Excellent City! It’s the All Time Encyclopedia

Top 100 Speccy games

This is it! The definitive collection of the top 100 Speccy games ever produced. This month we begin the run-down with numbers 100 to 76 and, with your help, in a couple of issues we’ll discover the best Speccy game of all time! Let the ultimate chart begin!!

US Gold/Market Stall

If you’re one of those morbid so-and-so’s who watch detective shows on the TV, Killed Until Dead is just up your street. Murder and mayhem abound as you, an investigating PI, must arrest the guilty party before they escape. But there are plenty of red herrings to throw you off the trail — dirty Columbo-type rain macs, ahoy!
BEST BITS: Detailed and colourful graphics, easy to use icon system and eavesdropping on people.
WORST BIT: The plots are tough in places, if you miss one vital clue you’re up the creek. Unless your name is Columbo the villains often walk away scott free.

Hewson/Powertape Issue 90

It’s sword and sorcery time with this tale of wizards, evil shapeshifters and spooky forests. It’s your task as the wizard Maroc to rescue the great Merlin from the evil Morag. Control is through a series of command icons. An additional task is the retrieval of the five crowns of Britain, forged from the mystical Dragontorc. Over 200 locations stand between Morag and success.
BEST BITS: The large amount of locations and myriad things to do will keep you playing into the wee hours.
WORST BITS: Unless you map the playing area it’s easy to get lost. Graphics flickery at times.

How We Did it

It all started pleasantly enough. Richard, Nick, and Mark going through old CRASH binders and nattering away. Then, Stuart Wynne, Robin Hogg and Phil King (a CRASH team from yesteryear) wandered in and started stirring it all up. Hearing the noise, in comes Charlie Chubb (from the Art dept) and then Warren Lapworth joins in. This is how it went (about one hour into the conversation)..

RE: Bionic Commando, did you ever play that Stu?
SW: Yeah, erm...
RE: You did?
SW: Do you remember all the controversy over that?
RE: Why?
SW: Oh, ’cos we gave it a really low mark on TGM [old magazine] and CRASH gave it loads.
RH: Yeah, that’s right. It was a good game, though.
RE: Not really a classic, though, is it?
RH: It had good sound...
RE: Oh, here’s a ‘game’ — Psycho Pigs UXB.
RH: Yeah, go on.
RE: D’you reckon so?
KR: Oh God! No!
RE: What about those Freescape games?
MC, RH, PK: Boring, boring, boring!
RH: Darkside was the best of the Freescapes.
RE: Is it? I thought Total Eclipse was the boat
SW & RH (reluctantly): Yeah, it was, really.
RE: Vixen. D’you think that should go in just because of her boobs?
RH: Ha! Mo, not that good.
KR: If you want boobs, Maria’s Christmas Box was a classic.
MC: Haw! Haw! No way.
RE: 19 — Part One. I don’t think. Barbarian. Barbarian’s excellent. The Palace one, not the other one... Right, Alien Syndrome...
All: Naw...
RE: Joe Blade 2?
MC: Nah.
PK: Maw, it was pretty boring.
RE: Leaderboard?
RH: Erm, it’s okay
NR: Better than Joe Blade 2.
RE: Best golfing game around. Oh, d’you remember The Bobby Yazz Show?
MC: Yeah, brilliant.
RE: Never came out. We’ve got it for the cover cassette next month. Excellent City!
MC: Put it in.
KR: It’s a really good game, actually.
RH: Nah.
RE: What’s wrong with Bobby Yazz?
RH: It’s a puzzle game!
RE: And what’s wrong with puzzle games, thicky?!
KR: It looked really nice!
RH- general whinging and griping
RE: Oh look, Thunderblade.
SW (imitating US Gold): We’re going to change it!
RE: APB is great, we played that a lot.
SW: LodeRunner was pretty good.
RE: Except it never loaded.
PK: Groan!
RE: It had a really crap hyperload.
NR: Oh, I thought that was a joke! Ho!
RE: Erm, oh yes — so it was! Nearly...
RE: Zynaps!
NR: Kat Trap!
SW: The Vortex games, there’re some really good Vortex games.
RH: Cyclone! Best one. Cyclone — definitely.
SW: Tornado TLL, that was really good.
RH: I bought that, I bought both of them, but I prefer Cyclone.
SW: Highway Encounter was another good one.
RH: There was Alien Highway after that, but Highway Encounter was the graphical breakthrough.
SW: Elite, that’s got to go in. It’s really good.
RH: The Speccy version was the best version of them! all.
SW: I was playing Elite for months before I discovered you could use the warp rather than spending hours flying through space.
RE: Never understood Elite properly. Good graphics, though. Anybody remember Starion?
SW, RH, PK: Yeah.
RE: That was really good.
SW: Yeah, well, it wasn’t.
RE: Boulderdash — that’s a classic.
SW: It was better on the Spectrum than it ever was on the Commodore 64.
RE: There were always huge arguments over Boulderdash — some people love it, and some, erm, didn’t. Moon Cresta? Nah...
SW: Oh, that was good that.
PK: Oh, c’mon...
RE: Doddery old 1984 game.
RH: It was a nice conversion.
SW: It was really fast and getting all the bits and [...] pieces of the station together. Problem was it only loaded once every ten times!
NR: Ooo, Gift from the Gods: there’s a game with nothing in it. All you did was wander from screen to screen and that was it!
RE: Frankie Goes To Hollywood! Yes, excellent — played that for about five weeks; it had loads of little games it In. It was a good game, wasn’t It?
WL: Could never complete it all, though.
RE: That doesn’t matter, I just enjoyed playing It.
SW: Frankie? All the time you get 98%, could never solve it completely.
CC: Frankie? That’s a group isn’t it?
RE: Nodes of Yesod! Do you remember the synthesised speech: ‘Crackle, crackle, crackle’?
SW: I did a map of that but it was unbelievably hard.
RE: There was just too much of it.
SW: That was it and it was so difficult to get all those crystals.
RH: Oh yes — Juggernaut!
All: Woh! Yeah!
NR: Yeah, put it down, put it down; I love that game — put Juggernaut down. Can anybody get me a copy, I want to play it! I used to have a copy, don’t know where it is now.
SW: Tell you what, we’ll stick a few cones down in the car park for you.
PK: Kosmic Kanga! That was good.
SW: Oh come on...
RH: Yes, yes, yes.
RE: You’re being silly now.
RH: It was brilliant! It was really well produced — you could skip levels and go to the moon.
RE: What are you babbling about?
RH: Oh, the beach bit — yes! You’ve gotta put Kosmic Kanga down!
PK: Kosmic Kanga! Kosmic Kanga! Bibble...
RH: Badooing! Badoooing! Put Kosmic Kanga in.
RE: 11 screens! It had 11 screens?!?!
SW: Codename Mat.
RH: Codename Mat, definitely.
RE: Codename Mat, Mat [Productiion Supervisor and ancient CRASH reviewer] said that it was named after him, he was the playtester!
SW: Oh, take it out! Take it out!
WI: Codename Prat, more like
RE: Jet Set Willy, I s’pose that has to be considered — we’ve got Manic Miner down.
RH: Jet Set was better.
RE: Jet Set Willy had the most horrendous bug.
SW: Yes!
NR: What was that?
RH: And it had the biggest hype at the time, it had everyone going.
RE: You couldn’t complete it!
NR: Why?
RE: Because there was, erm.. forgotten.
RH: Yeah, when you went into the attic it kept crashing.
SW: Do you remember the Banyan Tree bit?
RH: Oh hell, that was awful and the Wine Cellar — going past all the guards — but the Banyan Tree was a nightmare. How about 3D Seiddab Attack?
WL: What?! 3D Cider Attack?!

At which point everything began to breakdown. Everyone just kept shouting about the really ancient games they loved playing but hadn’t played for five years. The day ended in a massive Moon Cresta championship and everyone (sort of) agreed that it was a bit crusty and not as good as they remembered.

Micromega/Market Stall

Pull on your leathers, leap on a two-litre Harley Davidson and race off! It’s all about warring gangs and you, being a biking troubleshooter, join in with high speed chases through densely wooded areas. You daren’t take your hands off the joystick for an instant because some of those tree trunks are pretty big! Plus you can’t intimidate them with your death-dealing photon gun.
BEST BIT: The fast and very colourful graphics.
WORST BIT: The game moves so fast you often play lumberjack with the trees (timber!).

Digital Integration/Market Stall

Bandits at three o’clock and all that belly rot. Your survival very much depends on your skills as both a gunner, fighting off the Hun, and as a bomb aimer, delivering your explosive little messages. There are 30 missions to complete before you can go home, each of which is split into two sections — shooting enemy planes and bombing ground targets. With that many missions you’re in for one hell of a ride, and one heck of a game.
BEST BITS: There’s something very satisfying about blasting the German planes out of the sky. Effects sound like the Speccy’s committing suicide (eh? — Sub Ed).
WORST BIT: Looks a bit old and silly.

Realtime/Market Stall

The creators of the classic Carrier Command had an earlier success with Starstrike II, where the Federation’s continuing war with the alien species known as The Outsiders takes a turn for the better. You’re chosen to pilot the brand new prototype Starstrike II spacecraft, but with 22 planets split into five solar systems there’s a lot of travelling to be done. But the superb shaded graphics that Realtime are famous for liven up an already sizzling game; there are a million and one things to do (usually all at once).
BEST BITS: The fast wireframe graphics and the enormous depth of play.
WORST BIT: The simple fact it’s not available anymore!

Bug Byte/Market Stall

The brilliant prequel to Jet Set Willy sees Miner Willy battling through the robot-filled underground mines of Surbiton. Fast, colourful graphics and very weird enemy creatures. Where else could you be chased by deranged robots, pirouetting rabbits and mutant toilets as you race to collect enough keys to escape? And they aren’t your only problem because there’s limited oxygen in each cave, so move it or be asphyxiated. It was good in its time; seven years later it’s very dated, but it’s still a classic.
BEST BITS: Its simple (but addictive) gameplay and the strange creatures that chase the poor player (a bit like Corky — Nick).
WORST BITS: Graphically it’s very dated, and it’s easy to complete.

Gremlin/Powertape Issue 65

One of the platform classics and released during the long miners’ strike, this contains a cruel caricature of the NUM leader, Arthur Scargill. So, it comes as no surprise that it’s Mr Scargill that Monty must defeat. But on the way our mole hero must collect a variety of objects and avoid dangerous machinery. Even though there’s plenty of colour, the programmer managed to avoid colour clash beautifully. Monty himself is wonderfully animated and the death sequence is hilarious — a little mole angel floats upwards!
BEST BIT: The colourful and brilliantly animated sprites.
WORST BIT: Arthur Scargill isn’t as easy to get rid of in real life.

The Hit Squad/Budget

Imagine took us to the ball game in Issue 16 with World Series Baseball. It takes too long to explain the rules of the game, suffice to say it resembles rounders and is a very exciting game when viewed live. Imagine’s version is incredibly playable and hugely addictive. Graphics are bright, bold and cheerful and, basically, it’s the nearest you’ll get to the real thing on a Speccy.
BEST BITS: The detailed sprites and fast action.
WORST BIT: Being struck out for the umpteenth time!


Roll up, roll up, for all the fun of the fair! Fairground rides are great fun for the participants and the people who wait around for the money to fall out of their pockets. There’s plenty of cash around for you to collect but most of it close to the more dangerous rides. Roller Coaster is a great platform game with some really funny touches (the best fairground simulator ever?).
BEST BITS: Fast and furious fun, the game oozes colourful graphics.
WORST BIT: Frustrating if you haven’t got the patience to learn the correct route.

Micromega/Market Stall

Full Throttle was one of the first in a long line of motorbike racing games, way back in Issue 6. Ten venues and plenty of computer controlled opponents certainly keep you on your toes in this game from the creators of 3-D Death Chase and Codename Mat. Hold onto your crash helmet.
BEST BIT: It’s survived the test of time simply for being playable.
WORST BIT: But looks a bit naff, now.

Target Games/Market Stall

The Laser Squad of the title are a troop of hard-bitten star warriors who battle evil wherever it may lurk in the universe and blast the stuffing out of it. The graphics are small but wonderfully detailed, although many people are put off this excellent RPG by the confusing control system.
BEST BITS: The graphics and the wide range of missions.
WORST BIT: The confusing control system is a pain.

Mindscape/Full Price

You’re not a very happy Big Top owner. Unless you come up with $10,000 very fast the bank manager will close you down. Thus six death-defying feats must be completed to rake in the cash, but watch out for Freddy the clown who’s out to stop you. A skill and timing game with brilliant cartoon graphics (they’re huge!).
BEST BIT: The hilarious antics of each character as they go through their act.
WORST BIT: Freddy is a real pain in the neck (so’s the multi-load).

Kixx/Budget or Compilation

Become a James Bond-style agent who, in his heavily armed car, has to blast criminal scum off from the vertically-scrolling road. But that’s not all, because if you head for the jetty your car changes into a zippy little speedboat (golly!), so you can sink all the nasty water-borne villains as well!
BEST BITS: Fast, violent action and colourful sprites.
WORST BIT: Gets very repetitive.

Design Design/Power Tape

Not a pixellated version of the cult film of the same name, but a space combat game in the Star Wars mould. The Dark Star galaxy is the venue for the battles between you and myriad enemy craft, no mercy is shown and no prisoners taken. It’s a fight to the death as the massed hordes of aliens spit photon bolts at your frail craft.
BEST BIT: Fast wireframe graphics can really make your head spin!
WORST BIT: Actually knowing what to do.


All the characters from the popular cartoon are here as Berk tries to please his mysterious master by cooking him various dishes. The only problem is that most of the ingredients have to be caught first. Also creatures from the trapdoor make poor old Berk’s life a misery. Puzzle-cum-arcade adventure gameplay with smashing graphics.
BEST BIT: The large and very colourful graphics.
WORST BIT: With a bit of practice it’s easy to complete.


Controlling a tennis ball creature, guide his bounces to take him through ten vertically-scrolling levels. Avoiding the enemy troops on the way, of course. Things aren’t as simple as they may seem because it’s a long way down to the ground and the opposition are very nasty.
BEST BIT: Wildly addictive...
WORST BIT: ... if you can get the hang of it.

Imagine/Market Stall

MOVIE is yer typical Philip Marlow-style game with you playing a tough New York PI on the trail of a missing audio tape that’s in the possession of a gangster. The character is guided using a set of icons, which I personally prefer to use when controlling a game. The ease of control and general skillness of Movie makes it one of the best gumshoe games about.
BEST BITS: Really neat isometric 3D with plenty of interaction.
WORST BIT: Tough to complete.


There can’t be many people who haven’t played this brilliant shoot-’em-up/maze game based on one of the most popular coin-ops ever. Take control of one of the four heroes (no-one ever wants to be the Elf, though, do they?) and battle your way through the hundred or so screens. It’s fast, looks good and is simply immense fun!
BEST BIT: The small but perfectly formed sprites zip around the playing area.
WORST BIT: The guy in the black robes who can kill you with one touch, affectionately nicknamed Desmond Death.


In the far future, if a crime is committed then the Light Force, galactic rozzers, are sent in to punish the offenders. Now marauding aliens are overrunning the peaceful Regulus system so it’s up to you as a square-jawed heroic type to spank some alien bottom. Light Force is noted for its large colourful graphics which scroll well (and its mindless blasting gameplay).
BEST BIT: Impressive graphics, plenty to blast.
WORST BIT: Just a tarted up shoot-em-up.


Buggy Boy is set over five of the most gruelling tracks outside of the Indianapolis 500 where you must leap obstacles, collect coloured flags and beat the clock. Simple as that, really — it’s the large, colourful graphics that make it a corker.
BEST BITS: Good racing fun with a decent-sized vehicle to belt across the course.
WORST BIT: Difficult to see exactly what’s going on when the road fills up.

100 Really, Really, Really Good Games!

(in no particular order)


Tough mercenary types don’t come much harder than Exolon, the hero of this all-blasting game. Every step he takes brings him into conflict with myriad alien uglies, but of course he’s prepared with lots of guns and grenades. Plenty of violent action follows our hero around.
BEST BIT: Raf Cecco’s big and bold graphics.
WORST BIT: The big spikes that ventilate your botty!

Virgin Games/Full Price

If you’ve ever wanted to race a monster 4x4 truck, this is your chance, because Super Off Road allows up to three human players to pit their wits against the ‘Iron Man’. The tracks you race around are bumpy so careful control is needed (which is a bit tricky because it’s really speedy).
BEST BITS: The ability to challenge your mates and the ace graphics.
WORST BITS: The tortuous tracks and running out of nitro’s at the wrong moment.

Ocean/Full Price

Hair-tearing puzzle games don’t come much tougher than this Ocean offering. The idea is simple: just match up the tiles and whack them together to make them disappear. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds, mainly because there’s a vicious time limit that mercilessly ticks down; straitjackets, ahoy!
BEST BIT: The brain-bending puzzles that keep you playing until the wee hours.
WORST BIT: The morning after

Ocean/Market Stall

Firefly is essentially a computerised board game with a blasting sub-game. The player moves his/her craft across the 5 x 9 grid in an attempt to reach the green switch on the other side. Not very taxing, one might think. Well, maybe not, but the sub-game is a fast-paced and violent shoot-’em-up. The whole thing’s really addictive.
BEST BIT: The fast-paced shooting section.
WORST BIT: Fiendishly tough.

Ocean/Full Price

Prepare to race around the world popping huge balloons with a harpoon gun. Only the Japanese could have thought up a game plot like this (I dunno, what about Stuart Hall out of It’s A Knockout? — Sub Ed). Pang takes you (with or without a mate) to 17 locations around the world in single-screen adventures, bursting balloons as they bounce around the screen. Sometimes tough, but more powerful weapons are available and these are certainly needed to reach the final conflict on Easter Island.
BEST BITS: Brill two-player mode, the detailed graphics and the useful pick-up weapons.
WORST BIT: The balloons.