Among recent letters we have received there has been an indication that CRASH BACK was more popular than we thought. So here we go again this time with BEN STONE and ROBIN CANDY taking a look back at the good games from Issues 5 and 6 to see if the reviews and the games stand the test of time.



Psytron screenshot

Psytron was Beyond’s first hit for the Spectrum, after a loss than auspicious start with Space Station Zebra (reviewed issue 4). It was hailed by Beyond as ‘A program which makes other programmers gasp’. This may have not been so (ask Simon Brattel from Design Design) but all who laid eyes upon it thought it was great. Except maybe a couple of conned reviewers who have been dying to get their own back.

Use of computer85%
Getting started98%
Addictive qualities91%
Value for money88%

• As a result of reading the CRASH review (which I had no part in writing) I promptly went out and bought the damned thing. As soon as I opened the huge box I wished I hadn’t, a twenty page booklet lay there waiting be read and understood. On playing Psytron for the first time I found it slow and a bit monotonous. 8 months later my view of the game hasn’t really changed. More a case of nice graphics shame about the game.

• I remember buying this game and thinking it looked terrific, but on loading the game and playing it for a few goes I found it totally and utterly boring. True the graphics were brill, but graphics maketh not a game. Sound was used well and the speed with which the 10 panoramic views appeared was marvellous but I couldn’t help feeling that there was something missing, maybe it was the fact that the game started off pretty boring and it took quite a while to work up to the more exciting levels. Overall I thought Psytron was pretty looking but there wasn’t enough action going on straight away.

(Ben) I wouldn’t change the ‘Use of computer’ rating or the ‘Graphics’ rating. But as for ‘Playability’ I would knock that down to about 75-ish as it got very monotonous after level 2. ‘Getting started’ would be altered to about 70 because the booklet takes some getting into and you have to play each level 5 times before you can progress to the next. ‘Addictive qualities’ wouldn’t really be altered much only about 3 to 4 per cent knocked off and the ‘Value for money’ rating would be somewhere around the 75 mark.

(Rob) Most of the ratings still stand but I would certainly alter the ‘Playability’ to about 68 and the ‘Addictive qualities’ right down to about 57 otherwise the rest are okay.

Blade Alley


Blade Alley screenshot

Blade Alley is a 3D shoot em up a sort of ‘Buck Rogers’ game. The object of the game is basically to shoot anything that moves and if it doesn’t move shoot it anyway. Strangely enough, though, despite it getting a good rating in the review it has never been very popular on the hotline which is normally a reflection of how good a game is.

Use of computer82%
Getting started81%
Addictive qualities89%
Value for money86%

• I didn’t see Blade Alley when it was first released (we weren’t CRASH reviewers at that time) but looking at it now I’ve decided that I don’t really like it. I think it’s got something to do with the annoying tune and the keyboard layout that seems to have your hands tied up in knots. The 3D effect is quite good but it’s not a patch on the newer 3D games like Starstrike, Darkstar etc.

• Of all the early 3D games I think that Blade Alley was the best. Though I don’t think it would rate highly nowadays for its time it was marvellous. The graphics while good are a trifle boring when compared with the likes of Knightlore and Starstrike but they worked; better to have simple 3D graphics with few attribute problems than pretty things which just end up as a flashing blob at one end of the screen. The sound was quite good and with the addition of the Currah Microspeech the sound was even better. The hardest thing to do on Blade Alley was lining your ship up with the enemies to shoot them but after you mastered this there wasn’t a lot to the game. I quite liked Blade Alley but it’s very dated now.

(Ben) I would lower ‘Use of computer’ down to 70 because the keys are so hard to use. ‘Graphics’ down to about 77 and ‘Playability’ down 6% to 80. All the other ratings I would take down about 10 to the early seventies or late sixties.

(Rob) As I’ve said the game is a bit dated now so all the ratings except maybe ‘Playability’ should go down by 10 to 20%. ‘Playability’ I would probably push up by a couple of percent to somewhere around the 89 region because it is very playable for a while.

Zig Zag


Zig Zag screenshot

Zig Zag has been DK’Tronics’ biggest hit so far but they’ve got some more games in the pipeline. The object of the game is to wander around the maze hunting for these poor innocent little creatures called Scarabaqs (I know it’s a stupid name but I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for it). Once you’ve found one of these little thingies then you’ve got to trap it in a corner and interrogate them to get part of a code to proceed to higher levels in the game. If you are near a Scarabaq then an indicator flashes or if you’ve got a Currah Microspeech attached you are told verbally. On later levels Hoverdroids pop out of alley ways and shoot at you which drains your energy but you can destroy them just by shooting an interrogator at them.

Use of computer85%
Getting started83%
Addictive qualities83%
Value for money84%

Zig Zag was one of those games that has very nice 3D graphics but wasn’t terribly playable or addictive. After a few games I’d just about completed it and I was becoming increasingly bored with the whole thing. The constant drone of the Vectrakker (the backpack that houses all of your interrogating and navigation equipment) got right up my nose and on top of that I only saw one Hoverdroid.

Zig Zag was a very playable game though there wasn’t much going on. The graphics were great with the 3D maze scrolling wonderfully and the little Scarabaqs were so cute, I especially liked the way their eyes popped out when you zapped them for a second time. The idea of the game is so simple that you can get into it on your first go without much bother, though I think it wouldn’t take long for an average gamesplayer to complete it or very nearly complete it. Sound and colour are both used well and overall I think I still like it. Zig Zag is a very good game for people who aren’t too good at games in general or for beginners who want to start off with something that isn’t too complex. Overall I think I Zig Zag is a great game and could keep you up until the early hours of the morning chasing those lively Scarabaqs.

(Ben) I would change most of the ratings. ‘Use of computer’ down 12% to 73, ‘Graphics’ down 10% because there is no variation in them, it’s always the same view. Both the ‘Playability’ and ‘Addictive qualities’ would suffer because I lost interest in a very short time and I found it a bit boring just chasing Scarabaqs all the while.

(Rob) I don’t think I would change many of the ratings because I think it’s one of the best 3D maze games around. The ‘Graphics’ would go down by say about 5% but the ‘Playability’ would go up by about the same. All the other ratings still stand.


(Bug Byte)

Antics screenshot

Antics as all good bees know is the sequel to The Birds and the Bees (which Matthew Smith did the graphics for). The basic aim of the game is to rescue Boris Bee (star of TBATB) from an ants nest in which he has been imprisoned. As Boris’s cousin Barnabee you must penetrate the lower depths of the nest and rescue him and bring him back to the surface. Inhabiting the nest are beetles and ants (naturally) which steal pollen and stamina from you, if you don’t have any stamina or pollen left then Barnabee dies. Both pollen and stamina can be replaced by visiting the various flowers that live in the nest.

Use of computer89%
Getting started87%
Addictive qualities92%
Value for money90%

Antics was a very good game with super graphics, brill sound, terribly addictive and very playable. But now 8 months later I think it’s lost some of its original appeal. It gets very boring after a couple of games and the tune now drives me up the wall, though I do like the hi-score table, it even had Danger Mouse and Penfold in it.

• Most people seem to have agreed with the review of Antics because it was in the Hotline charts for so long. Looking at it now I’m not at all surprised: the graphics are still good and I think if Antics was released now it would either be a Crash Smash or very near one. Sound is used well throughout the game with a tune continuously playing. Antics has stood the test of time well and it will continue to do so for a very long time. Undoubtedly a classic.

(Ben) I wouldn’t really change the ratings much, maybe lower the ‘Playability’ and ‘Addictive qualities’ down to 85-ish otherwise the rest still stand.

(Rob) The ratings shouldn’t really be changed at all, it was a Crash Smash and deservedly so.

Worse Things Happen At Sea


Worse Things Happen At Sea screenshot

WTHAS was Silversoft’s first real big hit and since then they haven’t looked back. WTHAS has been popular in the Hotline and it’s still popular with all of the Crash reviewers. The idea of the game couldn’t really be simpler, just keep the ship afloat until you arrive at your destination. On the later levels of the game you must regularly oil the engine to stop it from blowing, while still repairing your ship and keeping it on course so you get to your destination quicker. So as you can see it gets quite hectic in there. At the top of the screen is a scanner to indicate your distance from the shore plus scanners for how much robot power you’ve got left (you have to go back to the start chamber to get it back), how much water there is in the ship plus other details which are important to the running of the ship.

Use of computer88%
Getting started86%
Addictive qualities94%
Value for money93%

WTHAS has stayed in the Hotline charts for a very long time. That must say something about how good the game is and I really enjoyed playing WTHAS, it’s just so addictive and playable. Perhaps after a couple of hours solid playing I might become bored with it but I don’t really see that happening to me. The graphics on WTHAS are really good and the game still rates a Crash Smash by today’s standards which just goes to show that WTHAS is a classic game. If you haven’t yet got WTHAS then get it now, it’s too good to be missed.

WTHAS is still one of the best games available today. Everything about the game is terrific; it’s fun, it’s addictive and it’s fantastic value for money. When I first saw some pictures of the game I thought it was going to be a bore, five hours continuous playing proved me wrong. WTHAS is a manic game which is hard to categorise, there isn’t anything like it available. When you see programs like this you soon realise why the Spectrum is the best games machine on the market.

(Ben) I wouldn’t quarrel with the ratings at all. It’s as good now as it was then.

(Rob) The ratings still stand today and WTHAS isn’t the least bit dated.

Moon Alert


Moon Alert screenshot

At the time when Moon Alert was released there were few good ‘Moon Buggy’ games. Moon Alert was by far the best and oddly few ‘Moon Buggy’ games have been released since — certainly nothing to rival Moon Alert. Almost everyone knows how to play ‘Moon Buggy’ games (if you don’t — where have you been for the past couple of years?) so there is no point in going over that all over again.

Use of computer86%
Getting started88%
Addictive qualities94%
Value for money90%

• Several ‘Moon Buggy’ games were released at about the same time. Ocean’s version was undoubtedly the best and it’s still a very good game by today’s standards. It’s just as addictive and playable as it was then and no one has bettered it since.

• I’ve never been particularly fond of ‘Moon Buggy’ games but Moon Alert caught my attention because it’s a really good game. It’s a lot more addictive than any other game of its sort. The graphics are fine though your actual buggy is a bit flickery. If you want a ‘Moon Buggy’ game Moon Alert is still the best one available and worth buying.

(Ben) I wouldn’t change any of the ratings. If anything I would put the ‘Addictive qualities’ up a few points. Moon Alert is another game that has stood the test of time well and I highly recommend it.

(Rob) The ratings on the whole are basically sound, I would only fiddle with them slightly by pushing the ‘Use of computer’ up by 3 points and maybe lowering the ‘Addictive qualities’ by a couple of points. Otherwise the review still stands.

Stop The Express

(Sinclair/Hudson Soft)

Stop the Express screenshot

Stop The Express is another game that has a very simple idea behind it which has been improved upon by adding good graphics and sound. What you have to do is to get to the front of the train and Stop The Express which has been hijacked by the infamous Redmen. As the review stated the game is played as if it were a scene out of a movie. First of all you must run across the roof of the train dodging obstacles such as knife-throwing Redmen and gaps between carriages. Then after you’ve got past a certain number of carriages the scene switches to the inside of the train where you have to get to the front of the train and stop it.

Use of computer58%
Getting started78%
Addictive qualities88%
Value for money83%

• I think Stop The Express is one of the most original games I have ever seen. It surprised me to see that it wasn’t a Crash Smash and seeing how popular it has proved in the Hotline I’m even more surprised. Perhaps this was because of the low Use of Computer mark it received as a result of all the keys there were to use. But after a few goes I found less keys than stated could be used and the game played just as well. It’s still a good game and has stood the test of time well.

Stop The Express was one of the few games that was underrated. By rights I think it should have been a Crash Smash. It’s still fun to play and its popularity in the Hotline proves this. The graphics are good and the scrolling of the train and telegraph poles is excellent. Stop The Express just goes to show how a simple idea implemented well can make a game as playable now as it was 8 months ago.

(Ben) I think ‘Use of Computer’ should go up to about 75 because you can play using only 5 keys but as for the rest of the ratings they should stay as they are.

(Rob) Most of the ratings still stand except for the ludicrous ‘Use of Computer’ which should be about the 70 mark. Otherwise the game hasn’t lost any of its original appeal.

Sabre Wulf


Sabre Wulf screenshot

The review of Sabre Wulf only just managed to get into issue 6 because we got it so late in the schedule but it was timed just right so we were one of the first magazines to review it. Also due to popular demand a set of ratings will be published in this review as if the game had just come out today. Most people know how to play it, just find the four parts of the amulet and get out only to find you’ve got to travel on to the Underwurlde. The game is played in a 16 by 16 grid with various monsters materialising from the ground. These can be killed by using your trusty sabre while other creatures such as the hippos and warthogs are persuaded to change direction away from you by poking them with your sabre. Only the Wulf which patrols the bottom half of the maze and the guardian that blocks your way out (unless you have the four parts of the amulet of course) aren’t affected by your sword, they kill on contact!!

Sabre Wulf is still one of the best games around. It has very good graphics and is still as playable and addictive as anything else on the market at the moment, I don’t think it looks at all dated. When Sabre Wulf came out everyone said how much like Atic Atac it was but just with different graphics, personally I don’t really see the resemblance.

Sabre Wulf, at the time it was released, caused a bit of controversy because of the new price and some people said it was just Atic Atac over again. I agree about the price but comparing it to Atic Atac was unfair; if you say Sabre Wulf and Atic Atac are the same except for graphics, you could argue that all platform games are the same and therefore it doesn’t matter which one you buy, but as everybody knows they aren’t all alike and equally text adventures aren’t the same just because they all have text. As to the game I think it’s still pretty good and certainly addictive and playable. Still worth buying, though a little pricey.

Well here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for — the ratings.

Use of computer90%
Getting started88%
Addictive qualities95%
Value for money83%