Andrew Newton on the video games we were playing back in the day…
August 1991 was a great month for practically everything. The weather was great throughout the UK with temperatures barely dropping below 20° and everyone was enjoying the sunny weather. On the film front was the brilliant Terminator 2, arguably the finest of the first two films…. we will not mention the sequels, and fans of mutated chelonians were able to enjoy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze. However, the gamers got the best of everything, we enjoyed the weather, went to the pictures and got to play the following fantastic games….
Deuteros: The Next Millennium – Activision – Amiga, Atari ST
This sequel to the 1989 resource management game Millennium 2.2 amazed fans and shared the same kind of resource management, space exploration and combat as the original, although it was on a whole new level.
Set around 800 years after the events of Millennium 2.2, humanity has successfully re-colonised Earth but in the process has lost its ability to travel through space thanks to a huge Martian attack on the Moonbase that was once the last remaining enclave of the human race. Deuteros challenged players to journey to space and colonise the Solar System once again, facing the Methanoid race (originated from a colony created in the first game) and researching craft to travel to other systems.
This was a great sequel to a fantastic strategy game and is possibly one of the most under-rated titles ever to grace the Amiga and Atari ST. Talk about strategy games to people and they’ll mention Civilisation, X-Com, Populous 2 but seldom Deuteros. Yet it got decent scores in the magazines with Amiga Action giving it 87%, CU Amiga 70% and C&VG 84%.
Sharkey’s Moll – Zeppelin – Amstrad CPC464, Commodore 64, Spectrum, Amiga, Atari ST
Sharkey’s Moll takes players to Chicago in the roaring ’20s, a time of mobsters, speakeasys and suited fellows carrying violin cases. This particular area has major problems thanks to a gangland boss known as Rubbers Malone (probably kills people with rubber gloves or something) and it has become a place where arson attacks are referred to as urban renewal. Taking the roll of Lieutenant Sharkey (a police officer that makes Harry Callahan look soft), players crack out the old Tommy Gun and take care of Chicago’s biggest problem. Oh, and they got to throw molotov cocktails as well, because 1920’s police love the smell of burning gangsters in the morning.
Originally, Sharkey’s Moll was meant to be an Operation Wolf clone with soldiers to shoot and everything but due to legal reasons it was all reskinned to a mobster shooting game, which in my opinion was a much better idea. Not only did they avoid possible legal implications from Ocean they also made sure the game would be remembered for standing out a bit from the contemporary soldier shooting games that were popular.
Want to know how it faired in the magazines of the time? Crash gave it 73%, Amiga Format slightly less at 69% and C&VG were quite impressed with the ST version, giving it 81%.
L.E.D. Storm – Capcom – Arcade, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC 464, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.
Although released a couple of years earlier, L.E.D. Storm got a rerelease on every platform and on the 8 bit machines came with a very cheap price of £3.99, though I swear I only paid £2.99 from the newsagents.
Taking place at some point in the future, L.E.D. Storm (the L.E.D. stands for Laser Enhanced Destruction) covers a massive race across a continent where the prize for 1st place is $1,000,000. There’s 9 routes to race over, all with their own appearance, obstacles and music, these routes include a city environment, the Coral Sea and the Big Cave Tunnel. However, most people will remember the first level called Capital, which took place on a road high above the city and which was also in an atrocious condition with chunks missing from it. If you think the roads we drive on in the UK are dangerous with the depth of some potholes then thank your lucky stars you’re not racing on this road.
When it comes to other traffic on the roads, the most memorable one is probably the roller skaters, these arseholes grabbed hold of the back of your car and greatly reduced your speed and manoeuvrability until you either shook them off or crashed.
One of the very best features of the game is the score created by Tim Follin. This soundtrack is one of the best of any game of the time and is well worth having a listen to.
L.E.D. Storm was by far my most favourite of top down racers and gained 90% in Crash and 84% in Sinclair User. Sadly, a chap called Stuart Campbell in Amiga Power gave the game a mere 43% and to this day I think he was probably playing the wrong game.
R-Type II – Activision/ Arc Developments – Amiga, Atari ST
For ages, gamers who loved their sideways scrolling shooters had to contend with the likes of Scramble and Defender (still good games mind you) but then one glorious day we were all introduced to R-Type. A game with smooth scrolling, well designed enemies, atmospheric environments, good selection of weapons and creepy end of level bosses. A couple of years later, R-Type II came along with a brand-new ship to pilot (though looked very similar to the original) against the Bodean Empire (the original aggressors).
The enemies had obviously learned from their defeat in the first game and now were attacking with much better armoured vessels which made the game a little more difficult and slightly more challenging. Fortunately the new ship is kitted out with a Jewel-weapon that gets more powerful with every collected crystal. The vessel also had a laser weapon which could pretty do all the types of shots that players were familiar with.
If you liked your horizontal scrolling shoot-em-ups, as all good-hearted people should, then this one would have been a good addition to any collection. Though it was blummin’ frustrating at times. Sadly, 8 bit gamers didn’t get to enjoy this sequel but gamers on the Amiga and Atari ST had a good time.
Ghostbusters II – Re-released by the budget label The Hit Squad – Amstrad CPC464, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
There’s no doubt that fans of the Ghostbusters films will prefer the original to its sequel, sure the sequel has a charm about it but it wasn’t the non-stop adventure the first was. But when it comes to the games people aren’t as confident as to which to prefer, though personally I’d plump for The Real Ghostbusters game.
Back in the day, when a game had run it’s course for the original publisher, the rights would get sold to one of the many budget houses around (Mastertronic and Kixx to name a couple) and these would then sell the game in a single cassette case for £2-3. Believe it or not, these re-releases sometimes fetch more money from collectors than copies from the initial release.
Ghostbusters II features three separate levels inspired by the film. In the first section, players have to guide Ray down the hole in 1st Avenue and grab samples while avoiding ghosts. It’s all a little messy with lots of spooks and so much going on at once, though if you get through that then you’re in for a treat. The second section sees the four climb into the Statue of Liberty and literally walk down a very long street shooting ghosts with her lamp. The ghosts drop slime and this is gathered by the humans running at Liberty’s feet to give her the energy to keep going. Finally, it’s time to take on Vigo the Carpathian (the guy suffering from Carpathian Kitten Loss), rescue Dana’s kid and get rid of him once and for all. I’d say the battle was easy/hard if I had ever had the tenacity to walk forever in Liberty’s shoes.
I love Ghostbusters (except the travesty that was the 2016 version), but I found the first bit a tiny bit too challenging and the second bit too long winded. Still, it had a certain charm to it which made me just revisit it every now and again.
When it came to the scoring in the magazines, Your Sinclair gave it a middling 60% (fair enough) and Sinclair User gave it 71% (perhaps a tiny bit too generous), yet astoundingly Zzap! gave it a miserable 39%. Now, I never played the C64 version but watching the longplay on Youtube I can see why it was given that score.
Three, two, one…. we’re back in the present day. Well that is another month’s worth of games we were playing 30 years ago. Some good, others not so good and some fantastic. Join us next month for another line up of games, including Treble Champions II, a game that scored just 5% in Amiga Power. Just kidding, I wouldn’t inflict that on you.
‘Til next time, cheerio!