The Lords of Midnight

Yours will be no inevitable victory...

Source // Winterdrake

The entry for The Lords of Midnight in 1001 Video Games includes a screenshot of a chap on a horse, in front of some rocks, accompanied by some blurb. It's reflective of what you'll see in game, but it's akin to taking a screenshot of some dialog in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, rather than showing what you can actually see in Skyrim.

I use Skyrim as an example because both it and The Lords of Midnight allow you to traverse the world you inhabit from a first person perspective, where you're able to move all the way up those mountains in the distance. Mostly.

Skyim-lite on the ZX Spectrum? Count me in. PC remake with the input and blessing of the original developer? Count me in. Accompanying short story to set the scene of Luxor the Moonprince on a quest to rid the world of the evil Witchking Doomdark? Count. Me. In.


Demolition Derby


Demolition Derby you say? Now that's the kind of game you can't mistake for anything else...

Back in the mid 1990s, as a much smaller and more easily amused boy, I was given an early Christmas present in the form of Destruction Derby for the PlayStation. I'm not terribly sure I was aware of what a PlayStation was though, as I wouldn't get one until later in the week, on Christmas Day itself. Needless to say I read the manual a fair bit in preparation for playing (remember those days where manuals mattered?) and soon hopped right into the carnage.

This isn't Destruction Derby however, but Demolition Derby, and it is basically identical, only simpler - ten years of technological advancements in gaming tends to do that. Does it do what it says on the cabinet? I know one way to find out.


Knight Lore

If my choice was finding the cure or taking the silver bullet, I'd probably take the bullet...

That's a mid transformation screenshot. You don't waddle through the game like that

For some reason, I always got the impression that Knight Lore was steeped in so much mystery that it was some kind of underrated hidden gem and that it's a surprise nobody knew about it. Turns out it was just me, as Knight Lore blew away gamers of the mid 80s with its graphics, showing off the previously unseen effect of things being in front of other things. Depth! In a game!

I poke fun but it really is something to behold. I know next to knowing about how the ZX Spectrum works, but even I can see how swanky the screens of Knight Lore are. It's the third part of Sabreman's adventures. He's been cursed to roam the world as a werewulf and wishes to find the cure to rid himself of it. To do so, he must find a whole bunch of items scattered throughout the castle, bung 'em in a magical pot in the right order, and hey presto, no more lycanthropy.



Karate Champ

Wax on wax off ain't gonna help you here.

Source // Wikipedia

I've probably come across Karate Champ in passing, but certainly haven't played it before. It looks like it's an accurate representation of a Karate champion, so it's already doing better than Kung-Fu Master in believability.

The key selling point(s) for this arcade hit were the use of two joysticks to control all the inputs, and a one hit knock out approach to the contests, be they against a computer or human opponent. No health bars, no tag teams, no super moves or combos, it's just you, your opponent, and hopefully a swift and graceful kick to the face.

Unfortunately I'm not able to play that arcade original, which leaves me with one option: Play International Karate instead.


Marble Madnesss

Let's all lose our marbles!

Source // Wikipedia

I don't ever recall playing Marble Madness, but I get the feeling I might have. Maybe I'm confusing it for playing an actual marble maze game made of wood and marbles, I don't know. What I do know though is that I know of it. That was a mouthful, but then again it is hard to bargle nawdle zouss with all these marbles in my mouth.

Jesus, what's become of me? Get back in the game.


Hyper Sports

He ain't Hype. I ain't Hype.

Source // YouTube

There is a whole page in 1001 Video Games dedicated to Hyper Sports, with a big colour image topping the article. It looked awfully familiar to a game I'd already played, so I skipped back and tried to remember just where it was I'd previously seen Skeet Shooting. There weren't many games to involve such a level. One in fact. Track & Field.

We're already playing a bloody sequel to Track & Field. For those of you who have read and remembered my views towards athletics based games, you might already know whereabouts this little review will end up...


The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I played HHGTTG and all I got was a lousy T-Shirt...

Source // MobyGames

I have never read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I've seen the film once, for sure, as well as clips of it and the TV show. I know that the number 42 and a day dedicated to towels is related to it. That is, more or less, the extent of my knowledge of the book, which is a big problem when it comes to the game, as it almost necessitates you having read it before you play.

I'm playing the 30th Anniversary edition from the BBC, but many versions exist across the years, and all of them, as the BBC describes, are 'a bit mean'.

Whatever could they mean by that?...


Deus Ex Machina

Art games are easy?

Source // Motherboard, Vice

No, it's not that Deus Ex, but a much, much weirder one. You might even argue that nothing can prepare you for it, because Deus Ex Machina plays out so differently to what you might imagine when you're tasked to picture a conceptual interactive art piece on the ZX Spectrum.

It's hard to even conceive that home computers back in the 1980s even bothered with art, being content with offering funny characters dodging brightly coloured blobs to the 'tune' of mostly noisy sound effects, yet here stands Deus Ex Machina, and it is a journey, I can say that much...


Kung-Fu Master

Come to the Devil's Temple at once.

Back in the day, I was a pretty big Jackie Chan fan. I'm still a fan, I just no longer have a goal of owning all of his Hong Kong Legends DVDs. Silly goal come to think of it, because I don't think that label has the entire Jackie Chan filmography...

Anyway, the point is, I never got Wheels on Meals on DVD, let alone knew there was a tie in game produced for the arcades that was known worldwide as Kung-Fu Master. The link between the game and film is tenuous at best, both staring a Thomas and a Sylvia, but in different guises. Here, Sylvia has been kidnapped, and her boyfriend Thomas must become a master of kung-fu in order to win her back, battling through the Devil's Temple against increasingly deadly foes.

I've no idea what that involves.



Cor, space is a lil bit dangerous, eh?

You know how I keep banging on about games set in space? Well here's a game set in space. Not just any old game set in space, but perhaps the game set in space, the one every other game wants to be. It is simply Elite and I've been waiting for a chance to dive into it for a while.

I don't know where I came across Elite itself, though the video from Computerphile above may lay claim to having told me the most about it. Before that - way before that - I remember playing a pencil and paper RPG where we built our own ship that was inevitably badly constructed, requiring a merciful GM to fudge the die rolls as and when. I assume this game - whatever it was and wherever it came from - was inspired by Elite, itself inspired by classic science fiction stories and films.

Finally, along comes a game about climbing into a ship and hoofing it across the galaxy however you see fit, and it was first released on the BBC Micro, which meant finding an emulator.


Bomb Jack

Exploding into arcades near you?

Source // Wikipedia

We're back to not knowing a thing about the upcoming titles again, and the game in question this time is Bomb Jack. I'm sure I could guess some of the specifics though. Explosives are probably involved. A man named Jack might be in there. Do we have to destroy this Jack guy? I won't know until I fire it up. 

That wasn't an intentional pun. I could probably do better if I wanted an intentional pun.

... Nope, my mind has gone blank. I've blown my chance.


Boulder Dash

He did the dash, he did the Boulder Dash. The Boulder Dash, it was a home console smash...

Source // Moby Games

Finally, a title I recognise. A game I've played, somewhere, in some form. Where, how, when, I've no idea, but Boulder Dash has a place in my memory and a very obvious place on this list, where it is the third, or fourth, maybe twelfth game we've seen so far to be about mining.

Seriously, games industry, did everything revolving around digging back in the early 80s? Has there been an asteroid mining simulator that I've missed, just to get a piece of that sweet space setting that sells so well too?

I ought to try out Game Dev Tycoon sometime and see if it's just me complaining, or if these guys knew what they were talking about. Until then, I'm firing up Boulder Dash.