What a year 2016 has been for new Amstrad CPC game releases. A poll being conducted on the Facebook group page Amstrad Classic Gaming and Demos provides an estimated figure that there has been a whopping 73 individual games created and developed for the Amstrad 8-bit computer this year. That’s finished games, game demos, unfinished games, and unreleased to the public games. To put that figure into perspective, there were approximately 45 new game releases for the CPC in 2015.
2016’s result is quite a staggering. For those who are unaware of the Amstrad CPC range of computers, they were first put together on the assembly lines in 1984, enjoying success, primarily in the UK and Europe, for about a decade as a home computer and video games machine. Production of the Amstrad CPC range (not the Plus range) ceased, when company founder, Sir Alan Sugar, pulled the switches off the assembly lines in 1990.
Four years on from 1990, very few commercial games were being made for the Amstrad CPC. The last commercial game, Megablasters by Radical Software, was reviewed in Amstrad Action issue 111, cover dated December of 1994. In that particular year, according to the CPC Power website, I was only able to find a total of 35 games released, that’s a combination of both commercial and public domain (PD) or freeware games. So what is driving this revival in Amstrad CPC gaming?
For the past four years, an annual game creation contest called the #CPCRetroDev has been run by the University of Alicante, in Spain. The competition is open to anyone around the world, not just the university students, who can code and create a game running on an Amstrad 464 machine, BASIC 1.0, for the less knowledgeable, that’s 64K in memory. It caters for both novice and experienced coders, offering some nice prize money in both the BASIC and PRO categories. Last year, there were 36 game entries and in 2016, there were two less, with 34 game entries.
While the #CPCRetroDev game contest attributed for almost half of the games released for the Amstrad CPC in 2016, the 39 other games released this year, shows that the CPC range is being well supported by individual and group coder’s such as Juan J. Martinez (Golden Tail), The Mojon Twins (Sir Ababol 2), 4Mhz (Adiós a la Casta Episode 2), and Egotrip (A Prelude to Chaos). All of them have been releasing differing genres of computer games, with some of the most gorgeous graphics, coupled with fabulous catchy tunes, and innovative in-game techniques. They are proving to be very addictive and highly playable games on the Amstrad CPC or Plus range. Most of the games are just of a high a standard as when the computer was at its peak in the late 1980s. Some of these coder’s are creating and using their own game engines, while others are using newly developed coding tools such as the ‘C’ language called CPCtelera.
The computer that once struggled in 1994 to produce commercial games is undergoing a resurgence. Some might say its growing again, gaining more interest and reaching more people and a wider audience. This is helped with an active online community of forums such as the CPCWiki, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Some of the best Amstrad CPC games of 2016 that you must play include Princess Amy: A Prelude to Chaos, Outlaws, Adiós a la Casta Episode 2, Golden Tail, Vector Vaults, and Doomsday Lost Echoes–the latter of which is probably the best graphics text adventure you will ever play on an Amstrad CPC. But it’s not just for its excellent graphics, the coders have created a very flexible conversation parser to play the game, making it far more enjoyable, than text adventures of the past.
In the future, I will endeavor to write more on the best Amstrad CPC games of 2016.