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Retro goodies you definitely shouldn't have missed downloading this year

Reviewed By Dave E In Micro Mart #1444

The Best Of 2016

By the time you read this, we'll be in those last weeks, Last Christmas will be playing in every store and we’ll all be wondering just where the last year went. Well, in my case, a great deal of it was spent firing up emulators to play (and review) new games for older machines. From puzzlers to platformers, space stations to Sam Mallard and Invaders to Imperial Mahjong, 2016 brought us a great deal of amazing new stuff. But in case you missed one or more of the Retro Round Ups over the year, and as we look forward to 2017, here’s my definitive list of what you definitely shouldn’t have missed downloading this year...

10.   Exile 2: The Nameless (PC (Windows)
If you ever owned a BBC, an Amiga or C64, then the chances are that, back in the late Eighties, you played Exile. It was the first real open-world space graphic adventure in which you played Mike Finn and faced off against Lord Triax. To the delight of all those who wished for a second adventure for Finn, Ovine By Design created this sometime sequel. Personally, I still prefer the original but this retro-themed title retains much of that classic's atmosphere. It couples it with some startling sound effects too.
 
9. Ilogicall (Spectrum 128K)
Last year's countdown considered Pixel Quest to be 2015's most addictive retro release. Ilogicall is a puzzler in which you attempt to build up the graphics from retro games of the past by following the "knitting patterns" displayed above the grid of rows and columns. Slightly different to Pixel Quest, I found Ilogicall a little less addictive but it still manages to keep me coming back to it time after time.
8. Sam Mallard: The Case Of The Missing Swan (Spectrum 128K/ZX Vega)
Sam Mallard is something a little bit different for the Spectrum - a cartoon-themed crime thriller. You play a cigar-smoking private "ducktective" who has just been assigned a new case where everything points towards some "fowl" play. Although all done in monochrome, and although the puzzle isn't particularly taxing, this is a great way to while away a few hours and test your powers of "de-duck-tion" (Sorry!)
7. Palace Of Magic 2016 (Acorn Electron)
I grew up with the Acorn Electron and so I was always bound to get excited by a new game for this classic format. Palace Of Magic 2016 is a colourful graphic adventure which upgrades the old Superior/Acornsoft release with special effects, a speed boost and doubles the amount of colours on-screen.
6. Let's Invade (Commodore 64/128)
This relatively new Space Invaders game for the Commodore 64/128 is a psychedelic feast for the eyes which it's difficult to accurately sum up in text. A graphical and aural extravaganza, it features huge alien sprites and it has so many surprises - all of which seem to happen completely at random! - that I suspect, even with repeated playing, I still haven't found them all.
5. Jewel Warehouse (Amstrad CPC)
A fun little platform game for the Amstrad CPC, Jewel Warehouse features all the classics - conveyors, drops, ladders and of course jewels. All you have to do is work out the fastest route to get 'em all before time runs out... Sounds easy, right?
4. Tourmaline (Spectrum 48K)
What do you do when you've played all the Boulder Dash and Bomber Man games? You equip yourself with Tourmaline, the only game (to my knowledge) that takes the frantic physics (and super-jerky scrolling) of the former, and the bomb-and-retreat placement of the latter. With hundreds of levels, and RetroSouls team behind the code, Tourmaline is a frenetic arcade game that is a blast in all sense of the word!
3. Imperial Mahjong (Amstrad CPC)
Cargosoft's Amstrad games are always on an epic scale (Remember Orion Prime last year?) and Imperial Mahjong almost has the feel of a modern PC game. Of course, you know exactly what you're getting from its title alone, but this version has so many bells and whistles that it's almost like playing a work of art.
2. Amsthrees (Amstrad CPC)
Year 2014 was the year of 2048, the game that conquered every machine format from Vic 20 to PS4 and Amsthrees is a variation of that puzzler. You get a 4 x 4 grid which fills up with blocks featuring numbers 1, 2 and 3... and you have to slide the blocks around to build up multiples of threes, by merging pairs and adding 1s and 2s. Concentrate hard and don't let too many empty places in the grid fill up with lower numbers.
1. Caren And The Tangled Tentacles (Commodore 64/128)
Caren And The Tangled Tentacles is a point and click graphic adventure in which you play a scientist who finds a dead body at her laboratory. I reviewed it in MM #1435 and it confused me with its lack of back-story and strange rooms full of wacky characters and odd objects. And it is a hard game to get into when you first play it. Yet, interestingly enough, it makes the number one spot this year. It does so because it has great graphics, great sound, a great user interface and, frankly, it's just a remarkable achievement on the Commodore 64. If you only play one retro game this year, then this is the one to get.

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