THERE’S always a fair splattering of compilations around, and never more so than in the Spring. Software houses finally realise that most of last year’s games have come to the end of their lifespan in full price form, so they start to think ‘Why not make a few more quid out of a product by putting it out on a compilation?’ It requires no more programming effort, little PR and has a long lifespan on the shelves of any retailer. All that’s required is to pay off the programmers — either with a lump sum, or royalties (a percentage of each unit sold) — and organise the duplicating, which, when it comes to compilations, is troublesome at the best of times. Then finally there’s the name to come up with. Not necessarily in that order though — remember The Magnificent 7 (which is available free if you subscribe to CRASH this issue) with eight games!
Are these Great Games, as with Gremlin, or All-Stars, as in The Edge’s case? Or perhaps they’re just a Top Collection from Elite or could they be from an arcade, as with both US Gold’s releases this month. Whatever you call the anthology of amazing accomplishments (even Bogie’s Pick from Top Ten Software sounds interesting) it’s bound to appeal to the average street buyer. All those games for just X amounts of pounds, it sounds too good to be true. Be warned, though, most of the time it is — especially with cheap compilations. Take a good look at the versions of the games that you’re getting — is that International Karate or IK+? Are you buying the best version of Uridium around? There’s also a + version of Uridium! Are you going for a compendium of past blasters (like Four Smash Hits from Hewson), or some recent games (as in Ocean’s We Are The Champions)? Or perhaps even a mixture, like The Edge’s Easter offering, All-Stars (from the four year old Brian Bloodaxe to the four-month-old Inside Outing)? Be careful, and don’t be totally convinced by voluminous packaging — it looks nice, but can be a real pain to store.
Elite, who have been relatively quiet on the game front this year, currently have two compilations in the market place under the Hit Pak label. Top Ten Collection has been out for a while now, but it’s still worth a mention — if only for the chocolate box that the four cassettes come in. Only a pound a game doesn’t seem like bad value for money. After all you can play all your (very) old favourites like Airwolf (a CRASH Smash) and both the Saboteur games. The attractive Critical Mass is also in there alongside Thanatos, which is graphically impressive at first but lacks any compulsive gameplay.
If that’s not enough of Elite games you can also get Volume 3 of the 6-Pak. Unless they bring out some more games soon they’ll be hard pushed to produce a fourth volume! Anyway this month’s super six from Elite include some real classics and some real clangers. Let’s get The Living Daylights out of the way first — it figured as one of the worst games of 1987. On the good side there’s the tremendously playable Ghosts ’n’ Goblins and Paperboy. You also get both of the Dragon’s Lair games — although Escape From Singe’s Castle is the only one worth bothering with. Finally, we have Enduro Racer — one of the best race games of 1987.
Elite aren’t the only ones out with ten games for a tenner. Gremlin Graphics are currently pushing the second in their 10 Great Games series. Arcade adventurers are well catered for with Auf Wiedersehen Monty (voted Best Arcade Adventure 1987 by CRASH readers), Thing Bounces Back (before even appearing on the Spectrum — only the sequel was released) and Jack The Nipper II in Coconut Capers (a CRASH smash back in Issue 46). Cartoon fans can’t complain at the inclusion of Basil The Great Mouse Detective or even at Mask. Beat ’em up fans are also pampered with Death Wish III and Samurai Trilogy. Then, finally, we have the now obligatory ‘previously unreleased game’. Is The Duct too good to release on its own? Or is it just not worth bothering with?
Ocean’s proud boast this month is that We Are The Champions (well they did gain your award for Best Software House 1987, so what do you expect?). I’m a bit confused, though, if Ocean are the champions then how come they only produced one (and that under the Imagine label) of the five games on their compilation of the same name... But don’t say anything or you’ll probably get beaten up, judging by the contents of We Are The Champions. The fabulous Renegade (whose sequel, Target Renegade, is reviewed elsewhere in this issue) appears alongside IK+ (that’s the new version, which we smashed in the Christmas Issue) and the controversial Barbarian (like Renegade, probably, also underrated). If that’s not enough beat ’em up violence for you there’s also Rampage, an arcade tie-in that, like its companion Super Sprint, sold surprisingly well. It may average at two pounds a game, but at least we can all remember what they’re all about!
You may have seen the CRASH Smash, Gauntlet, bundled in a Limited Edition with Gauntlet II for £9.99. But don’t forget that it’s also available on US Gold’s Arcade Force Four collection, alongside two other Atari coin-op conversions, Road Runner and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. You’ll also get Namco’s Metrocross for the £9.99 asking price. All the games have initial appeal but the games are generally on the boring and repetitive side.
Again on the arcade tie-in front, and also from US Gold comes Data East’s Arcade Alley — although this isn’t quite as impressive. Only Kung-Fu Master, with 56%, gained over half a century in CRASH. It makes you wonder if any Data East conversions will work on the Spectrum.
One good thing about a company producing many games for the Spectrum is that when it comes to compilation time (it hits all of us eventually, the thought of something for almost nothing is too good to be true) they have a wide choice of products. Softek International are one such company. Now, with almost more labels than Debenhams they’ve chosen to release their next succulent selection under the banner of The Edge. Their last compilation was supposedly a Collectors’ Edition but this one should appeal to Softek fans even more — you can almost track the life of the Spectrum with it. From way back in ’84 come Psytraxx and Starbike. 1985 brings us such memorable games as Brian Bloodaxe and That’s The Spirit. 1986 was a very good year if I remember correctly — we had Bobby Bearing (which would still do tremendously well nowadays) and Mindstone, a credible adventure. And who could forget 1987 with such delights as Inside Outing and Xecutor. They’re all here — good and bad, old and new — and for only £8.99 it’s got to be worth it!
Virgin Games’s Now Games series enters its fifth episode next month. Now Games 5 also contain a good mix of games, old and new. The ageing International Karate (that’s NOT the version in Issue 49) joins the likes of the riotous Street Hassle, fun-filled Kat Trap and Prohibition. For those who require more stimulation than blasting the heads off a couple of liquor-swilling punks then try Hacker II and Rebel — both are superbly puzzling games.
I spy with my little eye three great games from Databyte. Yes, the people that brought you the CRASH Smash, Spy Vs Spy, and The Island Caper have finally decided to release the third game in the series, Artic Antics, in a special Spy Vs Spy Trilogy pack. All fans of the MAD magazine characters should immediately proceed to the nearest software outlet and purchase a copy — even at £9.99 (£14.95 disk) it’s super value and unbelievable fun. Ali games are one or two player and feature Simulvision (a constant split screen display which displays you and your opponent — computer or human) allowing you to keep an eye on what your opponent is scheming.
Also in trilogy form is Time & Magick from newly-formed Mandarin Software. This time you get three Level 9 adventures: Lords Of Time, which is older than time itself (well, almost), Red Moon, a cover Smash from Issue 20 and The Price Of Magick, also a Smash. £14.95 on cassette AND disk (strange, but true).
Budget compilations have never been impressive; some things never change. You’ll now be able to get Four Great Games Volume 3 (no relation to Ten Great Games) from Tynesoft’s Microvalue range. Nice to see Equinox on there — it was Raffaele Cecco’s first game, before Exolon and Cybernoid — one for his fans only. Finally, Top Ten Software have Bogie’s Pick 1 and 4 for your delectation. Bogie’s first pick is pretty good, with Herbert’s Dummy Run and Black Hawk (both very old Smashes). But with the fourth I’m afraid Bogie’s lost his touch. However, both are only £2.99.
CRASH Overall percentage and review issue numbers are given after each game. N/R denotes ‘not reviewed’.
cassette £9.99 disk £11.99
|Auf Wiedersehen Monty||85%||40|
|Jack The Nipper II In Coconut Capers||87%||46|
|Basil The Great Mouse Detective||73%||47|
|Death Wish III||45%||45|
|Thing Bounces Back||85%||42|
|The Final Matrix||75%||41|
cassette £9.99 +3 disk £14.99
|Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom||65%||46|
|Kung Fu Master||56%||31|
cassette £6.99 +3 disk £12.99
|That’s The Spirit||82%||20|
|Lords Of Time||3|
|The Price Of Magick||94%||30|
cassette or +3 disk £14.95
|Ian Botham’s Test Match||N/R|
Top Ten Software
|Herbert’s Dummy Run||90%||18|
|Smudge & The Moonies||N/R|
|Spy Vs Spy||93%||19|
|The Island Caper||53%||41|
cassette £9.95 +3 disk £14.95