I don’t remember E.T. making a big impression on my life in 1982. I never saw the movie back then, and a couple of years ago watched half of it before falling asleep in front of the telly. I guess you had to be there when it was first released?
Ireland in the 1980s was a country in recession. I certainly knew nobody with a 2600 console so we were spared the abomination that was the official game of the movie. While we had some sort of Pong clone in the early ’80s we moved away to “proper” computers like the Speccy and C64 after that.
Nonetheless, it was an important game. It helped bring about the collapse of Atari and the video game market in the US!
99% Invisible just featured an episode by podcast Sidedoor about E.T. The Videogame and it’s enthralling. You can hear all about how bad it was, the story of it’s development from game developer Howard Scott Warshaw, and finally to his reaction that people are still obsessed with the game all these years later.
mix of real-time strategy and tower defense, where there is only one enemy and it can only be repelled rather than destroyed. The player must hold back a purple mass called the “Creeper”, which has already destroyed most of humanity and is now attacking Odin City, humanity’s last bastion. This is done by placing towers onto the battlefield which shoot at the Creeper. The main goal of the game is to connect the player’s base to energy totems through the use of energy collectors and relays; doing so opens a jump gate which allows Odin City to teleport to a new planet and attempt to escape the Creeper again.
Steam says I’ve played close to 100 hours in the game, many of those hours in frustration or getting overwhelmed before figuring out how to defeat a level.
It’s like tower defense except that the enemy is a liquid that comes at you from all directions so you have to build towers to protect your assets everywhere. I find most levels have an initial “OMG Moment” at the start where it all seems too much, but by building up your batteries, and your towers you’ll soon be fighting back.
Sometimes it’s a slog, and the last level I just played is one such map. Fortress Siege by Blaze in the Alpha Sector is one to leave until you’ve had plenty of practice. 4 emitters spew out vast amounts of creeper. It’s hard enough just keeping it back but advancing is on another level of difficulty altogether!
I did eventually defeat the map and once one of the emitters fell it was plain sailing. I earned two achievements playing this one:
Build 25 shields in a mission.
Build 25 Berthas in a mission.
Maybe a little excessive, but I swear they were needed! For a taste of what it’s like have a look at this video.
Disappointingly only one of my friends on Steam has the game. Check out the reviews on Steam. Recent reviews are “very positive” while all reviews are “overwhelmingly positive”.
Creeper World 4 is on the way too, but there’s no release date for it. It’ll be done when it’s done to paraphrase the developer but I’m looking forward to it already. It looks great!
The guys on the Retro Asylum podcast played Stunt Car Racer this month. That game is one of my favourites. A wild roller coaster of a game where you literally drive a car around a roller coaster.
I played the C64 version for hours on end and listening to them prompted me to set up FS-UAE again as I wanted to try out the Amiga version once more. I think I’ve only ever played that version in emulation as I didn’t have the game when I had an Amiga 500.
Anyway, FS-UAE is a great emulator based on the Winuae Amiga emulator. It uses openretro.org for database files including graphics and game information which is really helpful. It’s sort of an Amiga version of Gamebase64! Here’s a video describing how to set it up. I’ll leave it up to you to find the games and everything else but it’s not hard to find them.
Stunt Car Racer is an amazing game, and in my opinion still holds up today as a decent game. Sure, the graphics are simplistic, sound is limited but what is there is superbly polished.
The Amiga and Atari ST versions even had simultaneous multiplayer which I sadly never experienced but I’d love to know if FS-UAE could handle using some sort of virtual null modem cable to connect emulators on two machines together. It does emulate the Amiga serial port so there might be hope for the future. I found this thread about Winuae but people there didn’t have much luck.
So, what does Stunt Car Racer look like? Here’s someone who doesn’t know how to play it but he’s very entertaining and he learns as he goes..
The game is set on a roller coaster. Timing and speed are everything. You have to hit ramps at the right speed to jump gaps, and failing to line up a turn or a jump in time would result in a crash.
Here’s a much better driver, including the TNT version which I haven’t played yet but looks hard as nails!
 This game was created by AmiGer/CARE (http://www.discreetfx.com/care/) by modifying the original game Stunt Car Racer. The TNT of the title stands for “The New Tracks”. A track designer was written in Delphi and used to create 8 new tracks to race. The title screen and menu screen have been modified, as well as the colour palette.  The disk version has the track colours incorrect in the track preview window – they retain the reds from the original. The WHDLoad version fixes this problem.  2-player mode via null-modem connection.
This is one of the few games I play exclusively with the keyboard. Start a race and press “p” to pause, then f1 to redefine the keys. I usually use , . t g [space] and then press o to unpause.
Stunt Car Racer appeared on multiple platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Speccy, and Amstrad machines all had versions. Here’s a video comparing them. It’s amazing what Geoff Crammond and porting teams did back then!
Earlier this year, (2019 for those coming across this post in the future), the game was ported to the BBC Master and it flies along!
That looks way smoother and faster than the C64 version!
There is a sort-of modern remake. The game Assetto Corsa features the first track!
Stunt Car Racer is an amazing racing game. Track down the Amiga version, fire up Winuae or FS-UAE and give it a whirl. You’ll love it!
Dune II, a real-time strategy game released in 1992, was as you may guess based on Frank Herbert’s second book in the Dune series. I didn’t play it at the time as I still owned a C64 at the time but I did play it before the decade was out.
In the game the player must harvest spice, return it to a refinery to convert to credits which are then used to build more harvesters or military units. Your military units are used to defend your harvesters and buildings and also attack your opponents. You control one of three opposing houses with the ultimate aim of conquering the other two.
Dune Legacy is a modern Dune engine that will allow you to play the original game with modern controls and higher resolution graphics. As well as Dune Legacy there’s also Dune Dynasty based on OpenDUNE.
They all require the original game to run but if you search carefully you’ll be able to find it online.
I haven’t played much of the game yet but it plays much the same way I remember in the past. Go get it if you’re a fan of RTS games. When you’re finished with that have a look at OpenRA, an open source implementation of Command and Conquer: Red Alert.
The first Nintendo console I owned was the Gameboy Advance. The earlier Nintendo machines passed me by as I was busy coding on the C64, messing with the Amiga and PCs and college then kept me busy!
I never owned a SNES and Nintendo 64 and rarely even used the real hardware. The only game in the SNES Mini collection that I’m nostalgic about is F-Zero as I loved playing that on the Gameboy and it plays perfectly on this diminutive machine.
This is a lovely piece of kit though. I like the menu system and the two controllers are wonderful. Now I know why people go on about these and seek out their modern equivalents in 8bitdo equipment.
Apart from games I’m looking forward to tinkering with the machine, and maybe adding a C64 core although the lack of a proper keyboard can cause problems..
Ah Retrograde, a Commodore 64 game released by Thalamus in 1989. The Rowland Brothers, of Creatures, Creatures 2 and Mayhem in Monsterland fame created this game and it shows. Presentation is top notch. Some would say that this is a repetitive shoot ’em up but I love it. Nice mix of flying around shooting aliens and then a bit of a break with the underground bits. I love the graphics and the sound is a delight.
The gameplay is very simplistic, especially underground but the flying weapons are super! Just make sure you have an autofire on your controller. My thumb was sore from two levels when I remember Vice can do the hard work for me. I’m also glad Vice can save a snapshot of the computer state to save my progress as this game takes some time to complete.
What game? No, that’s the title of a free game on Steam and on the Commodore 64!
The C64 version can be found here on CSDb while the Steam version is here. The Steam version works on Windows, Mac and 32 bit Linux! A comment on the original announcement post links to what could be a port to something called FreeBASIC which is available here.
The game is a very hard platform game where you have to collect all the items in the game to complete it 100%. The CSDb page has some spoiler comments so beware of those if you want to avoid them. Then again, this game came out in 2012 so you probably know about it already.
The game is great, but the the stand out thing for me is the flawless C64 port. It looks very much like the modern Steam version, with the same sounds and graphics which isn’t surprising as they’re fairly basic. The game plays the same, at least as far as I’ve got to!
Many people love this game for the CGA colour palette but it’s a reminder that the PC had humble beginnings comparable to the Commodore 64. The Commodore Amiga released in the mid-eighties blew away anything produced on the PC for many years.
The other day I was reading through the very last issue of Ace Magazine when I came across an "In the Works" preview of a game called Bob. It was the temporary name given to a work-in-progress game by developers Bullfrog.
It meant nothing to me until I saw the screenshots.
That looks very familiar! It was the classic Bullfrog game, Syndicate!
Bob looked like a much more complex game than Syndicate turned out to be so I'm glad the game was tweaked and tuned before release. It's one of the few games I've actually finished, except for the American Revolt add-on. I never even managed to complete the first level in that! I haven't found much online that links the name Bob to Syndicate but this great RPS article does. That was published in 2008 and it's amusing to see the comments wishing for a remake of the game. We got them, they didn't make quite the same splash as the original.
Syndicate had the veneer of strategy. You could separate out your agents and send them off in different directions, but really, the most fun was to be had when all four were rocking gauss guns and causing all sorts of mayhem!
The very last level in Syndicate was really hard. You'd last all of about 10 seconds before succumbing to superior firepower until you figured out the right strategy to complete it. If you've already played it, or know you'll never do so, check out the video below:
Syndicate was followed by the American Revolt add-on. It comes packaged with the GOG release so you've no excuse not to try it, except that it's hard as nails. I don't feel bad saying that I had no idea how to complete the first level until I saw this ..
Syndicate Wars followed as a proper sequel some time later, but IMO it comes nowhere near being as immersive and addictive as the original Syndicate. I didn't like the graphics and it didn't sit right with me at all.
A modern remake of Syndicate came out in 2012, which I bought in 2014, but it only runs on Windows so I haven't played it much.
In 2015 a spiritual successor to the original Syndicate was released, Satellite Reign. It looks beautiful, and the screenshots have that Syndicate vibe but to play it is painful.
On a more positive note, there's also Free Synd, a GPLed implementation of the Syndicate game engine. The last release was in 2016 however.
The original 1993 version of Syndicate is available on GOG. I highly recommend it. Even if your computer isn't powerful it's bound to be better than even the most expensive home PC or Amiga of the time. GOG have packaged the game with Dosbox so it's a one click install and run. The game is cheap and well worth checking out if you're a gamer.
This is what happens when you have Humble Bundles and a backlog of games.
Speaking of backlogs, one game I really enjoyed that I bought got in a Humble Bundle ages ago but never played until recently was Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal. If we’re friends on Steam, chances are you don’t own this game but you probably should. Only one of my friends does. Hi Mark. 🙂
Creeper World 3 is a sort of a tower defence game but it’s more a real time strategy (RTS) game. You move your pieces to combat the relentless Creeper as it flows over everything to consume the map. It’s a mostly easy-going game as you can pause and consider your next move and once you’ve set up your initial defences you can take as long as you want.
Usually it’s easy going and fun.
Not so In Farbor where you’re under a strict time limit as a ship is under construction and you must stop it before it launches. It’s so difficult for an early level that there’s a pinned discussion thread on the Steam Forums explaining how to skip it.. It took me many attempts to beat this level, and I had the help of the video above. If everything isn’t just right you’ll be found lacking near the end game. It was a hell of a feeling beating this level. Yes, even though I copied what someone else did. I managed to beat that level in just over 16 frantic minutes. As well as employing the strategy in that video I also used snipers to take down two of the incoming ships to slow down construction, and built a forge to make energy and ore more efficient. I think I wouldn’t have beaten the map without those two additions.
The game was in a recent Humble Bundle, and apparently I bought it a long time ago but only got around to playing it recently. It’s on Steam at a cheap price. Go get it, it’s a fabulous game!
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