With Your Host, Rob Remakes

Tag: ZX Spectrum Page 1 of 4

Watch: Beyond The Scan lines on JetPak DX

I reckon it was all downhill for Ultimate after Jetpac. Not a reflection of how poor any subsequent games were (post-US Gold aside, they were far, far from it) but how fantastic Jetpac is. Alongside Pssst and Cookie, it oozed an arcade sensibility that would largely disappear as Ultimate’s games got larger and more ambitious and it remains my favourite out of all their games.

There’s been a nice handful of remakes and tributes over the years (there’s a couple on Switch even), Rare took a punt at a remake of their own in the early days of XBLA and that turned out pretty alright for the most part. It’s part of Rare Replay so it’s not been lost to time like plenty of other games from around that era, which means you can still give it a punt fairly easily if you haven’t already given it a shot.

Anyway. My preferred remake is the excellent Rocket Smash EX, for my money it gets pretty close to besting the original and Saul’s graphics are wonderful, making good use of the C64 to really shine the thing up. However, Super Jetpak DX for the Gameboy is pretty fine too and it’s this that one of the other Robs reviews in their latest Beyond The Scanlines video. The game’s naturally a bit more cramped than your normal Jetpac given it’s got to work on a handheld but for the most part it’s a sterling job and Rob provides a great introduction to it.

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Four Minute Warning

Four Minute Warning is a small (very small) two screen videogame that tasks the player with collecting a few objects to take with them into a fallout shelter, all within the 4 minutes from the warning siren going off to the nuclear missiles hitting.

What sounds like a fairly simple task is made all the more difficult by having the play areas be rather fiddly and unforgiving mazes of clutter. But also, that’s sort of the point. The game expects the player to fail, this is the onset of nuclear armageddon after all. And, indeed, if the player doesn’t fail at their task then eventually, radiation gets to them anyway.

Whatever happens, that’s it. Over. Bummer, huh?

It’s a pro peace, anti nuclear war, anti Tory and anti Reagan vignette. It is unsubtle in every possible way and it’s a game that wants to remind the player that voting for warmongering rightwing hawks probably isn’t the best idea ever.

Part of what I find fascinating about it is it’s the sort of game that would have sat perfectly at home in the indie flash/art game period of a decade and a bit back, except it was made and released in 1985. It’s almost uncanny how well it would fit in the latter half of the 2000’s if you just swapped a few names round here and there and maybe had a black – rather than white – background.

Admittedly, these days nuclear war seems a bit further down the list of worries of where our more immediate existential threats are going to come from but still, I think “don’t vote tory” is as relevant a message as it ever was.

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Zeroptian Invasion

You know, I was absolutely convinced I’d put words down on Zeroptian Invasion some time back but perhaps I should have double checked that one sooner because no, no, I had not.

I am really fond of Zeroptian Invasion.

I’ve long nurtured an appreciation of the single screen shooter, from Space Invaders, Galaga and the usual suspects through a whole bunch of home computer games, PD, homebrew and indie titles. In my old age, I’ve lost none of my love for the things and Zeroptian Invasion is no exception.

The opening stage presents the player with a really quite lovely Space Invaders-esque game in a gorgeous 70’s arcade meets ZX Spectrum style. Over the course of a fair handful of stages, it adds a wee bit more complexity to the mix, not a great deal because the game stays wonderfully true to its aesthetic and videogame inspirations, but certainly enough to ensure that it keeps the player on their toes.

Think a modern Gorf, you know? It’s that sort of deal.

It’s the kind of game that had it actually existed in the eighties, I’d have fallen in love with it pretty easily and would probably bend your ear off over even now. Given I’m still every bit as awed by similar games today as I was then, it was pretty easy for me to fall in love with it now, nevermind.

It helps in no small part by it being an absolutely gorgeous game! The sprite work is often wonderful and I’m a real sucker for the bezel artwork too.

I’ve been playing it on the PS4 and Switch. Other formats are available.

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