Commodore User1st September 1988
Published in Commodore User #60
Elite's budget label has tied in the release of BombJack on 16-bit with its revival as a cheapo. It's by no means a perfect conversion (blocky graphics), but it still retains the playability that makes the game so frustratingly appealing.
Collecting the bombs which litter up the screen in the right order for huge bonuses is the name of the game. A myriad of metallic nasties pursue Jack around the screen and the aim is simply to stay alive for as many screens as possible whilst running up a big score.
Kane 2 (Mastertronic)
A sequel to a budget game? Yep, Marshall McGraw is back in another package of mini games with a cowboy theme. Unfortunately much of the same gameplay is in there too. You begin chasin' a train, shootin' baddies and avoidin' obstacles in your path to a shootout with still more baddies in a fort (or is that bodies in a fart?). A new angle appears in stage three with the Marshall doing a bit of bronco busting, then making good his escape with an Indian princess. Crafty beggar.
Not a lot has changed from Kane I, except that the gameplay in the original was much more fun, and far less fiddly. There's nothing here as good as the duckshoot in the original; it just strings out an old idea for a few sovs more.
Released back in July 1986 on CRL, and programmed by John Twiddy, Tau Ceti took its lead from games like Elite and Quake Minus One, which offered atmospheric adventures set in space.
The tale concerns a planet overrun by robot defence systems after a plague. Earth sends in a single ground skimmer to close down the fusion reactor on the planet and thus drain the rogue systems of their power supply. You have to search the terrain for some cooling rods before you can get inside the reactor, whilst avoiding the many robots intent on stopping you. It's a clever blend of strategy, adventure and shoot-'em-up, nothing new, but still worth your time. Graphics are good, and whilst sound is limited, atmosphere isn't.
This could be any one of fifty cheapo shoot-'em-ups on the market. Shooting wave upon wave of nasties gets you extras in the shape of pearl necklaces (nice!) worth fuel and extra lives. Particularly fiddly controls make it all a rather frustrating and unrewarding experience.
Super Cup Football
Sparse graphics don't help the appeal of this cheapo footy game but, that apart, it's not as bad as many full-price attempts that are still on the market.
Nevertheless, you'd be well advised saving your money for MicroProse's Microsoccer game, which promises to sweep everything, including International Soccer, away in its path.
The Future Zone
Keith Campbell frequently gives homemade adventures a good write-up, but the same is rarely true of their arcade counterparts. This was using SEUCK, and, boy, does it show! Level upon level of bloody dull scenery and stultifying gameplay. SEUCK was primarily programmed for home enjoyment, not commercial adaptation and furthermore it can be used to better effect than this.
Written by Don Priestley, programmer of The Trap Door games, Mad Flunky concerns the attempts of a manservant in Buck House to collect all The Royal Family's autographs.
The large, bold graphics give Flunky an appeal that's belied by its gameplay. It's search and explore arcade adventure which involves matching various items with various people to achieve your aim. Pretty average stuff when you consider what else is on offer this month.
This is US Gold's new cheapo label. And what a first release! There's not much you can say about Gauntlet that hasn't been said already. Despite being bugged, it provides a great rendition of the classic Atari coin-op's gameplay.
Control of any one of the four characters, two-player option, frenetic on-screen action and maze negotiating make it one of the most successful conversions on the C64.
A guaranteed number one and our cheapo of the month.
Released August 17th.
This is a futuristic game which supposedly combines "the speed of ice hockey, the precision of netball and the complex curves of crown green bowls". The truth is that it more resembles a mixture of Arsenal-style football, one of those games you get in a Christmas cracker and trainspotting.
A tedious loading sequence is followed by a game of football played by a couple of gyroscopic clothes pegs on the most uneven surface seen since Wembley. Control is downright impossible, whilst the pitch is divided into two screens. No poofy scrolling here!
It all amounts to a tedious waste of money, a bit much really considering it's a Mastertronic Added Dimension game!