were huge and maze-like, making them a dream come true for the gaming cartographer. And the two player option was great. You take on the role of a frog, who was once a prince that has been turned into said Anura by a wicked witch — who has also kidnapped your girlfriend.
But still, a cracking little game. Jeremiah Krick and his infant daughter, Amanda, in an alien and parallel world to ours. I can still recall being downstairs in our house at the time and listening to a baby crying upstairs for hours at a time while my wife played the game. The puzzles were generally good — aside from the safe combination that had everyone stumped — and required more thought than your average point and click adventure. You gather minerals to sell in order to gain enough credits for upgrading your ship.
You can explore the galaxy, meet other species, get into fights with them, hire and train crew members, and stop your homeworld from being destroyed by solar flares. It was an immensely deep game, with a wicked anti-copy system where you had to enter a code to warp to another star system. If you entered the wrong code, after a certain length of time, the Space Police came looking for you and destroyed your ship for using an illegal copy of the game.
Thankfully, I bought mine from a jumble sale. Interestingly, the German release had to have the blood effects removed before it was allowed to be sold. This dark look at the future has you trying to take over the world with the help of a team of androids. You could be as ultra-violent or as passive and sneaky as you like, as long as the end goal of world domination was achieved.
The sequel was even more intense, too I had plenty of first-person shooters, combat sims, space trading games galore, and platformers to pick from in my diskette boxes of goodies. This amazing little puzzle game grabbed you and refused to let go until it was late at night and you finally realized that you had work to go to in the morning. It was seriously addictive.
A great vertically scrolling shooter from Apogee, one that seriously threatened what little remained of a social life you once had, or - again - any chance of getting up in the morning. You headed ever onward, collecting power-ups and cash and obliterating everything that streamed down from above. After each level you could use the collected cash to buy even more destructive weapons or the ability to last a little longer. Either way, it was a fab little game — even the shareware version of one level.
Further Reading: Shadow Ghost Review. A clever little game, and one that was fiendishly addictive. It also appeared in the second Microsoft Windows Entertainment Pack. The jetpack wearing, and initially flame-thrower wielding Harry could collect coins from downed aliens, and use the coins at certain stations to buy different weapons from missiles to mini Nukes and an Omega Bomb.
With their usual flair for top-down mayhem, The Bitmap Brothers gave us this wonderful steampunk themed game, filled with tons of enemies, two-player action, loads of power-ups, and great sound effects with a cool sound track playing continuously in the background. Seriously, one of the best DOS games of the mids, although originally banned in Germany due to excessive violence, it still looks and plays pretty well today. This seasickness-inducing true 3D game was an absolute marvel to behold. Flying through the various mines looking for the exit and the reactor to destroy, while trying to work out whether you were the right-way-up or still upside down, was one of the most visually impressive gaming experiences of Even when you entered a cheat code and had the computer voice call you a cheater.
Ocean Software and Digital Image Design have a number of great games under their collective belts. This third-person run and gun, with hints of puzzles, has you as Kurt Hectic in a bio-armor suit taking on waves of enemies on board giant, city-sized Minecrawlers heading towards various locations on Earth.
Obviously, you need to stop these Mincecrawlers and save the planet. Apparently, there was supposed to be a film made of the game some time ago. Hewson Consultants Ltd. Incidentally, the Sega Mega Drive version had to be cleaned up before it was allowed on sale — cleaned up as in the fairies had to put some clothes on. You play as Jill, an Amazonian warrior who has to get from one end of the jungle to the other.
A decent enough, harmless game this, with the strange addition of having every key on the keyboard mapped to a sound effect in the game. K an acronym for the M obile A rmored S trike K ommand was one of many cartoon series during this era produced as a platform to promote toys. It followed a formula made popular by other successful cartoons created around the same period such as G. I Joe and The Transformers. We dream of the day they turn this retro cartoon into a movie! How powerful was he? Well, He-man once lifted Castle Grayskull and chucked it through an inter-dimensional portal.
Another fun thing he could do was point his power sword at his cowardly pet tiger Cringer to turn it into the brave armoured Battle Cat.