Category Archives: 1988

#19: Bombuzal


December 1988: Bombuzal

The life of a bomb disposal expert is probably, in truth, not all it’s cracked up to be. The words conjure the image of exciting James Bond-style last second saves, with lives hanging in the balance, where one tiny mistake, one slip could end it all. But the reality is, one suspects, rather less dramatic, and probably involves an awful lot of tedium. Rules that must be followed, boxes that must be checked, paperwork that must be filled out. Perhaps punctuated by the occasional explosion, yes, but only under carefully controlled circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in 1988, Commodore 64


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#18: Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine

For this entry (and large parts of the previous), I have handed over to my brother Iain. He’s been an invaluable part of the project since the beginning, and I’m sure he will continue to be as long as it goes on. 

Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine

November 1988 – Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine

We’ve touched on the question of difficulty numerous times in the past, but this seems like an appropriate moment to really focus in. Let’s think of one simplified spectrum on which to view the possibilities of games here. At one end there is the purely narrative, telling a story with any player action being solely to make story choices, building on all of the existing powers of other storytelling media and introducing elements only interactivity can provide (see the Head Over Heels entry). At the other end there is a pure test of skill with no narrative whatsoever. That’s difficult to imagine in practise but, say, something that tests your reaction time to a beep and just prints out your time might get close. Games of skill can be about setting up a chance to learn and develop a relatively simple ability and apply it in a more complex environment and gain the satisfaction of progress and feeling and seeing one’s abilities get better. Self-improvement in accessible miniature. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 16, 2015 in 1988, Commodore 64


#17: Nebulus


October 1988: Nebulus

Maybe it’s the lack of historical distance, but it doesn’t seem that video games have ever been subject to one defining technological change, like the addition of sound or colour to film. Perhaps it’s the creation of interactive games themselves that’s that moment in a wider history. Generally, though, for video games change comes about as a series of small steps and jumps, and it’s only when looking at a group of those together that here looks fundamentally transformed from there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in 1988, Amiga


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#16: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

September 1988: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Back in the Arkanoid entry that began our Sequel Season here, I said that the ideal sequel should build on the original in exciting and unexpected ways, and certainly, there are ways in which Zelda II is a stellar example of this. The world of Hyrule is considerably expanded, for example; no longer is the human population of the world limited to cave-dwelling hermits, now there are whole towns full of people going about their business, each with their own story to tell. Very short stories, admittedly, but still fraught with character and emotion. “I AM ERROR” is perhaps rightly the most celebrated example, though I personally am rather a fan of “IF ALL ELSE FAILS USE FIRE”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in 1988, NES, Zelda


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#15: Treasure Island Dizzy

Treasure Island Dizzy

August 1988: Treasure Island Dizzy

Unlike the original, Treasure Island Dizzy is a game that I actually did play when I was younger, the first of many Dizzy sequels that found their way into my collection. (Or, perhaps more accurately, my parents’ collection, and not just in the sense that they were obviously the ones actually paying for it.) Not that I was aware at the time that it was the first – only the final entry in the series, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, stands out as one where I can recall a time without it. The rest were simply the Dizzy games that had always been there. I didn’t have a conception that the series had developed over time, that Treasure Island was an early entry in the series displaying some growing pains. So while Crystal Kingdom was the new one, Treasure Island was not the old one. No, Treasure Island was the hard one. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 5, 2015 in 1988, Commodore 64, Dizzy


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#14: The Great Giana Sisters

The Great Giana Sisters

July 1988: The Great Giana Sisters

It’s July 1988. Songs at number one include Bros with “I Owe You Nothing” and Glen Medeiros with “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You”. (Sadly, we’re a month too late to be linking The Timelords’ “Doctorin’ the Tardis”, but let’s go ahead and do that anyway.) In real news, the Church of England announces that it will allow the ordination of female priests from 1992, the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster occurs, resulting in the deaths of 167 workers, and the Education Reform Act comes into effect throughout the UK, introducing the National Curriculum in something like the form it still exists in today, as well as such delightful things as published league tables of exam results. The gamification of life begins now. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in 1988, Commodore 64


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#13: Impossible Mission II

Impossible Mission II

June 1988: Impossible Mission II

Welcome, Special Agent 4125. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: to follow up one of the greatest and most critically acclaimed games ever released for the Commodore 64 without disappointing a legion of fans. It won’t be easy; we no longer have the element of surprise on our side. This time they know exactly what they expect from us, so we’re going to need to pull out all the stops to succeed again. Good luck. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 21, 2015 in 1988, Commodore 64


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