Back in the mid-nineties, one of the deciding factors that persuaded me to 'upgrade' from an Atari ST to an Amiga was playing a little budget game called Alien Breed (Special Edition) by up and coming studio Team 17. I'd cycled 4 miles on my BMX to a friend's house in the next village to check out his new Amiga 600, and after initially laughing at it's childish form-factor I was soon taken aback by the quality of the games on the thing compared to my trusty old Atari.
Looking back, Team 17 certainly had some balls in releasing Alien Breed. The follow up games swapped the xenomorph-lookalikes and face-huggers for more generic/non-copyright-infringing sprites, but that original game captured the pure essence of James Cameron's Aliens. It was unlike any other top-down exploratory shoot-em up of the time; your bulky marine felt slow and vulnerable, there was a constant feeling of dread and the scarcity of ammo and keycards forced you to constantly weigh up your options and make difficult decisions. The endless waves of xenomorphs meant that getting lost or taking a wrong turn could have dire consequences - and when that self destruct sequence countdown started... well, you just knew you were in the shit.
20th Century Fox missed out. They could have put an official seal of approval on the thing and Alien Breed would have been the best Alien home computer game ever. It really is a classic, and a game that I've yet to find a modern counterpart that successfully captures the same feelings.
Who would have thought that it would have been an Alien Breed 'tribute' on the humble Pico 8 that almost got it right, causing those happy memories to come flooding back? But yet here we have Pico Breed, a game by a developer who has quite clearly been touched by memories of the 'Breed' in a similar way to yours truly. And damn, those teeny weeny alien sprites are almost too cute to kill.
Of course, being a Pico 8 port, there's been some cuts. There's only one short level, and aside from the three-headed queen there's a grand total of two alien types; predictably full grown 'xenos' and little facehuggers than spawn from eggs. Thankfully your stereotypical marine-tough-guy can take a huge amount of damage before kicking the bucket, and if you act smart and target the alien spawn points first then you'll find there's enough ammo to last for days.
Progress is made through this top-down shoot-em-up via the collection of key cards and hacking of terminals to open doors and sealed bulkheads. The layout of the stricken spacecraft is typically Alien-Breed-ish; i.e the architects were clearly on some heavyweight recreational narcotics when they came up with the layout and had no regard for common sense or health and safety. There are dead-ends and maze-like ventilation shafts a-plenty, key cards kept safely behind locked doors and ammo lying about in the most unlikely of places. At least on this version there's no self-destruct sequence with barely enough time to escape and tons of hurty-hurty one-way electric gates. What kind of sicko space-engineer came up with the idea for those anyway?
Surprisingly Pico Breed has also nailed the sound of Alien Breed too. There's an ominous background hum, the doors open with a lo-fi "swish" and the explosions and gunfire are suitably punchy. Even the alien death-throe chirrups are as perfect as you can get with the Pico 8 limitations. In addition to this, the starfield zipping by in the background gives a feeling of speed and urgency that Alien Breed never managed; there's a genuine sense of panic as the starship full of alien scum hurtles towards Earth.
There have been a few complaints on the BBS that the game is too hard, but I guess they are missing the fact that the spawning points can be disabled, or perhaps they missed the weapon upgrade? Not meaning to sound as though I'm bragging, I found the game pretty easy - I think it took all of two or three goes to successfully reach the end. But hell, it was a blast to do so and thanks to the speed-run timer I'm tempted to give it another shot. Gabriel Crowe, I salute you.
Download/Play the the game here (from the PICO-8 BBS).
Run it using PICO-8 (Commercial).
More hot news for you C64 lot, as we've just received new preview footage of an in development C64 game ' King's Valley ', which is a port of the MSX version first released in 1985. Although the game did appear via MS-DOS in the 80's and as unofficial port in 2009 on the ZX Spectrum by RetroWorks, this game is being developed by rebitmagazine, and will once again put you in the shoes of an
Earlier today CMMN CLRS contacted us about their in development Adventure game ' Sidekick High ', which is set to launch 1st July 2017 for both PC and Mac.Originally Sidekick High, developed using Visionaire Studio, was made as a contribution to the Adventure Jam 2017 #AdvJam2017. The game featured some rather useless super heroes with their only power being backwards talking, coffee spitting,
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (2017)
By: Lizardcube / DotEmu Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Whatever name you might know it by, and it has had a few, Wonder Boy 3 (as I've always known it) is one of those rare games that seems to be universally loved. Not everyone has played it - it was only available on the Master System and PC Engine in its day after all - but those who did were forever taken by its considerable charms and have remained loyal fans ever since, eagerly extolling its virtues to any gamers unfortunate enough to have never been touched by its brilliance. Unsurprisingly, therefore, us fans were more than a little intrigued to hear news of a fancy new remake from those splendid fellow at Lizardcube and DotEmu as well. Would it be a fitting tribute to a much-loved classic or a ghastly desecration fit only to soil its memory?
The information and images which accompanied its announcement looked promsing, as did footage of the game (which retained the name, less the numeral) when it appeared later, but it would take an actual hands-on playtest to be sure. Those pesky console gamers got the opportunity first but early word was very positive. This only increased my anticipation further of course, until finally I got the chance to give it a go myself just a couple of weeks ago when it released on PC via Steam and the like. After its initial announcement I had intentionally avoided more information about it so I wasn't even 100% sure what to expect, but I quickly discovered that it was a direct remake as suspected.
This includes the splendid playable intro sequence (which I looked at here a while back - compare the screenshots to the equivalents here), and indeed all of the many areas that follow it are present and correct too. For those who have never played the original game (for whatever weird reason), it follows directly on from Wonder Boy in Monster Land. That game's final battle comprises the intro to this game which reveals that its final boss - Meka Dragon - left behind a little gift for Wonder Boy in case of defeat; namely, the curse of the title which turns our valiant human hero into a similar-sized but far scalier (and more fiery) dragon himself! The adventure that follows details Wonder Boy's efforts to regain his familiar human form, but it won't be a simple matter.
As with most games of the type, the fruit of Wonder Boy's labours lie at the end of an epic journey that sees him visit many strange and dangerous lands, but unlike most of those other games it's also a quest that sees him assume some other unusual forms including Mouse-Man, Piranha-Man, Lion-Man, and Hawk-Man, each of which, in the truest spirit of what would later become known as 'Metroidvania', is uniquely skilled to access certain areas of the game that are inaccessible to the others - something helped further by the accumulation of the golden rewards dropped by defeated enemy monsters which can be used to buy new, and often vital equipment and supplies.
All of this stuff - the locations, the characters, the equipment - is all reproduced here accurately as you would expect, and it should be very well known to most gamers already. What's different, however, is how it's all presented. The original game, while colourful, full of charm, and technically superb in its day, obviously looks its age a bit now, what with being released on 8-bit systems and all. For this remake, Lizardcube sensibly left the core of the game barely touched and instead focused on bringing its audio/visuals up to date. With the latter, they didn't opt for millions of polygons or lifelike CG environs though, as you might expect these days. They instead went for hand-drawn cartoon-style artwork and the results are... quite remarkable.
Every area in the game is modelled on that of the original but each has undergone a complete revamp. Most of these are at least lovely but some are genuinely stunning. A few times when entering a new area I had to actually stop and just stare at them for a minute, drinking in the gorgeous artwork. Some parts of them are animated now too, such as the flickering fire coming from the ruined castle at the beginning. Perhaps even more impressive than the 'reimagined' backdrops are the characters. All of the enemies have been brought up to date while remaining recognisable and retaining the charm they've long held, and the player characters are even better. Each is beautifully drawn and features amazing, silky smooth animation, giving them masses of charm.
The audio has similarly been tarted up, with Shinichi Sakamoto's ultra-catchy compositions getting new renditions composed on a variety of classical instruments. The change here isn't as dramatic as that of the visuals but the new tunes are still lovely. Even more impressive though, is the ability to change back to the original graphics and music. This isn't done via some fiddly menus or anything either - you can switch back and forth between new and old styles 'on the fly' using the shoulder buttons, and the transition is immediate and seamless with not even the slightest of pauses or glitches. Not vital to progress in the game, admittedly, but great when you can't remember what an area used to look like or feel the nostalgia creeping up on you!
It's a great example of the kind of love and commitment that has very clearly gone into this project. There are tons of other nice little touches through the game too. The shop pig and the helpful nurse have seen redesigns, as have the dragon bosses who look fantastic. There are now three difficulty levels too, and you can choose to play as Wonder Girl instead if the fancy takes you. Remarkably, you can even use your password saves from the MS game! It's a curious game to play for fans of the original actually - so familiar in so many ways but so much lovely newness to see as well. It really is lovely too - I don't think I'd be exaggerating to say that this is the most beautiful game I've ever played, and a perfect example of how to remake a much-loved classic.
I suppose that shouldn't be a huge surprise really though, when you consider they had the assistance of Ryuichi Nishizawa of Westone, the developer of the original game. I don't know how involved he was but I'm sure he was very pleased with the end product - perhaps as pleased as he was with his own version all those years ago. Well, who knows? All I can tell you is I love it. I was a little worried I admit, Wonder Boy 3 is a very important game to me, but Lizardcube along with DotEmu have done a fantastic job - about as good as anyone could have to be honest. I imagine existing fans will love it as much as me, but when it sounds so great and looks so absolutely stunning, hopefully this wonderful game will find a good few new fans as well.
RKS Score: 9/10
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I'm sure there's not a person out there that hasn't heard of John Carpenter's 'The Thing'; a 1980's horror film starring Kurt Russell set in an Antarctic research station against a horrific parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform. But would you like to play a game that feels very similar, and is an adventure point and click game by Powerhoof? You would good! Because here is 'Peridium', a short
The powerful, expensive, and rather innovative Atari 800 was never a huge success in Europe, yet interestingly it is a UK seller who has posted this lovely Atari 800 eBay auction. The computer is fully working, seems to be in fine cosmetic condition, and comes complete in its box. What's more, the buyer will also be getting a fully working 1050 disk drive, the rare 32k memory card, cables, and three cartridges (BASIC, Galaxian, Star Raiders).
Seller ships only within the UK.
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