One of the most popular complaints in LM’s forum has always been the price of software, and it’s often been used as justification for pirating software. People falling into this reprehensible habit should now make a New Year’s resolution to stop because the excuse is utterly pathetic nowadays. Virtually all the big games, and many of the lesser ones, now seem to be automatically rereleased either on budget, or in a compilation. ‘Wait and ye shall receive’ seems to be the motto for anyone wary of splashing out £10 on a single piece of software.
While compilations are around most of the year, Christmas and the New Year naturally draws the biggest releases with software houses showing off their ‘greatest hits’ — often with other companies’ games to pad out a package. This practise is clearly vital to Gremlin who have no less than five anthologies coming out.
Perhaps due to the number of releases, Gremlin’s titles show a distinct lack of imagination. 10 Great Games 3 is obviously the third in a ten game compilation series, but if the title doesn’t set the blood racing some of the games should. From Hewson there’s two written by Steve Turner; the acclaimed 1985 graphic adventure Dragontorc and the more recent Gauntlet-clone, Ranarama. Also from Hewson is Steve Crow’s Firelord, a slightly more conventional arcade adventure.
Somewhat more surprising inclusions than those from Hewson, for whom Gremlin are now distributors, are two Spanish games. These are the boxing simulation, Rocco by Dinamic, and a 1987 US Gold game, Survivors.
Making up the rest of the tape are the classic flight sim from Digital Integration — Fighter Pilot, Leader Board, Impossaball and the disappointing 10th Frame. While most of the big games here are rather old, if you haven’t already got them this is pretty good value.
Imaginative Gremlin title number two is Ten Mega Games which is a little more up to date with releases such as the flawed beat-’em-up Hercules and the well received Blood Brothers. The top two games are probably Northstar and Cybernoid, but Deflektor is an intriguing puzzle game well worth a look.
Strangely, both Cybernoid and Northstar are also featured on Gremlin’s Space Ace collection. The five other five games include the excellent Exolon, Dominic Robinson’s horizontally-scrolling shoot-’em-up Zynaps and the third MASK game — Venom Strikes Back. While fairly expensive, and with some rather mediocre games as padding, the good games more than make up for this.
Another theme-based collection is Gremlin’s Flight Ace. Also around the £15 mark this has just six games, most of which are quite long in the tooth. The only fairly recent game is the outstanding ATF which, with the helicopter sim Tomahawk, make this fairly respectable. Somewhat more dubious in value is the third in the ‘Ace’ theme trilogy — Karate Ace. This has the classic, clone-inspiring Way Of The Exploding Fist, the excellent two-player Bruce Lee and the epic Way Of The Tiger, but these are all quite old. Much of the rest of the games are not much more recent, and generally of distinctly inferior quality. Uchi Mata is truly awful for example. Unless you’re a die-hard beat-’em-up fan, it’s probably not worth the £12.95 asking price.
US Gold may have just two compilations out, but one of them is the massive History In The Making, which at £24.95 is probably one of the most expensive Spectrum releases for ages. With 15 games the price-per-game is fairly reasonable, though, and the packaging with four tapes and a booklet is impressive. Unfortunately the games as a whole are weak. CRASH Smashes like the ancient Beach Head, Raid Over Moscow and the more recent Gauntlet fail to compensate for the mediocrity of the rest. This is an admirably wide-ranging history, but £24.95 seems a lot for the eight or so fairly good games — especially when most are now on budget.
Also from US Gold is the boastfully named Giants collection. Although all of the games are fairly recent releases, you only get five for just under 13 quid (tape version), while +3 owners have to fork out an extortionate 20 quid! Moreover the five are, under closer examination, a little dwarfish with only 720° and Out Run of much interest.
Fists ’N’ Throttles is the tantalizing title for a potpourri of five popular programs from Elite. You can bounce down the courses in Buggy Boy or perform dramatic motorbike leaps in Enduro Racer. Those feline cartoon stars, the Thundercats, also make an appearance. If you haven’t got any of the games included then Fists ’N’ Throttles represents good value for money. Unfortunately, if you live in Germany, you won’t get Ikari Warriors, as it was banned by the West German government (yet German instructions for the game are included in the package!).
Not to be outdone by their competitors, Ocean and Imagine have some sumptuous compilations of their own. The sequel Game Set And Match 2 includes nine games ranging from a relaxing game of cricket in Ian Botham’s Test Match to the bone-breaking grid iron action of American Football in Superbowl. Jon Ritman’s fantabulous footy sim, Match Day II is also included along with the conversion of Sega’s Super Hang-On. Burdened with some old and rather weak titles to fill it out this is still well worth considering.
Two sets of coin-op hits are being issued by Imagine. The first, Konami Arcade Collection, has been available for a few months now, and encompasses ten hits of yesteryear, numbering no less than four CRASH Smashes among them. At £9.95 it offers attractive value for money.
Also from Imagine comes a slightly newer selection of games, all Taito coin-op conversions. Taito Coin-op Hits contans eight such games, of which two — Flying Shark and Bubble Bobble — are fairly recent, highly acclaimed Firebird releases. Breakout fans will be tempted by the inclusion of Arkanoid and its sequel, Revenge Of Doh, while beat-’em-up fans should be excited by Renegade.
The final Ocean release, The In Crowd, contains a real collection of street credible games. Primarily there’s the beat-’em-ups Target: Renegade and Barbarian, along with the militarish, but very different, Combat School and Platoon. With Karnov adding a touch of colour, and Gryzor and Predator more jungle action it’s well worth the usual Ocean asking price.
Lastly we come to those consistent suppliers of annual anthologies, Beau Jolly. 10 Computer Hits — Volume Five brings together ten middle of the road offerings, with only... Traz standing out due to it being reviewed in this very issue! But Beau Jolly’s pride and joy must be Supreme Challenge, a superb collection of three true mega games (Starglider, Elite and The Sentinel) plus one puzzling (Tetris) and, of course, the obligatory flight sim (Ace 2). At around £2.50 a game it can’t be bad — even if you were only getting those three biggies! I dread to see what the documentation will be like: both Starglider and Elite had novellas and very detailed instruction manuals, in an A5 box!
CRASH issue featured in, and review percentage given. N/R denotes not reviewed.
|Yie Ar Kung Fu||25/92%|
|Yie Ar Kung Fu II||37/48%|
|Tour De Force||49/66%|
|Masters Of The Universe||49/70%|
|Venom Strikes Back||53/91%|
|Trantor — The Last Stormtrooper||46/68%|
|Air Traffic Control||N/R|
|Strike Force Harrier||33/83%|
|Way Of The Exploding Fist||21/92%|
|King Fu Master||31/56%|
|Way Of The Tiger||28/93%|
|£12.99c, £19.99d||US Gold|
|Match Day II||48/91%|
|Ian Botham’s Test Match||N/R|
|Track & Field||N/R|
|Winter Olympiad 88||45/44%|
|Steve Davis Snooker||12/77%|
|Nick Faldo Plays The Open||20/83%|
|Raid Over Moscow||15/92%|
|Beach Head II||24/74%|
|Kung Fu Master||31/56%|
|Arkanoid — Revenge Of Doh||51/80%|
|Legend Of Kage||37/50%|
|£12.95c, £16.95d||Beau Jolly|
|Mystery Of The Nile||46/74%|
|Enlightenment: Druid II||49/68%|
|£12.95c, £16.95d||Beau Jolly|