Another retro gaming week flies by. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
Gyruss – Atari 2600 (1980)
Usually, my go to system for a spot of Gyruss (other than the original/Mame version) is the conversion written for the Commodore C64, but this week, thanks to a bundle of eBay VCS carts (The Harmony cartridge is great, but I do love my retro box art!) , I’ve be enjoying the simple delights of the Parker Brothers Atari 2600 release. Basic it might look, but for a 2600 game it’s surprisingly nippy and has one of the best musical scores I’ve ever heard on the VCS.
In Gryuss, you move your ship through 360 degrees around the perimeter of the screen and blast away at the enemy ships fanning out from either the centre of the screen or from the left or right – Think Galaxians wrapped around a tube.
I think that grey blob is me…honestly it looks better when it’s in motion
Intense tube blasting calls for an intense soundtrack and compared to other conversions, Parker Brother have cranked up the tempo on the 2600 with Bach’s signature tune.
I’ve also been checking out the Gyruss on another system too and it’s a version I’ve not actually played until this week.
Gryuss – Nintendo NES (1988)
Compared to the Atari 2600 this one certainly looks a stunner with its colourful and chunky Konami threads. The NES version also adds a few new elements not found in the arcade original including boss attack rounds, a new super weapon and a remix of the original soundtrack. It’s a cracking version of Gryuss all right, even if somewhat on the easy side. However, I’ve only scratched the first few planets so lets see if it has the same lasting appeal of the original.
Another early game from Jeff Minters and one you’d usually see playing on my Vic-20 or C64 but this time around, I found the crisp visuals on the ZX Spectrum version simply too good to miss.
Voidrunner – ZX Spectrum (1987)
I found this version of Voidrunner purely by accident really as I was messing around with iXpectrum, the ZX Spectrum emulator on my iPad and needing an example game to play around. Because I’d been dipping in and out of Jeff Minters Llamasoft website recently (I’m keeping an eye out for more news on the soon to be released follow up to Goat Up) I found myself at the software library area where Jeff has many of his early games available as free downloads.
Voidrunner is a arcade shooter that shares similarities with Gridrunner and Matrix (which itself take influence from the the arcade game Centipede). The game contains a centipede like trail that makes its way down from the top of the screen towards you at the bottom. As you fire on it, the centipede breaksinto smaller pieces which travel in different direction making the whole task of destroying it ever more difficult. To make life even more difficult, there’s a horizontal laser beam that cuts down from the top of the screen to destroys you if your ship happens to cross it’s path.
It’s been fun to play on my iPad but I’ll be digging out one of my Speccys soon as this one deserves a proper joystick.
Lunch break gaming this week has been so absorbing at times with this next game that I’ve actually forgot to stop and eat my lunch.
Zombotron – PC/web
Guns, Zombies, Robots, ragdoll physics and unscripted moments of sheer awesomeness, you can’t help but have fun with this one.
‘Welcome to the planet «Zombotron», inhabited by human-mutants or just stupid zombies. Nobody knows where they come from and what they eat. But we know one thing – they are ready to destroy everything that moves.’
You control our hero via W,A,S,D with mouse for aim and mouse button for shooting, plus the E key for inventory. I’m still a Q,A,O,P type of chap but as I play more and more of these web games I’m getting kinda used to them bit by bit…I just wished more web games would have redefinable keys!
The aim of the game is simple to survive the ten levels and get from the start to the finish. Along the way you’ll need to solve a handful of puzzles as well as take out a fair share of squishy zombies and not so squishy robotic defense systems. Kills and opening treasure chests will reward with gold coins which can be used to purchase weapons, ammo, medkits and armour.
You start off with a puny pistol, but it’s not long before your packing shotgun, assault rifle, grenade launcher and rail gun. Ammo might seem a bit stingy at first but once you reach some of the later levels ammo conservation doesn’t become such a problem. Besides, although it’s fun to simply blast everything in sight, each level is littered with items that you can use (or not) as make shift weapon or trap. For example, push a crate from above on to the heads of an unsuspecting zombie, roll an explosive filled barrel down a slope mowing everything down in its path or shoot it in mid path at the right moment to cause maximum, and gory, damage. Alternatively sit back and watch zombie vs robot duke it leaving you to pick off any survivors.
There are also bonus missions to complete too – although not necessary to complete a level, including collecting certain things or doing certain actions. For example complete a level using minimal gun ammo.
I’ve had (and still am) having so much fun with Zombotron and now that i’ve completed it i’m hungry for more….woo, sequels!
Here’s the trailer.
I round this week up with a pocket collection of classic Atari arcade games that have been given a new paint job.
Atari Classic Collection – Nintendo DS
This DS cart comprises of some pretty accurate arcade ports -
Each game has also been made to take advantage of the DS touchscreen and stylus control which apart from Missile Command/Breakout pretty much sucks – Tempest with a stylus is just plain awful! However, you an still use the D-Pad and physical buttons which work perfectly (apart from Missile Command) and having a pocket version of Gravitar, Lunar Lander and Asteroids is why I brought the cart and much better than say Mame on my iPhone.
But thats not all. The thing I like most about this collection compared to other Atari compilations is the remixed graphic mode for each game.
Breakout…oh wait, that looks the same.