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 Back in Time : April 1991

'Back in Time' is a monthly feature where we look back at the classic video gaming magazines twenty years ago this month. This month it's April 1991 when Brat caused a stir on the Amiga, Super Cars returned to the 16-bit track for another lap, Hero Quest made its successful transition from board game and Gauntlet made its successful transition into 3D....

C&VG 113

The One issue 31’s coverdisk featured a playable demo of Brat on the Amiga and Atari ST. In the One on One interview, Gary Whitta spoke to well-known writer and computer buff, Douglas Adams, famous for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Rik Haynes went stateside to report back from Texan games company Origin.

Brat, which featured on the front cover, also took the main review, with the Amiga version receiving a sound 93% rating. “Hot on the heels of Psygonosis’ Lemmings comes this innovative mix of wrist-breaking arcade action and devilish strategy,” enthused Ciaran Brennan. “Make no mistake, this is no childish effort – Brat is as innovative and addictive a puzzle game as you’re likely to see for quite some time.”

Midwinter 2: Flames of Freedom on the Atari ST also impressed with a rating of 93%. “Midwinter 2 is superb,” commented Paul Pressley, “every angle of play is catered for and the whole package works well. Although it’s undoubtedly a shame that the extensive character interaction has been lost, what’s been added makes this sequel an exciting and lasting challenge.”

Switchblade 2 on the Amiga was then rated 90% by Brian Nesbitt. “This is a genuine pleasure to play,” wrote Brian, “and a challenge to complete – and while the sudden jump from action/exploration game to arcade/platform action might deter a few players at first, it shouldn’t be too long before its individual merits shine through. Switchblade 2 is up against some tough competition just now, but even in this company it still has plenty to offer.”

Super Cars 2 rounded off the reviews section with a fine 91%. “As with most games which incorporate a two-player option, Supercars 2 is most enjoyable when played with a friend,” explained Paul Presley. “What’s unusual though, is that it’s still great fun as a single-player game. Supercars 2 may be using a tried and trusted formula – but it’s using it brilliantly.”

The One 31
Brat

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Zero 18

Issue 17 of Sega Power featured Michael Jackson in front of dozens of digital images of himself to coincide with the Master System and Mega Drive reviews of Moonwalker. Unsurprisingly, the Mega Drive version came away with the better rating (90% over the Master System’s 83%), mainly due to its quality sound and unforgettable digital adaptation of Jackson’s famous tunes. “A classic game that will keep you enthralled for ages,” stated the reviewer, “brilliant graphics, fantastic touches to the gameplay and a soundtrack second to none. Moonwalker has loads of brilliant gimmicks, but is an excellent game as well. Bad? Definitely not!”

The Master System gained ground on the Mega Drive with a superb Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse game which was given a P-Factor of 96%. “The best licensed game to ever appear on the Master System, and arguably the best game of any sort to have appeared,” commented the reviewer. “We're giving it the highest rating we've ever given a game, Master or Mega - recommendations don't come any stronger than that. A stonking dream of a game.”

The Bitmap Brothers’ classic 16-bit computer futuristic sports game Speedball made it to the Master System with a P-Factor of 80%. “Speedball gets a high Power Factor because it's a great game to play - only in two player mode however. If you're only going to play it on your own, don't bother,” warned the reviewer. “If you and a mate fancy clubbing together and sharing the cart though you'll have hours of entertaining and highly competitive fun.”

Sega Power 17
Moonwalker

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Sinclair User 110

Crash issue 87 and it was game thrills with Bounder, Anarchy, Bite The Dust, Moon Magic and Toyota Rally demo gracing the covertape. The results of the readers’ awards were announced with some familiar names appearing on top of the lists. Best Overall Game went to Ocean’s RoboCop 2, Best Coin-Op Conversion was given to NARC, Best Licensed Game (non Coin-Op): RoboCop 2, Best Original Game: Magicland Dizzy, Best Adventure/Strategy Game: Lords of Chaos, Best Graphics: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Best Sound: Rainbow Islands, Best Software House: Ocean, Best Original Budget Game: Magicland Dizzy, Best Newcomer: Hi-Tec Software, Worst Thing About 1990: lack of software.

In the reviews pages, Night Shift was given one of the highest Crash Smash ratings in the magazine’s recent memory with 96%. “It makes a very refreshing change to see an original game and Night Shift gets a big thumbs up from me,” explained Mark Caswell, while Nick Roberts agreed that the game “is totally original and totally brilliant. After playing endless shoot/beat/puzzle-‘em-ups, this is like a breath of fresh air.”

Gremlin’s conversion of the hit strategy board game Hero Quest was next receiving the praise with an overall 93%. Richard Eddy commented that the game is “like a really good adventure game made even better with the use of great graphics and animation, bringing the whole thing to life. It’s a really engrossing and it’ll be a long time before I get through the many varied quests.” Mark Caswell hoped that with the “success of Heroquest ensures that more roleplaying board games are converted to the Speccy.”

Gauntlet 3: The Final Quest was given the final Crash Smash of the month with 90%. Nick Roberts pointed out that while “Gauntlet was glorious 2D, this sequel is in full 3D, with highly detailed backgrounds and characters, all in lovely monochrome… The original game was highly addicitive in both arcade and computer versions and this gives it a whole new lease of life.” Mark added that “Gauntlet 3 looks good, plays well and would take most of my week’s wages if it were an arcade game.”

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YC 78

Adorning the Power Pack with Commodore Format issue 7 was a copy of Andrew Braybrook's classic shoot-'em-up Uridium, along with Blue Max (an old Zaxxon style game), Crystal Castles (arcade style game) and 5th Gear (Rally racing arcade). Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles were still dominating the C64 charts with Dizzy Collection and Creatures taking up positions two and three respectively. The Commodore Format A to Z of Classic Games continued as Gordon Houghton recalled the best of C64 game from J to P, with the likes of Last Ninja 2, Maniac Mansion, Manic Miner, Mircoprose Soccer, Paradroid and Myth. The CF Compendium of Mean… feature also continued with aliens being the topic this time, including the Bio-Ship (found in Nemesis, The Brain (found in Salamander), Giant Foetus (Io) and Hammer Fist (Turrican) .

Receiving one of the Powertest’s ‘It’s A Corker’ award this month was Virgin’s conversion of the hit 16-bit science fiction strategy game Supremacy. Sean Masterson gave the game 95% and commented that there is more than meets the eye with Supremacy. “Random events create the illusion of a real environment… Your difficult task emerges from a wealth of attractive graphics accompanied by some of the most atmospheric sounds you’ll ever hear your SID chip sing.”

Fans of the classic Bomb Jack series of arcade platform games could rejoice with the 91% rating of the game’s return with The Mighty Bomb Jack. Steve Jarratt noted that Elite haven’t released much on the 64 of late but with this game has to rank as one of the best they’ve ever done. With above-average presentation, slick controls and classic gameplay, it would be a crime [to] not TMB our highest accolade. ‘It’s A Corker’”

Supremacy
Supremacy

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Amstrad Computer User 76

As promised, this month of Amstrad Action came with the first of the permanent covertapes. Action Pack number 1 included the complete game of the classic Code Masters egg adventure Dizzy, the complete underwater capers of Hydrofool, a playable demo of Ocean’s forthcoming conversion of Total Recall and the AA Toolbox containing utilities, type-ins, pokes and more. Those Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles were also dominating the Amstrad charts with the Dizzy Collection and Big Box compilation in at two and three.

It was compilation time in the Action Test section with the 10 Pack and Hollywood Collection both coming away with ‘AA Rave’ award ratings of 89% and 83%. Among the new releases, US Golds’ puzzle game Chip’s Challenge impressed with an 86% rating. “Chip’s Challenge is an incredibly addictive puzzler,” wrote Adam Waring. “…it really is impossible to tear yourself away.”

Space arcade game Extreme was next to receive the ‘AA Rave’ plaudits with an 84%. “Technically, the game is brilliant,” commented Adam Waring, “The sprites start off pretty huge in the first level and simply get bigger as the game goes on.” However, “another couple of lives wouldn’t have gone amiss, nor would some kind of restart system. Very frustrating.”

Audiogenic’s puzzler Loopz received the final ‘AA Rave’ this month with an overall rating of 87%. Frank O'Connor noted that “the various skill levels and game types give this title a great deal of variety, and a genuinely lasting challenge… The presentation is good, but sheer playability is what makes Loopz shine.”

Chip's Challenge
Chip

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Amiga Format 21

For the fifth Amiga Action cover disk, the team brought readers playable demos of Back to the Future 3, Chuck Rock and Super Cars 2. Standout feature this month was Amiga Action Presents… Flight Feature with HUD, perspective, manoeuvres and cockpit guides.

Flying in with a touchdown and taking first place in the Flight Sims league table was Flight of the Intruder with an overall rating of 92%. “Mirrorsoft have come up [with] a flight sim so excellent that you could mistake it for the real thing,” enthused the reviewer. “That will never be the case but this is the closest you’re going to get to reality… The graphics are great… Sound is also very realistic. Presentation is superb… Congratulations to Mirrorsoft for a masterpiece.”

Another touchdown result as Lemmings went straight into first place on the Puzzle Games league table with 90%. Lemmings “is absolutely amazing while being very original,” wrote the reviewer. “It reminds me of the sort of addictive games that we used to play on the C64… Whatever type of game you enjoy you’ll enjoy Lemmings. Totally amazing.”

The first person adventure game Chaos Strikes Back entered the dungeons of the Arcade Adventure league table at number two with 90%, only being beaten by the game’s classic predecessor Dungeon Master. “To put it simply,” explained the reviewer, “Chaos Strikes Back is probably the best game for a 1 meg Amiga, and anyone who has played the original Dungeon Master will know what a fantastic game FTL have produced.”

Other Super League Accolade rated games (85% or over) this month included Genghis Khan (87%), Chuck Rock (89%) and Bandit Kings of Ancient China (85%). Super League Accolade Recommended (75%-84%) were Star Control (79%), Hard Drivin' 2 (82%), Zarathrusta (68%), Gazza 2 (57%), Death Trap (75%), Tournament Golf (74%), Revelations (77%), Corporation Mission Disk (84%) and Escape from Colditz (83%).

ST Action 36

ST Action issue 36 ‘s coverdisk featured two playable demos of Back to the Future Part III and Predator 2. To accompany the demos, features on both films were included in the issue. Other features this issue included Horror! Fangs for the Mummory (a feature on horror films and upcoming game translations) and Sexism Storms Back onto ST Action's Pages (a follow up feature on sexism in advertising).

First up to get the A1 rated (80+) games treatment was Horror Zombies from the Crypt with 85. “Occasionally a game arrives that’s different and makes you want to play it that little bit longer,” stated the reviewer. “This is definitely one of them. If you are looking for something different, Horror Zombies is definitely a game worth a look.”

Death Trap from Anco proved to be a popular game with an overall rating of 87. “It keeps you coming back for more and will be near the top of my ‘best game of 1991’ list,” commented the reviewer. “Death Trap is a game of immense playability with lasting appeal that rivals Millennium’s Horror Zombies.”

Rainbird’s strategy UMS II: Nations at War battled out a rating of 85%. “The original UMS was undoubtably a classic wargame environment. Now Rainbird have gone one better with the follow-up program,” enthused the reviewer. “This is a truly excellent piece of software and one that no strategist should be without.”

The next A1 rated game was Warlock: The Avenger with 86%. “The wonderful world of Warlock will have you totally captivated and enthralled, stated the reviewer. “Without a doubt, Warlock is a fantastic blend of arcade and adventuring action. A gem of a conversion.”

Car-Vup, Core Design’s car platforming game, also made it into the A1 Rated group with 85%. “Car-Vup is crying out to be called repetitive, but instead, it is instantly compelling and terrific fun to play through all the levels, explained the reviewer. “It really does make a refreshing change from your average shoot-‘em-ups that involve blasting away with machine guns and mortars, which is what most games are orientated towards these days!”



Notes:
• Computer & Video Games, The One, ACE, Mean Machines, Sinclair User and CU Amiga were published byEMAP.
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Sega Power was published by Future Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64. • Crash, Zzap!64 and Raze were published by Newsfield Publication .   Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Your Sinclair and Commodore Format were published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• YC was published by Alphavite Publications . Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Amstrad Action was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Amstrad Computer User was published by Avralite Publications Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Amiga Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Galaxy at Amiga Magazine Rack.
• ST Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• ST Format was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Richard Davey atLittle Green Desktop.


This is an Out-of-Print Archive feature presented by Nreive ofRetroaction magazinefame.  Special thanks to Andynick atMagazines From the Pastfor providing info and cover scans for several magazines this month.

 
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