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The YS Official Top 100 Part 4
Published in the Jan 1992 YS73 issue
World Of Spectrum links for:
Click the search icon in each game section to search WOS for that particular game
YS Scan
Search WOS25 - Manic Miner (Bug-Byte)
It grieves me that some of you haven't heard of this. The first real Speccy platform game, Manic Miner's character, sense of humour, brilliant design and mammoth addictiveness (in fact, it's even more addictive than a mammoth) made it one of the first true computer gaming legends. It's still a great game, almost nine years later, and I doubt if we'll be able to say the same of any of today's games in the year 2000. Come to that, in the year 2000 I'll probably still be playing Manic Miner.

Search WOS24 - Starstrike II (Realtime)
Realtime made a name for themselves in the Speccy world with Starstrike, their excellent clone of the arcade game Star Wars. This sequel was so good that it improved on even the coin-op. Honest. The fast moving solid 3D graphics are, with the possible exception of the Freescape games, still the most impressive the machine's ever boasted, and the game itself took Star Wars a step further and added a non-intrusive strategy element to the space blasting. Stunningly impressive, stunningly atmospheric, just stunning really.

Search WOS23 - The Great Escape (Ocean)
And while we're on the subject of atmosphere, we'd better say a word or two about The Great Escape. Much-feted programming team Denton Designs had their finest moment with this mostly black and white colditz-style arcade adventure. It captured the POW camp feel perfectly with the aid of an innovative design. The automatic ability to wander around the camp simply obeying the rules and touching the controls only when you wanted to do something naughty was a stroke of genius. Even your score was calculated in medals! If your dad thinks computer games are a waste of time, show him this.

Search WOS22 - Chase HQ (Ocean)
After you've shown your Amiga and ST-owning chums Tetris why not really sicken them by loading up this superlative driving game? They'll be instantly converted to the Speccy gospel. Amazingly fast and incredibly well programmed, Chase HQ turned a mediocre arcade game into a Speccy classic. Even the title sequence was bursting with character, and indicative of the kind of loving care that so few people bother to put into Spectrum games any more. Only WEC Le Mans comes anywhere close to this for car-driving thrills. The added plot gives Chase HQ an element of compulsion which lifts it into the realms of the really special. A treat.

Search WOS21 - Alien (Argus)
Your Speccy might have done a lot of things in its time, but has it ever scared you? (Explosions don't count.) If not, you've obviously never played Alien. On the Spec, Alien was a tension-filled strategy game where you controlled the entire crew of the Nostromo in an attempt to blow the evil beastie up and escape to safety. Just like in the film, the alien was wont to appear without warning from air vents and munch a member of your team in seconds. The game was so taut that when you did stumble across the old ET, even the neighbours could hear you scream.

Search WOS20 - Spy vs Spy (Beyond)
This must surely be the game which has ruined more beautiful friendships than any other. Spy Vs. Spy is, in its own right, a supremely entertaining, funny and playable game. But take on the two-player mode and you'd better be prepared to experience bitter rivalry, ecstatic triumph and crushing despair, all within the first 90 seconds. The traps which the witless Black Spy and White Spy incessantly blundered into were alternately hilarious or teeth-grindingly infuriating, depending which side you were on. The split-screen display meant you had no excuse for not spotting what your opponent was up to. All you could do was get back up and perpetrate some of the same slapstick violence in return.
    If both of you somehow forgot what the actual point of the game was in all the excitement, well so what? Get Spy Vs. Spy and electrocute a close friend today. They'll thank you for it later.

Search WOS19 - Back To Skool (Microsphere)
Or the game that brought teenage romace back to the Spectrum. In the sequel to the brilliant Skool Daze, Microsphere added a school full of girls to the original formula of sneaky backhanded japery and unusual escapades with amphibians. This was obviously a good thing. They ended up with a game which provided many a Spectrum owner with some of the happiest days of their lives. The wonderful atmosphere in Skool Daze was just part of a recipe which also included incredibly devious puzzles, a whole cast of genuine characters and superb graphics. Add a combination of platform dexterity with beat-'em-up violence and strategic planning for a game with a feel of completeness that's never really been bettered. (But Stuart, you say that about everything. Ed)

Search WOS18 - Underwurlde (Ultimate)
'Boing! Time for bed, everyone', said Zebedee once, and Underwurlde fans knew exactly what he meant. Ultimate's brilliant platform arcade adventure had only one real difference from the thousands which the Speccy's played host to. The nasties didn't kill you, they bounced you around the screen in an attempt (usually successful) to send you plunging to your death down a mineshaft. The statospheric level of frustration made this at the same time the most-loved and most-hated computer game of its day. If you play it now, you'll see why. Devillish.

Search WOS17 - Starquake (Bubble Bus)
And speaking of Ultimate... Programmer Steven Crow was never strong on originality, his games had a habit of looking very much like 'tributes' to earlier Ultimate classics. Nevertheless, his knack for writing superb software was undisputed. This hybrid of Underwurlde and Atic Atac was fast and frantic, with a target which was difficult but attainable. Brimming with playability and addictiveness (thanks largely to the attributes previously mentioned), Starquake was Steve's finest hour. To this day many people maintain that it's the Speccy arcade game's finest hour too. A classic in the truest sense of the word.

Search WOS16 - Elite (Firebird)
Were you deadly? The all-time classic space trading and blasting epic, Elite combined Star Trek with Minder (that's what it boils down to) in a game for which the word 'legendary' seems like a severe understatement.
    Deeper than space itself, Elite created such a believable world that players immersed themselves into totally, and the sneering ranking system ('What do you mean, I'm "Harmless"?') added a compulsion to progress that was, well, incredibly compulsive. It was big, it was hard, and it was clever. That's good enough for me matey.

Search WOS15 - Lords of Midnight (Beyond)
In the days of 48K, software houses would often make a big issue of the number of screens contained in their latest game. Companies boasted of games with 20, then 50, then 100, then 250 levels, but Beyond stunned everyone. Not surprising really 'cos there were no less than 32,000 accurately-mapped views in this complex and wonderful startegy wargame. For the first time you really got the feel of being lost in a huge land in another world.
    This overwhelming sense of atmosphere was pretty spooky and it went a long way to ensuring that Lords of Midnight was a colossal and deserved success.

Search WOS14 - 3D Ant Attack (Quicksilva)
There's a strong case for calling this the most beautiful game ever to grace the Speccy. The graphics were made up of simple blocks and the characters were unremarkable stick men and women. But the stunning architecture of Antescher, the lost city inhabited by huge ants that the player had to rescue their girl/boyfriend (no sexism here), was quite stunning. 'Atmospheric' is a much-overhyped term, especially in these Top 100 articles, ahem. But if ever a game deserved the accolade, it's this one. Completely unique and utterly wonderful, Ant Attack was one of those games that took the Spectrum a step further than it had ever been before.

Search WOS13 - Chuckie Egg (A & F)
Very probably the most-played computer game the world's ever seen, if you don't count Super Mario Brothers as a computer game, that is. Chuckie Egg was converted for just about every machine under the sun, but the Speccy incarnation was the original and best. A straightforward platform game with the emphasis on speed and playability, Chuckie Egg rose above its daft title and total lack of promotion to become the longest-running chart smash until Robocop, some six years later. If you want to see how thought and care can transform the most basic concept into a classic, take a look at this.

Search WOS12 - Carrier Command (Rainbird)
Now this... this is just silly. For Rainbird to even consider for a second that this stunning 16-bit epic would ever make a Speccy game was quite obviously self-delusion of the second highest order. Luckily, like the bumble bee which can only fly because it doesn't know that the laws of aerodynamics forbid it, they went ahead and, in the process, brought one of the most engrossing games ever to the Spectrum in all it's glory. Absolutely nothing from the original version was left out, leaving this monster of sea-going strategy and shoot-'em-up action as the most playable warfare experience ever seen this side of Davy Jones' Locker.

Search WOS11 - Sim City (Infogrames)
Now this... this is just silly. For Infogrames to even consider for a second that this stunning 16-bit epic would ever make a Speccy game was quite obviously self-delusion of the very highest order. Luckily, like the bumble bee which can only fly because it doesn't know that the laws of aerodynamics forbid it, they went ahead and, in the process, brought one of the most compulsive games ever to the Spectrum in all it's glory. Absolutely nothing from the original version was left out, leaving this monster of municipal planning and political manoeuvering the most compelling strategic experience that anyone ever lost a night's sleep over.

Search WOS10 - TLL (Vortex)
For me, Tornado Low Level (to give it its Sunday name) still represents the most astonishing technical achievement on the Spectrum ever. Solid 3D full-colour graphics, scrolling smoothly and swiftly in eight directions, stunned everyone. Testing gameplay and perfect playability made it a game worth having in its own right over and above the sheer 'Gosh, wow'-ness of it all. If some incompetent tells you your Spec can't handle more than two colurs at a time, even in some poxy 2D arcade shoot-'em-up conversion, show 'em this and watch them die of shame.

Search WOS9 - Boulderdash (First Star/Front Runner)
Yes, Spec-chums, physics can be fun! Well, it can as long as you're playing Boulder Dash. The classic underground and diamond-collecting epic relied heavily on calculating the effects of gravity on piles of dangerous boulders.
    Fiendishly-designed levels and extra baddies complicated matters to a horrendous level. While based on existing concepts, Boulder Dash transcended its roots and turned out to be one of the most original games in years. That it's one of that select group to be converted from the Speccy to the Game Boy proves the broadness of its appeal.

Search WOS8 - Rainbow Islands (Ocean)
For many (me included), this is the best 16-bit game of all-time. The adorable graphics, lovably naff music (a pocket-calculator version of Somewhere Over The Raindow), instinctive gameplay and a level of hidden depth that would shame the Pacific Ocean make it all but the perfect arcade game. Unfortunately, on the Speccy the graphics become just a little bit too indistinct for comfort on the later levels, making it a real bitch to complete in a slightly unfair kind of way, but that's its only flaw. If you've got keen eyes or a really good monitor, this is just about the only game you'll ever really need.

Search WOS7 - The Sentinel (Firebird)
In direct contrast to Rainbow Islands, The Sentinel is a sombre, slow-moving game of mental exertion and tactical acumen as the player struggles to reach the top of a complex 3D landscape while avoiding the deadly gaze of old Sentinel and his evil minions. How did you manage it? By absorbing energy from trees and converting it into boulders to stand on and raise yourself ever higher until you could absorb the big guy himself and move on to the next of 10,000 landscapes, of course. Twice as weird as it sounds and fifty times as fun, this is a game no-one with a brain should be without.

Search WOS6 - R-Type (Activision)
We're into the realm of the staggering now, and R-Type is a game which certainly fits that description. An impossible conversion, the programmers flicked two fingers at the world and produced a game with non-stop high-speed frenzied blasting, huge graphics exploding (literally) with colour, and a near-perfect replication of the arcade gameplay. The Speccy's finest shoot-'em-up by a mile, indeed almost certainly the best shoot-'em-up on any 8-bit machine ever. Every time I see this, I still refuse to believe it's possible. Amazing.

Search WOS5 - Head Over Heels (Ocean)
After Knight Lore, there were a hundred isometric 3D arcade adventure puzzle games, but this is undeniably the peak of the genre. It's quite possible that this game represents the peak of the game designer's art full stop, it was monstrously cute and gorgeous-looking. Head Over Heels toyed with the player's emotions as he struggled to join up the two independent heroes, only to have the joy of success cruelly shattered by another problem which could only be solved by splitting them up again. Mind-wrenchingly devious but always tantalisingly solvable, this is so addictive it hurts.

Search WOS4 - Stop The Express (Sinclair)
Is this the cutest Speccy game ever? I certainly think so. The Japanese influence of Oriental programmers Hudson Soft shone through like a beacon. Your gorgeous mop-headed hero swashbukled his way across the roof of a speeding train, killing bad guys by throwing plucked birds at them! The graphics were impossibly bright and lovely and the gameplay hugely addictive. But the very best thing was the way that the demo mode consisted of a re-run of your last game in it's entirety. Pure arcade beauty.

Search WOS3 - All Or Nothing (Abbex)
Even if you are as old as me you probably won't have heard of this one. The crude graphics and mostly purple screen ensured that most gamers gave this a wide berth, which is a shame as it's an unrivalled classic in the espionage field. Sneaking around an enemy complex, letting off bombs to distract guard dogs, stealing stuff from deaf guards' pockets, breaking into locked warehouses to steal important documents, bribing the enemy with money looted from their fallen comrades' bodies, every devious trick you ever wanted to try was catered for in this enormously entertaining piece of software. Too compelling for words and ever so naughty.

Search WOS2 - Rebelstar (Firebird)
This one came a very close second, I can tell you. Before Julian Gollop's atmospheric epic, wargaming was a minority interest characterised by tedious number-crunching and amateur programming. Then came Rebelstar which turned it into an experience unrivalled for thrills by all but the most adrenalin-pumping blaster. The one or two-player battle for the rebel space-station was fast-moving and violent. But best of all, the incredible glow of statisfaction you got from beating the thing at the highest levle was incomparable. And the price of this masterpiece? £1.99. The second best game in the world ever.


    Go on to Part 5


    Go back to Part 3


    

Many thanks to Stewart Edgar for typing this up



YS Cross-references
R
p3D Ant Attack/QuicksilvaYR2
UNR
G
 3D Ant Attack (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.43
R
pAll Or Nothing/Abbex Electronics LtdYR11
5
 
pBack To Skool/MicrosphereYS1
NEWS
R
pBack To Skool/MicrosphereYS2
9
G
 Back To Skool (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.45
r
pBoulderdash/Prism YS22
8
R
pBoulderdash/PrismYS84
86
G
 Boulderdash (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.18
 
pCarrier Command/RainbirdYS33
FUT
P
pCarrier Command/RainbirdYS36
PRE
R
pCarrier Command/RainbirdYS43
94
 
pChase HQ/OceanYS41
NEWS
 
pChase HQ/OceanYS46
FUT
P
pChase HQ/OceanYS47
PRE
R
pChase HQ/OceanYS50
94
G
pChase HQ (in The YS Complete Guide To Driving Games)YS59
93
C
pChase HQ (in Wheels Of Fire)YS60
93
C
pChase HQ (in Power Up)YS66
92
 
pChase HQ/Hit SquadYS73
93
G
 Chuckie Egg (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.21
R
pElite/FirebirdYR20
UNR
C
pElite (in Supreme Challenge)YS35
9
G
 Elite (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.9
 
pHead Over Heels/OceanYS16
FUT
R
pHead Over Heels/OceanYS18
9
 
pHead Over Heels/OceanYS25
NEWS
r
pHead Over Heels/Hit Squad YS56
98
G
 Head Over Heels (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.13
R
pLords Of Midnight/Beyond SoftwareYR9
9
G
 Lords Of Midnight (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.7
R
pManic Miner/BugByteYR1
UNR
G
 Manic Miner (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.1
 
pR-Type/Electric DreamsYS28
NEWS
 
pR-Type/Electric DreamsYS32
FUT
R
pR-Type/ActivisionYS37
9
C
pR-Type (in The Biz)YS51
98
G
pR-Type (in The YS Complete Guide To Shoot-'em-ups Part I)YS55
94
 
pR-Type/Hit SquadYS61
98
G
 R-Type (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.31
R
pRainbow Islands/OceanYS52
94
C
pRainbow Islands (in Power Up)YS66
95
 
pRainbow Islands (in The Rainbow Collection)YS70
 
 
pRainbow Islands/Hit SquadYS75
91
 
pSim City/InfogramesYS50
NEWS
 
pSim City/InfogramesYS55
PRE
R
pSim City/InfogramesYS56
93
R
pStarquake/Bubble Bus SoftwareYR21
6
G
 Starquake (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.33
R
pStarstrike II/RealtimeYS6
9
 
pStarstrike II/RealtimeYS6
NEWS
R
pTLL/Vortex SoftwareYR8
UNR
 
pTLL (in The Best Of 3D)YS23
 
 
pThe Great Escape/OceanYS10
PRE
R
pThe Great Escape/OceanYS13
9
 
pThe Great Escape/Hit SquadYS50
85
R
pThe Sentinel/FirebirdYS18
9
C
pThe Sentinel (in Supreme Challenge)YS35
9
G
pThe Sentinel (in The YS Complete Guide To Puzzle Games)YS57
79
R
pUnderwurlde/UtimateYR11
UNR
G
 Underwurlde (in The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!)YS94
No.17
Some info from Sinclair Infoseek+SPOT*ON

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