[Acorn Gaming]


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Summary Reviews

This is not currently a complete list of commercial Acorn games - far from it - but I will be continually adding to it until it is; or as close to a complete list as it is possible to get! If you have any additions to this list then please email them to me. Prices are either those quoted by the publisher or typical prices from advertisements in Acorn magazines. All prices are given to the nearest pound.

There's a fully-linked index for this page, by the way.

Key to ratings

  !!! - Unbelievably dire
    * - Very poor
   ** - Pretty bad
  *** - Mediocre
 **** - Quite good
***** - Excellent
    ? - Not reviewed (yet!)

Arcturus; Oregan; 25 pounds; **

Poor implementation of an unoriginal idea. Guide your craft around a landscape battling against momentum, holes in the floor, and various enemies. This game could have been superb, but the viewing angle makes it almost impossible to play - you view the game from a point far too close to the floor, so it's very difficult to judge where exactly you are, which is absolutley essential in a game where one tiny mistake can send you plummeting to your death. Appalling game design resets the level after every life is lost, although at least you are given a password every four levels. A demo is available from various sources (including the University of Stuttgart's FTP server). Graphics are quite good, however, with some nice (although strange) shading, and the way the craft bobs up and down when it hits the ground is impressive.
a picture of the level map shown before you start each level, and here are two in-game pictures - one showing a big rotating diamond, and another showing a random in-game shot. For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages. (Link no longer works)

Axis; TBA; 20 pounds; ****

A very good game with a unique rotation effect, whereby you stay still and the whole (sprite-based) world rotates around you. The game is actually great fun too, although a little simplistic. You can shoot all the scenery, and it shows damage, but it doesn't actually help you (other than to award you points). Still, the game has a very impressive array of power-ups, enemies and scenery. The difficulty is a little erratic, with one particularly hard level and the rest rather easy, but it's very hard not to like this game. Definitely worth buying.

Carnage Inc.; The Fourth Dimension; 26 pounds; ****

This game isn't a world-beater - far from it - but it definitely stands head and shoulders above most of the other original Acorn games. This is just about the only original Acorn game with well-drawn graphics, and some effort has even been taken over the presentation, with well-realised vector-graphic animated `films' between levels. Even the colours aren't too garish.
This isometric arcade adventure game is well designed, with the four completely different missions providing plenty of variety, although perhaps the final half of the game is a little difficult. Unfortunately the sound is absolutely pathetic, with about two samples - and that's it!

Chuck Rock; Krisalis Software; ~20pounds; ***1/2

This is actually quite a good game (even if the original version was written in AMOS BASIC...) with plenty of variety in the enemy creatures. There is some feintly amusing interaction with the `scenery' in the standard cartoon fashion, but overall the game suffers from the boring use of a 16-colour mode. Whilst 16-colour modes work fine for games with a limited colour stone-like theme (such as Gods, Magic Pockets, etc.) they make colourful games look drab, and sadly this applies to Chuck Rock. The small game screen also detracts from the enjoyment, although I realise this is in line with the original. The parallax scrolling is rather repetitive, with far too small a repeated background.
The bosses all require too many hits, and are frankly boring as a result. The inclusion of a different `death' frame for every creature is a particularly nice touch, and the first disc of the game also includes an animated introduction which is blatantly sexist.

Cygnus Collection; Cygnus Software; 20 pounds; ****

I had to give this four stars because it includes the delightful Twin World, a game that doesn't have anything particularly fancy about it, but simply has lovely graphics and great music. This collection also Tower of Babel and Iron Lord - see respective titles below.

Dune II - Battle For Arrakis; Eclipse; 35 pounds; ****

This is a pretty major title. It's a sort of simulation game where you have to take the role of one of three 'families' of people and help them survive in a similar sort of way to Sim City. For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages. (Link no longer works)

Elite & Elite Gold; Hybrid Software; 40 pounds; ***

Nasty port of the classic space game. A beeping docking computer, motion which speeds up and slows down wildly as things pass across the screen, and an incredibly off-putting quadrupling of the number of kills it takes to get anywhere make this one to avoid. The BBC Master version is much, much better. There are a few cosmetic changes, but they add little to the gameplay.
(NB. The following links are not included in the archive)
Here are some pictures of Elite:
The title page, the star map screen, and finally an in-game picture showing the high level of detail used to display the planets and moons.

Flashback; US Gold; 28 pounds; *****

Superb port of this incredible game which even manages to surpass the Megadrive version through the use of 256 colour graphics and the inclusion of all the animation sequences. Incredibly realistic rotoscoped action combined with superbly drawn backgrounds and excellent game design, not to mention atmospheric event-triggered music shorts, leads to one of - if not the best games on the Acorn platform. If you buy any game then you must buy this one. For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages. (Link no longer works.)

Floopy; Soft Rock Software; 3 pounds 50; !!!

The sort of thing you'd expect a five-year old to write in under an hour. Looks like a very early 8-bit game, and is about as much fun as the average funeral.

FTT - Formula Two Thousand; TBA; 25 pounds; ***

Lacklustre space racing game. Play this for more than a few minutes and you'll be bored stiff. Despite blind acclaim from magazine reviewers, this is one to avoid. It is well presented, but if the game is no good then what use is that? For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages. (Link no longer works.)

Gods; Krisalis Software; Varies; *****

This is an excellent puzzle/action platform game, with lots and lots to work out and discover. Superb use of 16 colours leads to some great-looking visuals, and level design is inspired. A massive variety of power-ups ensures you're never bored, and cleverly-staggered passwords save you from having to waste lots of time each time you play. More!

Heimdall; Krisalis Software; 30 pounds; ***

Whether you like this or not depends on how you like your RPGs. In my opinion the mouse-based combat makes this completely unplayable, and the game design - particularly of the object selection screen during exploration - is absolutely appalling, handicapping the game so much that it becomes immensely tedious. I like RPGs, but I don't like this. Sound is poor, too, with annoyingly loud footsteps. I'd avoid this.
(NB: None of the following links are included in the archive)
The introduction, however, is of a reasonable length. The fighting sequences look like the one linked here, and here's a map of the first world. When you die, you see this. Finally, this is a picture of a typical main game (exploration) screen.

Iron Lord; Cygnus Software; Part of Cygnus Collection; ***

A curious collection of games joined together by means of a (fairly simple) graphical adventure game. The gameplay, music and graphics are varied throughout. Includes various sport simulators within the game, and two methods of exploration. Culminates in a complete strategy game! Suffered from a lack of launch publicity, unfortunately.

James Pond; Krisalis; ~20 pounds; **

However good and successful the original was, this Arch port is wrong, wrong, wrong and as a result is impossible to play! Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Well, that wasn't very objective, was it? What I'm saying is that (from level 4 onwards) severe bugs in the game make it a frustrating, luck-ridden task. Your energy does all sorts of things it shouldn't - usually plummeting down to zero without warning. If you want to play this (reasonable) game, go and buy a Megadrive or something.

James Pond 2 - Robocod; Gamesware/Eclipse; 26 pounds; *

An excellent example of how to take a reasonably good game and convert it into the biggest pile of steaming rubbish imaginable. This should never have been released. I haven't played the Amiga original, but comparing this with the Megadrive version is liking comparing chalk and cheese (cliche-time!). Avoid like the plague! Here's what Jason Tribbeck said about it in a posting to comp.sys.acorn.

K.V.; High Risc Software Developments; 12 pounds; *

Oh dear. Tries to imitate the classic Chuckie Egg and fails dismally. The lack of variety is so real it just isn't true. Very badly designed, and a complete lack of anything approaching playability. Avoid. RISC OS 3 only.

Lander; Acorn; Free with computer; **

This demo game was originally included with Acorn computers to show their power. A game developed from the main code was later commercially released as Zarch (see below). Fun for a bit, although very difficult to get the hang of. Crashes sometimes on newer Acorn machines.

Magic Pockets; Krisalis Software; 26 pounds; ***

This game looks nice, and has a fair amount of variety, but frankly I find the gameplay too stunted to be enjoyable. The way you have to keep stopping moving and hanging around makes this game a chore rather than a pleasure, and so in the end fails to fulfill.

Magnetoids; Oregan; 25 pounds; ****

Fun 3D vector shoot-em-up in space; basically a 3D version of the classic Asteroids (or Meteors as it was called on the BBC). The graphics are properly lit from a light source, and it's nice to have a choice of control methods (for different ships). Sound is unimaginative, though, with loud, repetitive laser fire. Addition of features from level to level and a variety of power-ups provide long-term appeal. A demo is available by FTP from Stuttgart. For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages. (Link no longer works).

Robocatch; Generation Design; 8 pounds; *

Very poor implementation of an incredibly unoriginal shoot-em-up game. Pathetic graphics and amazingly bad (not to mention completely uninspired) game design make this something you should be paid to play, not pay to play. Avoid.

Sally and Wally; Oregan; 25 pounds; Not released yet

I haven't played this game yet, although from the look of it I don't expect it'll be setting any records. Still, it may well be fun to play.

Sim City; Krisalis; 35 pounds; ***

Poor port of the classic game. Horrible use of colour in a desktop window (mainly red!) ruins this game. It looks vile. Why it runs in the desktop I do not know, for you can't even scroll the window as usual - you need to hold down a mouse button near the edge of the window. As such, this game is a very uneasy compromise which in the end fails to satisfy. Sim City 2000 is much better. It's also far too expensive.

Sim City 2000; Krisalis; 40 pounds; ?

There are two versions available - one for the Risc PC, and a cut-down version for computers with 4Mb, an ARM 3, and VGA graphics. This is a great improvement on the original Sim City, and especially the poor Acorn version. The game now uses animation for things which just ``happened'' before, and there is more depth to the game.

Simon the Sorcerer; Gamesware; 40 pounds; ***

Long-awaited game that is not really that good. Relies on meticulously searching the screen pixel-by-pixel with your mouse pointer, and not much else. Conversations are long and tedious, and the fact that you can't step through them - you have to wait patiently for the next sentence to appear - makes parts of the game extremely tedious. Most of the graphics are lovely, although there is a disturbing tendency to map everything to grey in some of the backgrounds; some dithering would have been nice. The ending is disappointing, and bugged. Although not particularly so, some may find the game offensive at times due to some bad language.
Here's my
Simon the Sorcerer page. (No it isn't - it's no longer on this site, but I might restore it at some point.) For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages. (Link no longer works).

Spobbleoids; 25 pounds; **

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Take a very badly designed, amazingly unimaginative game, and, erm, do nothing to it. That's Spobbleoids.
The main character has no animation whilst moving, merely facing the way you're going, but what really makes this game a complete non-event is its appalling design - some levels rely entirely on luck and learning; keep repeating the level until you happen to fluke the right order. Also for a game which relies on you logically working out what to do, the fact that there's no overview of the entire level makes things very tricky.
I'd avoid this, although I suppose that very undemanding gamers might like it; it is almost uniquely unimaginative. It does at least have parallax scrolling, I suppose...

Starch; Dabs Press?; **

A very old, pre-RISC OS game, but it was re-released last year on an Archimedes World cover disc. This game has reasonable graphics, but unfortunately I found on my second go that I kept playing for ever, going round and round the various levels until I got bored and switched the computer off.

Starfighter 3000; FedNet; 30 pounds; *****

One of the few good original Acorn games. Use of texture-mapped floor and vector-based game objects is a first for Acorns, and the gameplay is nicely involved with many hidden things to discover. The sound is of average quality although it does add to the action, but the music isn't done very well. An impressive bit of coding which runs well even on slow machines. (And you can't say that about PC games!)

SWIV; Krisalis; ~20 pounds; *****

The IV allegedly stands for version four, with versions one to three being on the C64 or something, so this game must have something going for it or it would have been abandoned long ago.
In fact, this is a really good shoot-em-up, with a superb variety of alien spacecraft, and excellent attention to detail. I particularly love the way you leave tracks in the corn fields, and the alien spacecraft leave crop circles! Clever use of palette switching and a continuous game design - it is all one massive level - help lead to an incredibly addictive game that keeps you coming back for more. Sound is explosive and satisfying, and the simultaneous two-player ability is the proverbial icing on the cake.

Tower of Babel; Cygnus Software; Part of Cygnus Collection; **

Game that sold very badly, effectively ending Cygnus Software's three-strong run of games (although they later ported Zool for Gremlin). You must program various robots to solve logical problems in a 3D vector game world. Very strategically based game that is just too complex for its own good. Perhaps a game for programmers, rather than a game for gamers.

Twin World; Cygnus Software; Part of Cygnus Collection; ****

Simple game that is great fun to play. Lots of variety from level to level, lovely graphics and enjoyable music combine to produce one of the most playable titles on the Acorn machines. Poor publicity meant this never won the coverage it deserved. You can save your game between levels.

Wavelength; Gamesware; 20 pounds; ***

This game is ruined by poor design: the control method is deeply flawed, giving you very little control over your ship; the collection of power-ups is very badly implemented - it's far too easy to accidentally throw away all you've spent ages building up; and sometimes when you die you start again, crash into a wall, bounce away, crash into it again, etc. etc. until you lose another life!
Graphics are better than usual for a Tom Cooper game, although the music is uninspired, headache-inducing, and, erm, isn't music in my opinion! The authors also can't decide how to spell their group's name, which is spelt differently in the info box to in the game. The game allows uses of an overscan (full screen) mode which is particularly nice, although the presentation isn't really up to much. Not surprisingly the gameplay is much smoother on faster computers.

Wolfenstein 3D; Powerslave Software; 30 pounds; ****

This is an excellent port of the classic PC game. Although some claim it is a bit long in the tooth, the Jaguar version was released at about the same time as this, and so although it's not exactly brand new, it's hardly a stone age relic. Excellent gameplay, but slow turning (a feature of this port rather than the original version) spoils things somewhat. Mouse control is also implemented rather strangely. However, this game is wonderfully good fun to play, and things can get quite tense as you run around the levels. Hidden areas keep the game alive, and the ability to save at any time means you'll keep coming back to this one. Well worth buying. For a full review of it, you could click here to connect to the review of it on Adrian Jackson's WWW pages (link no longer works).

Zarch; Superior Software; 20 pounds; ****

Written by David Braben for Acorn, it was later released on other platforms under a different name. A stunningly original game at the time, and still pretty unique today. This really caught peoples' attention, even though it had a very steep learning curve. Graphics appear a little simplistic now. Also see Lander.

Zool; Gremlin Graphics; 25 pounds; ***

Attempt to transfer Sonic clone to home computers is only moderately successful, with repetitive game play, no backgrounds, and very bad music. There are quite a few hidden features to discover, however. See the full review (link removed now) for more information.

...this page last updated: 9/10/95...
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