Hello, readers! Yes, I know it’s been bloody ages since I posted anything here but I’ve been quite busy and, to be honest, when I’ve not been busy I’ve just been lazy.
So, as a stop-gap until the next proper article, here’s a couple of recommendations.
First off, despite not owning an iProduct I finally managed to get a quick game of the new iThing conversion of the wonderful Speedball 2 (well, the free demo version anyway) on my brother’s iPhone. First impressions are excellent – the game has taken an “ain’t broke, don’t fix” approach to everything about the game and although the graphics have been scaled up to the higher iThing resolution from the Amiga/ST originals they are still instantly recognisable and barely changed. The same, thankfully, seems to be the case with the gameplay.
Control is a little different. The developers have opted for two different control methods: tilt control and virtual thumb stick with both methods utilising a tap of the screen instead of a fire button. I didn’t try the tilt control although my brother did and seemed to find it a little tricky. The virtual thumbstick seems better suited to fans of the original game and manages to be reasonably easy to use and responsive, although it’s not as good as a proper controller. Despite this, it’s still better than it sounds (a nice touch is that the virtual stick appears wherever you put your thumb meaning that you’re not “confined” to a single part of the screen) and is arguably the best we can expect from the iThings until someone develops some kind of tiny physical thumbstick for it (if they haven’t already) and based on my brief usage, most players will probably get used to it after a few games. Speedball 2 Evolution currently retails for US$2.99 (I can’t be bothered to convert that into pounds/euros but it’s doubtless not much) and if you wait around it’ll probably be offered at an even lower price sometime in the future. Definitely worth it if you like the original, and if you’re worried about the controls download the free demo version and see how they feel. And, yes, it has “ice cream ice cream”.
The other recommendation is a series of platformers for the ZX Spectrum. All three, featuring the excellent Sid Spanners and his massive tool (matron!) and going by the titles Sid Spanners, Sid Spanners 2: The Slackening and Sid Spanners 3: The Nuthouse , were programmed by the mysterious Digital Prawn and are simple, but slick and well-designed, variants on the Manic Miner/Jet Set Willy template. Definitely worth a shot if that’s your kind of thing and you’ve managed to finish Horace in the Magic Woods.
Toodles until next time!