Lyonsden Blog

Category - Gaming

Border Zone by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Border Zone Infocom

Before Christmas I mentioned that I had picked up a few new Infocom adventure games for my collection. Well this is the second one, Border Zone for the Commodore 64. Again this is in very good condition throughout. The only blemish being that it is missing one of the feelies (a book of matches) but I’m not really too bothered about that.

 

Border Zone

Infocom Border Zone back cover

 

This adventure is a little bit different as you actually play three different people during the course of the game. The idea being that you get to see the story unfold from different viewpoints. At certain points in the story the paths of the characters intersect too which should prove interesting. Border Zone is basically a cold war spy thriller which was all the rage back in the 80’s. In a nutshell there’s an assassination plot and you must either try to prevent it, or ensure it succeeds, depending on who you are playing as.

 

Border Zone

Border Zone opening screen on my Commodore 64

I have to confess that after I started to play this I realised that there is a timer that ticks down while you are playing. This is a real-time timer… it ticks down whether you type a command or not. This is a real turn off for me as I like to take my time, examine everything, draw a map, make myself a cuppa or whatever… I don’t want to be stressing about running out of time. This may well prove to be a deal-breaker on this particular game, only time will tell.

It is actually possible to slow the timer down by entering the command ‘slow’. This certainly helps things but still doesn’t stop my anxiety levels whilst playing…

 

Border Zone ‘Feelies’

 

As with all Infocom games there’s plenty of extras packed inside the slide out tray.

 

Border Zone

Sliding out the box insert

 

Border Zone is no exception here with lots of extra goodies tucked inside the box insert.

 

The Border Zone box insert

 

Starting with the standard stuff first, there’s the instruction manual, a reference card for the C64 version of the game, the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, and a registration card.

 

Border Zone

Feelies galore…

 

Also included is a map of the border between Frobnia and Litzenburg and a business card from ‘Riznik’s Antiques’. Additionally there’s an ‘I am Frobnia – Fortunate Tourists Guide and Phrasebook’ to help set the scene. As I mentioned earlier there should also be a little book of matches but unfortunately that was missing from the box.

All in all this is a fantastic item and another worthy addition to my Infocom collection, albeit one that I may never finish due to the timer.

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Freeze 64 Issue 33 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 33

Arriving much earlier in the week than is the norm, Freeze 64 Issue 33 glided onto my doormat today. This is the first issue of 2020 and I hope that there’s many more to come.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 33

Freeze 64 Issue 33 comes with a ‘Mikie’ cheat card (no. 28) .

 

Issue #33’s featured game and interview is Head Over Heels and its coder, Colin Porch. There’s also a bumper crop of cheats and pokes for Frostbyte, Dragonspire, Freeze64 and Crazy Blaster. Meanwhile, creeping out of the Mouldy Cupboard this time around is the shameful Night Rider Niterider from 1984.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 33

Freeze 64 in its native habitat…

 

In another interesting interview, Chris Stanley delves into the making of his recently released ‘Mancave’ game. Of course all the regular sections like Zzapback!, Secret Squirrel and My C64 Heaven make a return too. We also have the 2019 Freeze 64 Game of the Year awards to enjoy.

 

Quick peek at the contents of this issue.

 

If you fancy your own copy then head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by purchasing this issue.

 

I need your clothes, your boots… and your copy of Freeze 64!  (Sorry couldn’t resist – my T800 model has finally reached a point where it’s starting to look like a Terminator and I wanted to show it off!)

 

Here’s a link to my previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

Amiga Future #142 – January/February edition out now.

Amiga Future #142

The latest issue of Amiga Future (Amiga Future #142) arrived through the post a couple of days ago. Another great issue crammed with interesting Amiga stuff from cover to cover.

 

Amiga Future #142 Front Cover

Amiga Future #142 Front Cover

 

What’s in this issue?

If you’ve ever considered getting a modern ‘clone’ Amiga then you’re in luck. In this issue there’s a particularly useful 5-page article looking into the various FPGA Amiga clones on the market.

There’s plenty of reviews to read through too. Games such as Insanity Fight, Blastaway and Goldrush plus programs including IBrowse 2.5, DiskPrint and AddressMaster are all covered. There’s plenty of news, letters and interviews too. There’s also a healthy showing of adverts which is certainly encouraging with regards to reflecting the current state of the Amiga scene.

If you pay attention a new game for the Commodore VIC20 even gets a small write-up and a screenshot too!

 

Amiga Future #142 Index

Index of what’s in Issue #142

 

I’m happy to report a return to form for the Cover CD this time around. There’s full versions of both AddressMaster and DiskPrint on the CD, both of which used to be sold commercially for €10+ each.  These packages are reviewed in the magazine as well.

Below is a little peek at some of the stuff inside Amiga Future #142. If you’d like to purchase a copy then do please take a look here and support what is now the last remaining commercially printed Amiga magazine!

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Never come across Amiga Future magazine before? Perhaps you’d care to take a look at some of my other Amiga Future magazine previews here.

 

 

Audio Tape Cassette Storage Solution

audio tape cassette storage

My audio tape cassette storage problem has been bugging me for quite some time now. Over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of cassette tapes (both music and games) and that number is constantly increasing. I’ve been storing a lot of them in those old drawer units (the ones usually covered in tacky looking wood effect vinyl). Whilst this is an effective storage method I’ve always found them a bit of a pain to use and also my tapes are hidden away out of sight. I’ve also got loads of tapes stacked on top of each other on a shelf and this is far from ideal too. Forty year old tapes are not something I want to risk playing Jenga with!

All this leads me to the reason for posting this article. After searching around for a while for a better solution I finally found one I’m happy with so I thought I’d share it.


Here are links to the two racks featured in this article.


 

The Solution

The audio tape cassette storage solution I found is a purpose made wooden rack that can hold 60 cassettes in their boxes. They’re manufactured by a company in Germany called ‘Protected’ and are available for sale on Amazon. They cost £25.90 and as far as I can see they ship all over Europe for a flat £9.90 fee. I initially bought three and still only paid £9.90 shipping in total. Speaking of which delivery took less than a week by DHL.

 

The packaging the racks arrived in.

 

The racks came individually packaged. Opening the cardboard box (carefully to avoid cutting into it) revealed the nicely bubble-wrapped rack inside.

 

audio tape cassette storage

My cat loves it when I open new parcels!

 

All three of mine arrived in great shape. I must admit I was a little wary about ordering at first as I wasn’t sure if these were getting knocked together in someone’s garden shed. There is only one (poor) photo on the Amazon website and precious little info provided. However I was very pleased to discover a high standard of both manufacture and finish.

 

audio tape cassette storage

Nicely finished woodwork

 

A Closer Look

The racks are constructed from solid strips of pine wood and the back panel is made of plywood. All the strips of wood forming the slots are perfectly aligned and fit perfectly flush. There are no sharp edges or splinters to worry about as everything has been sanded smooth and edges rounded off. The back is a little rough but once in use you’re never going to see or touch it again.

There are 4 pre-drilled holes in each corner so you can wall mount the racks. Somewhat disappointingly plugs and screws are not provided. However this is not that big a deal and most people my age have probably got loads in a jam jar somewhere in their shed or garage. I would also recommend the use of a washer as the holes are quite big. Using a washer will also prevent you from driving a screw right through the thin plywood back panel.

 

width…

 

Size wise the racks are approximately 20″ (51cm) long and 13.5″ (34cm) tall.

 

height…

 

I opted for the natural pine finish but they also offer a white one too. I’ve not seen that in the flesh so can’t comment on the finish of it. I guess you could also either varnish or paint them to suite your colour scheme too. I’m quite happy to keep the bare wood finish for my setup though.

 

Closer look at the slot construction

 

The slots are perfectly sized and I’ve not found any cassettes that wouldn’t fit into the them.

 

audio tape cassette storage

A selection of VIC20 games slotted in nicely

 

The rack is slightly shallower than a cassette is deep (2″ or 50mm) which means tapes stick out about 1/2″ (12mm). This allows you to easily get your fingers around them when you need to get them out.

 

audio tape cassette storage

Top of rack makes for a useful display area.

 

You can even use the top of the rack as a small shelf for extra storage or display purposes. I’m still experimenting with what looks best but will probably settle for displaying double-cassette boxes or the odd big box game.

 

audio tape cassette storage

Racks filling up nicely…

Finishing Words

I have to say I really love these racks and I’m glad I’ve finally found a storage solution that fulfils my desire to display my stuff too. I filled my three racks straight away so have just ordered another three. With six racks I’ll have the capacity to store 120 tapes in total. That’ll allow me to store all the tapes I currently own and hopefully leave me with enough empty slots to accommodate future purchases, fingers crossed.

The racks are available from Amazon and I’ve included various links to them throughout this article too.

  • Full disclosure – they’re affiliated links which means I receive a few pennies if you make a purchase using the link but it costs you nothing extra at all.

Once I get the other three racks and set them up I’ll post another photo or two of the completed project. Hope you found this article useful!

JollyDisk – a Merry 8-Bit Christmas

JollyDisk

I spotted this little festive treat quite by chance just a few days before Christmas. It’s called ‘JollyDisk’ and is basically a series of animated Christmas cards along with some nice SID based Christmas carols. There’s also an animated Yule Log ‘Jukebox’ thrown in for good measure too.

From time of ordering to delivery from the USA to the UK took ten days. Given the time of year I thought this was pretty good. What wasn’t so good was the £13.11 customs charges I got stung for. Only £5.11 of that total was actually import duties, the other £8 was tacked on by Royal Mail for ‘handling fees’. Anyhoo… them’s the breaks as they say so I won’t hold that against it. As for the Royal Mail… you robbers…

 

JollyDisk

JollyDisk Contents

 

Anyway my JollyDisk came neatly packaged inside a ZipLock bag with a colourful card inlay showing what it’s all about. There was also a nice ‘Stirring Dragon Games’ sticker, a keyboard overlay (remember those?) and of course the actual 5.25″ JollyDisk itself!

The JollyDisk is actually double sided. The first side is devoted to the multimedia Christmas cards whilst the flip side hosts the Yule Log Jukebox.

 

Christmas Cards

 

JollyDisk Title Screen

JollyDisk Title Screen

 

After a few moments you are greeted with a nice title screen before moving on to the Christmas cards. The cards are beautifully presented in full multi-colour graphics featuring a number of animations that help bring the scene to life.

 

JollyDisk

Pay attention to this one to spot a special appearance…

 

In one scene for example, Santa’s sleigh streaks across a moonlit sky (closely following by E.T. if you pay attention!). Others feature animated animals, snow falling, twinkling lights and much more. It’s clear that a lot of love went into creating each scene.

 

JollyDisk

A fox gazes into a moonlit sky…

 

Accompanying each screen is a Christmas carol performed gracefully by the C64’s SID chip. There’s a different carol for each screen ranging from Silent Night to Deck the Halls and of course Jingle Bells is in there somewhere too!

 

JollyDisk

Winter scene featuring a deer taking a drink

 

Once each music track has finished the next scene is automatically loaded off the floppy disk.

 

JollyDisk

Traditional Christmas scene

 

Once the final Christmas Card has been displayed it loops right back to the start. This means you can leave it on for as long as you like and have it constantly cycling through different scenes and carols.

 

JollyDisk

A kid playing on a C64 in their bedroom at Christmas – something most of us can probably relate to!

 

It’s the sort of thing a computer shop in the 80’s might have left on display during the festive season.

 

JollyDisk

The last scene before looping back to the beginning

Yule Log

 

The second side of the JollyDisk features a fully animated Yule Log created entirely from PETSCII graphics. This ‘Jukebox’ is where that keyboard overlay comes in handy.

 

JollyDisk Keyboard Overlay

The keyboard Overlay in use

 

The keyboard overlay sits over the function keys and reminds you which keys do what.

  • F1 turns the sound off.
  • F3 changes the fireplace design (there are 2 to choose from).
  • F5 selects a crackling fire sound.
  • F7 skips to the next song.

The songs that play are the same Christmas carols that featured on side one. However there do seem to be a few more on offer here. I think there’s ten in total. In addition to moving sequentially through them with F7 you can also directly access each one using the number keys. Playing the songs like this causes them to play on a loop, particularly handy if you have a favourite.

 

JollyDisk

JollyDisk Yule Log menu screen

 

The crackling fire sound enabled by pressing F5 is quite effective. I assume it’s been created using various snippets of white noise but it’s pretty effective and definitely relaxing. In fact I’ve actually got it running in the background whilst I type this article!

A static photo wouldn’t have done the Yule Log justice so here’s an animated GIF…

 

Here’s an animated GIF I created of the crackling fire. You’ll just have to imagine the Christmas carols playing or the sounds of the log crackling – either that or buy a copy for yourself 🙂

 

All in all this is a delightful little product. It’s definitely something I will look forward to digging out every year to experience some 8-bit Christmas cheer.

As I write this it’s still available physically for $24.99 or $14.99 digitally from Stirring Dragon Games if you are interested in getting hold of a copy yourself.

Plundered Hearts by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Plundered Hearts

I was lucky enough to bag a few new adventure games for my collection in the run up to Christmas. One them was this, the big box release of Plundered Hearts by Infocom. I paid a little more than I probably should have as it’s quite a rare game and is in beautiful condition. It’s definitely been well cared for by its previous owner. It is resplendent with all the extra ‘feelies’ and paperwork inside its pristine box too.

 

Infocom Plundered Hearts back cover

Infocom Plundered Hearts back cover

 

This adventure tells the story of a young woman who sets sail for the West Indies in search of her sick father. Along the way you will encounter pirates, puzzles, vicious crocodiles and even romance.  This sounds like it could be a really good yarn and given the pirate subject matter has made its way into my play list quite near the top!

 

Plundered Hearts running on my Commodore 64

Ooer missus – Plundered Hearts running on my Commodore 64

 

Plundered Hearts ‘Feelies’

 

As always with Infocom games, a huge part of their appeal for me is the extras (feelies) tucked inside the box. All of these bits and bobs came as standard with each copy of the game sold. No premium priced ‘special’ or ‘collectors’ editions here designed to fleece the customer. No siree, everyone got the same fully loaded edition. How times have changed – you’re lucky to get a sheet of paper listing the game controls these days!

 

Plundered Hearts

Sliding out the box insert

 

Happily Plundered Hearts is no exception here with lots of extra goodies tucked inside the box insert.

 

Plundered Hearts Contents

The Plundered Hearts box insert

 

There’s the instruction manual, a reference card for the C64 version of the game, the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, a registration card and a coupon book containing offers for other games and merchandise.

 

Plundered Hearts Feelies

Plundered Hearts Feelies

 

Incidentally there’s some great offers inside the coupon book but sadly it looks like I missed the expiration date by a few days…

 

Infocom T-Shirt Coupon

I’d definitely be taking advantage of this offer of a free Infocom T-Shirt if the coupon was still valid!

 

Opening up the blue velvet pouch reveals even more goodies… There’s a beautifully hand written letter from Jean Lafond helping to set the scene for the game. A 50 Guinea note from the Bank of St. Sinistra rounds off the list of feelies and looks pretty convincing although is sadly not legal tender in the UK.

 

Plundered Hearts Feelies

Letter and 50 guinea note contained within the blue velvet pouch

All in all this is a fantastic item and a very worthy addition to my Infocom collection.

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Fusion 2020 Annual Review

Fusion 2020 Annual

I’ve been buying Fusion magazine since its inception over a year ago. It’s a great little magazine that covers everything from retro gaming and culture to modern day classics. A couple of months ago they launched a ‘Fusion 2020 Annual’ Kickstarter campaign which I backed without hesitation. The annual arrived fresh off the printing press a couple of days ago so here’s a quick look at what’s inside.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Fusion 2020 Annual Back Cover

 

The Extras

The first thing you will notice is that the annual is A5 in size rather than the more common A4 format. This is in keeping with the magazine itself which is published in this format. There were a whole bunch of stretch goals added towards the end of the campaign which means that it came packaged with a host extra goodies.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Fusion 2020 Annual & Extras

 

Included is an A5 calendar that unfolds to A4 and features some fantastic artwork from the magazine. There’s also a special ZX Spectrum themed edition of Fusion magazine that runs to 50 pages covering everything ‘speccy’. Finally there’s a couple of collectable art cards and two badges featuring artwork from previous magazine covers.

 

Fusion 2020 Calendar

The Fusion 2020 Calendar featuring some fantastic artwork

 

Below is a little peek at the contents pages so you can get an idea of exactly what you will find inside the annual. As you can see there’s a broad range of topics and time periods covered.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Fusion 2020 Annual Contents Pages

 

Taking a peek inside

 

As a huge Amiga fan I thought this interview with RJ Mical was especially interesting to read.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

An interview with RJ Mical who was part of the team that created the Amiga 1000

 

There’s plenty of nostalgic trips down memory lane to be found in the annual. Here’s one that struck a chord with me, I’ve still got this up in the attic somewhere!

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Frustration!

 

Another nostalgia hit, this time looking back at a particularly memorable Zzap!64 magazine cover.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Zzap!64 Feature

 

There’s also a feature I found particularly interesting as a retro game collector – ‘Cheaper in Japan’. This looks into sourcing games from the far east and demonstrates how much cheaper they can be than their western counterparts. Sadly this won’t help with the escalating prices of Commodore gear but something to bear in mind for Sega, Nintendo and PlayStation classics.

 

Fusion 2020 Calendar

Buying retro games cheaper from Japan

 

There’s some great modern day features too such as this look at the fantastic Logitech G920 wheel and pedal set. (I’m a big racing simulation fan when I’m not playing retro games and this is the wheel I use).

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Logitech G920 Wheel review

 

Verdict

All in all this is a cracking addition to anyone’s book collection and I have no qualms about recommending it to people who are passionate about gaming. There’s literally something for everyone in here, especially if they’re interested in older games and systems.

If you’d like to get hold of your own copy you can buy the annual directly from the Fusion Retro Books website for the bargain price of £9.99. Please bear in mind that you won’t get all the extras described above as these were only for those who backed the Kickstarter campaign.

Freeze 64 Issue 32 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 32

With the uncanny knack of being able to arrive in time for the weekend, Freeze 64 Issue 32 has materialised on my doormat. Sadly this is the last mag we’ll get in 2019 so we won’t get to see a special Christmas themed issue this year. Of course it will be returning in the new year though.

In the meantime subscribers have been told we can expect a special mini Christmas issue via email with some sort of surprise contained within it! Can’t wait 🙂

 

Freeze 64 Issue 32

Freeze 64 Issue 32 comes with a neat ‘Nodes of Yesod’ cheat card (no. 27) and a gift subscription order form.

 

Issue #32’s featured game and interview is CJ’s Elephant Antics and its’ developers Ashley Hogg and Jonathan Temples. There’s also some great cheats and pokes for Keystone Kapers. Crawling out of the Mouldy Cupboard in this issue is Ratsplat which dates back to 1985. Regular sections Zzapback!, Secret Squirrel and My C64 Heaven are all present and correct and this this time around there’s even a hardware review of the Tapuino Reloaded!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 32

Quick peek at the contents of this issue.

 

If you fancy your own copy then head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by purchasing this issue.

Here’s a link to my previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

Xeno Crisis Review

Xeno Crisis Game

Xeno Crisis, a brand new Sega Mega Drive game – on a cart no less – is finally here! It’s been almost exactly two years since I originally backed it and a year beyond it’s originally projected completion time. In fact this had long been the second oldest unfulfilled pledge on my Kickstarter account. (The oldest being Xydonia which I backed way back in 2016, now two years behind schedule). But now it’s here in the flesh all that waiting has finally paid off.

Just like with Tanglewood, the moment I saw the Xeno Crisis project on Kickstarter I backed it instantly. I have a huge soft spot for the Mega Drive even if it was a direct competitor to the Amiga.

The game arrived yesterday in a pretty nondescript cardboard box. As soon as I saw the name ‘Bitmap Bureau’ on the address label I was pretty sure what would be inside and I was not disappointed.

 

Physical Presentation

Just like Tanglewood, Bitmap Bureau has taken the safe option of not slapping a Sega Mega Drive logo on the cover. However what they have done instead is create an almost identical logo with their own name in it. Basically the box looks exactly how you would expect any self respecting 90’s Mega Drive game to appear, even down to the retail hanger on the top.

 

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Opening the case up reveals the cartridge in all its glory along with a beautifully made full colour instruction manual.

 

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Instruction Manual

The 20 page booklet starts out by setting the scene and then shows the two control schemes on offer for 3 and 6-button controllers. It then goes on to portray some of the enemies you will encounter along with weapons, equipment and pick-ups you will come across. Finally it describes the different areas you will explore, the hostages you need to set free and some advanced playing tips. Pretty essential reading really and it’s packed with colourful in-game images that makes it a pleasure to read. If only all games still came with manuals like this!

 

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Compatibility

Although I own an original Sega Mega Drive and Mega Drive II console, the console I actually use most of the time is an AtGames Flashback HD. I know these AtGames clones get a lot of stick online but personally I think it’s a great piece of kit for the money, especially for a casual owner like myself. It has super crisp HDMI out, wireless pads, a proper cartridge slot and it also allows game save states which are a godsend these days. I do occasionally experience the odd minor sound glitch or stutter in some games but never anything that spoils my enjoyment.

 

Xeno Crisis

Xeno Crisis installed on my AT Games Mega Drive Clone (sorry about the reflections)

 

I remember reading a blog post about how they extensively tested Xeno Crisis on this system and many other clones. I’m happy to report that it has performed flawlessly so far. I’m actually thinking about buying an Analogue Mega Sg in the not too distant future so it’s good to know the game has been tested on a wide variety of both old and new hardware.

 

Getting Started

On first starting the game you’re presented with a cool little intro that features a number of static images with some text that rolls in along the bottom helping to set the scene. The story, in a nutshell, is that you’ve received a distress call from a research facility on Io after an alien attack. It’s your job to rescue survivors and deal with the alien threat.

 

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After the intro you reach the title screen from where you can select a 1 or 2 player game, access the options and select your character. The game defaults to ‘Hard’ difficulty but I found this to be too punishing and quickly swallowed my pride and stuck it on ‘Easy’. You can easily tell what difficulty is selected as the entire title screen changes colour. Red for Hard and Green for Easy – a nice touch.

 

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Once you’ve made your selections it’s on to the game proper. It starts very dramatically with your dropship briefly touching down in front of the airlock before leaving you all alone to carry out your mission. This is all slickly animated in a style that you only get on a 16-bit machine. It’s very well done and really gets you pumped for the mission ahead.

 

Xeno Crisis Dropship

The Dropship landing on Io

 

This game is basically a proper old-school arena shoot em up. Each room or arena is randomly selected so each play through will be slightly different. Once you enter the first room there will be a number of enemies to despatch before an exit will appear and you can move onto the next. Occasionally more than one exit will appear giving you a choice of where to go.

 

 

The Controls

The controls do take a little bit of getting used to. It’s what we would now call a ‘twin stick shooter’ with one stick controlling movement and another controlling the direction in which you shoot. However the Sega controllers only have one D-pad so a compromise has to be made. Basically the D-pad moves your character around while the ABXY buttons control your 8-way firing direction. Additionally you can also use C to do an evasive roll and Z to chuck a grenade. Finally you can use the mode button to discard your current weapon pick-up in case it’s not suited for the job in hand. This returns you to your default assault rifle.

I found the 8-way firing using the ABXY buttons took a lot of getting used to. This lead to a lot of unnecessary deaths whilst I was fumbling to press the correct directional button. You can play the game on a 3 button controller too but I don’t own one so have been unable to test how it plays with this type of pad.

 

 

Gameplay

There’s a wide variety of enemies to tackle with some shuffling around slowly while others home in on your position. Some remain stationary and will either act as a gun turret or explode if you get too close. Others will just burst through the floor unexpectedly and try to shoot you. You simply can’t afford to stay still at all and need to constantly be on the lookout for new enemies appearing from all sides of the screen.

Your standard assault rifle has a very limited ammo supply so if you constantly spray bullets everywhere you will quickly run out. You also have a very limited supply of grenades that you can use to get out of a tight spot. Thankfully ammo crates appear at random locations on the screen and you need to ensure you get to them as soon as possible. Occasionally a new weapon will appear and if you manage to pick it up it will give you increased fire-power and unlimited ammo for around 20 seconds. There are 10 different weapons in the game including lasers, shotguns, flame-throwers and even a BFG.

Sometimes you will encounter a room with hostages in – you free them by walking up to them and bag yourself a bonus for doing so. There are also a variety of pick-ups that can improve your chances of survival. These range from things like med-kits and ammo to security cards to open doors and dog-tags. Dog-tags are a form of currency which you can spend at the end of each stage to upgrade your gear. Upgrades include health boosts, weapon power-up’s, increased ammo capacity, speed-ups (to run faster and roll further), a gas mask and finally an Elixir which is basically an extra ‘continue’.

 

The first boss fight

 

There are 7 different areas in the game including ‘The Perimeter’ where you start plus a forest and lab area and several more. Each area has a distinct graphical style and enemy type so it’s always exciting to see what the next area has in store for you.

An area consists of several interconnecting rooms. Once you’ve cleared enough rooms you will face a boss fight. These are suitability epic battles with impressive full-screen animated monsters that need blasting to smithereens. There will usually be waves of additional smaller enemies to deal with as well so expect to die frequently until you’ve worked out the best strategy to deal with them.

 

Continue Game

Continues use up your Elixir’s

 

When you die you get the option to continue from where you left off by using one of the 3 elixirs you started out with. You can buy additional elixirs after clearing a stage by spending dog-tags though they are quite pricey. Alternatively you can spend the tags on better weapons and more health making death less likely in the first place. Decisions, decisions.

 

Xeno Crisis Game Over Screen

Sooner or later you’ll end up on this “Game Over” screen

 

Verdict

I’ve not had the game long enough to finish it yet but everything I’ve witnessed so far during my play-throughs has been terrific. The graphics are superb and easily rank amongst the best I’ve seen on the Mega Drive. The main character is very detailed and has plenty of animations bringing them to life. Likewise there is a diverse range of enemy types and they are all superbly realised in-game. The variety of guns is equally impressive and they have suitably meaty sound effects to accompany them.

The thumping soundtrack is also exceptionally good and again is amongst the best on the system and suits the game perfectly. I received the digital soundtrack with the game and it’s well worth a play, especially if you like Chip/Synthwave music.

It’s not an easy game, even when played in ‘easy’ mode, there’s so much going on and so many buttons to use that it can often feel a little overwhelming at first. However once you’ve put some time in you can feel yourself improving and you get a little further on each play through. Basically you need to ‘git gud’ as they say these days.

The overall presentation in general is of an extremely high quality indeed and it’s abundantly clear that this has been a labour of love from start to finish. Xeno Crisis is a superb game and I have no hesitation in recommending this to any retro gaming enthusiast and I would consider this an essential purchase if you’re a Mega Drive fan.

Hopefully the success of both Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood will be enough to spur other developers on to create more new physical cartridge releases for the Mega Drive. I certainly hope so anyway and look forward to what the future may bring.

Amiga Future #141 – November/December edition out now.

Amiga Future #141

The latest issue of Amiga Future (Amiga Future #141) arrived through the post a couple of days ago. It’s another great issue packed with interesting Amiga related content, especially the in depth look at the new Vampire 4 ‘standalone’ hardware that’s featured on the cover.

 

Amiga Future #141

Amiga Future #141 Front Cover

 

Inside Amiga Future #141 there’s several game reviews but it’s the software and hardware reviews that are the stand-out content for me this time around. In addition to the Vampire V4 hardware there’s also a look at the TerribleFire 328 and 330. Software wise there’s Amiga Forever 8 and now that’s it’s finally here, IBrowse 2.5!

Remember AmigaAMP? If you were an Amiga user in the 90’s then you should do. For me it represented my first foray into the world of MP3’s. Anyway this stalwart of Amiga software has just seen an update to v3.25 and is reviewed inside the magazine.

 

Amiga Future #141

Amiga Future #141 Index

 

I have to be honest and report that I’m disappointed by the cover CD on this occasion. The featured software is basically a Backgammon game along with some card games and a few utilities. Not a big fan of either games so this definitely didn’t float my boat. Hopefully the disc will be better in the next issue… it’s an extra €2.90 per issue and sometimes I do feel it’s not worth it.

Below is a little peak at some of the stuff inside Amiga Future #141. If you’d like to purchase a copy then do please take a look here and support what is now the last remaining commercially printed Amiga magazine!

 

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Never come across Amiga Future magazine before? Perhaps you’d care to take a look at some of my other Amiga Future magazine previews here.

 

 

A look at the new Zzap! 64 2020 Annual

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual

Who’d have thought back in the 80’s that in the far off future of 2020 we’d be getting a new Zzap! 64 annual for Christmas? But that’s exactly what’s happening here as I’ve just received my brand new Zzap 64 2020 Annual through the post following another successful Kickstarter campaign.

 

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This time around (they released a Zzap! 64 annual last year too) there were plenty of stretch goals that has resulted in a lot of extra goodies to enjoy besides just the annual.

 

Zzap 64 2020 Annual

Zzap 64 2020 Annual Goodies

 

Along with the Annual, for £22 I also received an A3 Tir Na Nog map/poster, an A5 50 page Fusion 64 magazine & collectors card, a Zzap! 64 keyring plus a Zzap! 64 2020 calendar. Didn’t he do well as Bruce Forsyth would have said.

 

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Below is a little peek at the contents page so you can get an idea of exactly what’s inside the annual this year.

 

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual Contents Page

 

As you can see it covers a broad range of C64 topics from past to present including Perifractics ‘Brixty-Four’ off his youtube channel and none other than Vinny Mainolfi creator of the extremely awesome Freeze 64 magazine.

 

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If you’d like to get hold of your own copy (and if you like the C64 then you really should) you can buy the annual directly from the Fusion Retro Books website for £15. Please bear in mind that you won’t get all the extras described above as these were only for those who backed the Kickstarter campaign.

Moonmist by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Infocom Moonmist

My Infocom collection continues to grow and this time it’s thanks to the greybox release of ‘Moonmist’. It’s a lovely addition to my collection and has been well looked after by its previous owner. It came complete with all the extra ‘feelies’ and paperwork inside the box.

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist back cover

 

Infocom have classified this particular release as being of an ‘Introductory Level’ which basically means it’s one of their easier titles. Not that I’m expecting it to be any kind of a walk in the park. As I’ve come to expect now, the disk still loads just fine, despite it’s advancing age.

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist running on my Commodore 64

 

 

Moonmist ‘Feelies’

As always with Infocom games, a big part of their appeal is the extras (feelies) tucked inside the box, all of which came as standard.

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist box contents

 

Moonmist is no exception here with lots of extra goodies inside the box. First we have the ‘Legendary Ghosts of Cornwall’ book which forms part of the front inside cover. This sets the scene for our spooky adventure and also gives a few tips on how to play the game.

 

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Then we have two letters sent to you from you friend Tamara which also help set the scene. Next up is the Tresyllian Castle Visitor Guide which includes a handy map of the castle. There’s also an Infocom Passport (which is basically a product catalogue), disk loading instructions, registration card and of course the game itself on a 5.25″ floppy.

 

 

Infocom Moonmist

Infocom Moonmist Goodies

 

Oh and one other thing too – an iron on transfer of the Moonmist logo! I bet when they were putting that in the box they never envisaged someone excitedly opening it up 35 years later. Needless to say I won’t be putting an iron anywhere near it!

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.