Some Amstrad CPC gaming gems that flew under the radar. What makes a good game stand out from the rest? Some may say amazing graphics and sprites, while others will argue playability or smooth scrolling, addictiveness and even great tunes and sound effects. During the Amstrad CPC gaming era of the 1980’s and early 1990’s generally, the biggest software companies such as Ocean Software and U.S. Gold, held the rights to some of gaming’s biggest names which just happened to be either arcade conversions and or big budget movie licenses.
However when these type of games were converted over to the Amstrad CPC results and overall ratings differed greatly. They may have been the most well known titles but for the amount of resources, marketing and advertising expenditure the larger software companies had at their disposal, you would think that they all should have been outstanding games but unfortunately were not.
This is where some smaller software companies were able to use this to their advantage by producing and concentrating on developing unique, original and innovative gaming ideas. So why is that smaller software houses like Hewson Software, as just one example, were able to put together Amstrad CPC games with unfamiliar, strange game names, like, Exolon, Cybernoid 1 &2, Nebulus and that put the big software houses big named games to shame?
I am referring to games that didn’t have the huge advertising or marketing campaigns or huge amount of money to spend on development and paying for the best known coders. Games that were often called ‘Budget” titles because they cost a few quid instead of the 8 pound 95pence and much higher price tag.
These games were often referred to as ‘Under the Radar Games’.
What made these games termed ‘Under The Radar’ ? Quite simply they were absolutely cracking games to play – games with little fanfare, but in most cases were amazingly simple by design, they oozed with ‘one more go’ addictiveness and were just incredibly so much fun to play. ‘Under the Radar’ games on Amstrad CPC all seem to have a similar trait – colourful graphics and spites, easy to master playability, cool tunes and sounds and a simple gaming design concept that really make you think “why the hell didn’t i do it, how damn simple i could have created that”.
Gems like these on the Amstrad CPC can be discovered by word of mouth through social media sites but I find its even more fun to discover them by reading through the old magazine archives and then having a play on an emulator or real machine by downloading the files.
Here are a few that are well worth mentioning and need to be played because they are simply so much fun and you’ll want to keep on playing even after you’ve had enough.
Anarchy (Hewson / Rack It 1988)
A shoot em up with simple looking graphics get your spaceship to shoot a grid of blocks while avoiding the nasties to get to an exit after shooting all the desired blocks within a maze, within a time limit. So simple really. So it sounds but its a good challenge, some strategy thinking required and just fun to play. Lovely tunes and spot fx and nice colours. Its amazingly addictive.
Inspector Hecti in the Interchange (Hi Tech 1991)
Inspector Hecti is trapped and you’ve got to get him out of maze filled with insects and other enemies. A puzzle style game that is so simple to play and just so much fun. The graphics and tunes are amazing considering its a budget title. This game really kicks a lot of full priced games where it hurts. Its got power ups, its challenging and 50 freaking levels. This is such an addictive game.
Island of Dr. Destructo (Bulldog 1987)
A shoot em style game that you need to shoot planes and helicopters out of the sky and ships out of the water. Its so simple just shoot everything you see but the addictiveness is amazing. Its not got the most detailed sprites you’ll ever see but its playability and fun factor is way up there.
Footballer of The Year (gremlin 1986)
Can you be the footballer of the year ? Of course you can! This is a weird style football game a game of chance that really doesn’t have anything going for it in the traditional areas ie graphics, sounds etc but its sooooo addictive. The graphics are poor speccy style and there’s no tunes except at the start and your glad its only for that part of the game. Your quest to be footballer of the year is to buy goal cards and score goals from the goal box. But your goals don’t always reflect your results and sometimes you don’t have enough money to buy goal cards as you could get fined for staying out late or losing money at the casino from incident cards. It can be such a frustrating game but it always drags you back.
Other Amstrad CPC games that are impressive and you must check out include the following –
Druid, Equinox, Fly Spy (highly recommended) , Jet Bike Sim, Tank Command, Run The Gauntlet, Galatic Games, Frost Byte, Jim Power, North Star, Lightforce, Vindicators