Xenon 2 Megablast, Amiga

This 1989 shooter was designed by The Bitmap Brothers but programmed by The Assembly Line – a collaboration that resulted in one of the best-remembered Bitmap Brothers‘ games.

Xenon 2 Megablast is a vertically-scrolling shoot ’em up with five distinct levels, each divided into two sections. The colourful and detailed backdrops scroll parallax and give a nice feeling of depth, and the game has no problem chucking loads of sprites around.

Gameplay is heavily reliant on power-ups and at times can be a bit overwhelming with all the add-ons enabled – they all look cool though and wreak amazing destruction. Xenon 2 has a neat gameplay mechanic where you can reverse the direction of scrolling for a number of seconds, to avoid dead ends, and help defeat bosses.

A shop (called Colin’s Bargain Basement) appears mid-level, and at the end of a level, where you can buy a variety of offensive and defensive power-ups. Credits to buy stuff are awarded when you pick up bubbles left behind by shooting enemies.

Xenon 2 was one of the first games to have a reasonable recreation of a pop song as its title theme, that being: Bomb the Bass‘s “Megablast (Hip Hop on Precinct 13)“, programmed by David Whittaker. The Amiga version probably has the best rendition – later conversions often simplified it.

More: Xenon 2 Megablast on Wikipedia

Simon the Sorcerer, Amiga

Simon the Sorcerer is a very fondly-remembered, British point-and-click adventure game published by Adventure Soft for the Amiga in 1993.

It looks and plays similarly to the classic LucasArts adventures of the late 80s and early 90s – Loom, Monkey Island, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – and has the same verb/icon system as pioneered by those games.

It also has a similar, dry, satirical sense of humour to the aforementioned LucasArts games, which is somewhat surprising because Simon the Sorcerer was written by a teenager – specifically Mike Woodroffe‘s son, Simon. Mike was the director of Simon the Sorcerer and Simon, his son, was the writer. His “big break” you could say, and he didn’t let his dad down…

Simon the Sorcerer has a lot of great scenes in it – all beautifully drawn and coloured by pixel artist, Paul Drummond. All the characters are nicely animated too. Overall it is a top quality production. A ‘talkie’ version (with full voice acting) was later released on CD-ROM and I would say that that’s the one to play if you’re going to play this game. Word of warning though: it’s quite a difficult game, so be prepared for some frustration, unless: A. you’re an adventure game genius and have no fear, or B. you’re happy to use a walkthrough

A 25th Anniversary Edition of Simon the Sorcerer was released in April 2018 to mixed reviews. I haven’t played it yet so can’t comment. These screenshots are from the original 1993 Amiga version.

More: Simon the Sorcerer on Wikipedia
Steam: Simon the Sorcerer 25th Anniversary Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Simon the Sorcerer 25th Anniversary Edition on GOG.com

Uridium 2, Amiga

Uridium 2 is the sequel to Andrew Braybrook‘s classic Commodore 64 shooter, published on the Amiga in 1993 by Renegade Software, and it really is quite excellent.

The basic premise of the game is the same as the original: fly your ship (the Manta) over a variety of big spaceships (dreadnoughts), blasting surface features, shooting down other craft, and landing on a designated runway when the time is right (usually after the last attack wave has passed). Once you’ve landed you then engage in a separate minigame which is a single screen shooter in which you must send in a drone to destroy the dreadnought’s core. Succeed in doing that and the enemy ship explodes, moving you onto the next one.

The graphics and scrolling are beautiful – as is the general control of the Manta. Just like in the original Uridium: the Manta in Uridium 2 can tilt onto its side (to squeeze through smaller gaps), and can even fly upside down (which you couldn’t do in the original). You can’t land when your ship is tilted, though. Unlike the original: in Uridium 2 you can pick up better weapons by shooting stuff and flying into the dropped power-ups. You can even drop a weapon you don’t like by waggling the joystick side to side. Which is a nice touch.

Other nice touches include: the female digitised speech (voiced by Emma Cubberley), the bombs (great fun!), the gigantic explosions when the ships go up (not quite as dynamic as the speedy acidic melting of the original, but still good nonetheless), the A1200 “Mayhem Mode” (an extra “Bullet Hell” type mode, for the Amiga 1200 only, with more on-screen sprites than the regular version, and a faster-moving ship), and an excellent two-player cooperative mode.

Uridium 2 has a lot going for it. It’s a worthy successor to the classic Uridium, and arguably the best shooter on the Amiga. The presentation throughout is top quality and the action is engrossing and challenging. Uridium 2 isn’t perfect though. I prefer the ‘reaction’ minigame of the original to the core shooter of the sequel, but that’s just down to taste. The ‘core’ shooter section does improve and become more interesting as the game progresses (because the core’s defences increase as you reach higher levels), although the control of the drone in the core is a bit too ‘bouncy’ for my liking. It’s a minor gripe, though. Uridium 2 is still well worth a play if you can find a copy.

More: Uridium 2 on Wikipedia

Crystals of Arborea, Amiga

Trees, trees, and more trees! That’s what you get when you explore the ancient island kingdom of Arborea. And with a name like that it is no surprise.

Crystals of Arborea is a real-time, first-person, tile-based, party-driven RPG with combat, exploration, and day/night scenes where the colours cycle to give you a nice atmospheric setting.

After generating your party of seven (you and six others) you must then go looking for the titular crystals. Clues as to the crystal’s whereabouts can be gleaned from various people hidden in the woods (usually inside houses). Monsters also roam the forests and will attack you if they see you. Combat is turn-based and takes place on an overhead grid. The Fighters, Magicians, and Rangers in your party must try to outwit the enemy and kill them before they kill you. In a style not too dissimilar to chess.

For my money, the PC MS-DOS version is slightly better than this, because the controls are more responsive. This Amiga version seems to take a second to register your clicks, which can be frustrating. Crystals of Arborea is still an excellent game on the Amiga though. Arguably even better than the Ishar games that followed soon after.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystals_of_Arborea

 

Prince of Persia, Amiga

The Amiga version of Prince of Persia was released by Domark in 1990 and is an excellent enhanced port of the original classic.

In fact: other than a little bit of slowdown on occasion, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a way of continuing upon reloading, there is little to be critical of.

Note: the Amiga version of Prince of Persia was programmed by Dan Gorlin, who also made the classic Airheart (aka Typhoon Thompson).

More: Prince of Persia on Wikipedia

Manic Miner, Amiga

I would love to say that the 1990 Amiga conversion of Manic Miner is perfect, but it isn’t. There are some flaws with the way Miner Willy jumps. When Willy is inside some platforms, and you hold down jump, he will jump regardless of if he’s standing on a platform or not. Which looks like a bug to me.

The graphics are a bit messy too – considering that this is on an Amiga I’m surprised that it doesn’t look as crisp and as colourful as either the SAM Coupé version or the Spectrum original.

The Amiga version of Manic Miner also features Manic Miner II which is… erm, interesting.

Manic Miner II is basically a remake of Manic Miner with larger graphics and scrolling levels. It’s an okay game. The jumping mechanics are quite nice (Willy jumps in a slow, fluid arc and responds well to the controls), but some of the extra graphics are confusing; looking like harmful items when really they’re not. In summary: the overall presentation is a bit poor but the game feels reasonably good to play.

Manic Miner on the Amiga is worth a look if you’re a completest.

More on The King of Grabs: 10 Best Manic Miner Conversions

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manic_Miner

Chuckie Egg, Amiga

Amiga Chuckie Egg is a bit hit and miss. Actually, it’s more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ in my opinion.

For starters: the main character (Henhouse Harry) moves way too quickly – more quickly than in the original ZX Spectrum version – and sometimes too quickly to control properly. There are also not enough ostriches on the levels – the original has more, and is much more challenging. This is way too easy because the birds don’t provide much challenge (their AI is predictable as well). And: the ladders are too wide. Why do some programmers insist on changing these things? If it ain’t broke: don’t fix it…

You can apply that same theory to the graphics, which are – in my opinion – garish on the Amiga (but not quite as bad as the DOS version). Instead of making overly-busy and unnecessarily detailed backgrounds they should’ve added more levels. Or at the very least: more subtle use of graphics and colours. They’ve even changed Harry, into an egg! Sacrilege! 🙂

Amiga Chuckie Egg plays okay, but should have been a lot better. It’s certainly not what I would call a successful conversion.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuckie_Egg

Sidewinder, Amiga

Sidewinder – by Arcadia – is a well-respected, and quite exciting, vertically-scrolling shooter on the Amiga, first released in 1988 by Mastertronic.

What makes it exciting are the excellent graphics – in particular the explosions, which are beautifully animated – and the rapid fire Bullet Hell action, which is extremely challenging.

Sidewinder may be a little too difficult for some tastes. Every time you die you are sent backwards a little, which can be frustrating, but at least you don’t have to start from scratch. There are five difficulty levels, though, which do cater for everyone.

To makes things easier for you there are four power-ups available from time to time: rapid fire (increases your firing rate), Power Shots (increases your bullet strength), Ghost (temporary invulnerability), and Hover (temporarily stop moving forward).

Sidewinder still looks impressive now. The gameplay has dated a little though – it’s not quite as involving or as compelling as other shooters in its peer group.

More: Sidewinder on Wikipedia

StarRay, Amiga

Developed by Hidden Treasures and published by Logotron in 1988, StarRay is a decent 16-bit side-scrolling shooter for the Amiga.

It plays a bit like Defender, where you are blasting alien invaders and stopping them from stealing your planetary energy. You move left or right, looking for enemy on your scanner, blasting them with your forward-mounted laser as soon as they are in range.

Back in 1988 StarRay caused a bit of a stir with its colourful, smooth-scrolling graphics and arcade quality gameplay. Today, the graphics don’t have quite the same impact, but the gameplay is still just as good. StarRay is definitely better than your average Amiga shooter.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarRay