Pengy, Atari ST

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Pengy is a clone of the arcade game Pengo (by Sega) and – to be honest – it’s not a very good one.

The graphics are poor, the gameplay is not very fair or well-balanced and Pengy contains none of the subtleties or charm of the game it is trying to copy.

I’ve seen a few people say that this is a great game (which made me look it up). Either they’ve got very low standards, or they wouldn’t know a decent game if it bit them on the arse.

Pengy was published by Red Rat Software for the Atari ST in 1987.

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Grandia II, Dreamcast

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Grandia II was released in August 2000 in Japan for the Sega Dreamcast. It follows the same template as the first Grandia game, except this time with full 3D graphics (the first Grandia mixed 2D and 3D). And – as Grandia II was made by many of the same people who made the first game – it’s not surprising that it’s similar.

The Grandia “template” is: real-time exploration; turn-based combat; spinning, ring-like menus; Initiative Points and a timeline of events in battle; linear conversations; simple puzzles (well, not always that simple); and constant grinding.

You play a “Geohound” (a sort of samurai for hire) called Ryudo. Ryudo starts the game at level ten, with a paid job: escorting the daughter of a local priest to a tower for a ceremony. Of course: everything goes wrong and evil is unleashed and you’re thrown into combat very quickly. Combat is…

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Inside Outing, Amstrad CPC

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Inside Outing is an interesting isometric action/adventure game initially published by The Edge in 1988. It was designed by Michael St. Aubyn and converted to a number of different platforms, with this Amstrad version being the original.

The story is: an eccentric millionaire has died without leaving a will and has hidden 12 gems in strange places around his large house. The millionaire’s widow has hired a professional thief (you), to explore the house and find the fortune. Unfortunately the millionaire’s pets have now overrun the mansion and are waiting to attack any intruders, so it won’t be straightforward.

The gameplay in Inside Outing is fairly simple exploration, object manipulation, jumping, puzzles, and the game of ‘fetch’. Of course it owes a debt of gratitude to Knight Lore (as every other isometric action game does), but in general it’s reasonably original, and – in places – quite surprising. For…

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Donkey Kong, ColecoVision

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This ColecoVision conversion of Nintendo‘s classic Donkey Kong is famous for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the deal made between Coleco and Nintendo was unusual to say the least, because Nintendo were demanding a lot, and got it. Secondly, ColecoVisionDonkey Kong is known for its high quality – it easily beats any other version produced at the time (except the arcade original). Thirdly, the game was never made available as a stand-alone cartridge release – it was only available as a pack-in game with the console. But it sure as hell helped sell a lot of consoles…

My only criticism of Coleco Donkey Kong is that it is missing a level. The 50m ‘Cement Factory’ level is missing and there are only three screens in this, instead of the four seen in the arcade game. In the world of tiny ROM cartridges, I guess you can’t have…

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Boulder Dash, ColecoVision

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The ColecoVision conversion of Boulder Dash is really quite wonderful. It was converted by Micro Lab and published on the Microfun label in 1984.

Graphically the game is well-defined and nicely-coloured. Gameplay-wise it is responsive and rewarding. All the classic Boulder Dash levels are present and correct and the programmers have resisted the temptation to redesign them.

For my money: one of the best games on the ColecoVision console. Boulder Dash generally works well on whatever format it is running on, and this ColecoVision version is the bee’s knees.


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