Lyonsden Blog

Tag - Video Game

Fusion Magazine #5 just arrived

Fusion Magazine #5

Received the latest edition of Fusion Magazine, issue #5, at the weekend. Have to say I’m liking the contents of this edition very much as there’s plenty of retro stuff inside. Stuff like the ‘Top 5 Amiga Games’ article, a look at Space Invaders, Ghostbusters 2, OutRun on Switch and more. A personal favourite of mine is the Retro Man Cave feature looking at old Flight Sims. Simulation games are personal favourite of mine – a genre which used to be massive in the but sadly neglected now.

Here’s a little peak at some of the stuff in this new issue:

 

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If you’ve not come across Fusion magazine before then you might like to take a look at my overviews of the previous 4 issues here: Issue #1Issue #2Issue #3 & Issue #4.

I think I’ve sometimes been a little overly critical of the magazine in the past purely because it doesn’t always feature Commodore related content. However I think on retrospect this is a little unfair. The magazine caters for so many different systems and eras it’s unrealistic to expect coverage of favourites in every issue.

Anyhooo, if you want to purchase a copy of issue #5 of Fusion Magazine, head over to their website here. The mag is only £3.99 plus postage, a very reasonable amount for such a well produced magazine.

Retro Gamer Magazine with Rob Hubbard CD!

Retro Gamer Magazine

It’s been a long time since I bought a copy of Retro Gamer magazine so kudos to the person who decided to offer a Rob Hubbard CD in a C2N wallet as a covermount this month. Your marketing ploy worked on me!  As I browsed through the magazine rack in my local WH Smiths the unmistakable image of the C2N immediately caught my eye and then when I looked closer and saw ‘Rob Hubbard’ it became an instant impulse purchase.

 

Retro Gamer Magazine

Retro Gamer Magazine with Rob Hubbard ‘Remixed’ covermount CD

 

My love of synthwave music can be traced right back to the chip music created using the C64’s SID chip and Rob Hubbard was one of my favourite composers back in the day.

 

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The music on the CD is terrific, a whole bunch of Rob’s tracks that have been given a little bit of a modern make-over. However the magazine is actually a pretty fine read too. Obviously with it covering pretty much every retro system on the planet it’s not wall to wall Commodore content but there is a good amount and lots of non machine specific articles that are still really interesting.

 

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Commodore Content

I thought I’d highlight the Commodore content here for the benefit of anyone wondering if they should get a copy

  • 4 page article about Rob Hubbard
  • 6 page look at the history of Ocean software
  • 4 page article looking at the making of Space Taxi
  • 4 page article looking at the making Road Runner
  • A brief look at Shadow of the Beast
  • 4 page spread dedicated to the CD32 covering the likes of Guardian, The Chaos Engine, Pirates! and several other games

To be honest there was a lot of great content, not just for the Commodore but Megadrive, PlayStation, original Xbox and so on. I think I’ll be checking this magazine out regularly from now on.

 

Amiga User 6

Amiga User 6

There’s certainly no shortage of reading material this month as Amiga User 6 arrives alongside K&A Plus magazine. This is another twice a year publication and is also an equally weighty tome packed with interesting articles.

This is definitely a mag devoted to the more serious Amiga user. Although games do get a mention occasionally, the bulk of the pages are devoted to applications, utilities and the like.

There’s a great piece that looks into exactly what areas of the Internet you can still access on old Amiga systems and how to do so.   There’s also part 2 of an article delving into the intricacies of MUI and a interesting article looking into the history of Sid Meier’s Silent Service.

 

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There’s tons more to read, far too much to list here so if you fancy getting hold of your own copy take a look at the amiga.net.pl website. Like K&A Plus, Amiga User 6 is also produced in Poland but again the English is excellent and delivery to the UK is pretty quick.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

K&A Plus Issue 12

K&A Plus magazine is only published twice a year but is always packed with great content and issue 12 is no exception. Weighing in at 81 pages there’s plenty of content to get stuck into over the coming weeks.

 

K&A plus

What a great cover!

 

Although the magazine supports all Commodore machines (even MorphOS and AROS systems) the bulk of the magazine is devoted to the good old C64 and original Amiga systems and that suits me just fine.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Here’s a look at the contents page showing the breadth of articles

 

The magazine is packed with interesting articles and reviews of new games for both the C64 and Amiga computers.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

The rise and fall of Psygnosis

 

As a scouser, one article that immediately caught my eye was ‘The rise and fall of Psygnosis’. This deals with how the company sprang into existence and what they got up to before being engulfed by Sony and ultimately, closing. There’s even some photos inside their old Liverpool offices where they used to work.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Expedition to the world of Dune

 

Another fascinating article is ‘Expedition to the world of Dune’ which is a in depth look at the transition from book, to movie and ultimately the games.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Gunship 2000

 

As a big Microprose simulation fan the article about Gunship 2000 for the Amiga also warranted my immediate attention.

If you want to find out more, or order yourself a copy, head on over to the Komoda & Amiga Plus website. The magazine is produced in Poland (but the English is great) and shipping to the UK only takes a few days.

 

Hibernated 1 – A New Text Adventure

Hibernated 1

Been waiting for this particular game to arrive for what feels like an eternity after having pre-ordered it last year. As of today that wait is finally over! Hibernated 1 – This Place is Death is now on my desk waiting to be played! 🙂

This isn’t a review as I’ve not had time to play the game yet, just a look at the physical edition and what’s inside it. Hopefully once I’ve completed it (always the optimist) I’ll write one.!

 

Hibernated 1

Amiga 3.5″ Disk & MicroSD Card

 

Which format?

I deliberated over whether to get the game on the Commodore 64 or Amiga for a while before ordering. In the end the Amiga won out due to it being able to display a greater number of characters per screen row. Given this is a text adventure I thought that was the most important consideration. However the beauty of this release is that although I chose the Amiga, this only affects the physical media the game ships with. On the MicroSD card are digital versions of ALL of the supported formats, including the Commodore 64. The other formats on the card are; Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Spectrum and IBM PC along with some bonus stuff like concept art.

Eight Feet Under

An extra bonus is that a digital copy of the spin-off game, ‘Eight Feet Under’ is included – you can download it from itch.io and again you have the same choice of formats as above. You can also choose to get Hibernated 1 digitally if you like, it’s available here and you can name your own price.

 

Hibernated 1

A look at what’s inside the box

 

Box Contents

Inside the box there are plenty of goodies to enjoy, here’s a quick rundown:

 

  • A5 full colour game manual
  • A3 full colour poster
  • Game on physical disk
  • Digital version of the game on MicroSD card (in a snazzy Hibernated case)
  • Password to download ‘Eight Feet Under’ from itch.io
  • Terran Alliance round cloth patch
  • Stickers
  • Adverts for some other poly.play games

 

Couple of screenshots

Here’a quick look at the loading screen and the opening screen to the game.

Open eyes… 😉

 

Hibernated 1

Loading Screen

 

Hibernated 1

Open eyes…….

 

Tiny Arcade Space Invaders

Tiny Arcade Space Invaders

Rounding off this month with something a little different… I’ve seen these Tiny Arcade games around for a while now but managed to resist the temptation to buy one. At the back of my mind I was always thinking they’d just be too small to play on and just a gimmick. Well last weekend I finally caved in and bought the Space Invaders one on impulse at the checkout of my local Game store so here’s my little review of it.

 

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Contents

The packaging is all transparent plastic which allows you to see exactly what you are buying. A little cut-out in the front lets you start up a demo without opening the pack (assuming it’s not behind a locked cabinet in the shop of course). Once you’ve got it home only a couple of pieces tape need to be sliced through on the top flap and the whole package opens easily and safely.

 

Tiny Arcade Space Invaders

Size comparison with a AA battery

 

A closer look

They’re certainly not kidding about it being tiny. Once unpacked it stands just 9cm (3.5″) tall and 4cm (1.5″) wide. It’s powered by 3 AAA batteries and a set are supplied inside it. There’s an on/off switch on the rear although I won’t be using that so much myself. The device goes into sleep mode if you don’t touch it for 30 seconds and so long as you let it do this it maintains your high score. I think that’s well worth sacrificing a little battery life for.

 

Tiny Arcade Space Invaders

Back panel and battery compartment

 

What does it look like?

By default the game ships in ‘demo’ mode so you need to turn the power off and back on again when you first open it. Doing this basically resets it, something I didn’t do at first, leaving it stuck in perpetual demo mode. Chalking that one up to one of those rare occasions when it actually pays to read the manual!

There is a key-chain on the rear of the cabinet, though why anyone would want to attach it to their keys is beyond me. Still, it doesn’t interfere with using the device and it isn’t visible when the device is on display so it’s not really an issue. If it really bothers you it could be removed easily enough by snipping through the metal attachment loop with some wire cutters.

Once it is turned on you’ll immediately notice just how good that little screen is. I’m not sure what sort of technology it is using, but whatever it is, it’s very clear and vibrant. A particularly nice feature I noticed was that the ‘Space Invaders’ sign above the screen lights up when it’s turned on. This really helps to recreate that authentic arcade cabinet appearance.

 

Tiny Arcade Space Invaders

Screen is crisp, clear and vibrant

 

What does it sound like?

The sound also impressed me too, being both loud and clear with no distortion. One small criticism is that I couldn’t find a way to alter the volume or mute it. Thankfully it’s set to a sensible level and I didn’t really feel the need to change it. It might be an issue if you wanted to play it next to someone trying to sleep or watch TV though.

 

Tiny Arcade Space Invaders

High Score is saved so long as you don’t turn the power off via the rear switch

 

How does it play?

Incredibly well actually! It’s an extremely faithful version of the game we all know and love. Despite my large hands and the tiny joystick and fire buttons I was able to control my ship and fire away without an issue. My fingers didn’t block the screen either which was another thing I was concerned about. The screen is easy to see, even for me wearing varifocal glasses. As I mentioned earlier the game saves your high score so that urge to have ‘one more go’ to get a higher one is as strong as it ever was.

 

Videos

Here’s a couple of videos of it in action. They only show the demo running but should give you a good idea of how the game plays. The funny noises at the start of the first video are just Vector chirping away to himself, nothing to do with the game!

 

 

 

 

 

Worth a buy?

Absolutely. I’m no Space Invaders aficionado by any means but to me this seems like a pretty accurate replica of both the arcade cabinet and the game itself. Space Invaders was one of the first arcade games I ever played as child alongside Asteroids and Pacman. This little package really encapsulates that early 1980’s experience perfectly for me and all within a cabinet that fit’s in the palm of my hand!

There are a lot of copycat products that offer dozens, even hundreds of games but they rarely have the official games on them and tend to be full of rubbish clones. They certainly don’t have the game specific arcade cabinet designs like the Super Impulse ones do which is quite a big deal to me.

These little arcade cabinets retail for around £25 although occasionally pop up in sales for less. I got mine from Game (a physical shop in the UK) but you can get them online from Amazon and other places too.

Whether you buy it as a cool shelf ornament or to actually play on I think it’s a terrific little device and well worth the money. In fact I’m so impressed with it that I’ll be picking up some more of the range so I can build up a mini arcade of my own!

Fusion Issue 4 has arrived

Fusion Issue 4

This morning the latest edition of Fusion magazine, issue 4, dropped onto my doormat. There’s quite a variety of interesting gaming content including a look at the Picade, PlayStation Classic and reviews of Spiderman and Hollow Night. There’s also articles about the Robocop arcade game, the history of Super Monkey Ball and even a ‘Retro Man Cave’ article looking at the Pioneer LaserActive.

There’s quite a bit more I’ve not covered too, but despite all that, I can’t help but feel short changed by the complete lack of Commodore related content this month. There’s simply nothing about my beloved machines at all. The most relevant thing I could find was an article about joysticks. Still, that’s the chance you take with any multi-format publication I guess. Hopefully in the next issue they will redress the balance!

Should any of those subject areas I’ve mentioned sound interesting then you might like to visit their website to order your own copy. However, if you’re mainly interested in reading about Commodore related stuff then I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to skip this issue.

If you’ve never heard of this magazine before then you might like to take a look at my overviews of the previous 3 issues here: Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3.

 

Fusion Issue 4

Interesting article about retro Joysticks

Mono Review

Mono

Mono is a brand new PAL game for the Commodore 64 created by a couple of guys in Switzerland, Clay Spoerri and Raphael Graf. It’s only available in cartridge format and costs €35 plus postage from their website. I bought this pretty much blind a few months ago as there was little information about it online. Sadly my first copy was faulty so had to be replaced (thanks Raphael) but the new one works perfectly so I thought I’d write a little review in case anyone else is interested in the game.

 

Contents

 

For your money you get a nicely designed plastic case with a cool manga inspired front cover featuring the pilot of your ship with some game screenshots and ship artwork on the back.

 

Mono

Mono Back Cover

 

Inside the case you will find a sleek black cartridge with the title of the game etched onto it. The cartridge fits into the C64’s expansion port easily, unlike some other recent cartridges that required shoehorning in! You also get an instruction sheet, mono pin badge, a sticker, postcard and a beer mat/coaster. It should be noted that the latter three items all relate to other games, only the pin badge relates to mono. It’s only a minor complaint but I would have loved to see a sticker in the box of the girl or your ship instead. Also the cartridge is loose inside the case – a foam insert would have stopped it sliding around inside.

 

Mono

Mono Game Contents

 

Gameplay

 

Mono is a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up that features a couple of fairly unique and pretty important gameplay elements that set it apart from similar games. Firstly your ship wraps around the edges of the screen. Move off the left side of the screen and you’ll reappear over on the right. Move off the top or bottom of the screen and you’ll reappear at the opposite end. Once you get used to this it’s actually a great gameplay enhancement and one that becomes essential with some of the bosses you’ll encounter later in the game. However it does take a few minutes to get used to and led to me dying on my first play-though. I kept accidentally moving off the bottom of the screen straight into the aliens spawning at the top!

The second unique feature is that your score and your ships life are one and the same. As you play you’ll notice a series of positive and negative numbers scrolling down the side of the screen. Kill an alien and a positive number will appear. Take a hit and a negative will appear instead. So long as you do more killing than getting hit you’ll be fine. However take too many hits and your score dwindles to zero leading to a ‘game over’.

Like many shoot ’em ups there are weapon power-ups to be had, but again these are linked to your score. Score well and power-ups will appear on screen for you to collect. However take some hits and you will lose your last power-up until you are back down to your standard issue guns. As soon as you start building that score back up the power-ups will start flowing again.

 

Mono

Title Screen

 

Level Design

 

There are six levels in the game, each one themed differently with it’s own colour scheme, music, background, enemies and boss. The backdrops scroll down the screen smoothly but are pretty simply affairs, based around various shapes or patterns – bubbles, lines, pyramids, blocks and even a circuit board (populated by 6510 chips!).

The alien designs are also pretty simple but they’re nice and clear and each feature unique move and firing patterns. Some of the bullets fired home in on your position too which makes for some tricky situations if you don’t take the enemies out quickly enough. There is some overlap of enemy use from one level to the next but the game adds new enemies to each new level to mix things up.

Every level culminates in a boss fight where a group of bullet sponge enemies appear for you to take down before you can progress onto the next level. I found it was during these segments of the game that the screen wrapping feature came into its own, allowing you to stay literally one step ahead of the enemy, out of their line of fire, whilst chipping away at their health.

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Game Length and Difficulty

 

You can play Mono using either the keyboard or a standard joystick which is the option I chose to go with. My thumb also appreciated the fact that your ship auto-fires. No need get cramp stabbing away at that fire button like a madman!

One thing that I have to mention here relates to the game difficulty and length. Those 6 levels are quite short, taking maybe 2-3 minutes to complete each. They’re also pretty easy to get through too as the score-life mechanic is very forgiving. To put this into perspective I was able to beat the game on my second play-though in around 15 minutes and that includes brief interludes where I was taking photos for this review!

I’m guessing that is a feature rather than an issue though. For me it seems the game is built around replaying it and trying to improve on that high score as you learn the move sets of the enemies and best ways to take them out without getting hit.

Sound

 

Mono has some great music playing throughout the game and it changes slightly for each new level. There are no sound effects at all in the game because all the SID’s voices are being utilised to produce the soundtrack. However this is no bad thing, at least to my ears as I really enjoyed the music.

 

Mono

My High Score: 181

 

Verdict

 

I realise that for some, €35 for a game that can be bested in 15 minutes may not be perceived as value for money. If so you’ll need to way up the pros and cons I’ve mentioned already in order to decide if this game is for you. Sadly there is no digital purchase available so it’s the Cartridge version or nothing I’m afraid.

Speaking for myself I’ve really enjoyed my time playing Mono, although the graphics are a little simplistic the gameplay is tight and rewarding and the music is terrific. The physical packaging is fantastic and looks great on my shelf. I’ll definitely be replaying it often to improve my score and it’s the perfect game to play if you’re limited on time… you know from the outset that a game will never last more than 15 minutes!

I think the price is quite fair too and on a par with the majority of other cartridge releases so all things considered it gets a recommended from me. 🙂

Tales of Gorluth (New Amiga Purchase)

Tales of Gorluth

Couple of new game purchases arrived for my Amiga today. Tales of Gorluth and Heroes of Gorluth. These are both brand new games that I freely admit I’d never heard of until stumbling onto them a few weeks ago.

These are traditional 16-bit RPG style games with a mix of top-down and platform play, a bit like the early Zelda games. Although the games are on CD, you don’t actually need a CD drive on your Amiga to play them thankfully (you can copy the files onto a memory card). Looking forward to giving these a go soon!  I got them from here.

Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw

Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw

Just received Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw in the post from RGCD and they both look absolutely awesome. The new style of packaging makes them look really premium and they’re going to look amazing displayed on my shelves.

 

Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw

Comparison with standard DVD case

 

As you can see from the photo above, the boxes are much wider and ever-so-slightly taller than a standard DVD case. This allows more space for cool artwork on the spine and of course extra room for goodies inside!

 

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Both boxes were crammed with extras including: the game on 3.5″ floppy disk, the game on CD (with jewel case and inserts), instruction manual, postcards, stickers, pin badges and a very useful spare 3.5″ disk label to put on your own backup copy of the game! Both games also came with glorious A3 colour posters featuring the game artwork on one side and maps of the games on the other. Tiger Claw also came with a really cool rubber shuriken. Even though it’s made of rubber it’s still pretty pointy though!

 

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I already own Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw on the Commodore 64 (digitally) but these Amiga releases just looked too good for me to pass up.  At £16 (or just £15 without the floppy disk) I think they’re an absolute bargain too and I could not be happier with my purchase.

 

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I was also relieved to find that both games loaded and played flawlessly off their respective floppy disks on my heavily modified Amiga 500 computer. Happy days!

Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy – Mini Reviews

Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy

This is a quick look at Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy published by K&A+ Magazine for the Commodore 64. These are basically volumes #2 and #3 of a series. Volume #1 was ‘Single Button Games‘. All the games feature attractive loading screens and great music to entertain you whilst they (turbo)load.

 

Fire Breath

 

Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy

Fire Breath

 

This is a charming little flip-screen platforming game where you control a fire breathing slug, making your way out of an underground warren of tunnels. You must avoid contact with any of the critters you meet along the way, preferably roasting them with your fiery breath and collecting points for doing so. There are power-ups to collect and rooms full of bonus items to discover. Kill all of the critters in each location to move onto the next. I found this to be a very relaxing and enjoyable little game.

 

Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy

Fire Breath

 

Update: Since writing this I discovered the author’s website, ctrl-alt.dev.nl which provides a good history of how Fire Breath came into existence. Well worth a read.

Little Knight Arthur

 

Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy

Little Knight Arthur

 

Little Knight Arthur appears to be a Monty Mole / Jet Set Willy style of platform game where you avoid monsters on your way to the exit. I say “appears” because I haven’t managed to get beyond the first screen yet. Either I really suck at this game or it is just brutally difficult. Or maybe both? Your character is quite a chunky little guy and there is virtually no room for error when trying to get past the monsters on the screen – their movement patterns seem to be random too so it’s really difficult to pick the correct moment to jump. The art style is great, very reminiscent of similar games from the period and the music playing throughout is pleasant enough but I just found the game frustratingly hard and gave up after a dozen or so attempts. When I’m feeling like a challenge I will definitely go back to this and try to reach the second screen!!!

 

Fire Breath, Little Knight Arthur & Valkyrie Trilogy

Little Knight Arthur

 

Valkyrie Trilogy

 

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There are 3 games included here. Side A contains ‘Night of the Valkyrie’ and ‘Valkyrie 3 – The Night Witch’. Night of the Valkyrie is a vertically scrolling WWII game where your Valkyrie character has to kill waves of Nazis as you progress up each level before facing off against a boss at the end. Your character can move and shoot in all directions and thus play feels very similar to Commando – definitely a compliment!

 

Valkyrie 3 is again a vertically scrolling shooter but this time instead of playing the Valkyrie character on foot you are in a WWII biplane flying over the landscape similar to 1942. This was a refreshing change after the other two games following a similar style and I really enjoyed playing it.

 

Side B contains ‘Valkyrie 2 – The Templar’. I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that this game actually features an intro sequence that loads as a separate entity before the main game. It features music, some really great character graphics and explains the plot of the game. Once this is over the main game loads. I liked the fact that this game offered me the choice to play with either music, sound FX or silence on the title screen. This is another vertically scrolling ‘kill all Nazi’s’ affair where you play the Valkyrie character on foot. This time however, you start out unarmed and must quickly find a weapon in order to progress.

 

 

"Fire

Password Protected End Sequence

 

When you complete each section of the trilogy you get a password and then an ending sequence will load off the tape. I have to confess this confused me initially as I was expecting the next program on side A to be Valkyrie 3. When the password prompt appeared I just assumed the game itself was password protected. So, if you want to skip ahead to Valkyrie 3 you will need to load the end sequence for Night of the Valkyrie and then reset your C64 and continue the loading process. Thanks to Lukasz for clearing that bit of confusion up for me!

 

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Inside the inlay cover there is space provided for you to note tape counter numbers down for each game. This is actually pretty essential for this title. Here are the counter numbers I recorded on my system. Not sure if they’ll be the same for you (I use a Binatone Data Recorder).

Side A
Night of the Valkyrie
Game: 000
End: 055

Valkyrie 3: The Night Witch
Game: 097
End: 143

Side B
Valkyrie 2: The Templar
Intro: 000
Game: 049
End: 097

 

Worth a buy?

 

I’d definitely recommend Valkyrie Trilogy if you’re a fan of vertical shooters such as Commando – I’ve certainly had a lot of fun with it. Likewise Fire Breath was also very enjoyable but Little Knight Arthur just frustrated me due to it’s high difficulty. (I should point out that I’m not very patient these days!). Had these two not been bundled together I would recommend avoiding the latter but the inclusion of Fire Breath makes it a worthy purchase.

If you would like to find out more or get your own copies of the games then head on over to the K&A+ website. At the time of writing they don’t seem to be advertising them but I’m sure they’ll be added to the website soon enough.

Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition

Here’s a quick look at what came in my Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition game I received yesterday. I have to say I was super impressed with the design and finish of the box, it looks and feels amazing. It’s clear that an awful lot of love and attention has been lavished on this release…

 

 

The Generation Game…

Inside the box things got even better, it was literally crammed full of goodies. Box contents included the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, a soundtrack CD, glossy full colour user manual, art postcard, key ring, loads of stickers, 2 pin badges, an A3 glossy art poster and a double sided A3 map of all the levels! There was also an unexpected, but much appreciated packet of Milky Way Magic Stars in there too. Needless to say it didn’t last long!

 

 

I’ve bought my fair share of special edition games over the years but for the money, Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is definitely one of the finest in my collection. You can find out more about this release over at the Binary Zone Interactive Store.