I’m QUAKING in my boots (I don’t have any boots)

5 July, 2016

“Hi, do you have a moment? Don’t worry, I’m not selling anything!”

One of the great things about the current generation of videogames and videogaming is the way that older stuff has been re-embraced. Not just the aesthetics, where we’ve seen “8-bit” graphics and sound become fashionable with the explosion of independent titles; but also the games themselves. “Abandoned” commercial software of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s has been dusted off, tweaked and fixed for modern platforms and put back on sale again, largely thanks to digital distributors like GOG and Steam who’ve managed to snap-up the rights to a lot of previously abandoned software which was designed for DOS-based 486 PCs and which previously needed a hat with a fucking propellor on the top at the very least to even think about getting it to work on your complex emulator of choice.

And with that has come something more unexpected – updates and expansions for software that’s over a decade old but which has a diehard as well as a growing, new, fanbase. Not just the HD “remixes” of old software (the success of which has been kind of mixed) but whole new content. Notable examples include new expansions for Age Of Empires II, Balder’s Gate (complete with neckbeard/GG-infuriating characters and dialogue, none of which would have actually bothered anyone when BG was originally released, ironically enough) and, now, a brand new official episode for Quake (from the people who brought us the new Wolfenstein game). Yes, that Quake. The one that came out in 1996. In fact it was actually released to mark the game’s (gulp weisold!) 20th anniversary.

Here’s a link to the RPS article about the new episode which contains a direct link to the download. Happy, erm, “quaking” (‘what?!’).


2 July, 2016

“Here in my cave, I feel unsafest of all…”

Caves is a great wee roguelike for Android that might have slipped under a few peoples radars. It’s fairly simple to play (and any complexities are learnt as you go rather than through a tedious tutorial, or at least that was the case in the version I originally played) but tough and unforgiving like all the best of its genre. It’s still in development and new versions are released on a regular basis, but as it’s freeware there’s no real excuse to wait until a finished version, if it ever rests on its laurels long enough for that to happen in any meaningful sense.

Caves can be downloaded for Android devices here.

Strange, non-Euclidean

7 March, 2016

I got myself a cheap Android tablet last year and I’ve been using it to catch-up with all the

Screenshot_2016-03-07-15-52-46 [151798]

Dat ice diamond, tho’

touchscreeny “mobile” games yer actual young people have been playing. A few of them have stuck out as being both highly enjoyable and annoyingly obscure, hidden away under a tidal wave of pay-to-win tripe, Angry Birds rip-offs and in-app-purchase-saturated strategy games with “Clans” in the title.

Anyway, the first of these is HyperRogue. This brilliant little indie title is based on the classic roguelike set-up but at the same time manages to be unqiue and original. Basically, the player character is thrown into a strange world based around a hexagonal grid which appears to be viewed through a fisheye lens. Gameplay consists of hunting for treasure and killing monsters but, unlike most roguelikes, there’s a chess-like strategy element to the fighting based entirely around who can enter a hex first. For this reason, where you move is important and, because the more treasure you collect in any one world the more enemies start to appear, it gets more and more important to avoid being cornered or surrounded.

The gameplay changes subtly as the player progresses, so collecting ten treasures in any one world will unlock the appearance of orbs which provide special powers; and the player can escape an overly-dangerous world into a new, safer, one with new treasures, monsters and dangers.

Presentation is simple: the graphics are deliberately generic with desert, ice and jungle worlds displayed using the same basic graphics with a few palette changes. This is surprisingly effective, however, and gives the game a similar feel to the early roguelikes it takes as its inspiration. There’s also some atmospheric tunes to accompany the whole thing.

I’ve only sketched the basic outline of all the things you can find in this game and, as with all great games, it’s better you discover them yourself. HyperRogue is available on Android, Linux, OSX and Windows.

Making Willy Harder

27 January, 2016

Fuck your “walk through both kitchen rooms without any of the monsters hitting you”

Everyone who has ever played Matthew Smith’s classic 1984 platform game Jet Set Willy has surely had the same thought –

“What this game really needs is to be less easy. In fact it could really do with being much, much more difficult.”

Well, 32 years after the game was originally published it looks like someone has taken heed because a new ZX Spectrum remix of the original game has been released called Jet Set Willy: The Nightmare Edition.

The goal and map is much the same as the original game but pretty-much every room has been subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, altered to make an already challenging game carpet-chewingly frustrating. In addition to this, there are some other tweaks such as a new “nightmarish” in-game font, extra tunes and a few wee new touches here and there.

Hopefully, these will make up for your pulling all your fucking hair out.

More details and download links at this page here.


29 December, 2015

“After I enjoy this *root beer*, I’ll have some *talcum powder*”

Like everyone with a tiny bit of rock and roll in their soul (and in my case that is a bit tiny, unfortunately), I was sad to hear about the death of Lemmy out of Hawkwind and Motörhead who I think most of us had assumed was, like Keith Richards, indestructable.

Keeping things on-topic for this blog, the Facebook post that announced his death said that he died playing his favourite videogame and someone noted that Lemmy appeared in “at least one game” – Brütal Legend. But there was another…

Incredibly, in 1992, Virgin Games published a licensed Motörhead videogame for the Amiga. The player controls Lemmy himself who has to beat the shit out of rave and country music fans whilst drinking neat whisky and gaining powers. I am not making this up. Seek it out, dig UAE out and play it, the man himself would approve.

My Issyos, your Issyos, a’body’s Issyos

15 December, 2015

Never mind The Star Wars, or Elite: What Should Have Been In The First Version,


“Try my Christmas roasted scarab beetle!”

the release you should all be getting excited about is The Curse of Issyos. Creators Locomalito have an incredibly high hit rate when it comes to retro-style games that actually play as well as the best stuff of yesteryear as opposed to just look a bit like them (#names). This latest game is a scrolling platformer with vaguely Sega Master System/NES-era graphics and the usual great score from Gryzor87. It’s set in the age of Greek myth and is heavily influenced by the likes of the 1960s great SFX/bad acting film Jason and the Argonauts. What the flippety flop are you waiting for? Download it now for free from its website, you silly.

Sab95 – important update

15 December, 2015

It’s a bit mince.


2 December, 2015

There’s been a bit of a buzz around the fact that Clive Townsend is


Ninja kicks the shit out of, erm, some kind of troll thing (it’s the ’90s!)

working on an update to his classic 1980s platform-and-stealth ninja games Saboteur and Saboteur 2 (the latter featuring a female protagonist long before it made neckbeards and that Tory blogger with ice-cream coloured hair all angry on Twitter). Doing a spot of online googling about this lead to me discover that there was an unofficial Saboteur game released for DOS-based PCs in the 1990s. No really, it has a site and everything.

I’m intrigued, I’m going to play it and then, in a few days, I’m going to report back. It’ll probably be shite. The knocked-off Mortal Kombat stuff is already making me roll my eyes. But it also might be brilliant because, hey, you never know.

Meanwhile, information on Townsend’s official update can be found a his website here.


“I will not play this game as the image only changes 30 times a second”

25 October, 2015
Let's not mention that kickstarter, tho'

Let’s not mention that kickstarter, tho’

I’m as happy as anyone else (that’s happy, you cynics!) to hear news of a new version of Crystal Kingdom Dizzy for the ZX Spectrum but I can’t help but worry a bit about this…

“will feature a 50fps engine, renewed graphics, more animated sprites”

Oh man, have the Framerate Police got to the ZX Spectrum community as well now?! How will they feel knowing it can never be in HD (“Bro”)?

“Yer PAW!”

4 August, 2015
One of many instances where Rigel's Revenge uses graphics instead of text to

One of many instances where Rigel’s Revenge uses graphics instead of text to “describe” something to the player

I’ve recently been working on a whole load of writing which has just about come to fruition so it’s got me thinkin about another creative project to get my “teeth” “into”. And I’ve decided it’s going to be an IF (Interactive Fiction, a wanky new name for what we used to call “text adventures”) game, one for the Spectrum to be specific, one written with PAW  to be even more specific.

The route that took me here basically started with me sitting on a train from England playing with Spectaculator on my tablet. One of the games that comes with the full version is Zenobi’s Jekyll and Hyde game. Playing it again (IF games work brilliantly on tablets, btw) reminded me not just that I like IF, but that I like ZX Spectrum IF in particular. There’s something about the chunky display, the likeable “click” noises so many Spectrum IF games have when you type and the weirdly attractive pixel art that appeals to me. The 8-bit era has an interesting history of IF, including the first game I can recall having been given a certificate by the BBFC (CRL’s Dracula, in what felt more like a publicity stunt than anything else, was given a 15 certificate; they later released Jack The Ripper, a game which was given an 18 certificate) and a huge and very active homebrew scene, much of it focused around the aforementioned Zenobi software.

I think my affection for ZX Spectrum IF goes beyond nostalgia, though: one of the main reasons I love Spectrum IF is a game that I got round to playing years after I sold my Spectrum – Rigel’s Revenge.

I’m not sure what it was about this game that grabbed me back when I played it via emulation (on an Amiga 1200!) back in 1996. It might have been the atmospheric setting, might have been the likeably pulpy sci-fi storyline, might have been the excellent use of graphics as description as well as illustration. Whatever it was, I played it for absolutely ages, got past lots of puzzles, reached the second load (in the ’80s, a lot of 8-bit IF needed to be loaded in separate parts to get all of the adventure in there) and promptly got stuck. Maybe I should go back to it and try and do it all again, and complete the bugger this time.

Anyway, the Matty PAWed IF game will probably be in development for months but I’ve a few ideas to build on and it’ll be interesting to see the results, especially if I actually get the damn thing finished unlike far too many of my projects…