Posts Tagged ‘retro games’

Finders Keepers revisited

15 September, 2013
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Just one of many Finders Keepers rooms with a badly-designed monster pathway (sorry, David).

On the heels of Colin Stewart’s re-working of his excellent 1985 title Frank-N-Stein, David Jones has announced on the World of Spectrum forums that he’s looking to re-mix the same year’s Finders Keepers, the game that introduced Magic Knight to the world.

Finders Keepers is a very clever little game which mixes platforming and maze-game styles with a bit of object manipulation. It also features a trading system whereby objects can be sold to in-game salespeople and more expensive items can be bought with the money made. I seem to remember David saying that this was all part of an attempt to give the game a mildly educational edge.

For all its good qualities, it’s also a flawed game with some frustrating elements and badly-placed monsters (common in games that use energy-depletion rather than one-touch-to-lose-a-life mechanics) which David is looking to fix as part of the reworking. Looking forward to it.

Horace and the Long Wait

25 September, 2010

Seriously, Horace, did a tin of paint fall on you or something?

This one has an interesting history. Anyone remotely interested in ZX Spectrum gaming will know about Horace, the blue-bodied, giant eyed doo-dah who starred in the Horace games released by Psion in the early ’80s: Hungry Horace, Horace Goes Skiing and Horace and the Spiders. None of them were particularly exceptional but they were entertaining enough and they’re one of those series Spectrum users get fuzzy and nostalgic about, rather like the Commander Keen series is for those who were PC users in the ’90s.

Thing is, there was a fourth official Horace title as well: Horace in the Mystic Woods, which appeared in 1995. This was a platformer, taking place across 64 single-screen stages, in which Horace had to collect objects and make it to an exit square to progress; rather like Manic Miner. For some reason, this game was only ever released on the Psion 3-series, a type of palmtop computer, and so not only used a simple black & white display but was also obscure as a result and largely unknown and unplayed to most of Horace’s fans.

But now, that’s changed. Indie coder Bob Smith has converted Horace in the Mystic Woods to the 48K ZX Spectrum, sticking to the original layout and gameplay of the original game but adding colour as well; although Horace, always dark blue in the Spectrum games, is inexplicably white here. A few plays reveal that the Manic Miner similarities are deceptive: Horace’s inertia makes this very different to play and, as the player progresses, various features and collectables appear which give this game a distinct feel. It’s actually rather more than something for completist Horace fans or retrogamers, it’s a good game in it’s own right and you should bloody well play it.

Horace in the Mystic Woods can be downloaded either from Bob Smith’s homepage or from its entry at the World of Spectrum.

He’s supposed to be blue, mind.