CRASH BACK

As summer poises, ready for the onslaught of fab new games around Christmas, CRASH takes a look back at some of the major games we have reviewed in the past to see if they (and the reviews) stand the test of time. MATTHEW UFFINDELL and LLOYD MANGRAM take keyboard and reputation in hand...

Games this month:
Bugaboo (The Flea)
3D Ant Attack
Transversion
Splat!
Push Off
Maziacs
Lunar Jetman
Splat!
All games reviewed in CRASH issue 1 (February)

Bugaboo
(Quicksilva)

Of both Bugaboo and 3D Ant Attack, we predicted ‘great things’ and went out on a limb after a few glasses of Quicksilva’s champagne to say that both games were in the top class. Evidently sales and popularity in the CRASH HOTLINE have borne this out, less perhaps in the case of Bugaboo.

Bugaboo screenshot

No one has ever bettered the loading screen sequence on Bugaboo, with its totally cinematic titles. It’s not necessarily a point in the game’s favour, but it surely does get you in the right frame of mind to play it.

As the months go by and software improves, past hits seem to disappear out of memory, Bugaboo is still one of my favourite games on the market. The graphics are among the best, and I rate it around the Jet Set Willy, Atic Atac class. After seeing so much great software over the last several months, this game still has a fantastic addictive quality and is still one of the best games produced for the Spectrum.
MU

The thing that still strikes about Bugaboo is the unusual and attractive screen layout. But it’s not only good to look at, it’s also cleverly designed to make life difficult. Everything about the game, as far as I’m concerned still stands up well to later software. Any game loses much of its addictivity once conquered and I know a number of letter writers have said that they don’t want to play it again. But to me, it seems that Bugaboo always demands skill in timing and forward planning to beat it.
LM

Use of computer90%
Graphics95%
Playability90%
Getting started95%
Addictive qualities90%
Value for money85%
Overall92%

(Matthew) I wouldn’t quarrel with any of the ratings in the original review, and if anyone asks me what should be their first game for the Spectrum I tell them, Bugaboo.

(Lloyd) I wouldn’t argue with the graphics rating or playability, perhaps the addictive rating was a trifle high — it has something to do with the dragon! He’s a nuisance!

3D Ant Attack
(Quicksilva)

Ant Attack has remained high in the HOTLINE charts since we started them, proof of the game’s popularity with players.

There have been many failing attempts over the last several months to get fab 3D effect graphics like Ant Attack — it’s still one of the leading 3D games. Playing it now shows that much more colour could have been added. Content and addictive qualities have dropped dramatically. Also a major point on the graphics is that if 100% (which it received in the original review) is given then nothing can beat it. I would now rate them at 74%, the reason being that they are unimaginative and uncolourful. Not such a good game itself but still worth buying just to see the 3D effect.
MU

Oddly, Ant Attack came out with a much lower overall rating than Bugaboo (85%) but of course scored on the graphics, still to be beaten in their particular 3D effect. I think we were all a bit overcome by them at first and failed to note that the game itself isn’t so great. With the graphics, it isn’t only the city which works so well, but the animation of you, your rescuee and the ants is excellent. Incidentally, although it appears to be of no use, there is an ammo dump out in the desert, but it seems to be nothing more than a visual gag put in for those players who inevitably were going to go off exploring.
LM

Use of computer60%
Graphics100%
Playability95%
Getting started80%
Addictive qualities80%
Value for money95%
Overall85%

(Matthew) I think I would want to knock about 5% off the playability rating and some 10% off the addictive qualities given originally as the only real objective is to continually rescue your girl / boyfriend and they are always in the same locations each game.

(Lloyd) I agree.

Transversion
(Ocean)

Transversion was a surprise rave in the first issue of CRASH and the first of a series of Ocean hits by Chris Urquhart with his friend, Nick Pierpoint. In the original review we said, ‘A game that will not be tired of easily.’

Transversion is still the best, most playable and slightly less addictive game that it ever was — nobody’s improved on it — and since there have been quite a few attempts, it looks as though no one can! The graphics are small by today’s standards but perfectly adequate with good colour and sound. If you want a grid game, this one is still the best.
MU

Transversion screenshot

There have been faster and more complex versions of this game but I don’t think any of them has bettered Transversion. The success of the game then was its simplicity, and it still shines out. It’s one of those mind-boggling games at which you will eventually fail because your reflexes will not stand up to it. That makes it addictive. I really enjoyed getting this one out again.

Use of computer95%
Graphics70%
Playability83%
Getting started85%
Addictive qualities90%
Value for money75%
Overall83%

(Matthew) Use of computer (95%) looks very over the top by our reviewing standards today. The keys are good and responsive, but the joystick options aren’t so extensive. And I think if I was reviewing it now, I would drop the addictive qualities to around 70%, but it’s still great value for money.

(Lloyd) I don’t think I would quibble with the review much, although the ratings for use of computer and addictivity do seem rather high but I would certainly keep the playability figure intact (83%).

Splat
(Incentive)

As a hero figure, Zippy is lacking in charisma by today’s heroic figures, people like Willy, Wally and Ziggy, but Splat! got a good review because of the game itself, not for the sprite animation. We said, ‘This is a game with growing appeal and a thoroughly mean, ornery streak which guarantees its addictivity.’ Were we right?

I still find Splat! an unmasterable game due to the fact that no set route can be taken. Most maze games do have a set route, but with Splat! you never know which way the maze is going to scroll, or what all of it looks like. Oddly enough, nobody else has brought out a scrolling maze quite like this, so it does have a skill factor all of its own. The time has gone when a character like Zippy is not animated to some extent although most graphics (for this type of game) cannot be altered as playing the game becomes too complex. The game is still very playable in itself although I can only play it in short doses. I thought that the majority of its charm had worn off due to more attractive and playable games.
MU

Splat screenshot

Perhaps the fact that the computer yelled ‘Yippee!’ at me when I completed a level had a lot to do with liking Splat!. It was almost unique at the time. Splat’s originality hasn’t really been challenged in the sense that the screen edge is your worst enemy in this game and the scrolling maze idea was certainly novel and gave the game its playability.
LM

Use of computer95%
Graphics70%
Playability74%
Getting started85%
Addictive qualities75%
Value for money90%
Overall81½%

(Matthew) I wouldn’t give use of computer 95% — not with cursor keys for control, and I think the value for money (90%) was an over-rating.

(Lloyd) I always thought Splat! was fun, so I wouldn’t change my mind now, having just re-played it, but perhaps the ratings were over-generous in some respects like use of computer, but I might be tempted to bump the addictive rating (75%) up a little bit.

Push Off
(Software Projects)

Push Off was among the first releases from the newly formed Software Projects, formed by Alan Manton after leaving Imagine, and the second Pengo type game from the Spectrum.

With many of these types of game on the market now, Push Off has stood the test of time and I still think that it’s highly playable. Content in Pengo games is never very good, this is one of the better versions. The addictive qualities have worn off as there are many more content-high games available (in a general sense). The graphics are good but with none of the latest great animation.
MU

Pengo games were never my strength, so Push Off was always a favourite because of its little frills. The bells to be rung (making the bugs dizzy so you can run them over) seemed a better answer than the electrified walls, and the fact that you can create blocks as well as destroy them made the game easier to control. Perhaps that indicates an arcade playing weakness, but I liked Push Off. Its graphics stand up well, bright and exceptionally smooth. The control keys were a bit awkward and, of course, they still are!
LM

Use of Computer78%
Graphics89%
Playability90%
Getting Started80%
Addictive Qualities85%
Value For Money87%
Overall85%

(Matthew) I would drop the playability (90%) and the addictive qualities (85%) down to about 70% now, otherwise I would think the review still stands.

(Lloyd) I would drop use of computer (78%) and playability if reviewing it today. The addictive qualities are a little over the top as well.

Maziacs
(DK Tronics)

Maziacs was one of those vast mazes which began to be popular about this time (excepting the 3D types). CRASH said it had ‘plenty of appeal with lots to do and good animation’. Overall 82%.

This large maze/adventure game still has plenty of appealing qualities although perhaps the action seems a little on the slow side — fights become long and boring instead of exciting. Moving graphics are detailed but the maze is very uninteresting. This does seem to detract from the game although it didn’t when I saw it first. In retrospect the game doesn’t seem to be very colourful now. Key reactions are slow. Unaddictive and boring.
MU

Maziacs stands up now because with the exception of Chuckman (I’m sure Chuckman borrowed the graphics) there hasn’t been another game quite like Maziacs. Everything is large and bright, if somewhat unimaginatively coloured, and the animation we raved about then, still looks amusing and good today. For its originality and playability, I would still stick with the review even if a few of the ratings may have paled a little in comparison with later games.
LM

Use of Computer80%
Graphics78%
Playability84%
Getting Started80%
Addictive Qualities88%
Value For Money82%
Overall82%

(Matthew) I would agree with the use of computer rating (80%) because the keys are not very responsive. I would also drop playability (84%) and addictive qualities (88%) — say down to the higher seventies.

(Lloyd) That seems fair — I know the use of computer was rated high because this was among the first games to have user-definable keys, but it’s true that responsiveness to input has been improved a lot since.

Lunar Jetman
(Ultimate)

This game was eagerly awaited after the thrills of Ultimate’s first game Jetpac. Would it be an improvement? Everyone thought so because Ultimate had insisted on being 16K before — this was the first 48K game.

Lunar Jetman screenshot

When Atic Atac appeared about a month after Jetman’s release, Jetman seems to have been forgotten. I don’t know why — it still greatly appeals to me; but has lost some of its addictive qualities, which is odd considering it still has fantastic playability. It’s the same frantic, impossible game that it ever was and is worth buying if you love fast, detailed shoot em up graphics.
MU

My first reaction initially to Jetman was all the keys — what a handful! Our review then said, ‘Marvellous seems an inadequate word.’ A statement I would still agree with now. Ultimate had managed in a short space of time and with very few games to establish themselves as a leading software house with ‘state of the art’ programs. Jetman was certainly ace. Today it is still playable, as witness its popularity among hi-score freaks (who did not forget it when Atic Atac came out) and because of the massive nature of the game, remains as addictive as ever. Incidentally, recent rumours that trailers have been spotted in the game are purely imaginative, as Ultimate could not fit the trailer in the width of the screen.
LM

Use of Computer90%
Graphics99%
Playability95%
Getting Started90%
Addictive Qualities95%
Value For Money100%
Overall95%

(Matthew) On use of computer, I would still argue that the many keys make it hard to play, but that responsiveness makes up for it. In general I would say that all the ratings were just a little bit over the top.

(Lloyd) Well I’m afraid I wouldn’t change a thing, not even that extravagant 100% for money value.


It would be rather sad as a statement on the software business if games that looked absolutely wonderful a year ago, didn’t look a little less so now. On the other hand something which is described as ‘classical’ is so because it stands the test of time. The real point, perhaps, is how many allowances you feel you have to make for an older game in order to allow it to remain a ‘classic’. Of the seven looked at here, we feel that Bugaboo (The Flea) and Lunar Jetman have stood the test of time best of all.