Oldschool Gaming - reviewing new games on classic computers
Oldschool Gaming Review of 2010 :: written by Jason Kelk :: added 02 Jan 2011

Well that was 2010 and what a year it was, all the money lost during the banking crash still doesn't seem to have turned up anywhere, a large amount of BP oil spent the early months turning up just about everywhere and over at Wikileaks thousands of internal messages between diplomats dumped unexpectedly into the public domain told us what most people had suspected anyway, that politicians and government officials really don't like each other. But that pales into insignificance because there were lots of new 8-bit releases as well, who cares if superpowers are at loggerheads or we're all broke, there's new games to play!

SO WHAT DID EVERYBODY GET THIS YEAR?
The Spectrum has fared well over the last twelve months with over thirty releases spread across quite a few genres and some corking games amongst them. Along with the usual range of interesting puzzle games, Bob Smith's conversion of Horace in the Mystic Woods from the Psion Series 3 series of handhelds stands out for bringing the oddly-shaped chap back to his roots, whilst Ghost Castle 2 by Jarrod Bentley and Sean Gee similarly evoked memories of adventure gaming past with a whopping 256 screens to explore. Scrolling shoot 'em ups are something of a homebrew rarity for the Spectrum but 2010 saw a couple released, the well-presented Genesis: Dawn of a New Day and a conversion of Atari 8-bit blaster Sea Dragon which only just made it into this write up by skidding over the line two days before 2011 arrived.

Orion Prime on the Amstrad CPC
It's worse than that, he's dead Jim! Orion Prime (Amstrad CPC)
The Amstrad CPC scored on the blowing up of aliens front as well, vertical blaster Dead On Time by Paul Kooistra (author of Star Sabre) offered up something almost unheard of amongst 8-bit computer gaming, a time attack shoot 'em up. And although it wasn't originally released during 2010, the expansive and lavishly detailed graphical adventure Orion Prime deserves highlighting since it was made available for free download.

The C64 scored quite a few playable platformers, receiving conversions of Uwol: Quest For Money and Nanako in Classic Japanese Monster Castle from the Spectrum, wireframed Spike from the Vectrex and Quod Init Exit, which wasn't a conversion and threw high resolution colour about the place like it was going out of fashion. There were some spots of converted blasting worth noting too, Berzerk Redux offered up a decent rendition of the Stern single screen arcade classic and Minestorm, the Asteroids-inspired arena shooter that comes built into every Vectrex wandered breadbin-wards too. An outpouring of newness for the VIC 20 included no less than three coin-op inspired games from Robert Hurst (of Quikman 2008 fame), Berzerk MMX, Break-Out! and Space Invaders, whilst adventurers had some map making to do courtesy of Island of Secrets (taken from a type-in listing and seriously enhanced graphically). And the Commodore 264 series were introduced to the Maziacs (based on the original, written by Don Priestly), the by this point ubiquitous Uwol and some original, highly colourful platforming with the splendid Adventures In Time.

Invasion of the Zombie Monsters on the MSX
Something evil's lurking in the dark. Invasion of the Zombie Monsters (MSX)
Invasion of the Zombie Monsters was released at the start of the year and brought a little Ghosts 'n' Goblins action to the MSX (and indeed Spectrum) and, whilst the yearly MSXdev 2010 competition is still ongoing at the time of writing, it had already offered up Hans' Adventure and a fabulous implementation of Konami's Quarth called Qbiqs before the new year festivities. For the Atari 8-bit, it was His Dark Majesty, a role playing game with a side order of turn-based strategy, that seemed to impress gamers the most whilst the annual ABBUC event saw a couple of solid releases like match three puzzle Diamondz and Robix representing for scrolling shoot 'em ups.

There was monumental news for Oric lovers because, after a couple of years in the wilderness, they were smothered with programming love; isometric action came from "television tie-in" Space: 1999, flick screen platform fans could enjoy rescuing fairies with the Stormlord, a conversion of Epyx classic Impossible Mission invited players to stay a while, stay forever and then there was the truly remarkable; a graphically beefed up, programmed from scratch homage to Elite which pretty much had to be titled 1337 really, didn't it?

I'D LIKE TO THANK MY MOTHER AND FATHER...
So now to the awards and we'll start with the lowest light of 2010 and, although we had some less-than-honourable mentions for Diagonal Ball 2 and the plethora of at best average Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit titles released over the year for the C64 or even one mention of the CPC rendition of Advanced Lawnmower Simulator, the run-away "winner" is the appalling Gay Shot for the Spectrum; as has been pointed out on the World of Spectrum forums, any game that sees the player cast as a "manly" protagonist blasting whatever minces his way with a pump action shotgun has more to say about denied sexuality than anything else and it certainly didn't voice any opinions about how to make a decent game at the same time.

1337 on the Oric
1337 (Oric) - boldly going where no Oric has gone before.
When it comes to the award everybody lusts after, the highly coveted Oldschool Gaming Game Of The Year Award (trademark pending), there was quite a few titles that really distinguished themselves during 2010 including Horace in the Mystic Woods and Genesis: Dawn of a New Day on the Spectrum, the sumptuous Orion Prime on the Amstrad CPC or His Dark Majesty for the Atari 8-bits, but the game that was mentioned by twice as many of the people "polled" for this round-up than any other was wireframed space trader 1337 for the Oric, a truly mammoth project that took over two years to reach fruition for developer Jose Maria Enguita (aka Chema) and the team of dedicated Oric lovers who stepped up to help him create something exceptional.

So, that there was 2010 and it gave us a surprising range of good games with not too much in the way of dross. But keep fingers crossed because, if the previews already floating around and the rumours of slow-burning projects nearing completion actually ring true, 2011 could well prove to be just as eventful if not better!

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