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16 bit action

Before gamesmagazine Zzap! started reviewing Amiga games on a regular basis, games for this machine were reviewed in special supplements called '16-bit'. They were rather short and no scores were given. On this page you can read all 39 comments given for Amiga games during 1988. Experience the prehistoric era of Amiga gaming. ;)

3 Stooges, The
3 Stooges, The, Cinemaware
Excellent speech and superb digitised graphics are set across a boardgame format, split into a series of sub-games in which the three buffoons attempt to earn enough money to save an orphanage. In practice these sub-games are far too simple – consisting of horizontally and vertically scrolling dodge games, a trivia quiz, pie-throwing and fighting – and the slow disk access and the frustrating inter-game sequences soon make for tedious gameplay. The action is far from challenging, and it's incredibly easy to complete the game – and after that there's nothing to draw you back. At £30 The Three Stooges is a very overpriced disappointment.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.76


Battleships
Battleships, Elite
Initially scheduled for release across all formats, Battleships is now only available on the Amiga and Atari ST. Elite's conversion of the classic pen and paper game claims the advantages of a computer opponent and graphics; even so, the lack of overall variety means that it's basically a very expensive way of enjoying a very simple game.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, p. 106


Blastaball
Blastaball, Zeppelin
Blastaball is an Amiga 'budget' rendering of Hyperbowl, which in turn is a high-tech version of the classic Crossfire board game. However, even though it's available at a budget price, the lack of diversity and predictable gameplay outweigh any addictive qualities.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, p. 107


Bone Cruncher
Bone Cruncher, English Software
Bone Cruncher's appealing scenario and characters have been seen on most formats, but the game is basically a glorified Boulderdash clone without the simple addictiveness. Nevertheless, it's the only decent Rockford emulator on the Amiga, so it could be worth a look.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, P. 107


Crack
Crack, Linel
From Linel comes Crack, the most recent addition to the senile Breakout genre. With 150 game screens and a 700 level construction set there's certainly enough action, but the repetitive and unchallenging gameplay repels addiction long before then. Still, it's a humorous approach to a dated concept, and well worth a look for some of the crispest and most entertaining Amiga game sound yet.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.75


Flintstones, The
Flintstones, The, Grand Slam Entertainment
From Grand Slam Entertainment comes an interpretation of those Hanna Barbera Prehistoric Americans, The Flintsones. It's set over four scenes which involve painting, finding Fred's car wheel, spending a night in the bowling alley and rescuing Pebbles; none of which offer very much depth or playability. The graphics and sound are both uninspired, and the tedious gameplay does little to encourage lasting interest.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.100


GeeBee Air Rally
GeeBee Air Rally, Activision
Based on the series of the 1930s speed races, Activision's GeeBee Air Rally launches the Pole Position format into the skies: competing against other racers, a group of courses is completed for points. However, the innovation of being able to move vertically as well as sideways is nullified by the lack of graphical variety and ease of gameplay. It's reasonable, but it won't hold interest for long.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, p. 106


Indoor Sports
Indoor Sports, Databyte
Those of less aggressive nature should take a looks at Databyte's Indoor Sports. This four-sport package has been faithfully converted to the Amiga, poor gameplay and all. Only the tabletop ice hockey proffers any real enjoyment, ten-pin bowling and table-tennis are merely average, and the darts section is quite poor. Again, the graphics do nothing to show off the capabilities of the machine, and the music is dire.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.103


Into the Eagle's Nest
Into the Eagle's Nest, Pandora
Another 64 conversion, which comes off rather better is Into the Eagle's Nest from Pandora. The Amiga version is graphically close to the Atari ST version, but still captures the spirit of the original and provides a good mixture of exploration, blasting and survival. The atmosphere is further enhanced by some brilliant sampled sound effects and a stirring title tune.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, pp.102-103


Jinks
Jinks, Rainbow Arts
Rainbow Arts' latest foray into the 16-bit field have produced an average game: the upgraded 8-bit Breakout variant, Jinks. The graphics are colourful, the scrolling smooth, and the music impressive, but the lack of levels (only four) and the very limited action result in the game losing appeal very quickly.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.100


Leatherneck
Leatherneck, Microdeal
From Steve Bak is Leatherneck released by Microdeal. It's an Ikari Warriors lookalike which allows up to four people (via a special interface available separately) to machine gun and grenade the hell out of legions of enemy soldiers. Again, as with other Bak games, play is very tough indeed and soldiers attack, not just in twos and threes, but in eights and nines! Probably the best game of its type on the Amiga, though.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 108


Mercenary
Mercenary, Novagen
Mercenary is a direct conversion of the 8-bit machines, but its superfast 3D vector graphics and incredible depth of gameplay make it immediately compelling. Comprising as much excitement as most available flight simulators, a detailed scenario and multiple ways of finishing the game, it's a must for all Amiga owners.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, p. 106


Passengers on the Wind
Passengers on the Wind, Infogrames
At the bottom of the barrel this month is Passengers on the Wind from Infogrames. It takes the form of an icon-driven adventure based upon the Franηois Bourgeon comic strip of the same name and puts the player in the shoes of as many as 17 varied characters living at the end of the Eighteenth Century. The plot is very like the sort of Romantic adventure your mother would read, in fact – unfortunately, the game's only decent feature is its superb mellow soundtrack, and even that becomes tedious as it repeats over and over again. The dialogue reads as if it has been poorly translated from the original French, and the characters come up with such gems as 'You take the place of a dead person and pretend to be dead' and 'I lie down in your coffin hoping it won't be up being mine.' Oh dear.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 109


Return to Atlantis
Return to Atlantis, Firebird
Very much inspired by the Bond movies, Electronic Arts' Return to Atlantis boasts a combination of RPG and arcade action across 14 missions. However, the tasks don't differ significantly during play, and there's some pretty irksome disk swapping – otherwise it's another average addition to the Amiga range.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.76


Rolling Thunder
Rolling Thunder, US Gold
US Gold's conversion of Rolling Thunder is a barely mediocre attempt: the arcade music is nearly all there, but the graphics leave a lot to be desired. The scrolling is jerky, the characters slightly blocky and the backdrops fairly bland: more detail and action would have improved the basic (but compelling) action.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.101


Sidewinder
Sidewinder, Mastertronic
Probably the most fun we had this month on the Amiga was with Mastertronic's Sidewinder, a vertically shoot 'em up with particularly nice graphics and marvelous sound effects. The action takes place over four levels of gun emplacements, airborne enemy fighters and hostile ground vehicles. Levels of play range from very easy Beginner to Master, which will give the most ardent Xenon player a run for his money. In fact, if you can't afford Xenon, Sidewinder's £9.99 price tag makes it a tempting second option.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 108


Starfleet 1
Starfleet 1, Electronic Arts
Starfleet1, programmed by Interstel, but released on the Amiga by Electronic Arts is a strategic Star Trek game in the very traditional mould. The program carries no adornments beyond a few poorly-digitised spoken words, and the presentation of the action is all done through text character graphics which do leave something to the imagination. Luckily, this isn't terribly detrimental to the gameplay, and Starfleet1 should have a nostalgic tear brimming in the eye of anyone who has had a computer for more than five or six years.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 109


Test Drive 1
Test Drive 1, Electronic Arts
Rather more down-to Earth action is to be had with Electronic Art's Test Drive. On selecting a beautifully drawn sports car – Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari or Lotus – the player's driving abilities are tested on a twisting, winding mountain road. The interior of each car is represented well, but the exterior scenes of moving roadways and traffic are less than convincing, and fail to convey any feeling of movement or speed. The control is unresponsive and the general impression is one of pointlessness.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.102


Western Games
Western Games,
The Amiga is quite big in Germany, so it's only natural that German 64 games should be converted to their big brother rather more quickly than their English counterparts. Western Games is one such game, and it too is a faithful reproduction of the original. The graphics, as expected, are a lot prettier and the sound effects are much improved. Again, however, the gameplay has been ported over, lock, stock and hassle, and is overcomplex and not terribly rewarding.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.103


Xenon 1
Xenon 1, Melbourne House
The second of this month's vertically-scrolling progressive shoot 'em ups sees the player take control of a craft able to change from a tank to an aircraft and vice versa. Xenon from Melbourne House is a perfect conversion from the Arcadia coin-op and features some stunning metallic backdrops. The action is fast and furious as the player battles through wave after wave of spectacular alien emplacements and creatures. Don't miss it!

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.103


Backlash
Backlash, Novagen
Drawing its inspiration from the classic Encounter, Backlash is a vast improvement both in graphics and playability. The atmospheric and subtle use of colour and incredibly fast filled-in 3D graphics complement the decent sound effects. The action is rapid, continuous and addictive, and the whole package is only let down by the inappropriate title track…

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, pp. 106-107


Black Lamp
Black Lamp, Firebird
Black Lamp fairs well in comparison with the C64, with the Amiga sporting finely detailed graphics and reasonably addictive medieval platform and dragon-blasting action. Guiding Jolly Jack the Jester in his search for enchanted lamps is accompanied by a soundtrack which, disappointingly, isn't quite as 'groovy' (to use Paul's word) on the Amiga as it was on the 64. The original magic is still there, though, and as arcade adventures go, this isn't bad at all.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 109


BMX Simulator
BMX Simulator, Code Masters
One of the first 'budget' releases to appear on the Commodore flagship is Code Masters' BMX Simulator. Reviewed way back in ZZAP! issue 20, the one ninety-niner proved quite popular, and the same can be said of the game in its latest guise. The dirt track backdrops are similar in style, but have been improved tremendously, as have the tiny sprites. Gameplay is similarly appealing, and includes a highly competitive two-playermode. BMX Simulator is definitely one to try.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.103


Bubble Bobble
Bubble Bobble, Firebird
Bubble Bobble is virtually identical to the arcade version, although the music isn't quite as good as it should be. The gameplay is the same: a brilliant combination of addictive platform action and cute characters, with plenty of surprise features to be discovered. Graphically it's impressive – considering the game's simplicity – and although it doesn't fully exploit its potential, it's still worthy of any Amiga owner's attention.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.75


Enlightenment
Enlightenment, Microdeal
Enlightenment, the thinking man's Gauntlet, boasts some very smart graphics and a marvelous pan-pipe soundtrack, but gameplay is slightly slower than the 64 version. Nonetheless, it's very playable, and has a good deal of appeal for the would-be druid.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 108-109


Garrison II
Garrison II, Kingsoft
Garrison II adopts the Gauntlet format without improving on it. Surprisingly, the sprites are uninspiring and poorly animated, the levels scroll slowly and jerkily and the sound is very basic. It's by no means terrible, but it's worth waiting for US Gold's officially licensed version of Gauntlet II to provide some comparison.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.75


Great Giana Sisters, The
Great Giana Sisters, The, Rainbow Arts
Rainbow Arts' latest foray into the 16-bit field have produced an excellent game: Great Giana Sisters. Released by GO!, it's a shamelessly superb interpretation of the brilliant coin-op, Super Mario Bros. The player guides Giana or Maria across 32 levels of a dreamworld populated by hostile lobsters, bouncing blobs and other terrifying (but cute) creatures. Boasting arcade quality backdrops, appealing music and immediately compelling gameplay, it's one that shouldn't be missed.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, pp.100-101


Insanity Fight
Insanity Fight, Microdeal
Insanity Fight is a progressive blasting game set over the surface of a giant space station, and later in deep space. The action is hectic and quite entertaining, but the graphics rely heavily on bland bas-relief backdrops and some rather uninteresting sprites, which fail to take the breath away as they should.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.102


Jet
Jet, Sublogic
Air combat fans are well catered for with Jet, Sublogic's latest filled-3D flight simulator. The player takes control of either an F-16 or F-18 jet and flies three different missions: intercept and shoot down enemy MiGs, a nighttime ground attack and a daytime ground attack with a MiG threat. The fourth scenario is a free-flight option, which allows the pilot to fly his plane without threat. The graphics are incredible, with fast and convincing 3D update, the digitised effects are superb, and there are plenty of neat touches, but at £40 it's very expensive – especially as there are only four missions. Jet is compatible with Flight Sim II scenery discs, allowing you to burn around Cape Canaveral or across Mid West America, but we recommend you wait for Interceptor before deciding to buy.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.76


Joe Blade
Joe Blade, English Software
The basic scenario of deactivating six bombs within a huge terrorist complex is made appealing by its attractive presentation. Cartoon quality graphics and squat soldiers make this simple shoot and search game one to look out for.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, p. 107


Leviathan
Leviathan, English Software
English Software's second foray into the 16-bit world (Q-Ball being the first) comes as a conversion of the diagonally-scrolling shoot' em up, Leviathan. It's quite smart to look at, but the gameplay is flawed, with a poor control method and rather repetitive action. Surprisingly, the landscape judders slightly when scrolling, and the static starfield of the 64 has been removed in favour of inky blackness. Not the best Amiga shoot 'em up by a long chalk.

Zzap, February 1988, Issue 34, p.102


Obliterator
Obliterator, Psygnosis
The latest Psygnosis game pits their customary high graphical standards against flawed gameplay. The basic gripe is the sluggish response time of the main character – resulting in great frustration in tricky situations- and the equally laborious push-scrolling. The ease of gameplay only compounds the fault: Obliterator offers little more than an evening's entertainment.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.75


Pink Panther
Pink Panther, Magic Bytes
Pink panther has arrived on the Amiga courtesy of Magic Bytes, but doesn't quite achieve the license's potential. It's a two-way horizontally scrolling arcade adventure in which our bendy pink friend attempts to rob a house whilst its owner is asleep. However, a combination of dull presentation sequences and a fiddly control method weakens the gameplay.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.101


Return to Genesis
Return to Genesis, Firebird
Return to Genesis is programmed by Steve Bak for Firebird. The game is typically Bak – very fast and very mean – and consists of piloting a Nomad skimmer over the cluttered surfaces of 50 planets, picking up enslaved scientists. The player can then use the fruits of each scientist's research to upgrade his skimmer with triple lasers, shields, smart bombs and extra speed.
The speed of the game is totally overpowering, and because the skimmer rebounds when it hits a structure, a real effort has to be made to keep the pace of the game slow enough.

Zzap, August 1988, Issue 40, p. 108


Sentinel, The
Sentinel, The, Firebird
(...) The most outstanding is Firebird's long-awaited conversion of The Sentinel. Tagged onto the basic 8-bit concept are a HELP function (an overhead view), more colour and a much faster screen update. The unusual optional soundtrack is disappointing, but the sound effects are brilliantly atmospheric. It's by far the most polished and frenetic version of this highly original and classic concept.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.100


Slaygon
Slaygon, Microdeal
The player controls the eponymous multitasking mega machine and infiltrates the Cybordynamics Laboratory facility to destroy a new strain of toxic virus.
Unfortunately, the promising scenario and presentation are marred by bland gameplay and jerky graphical movement: the concept is laudable enough, but its execution leaves much to be desired.

Zzap, May 1988, Issue 37, p. 106


Strike Force Harrier
Strike Force Harrier, Linel
Strike Force Harrier makes the leap from the 8-bit formats with ease, but still doesn't provide enough variety to guarantee interest. Neat effects such as fading clouds and detailed ground features are marred by the inherent simplicity of the action. If you've got Jet, you won't want this: wait for Interceptor instead.

Zzap, June 1988, Issue 38, p.75


Thexder
Thexder, Sierra
Thexder, programmed in Japan and released by Sierra, is a four-way scrolling shoot 'em up, the player taking control of a transformer robot in multiple attack scenarios. Although its graphics and sound are very simple, the game is quite compelling because of the ability to take control of an android or jet against 20 different kinds of alien. It's not bad, but for the price it would be better to take a look first.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.101


Wizball
Wizball, Ocean
The 16-bit version of Sensisoft's classic Wizball boasts graphical improvement but a less playable game. The sound effects are excellent, with effective drum beat laser fire, but the music isn't as appealing as the 64 version. A combination of the small playing area, lack of rapid firepower and some annoyingly fast alien patterns tends to make games short and sweet. With two players it's quite enjoyable, on your own it's annoying.

Zzap, July 1988, Issue 39, p.101