Football Director (1986)
Starting out life as a mail-order only game, Football Director soon became the management sim of choice for footy fans who found Kevin Tom’s classic Football Manager was starting to show its limitations. Served up in a lo-fi no frills package, the game was heavy on stats, low on everything else, making it the ideal choice for trainspotters everywhere. Among its many features, Football Director boasted “crowd violence” and “TV cameras”. Magic.
Dan Dare (1986)
Pip pip! What ho, chaps! Seems that Mekon fellow has been causing a spot of a sticky wicket, so Dan Dare and Digby are going to pop over there, give him a taste of British spunk and be back in time for scones. Of course, we’ll need one of those new-fangled “Spectrums” that the queer johnnies at the lab have come up with, but it should be a wizard wheeze all the same. Beezer idea, what?
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon (1984)
The stench of burning rubber hung heavy over the bedrooms of Britain in 1984, and not just because of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their sick, sick pop filth. No, it was from thousands of young boys straining their wrists and hammering the sproingy Speccy keyboard to appease an eerily ghost-like Daley Thompson in this simple-yet-varied sportathon. Mention it even today, and most grown men will get spasms in their fingers.
Bubble Bobble (1987)
Dinosaurs vomiting bubbles onto ghosts, and then bursting them to transform said beasts into nutritious fruit, is such an obvious idea for a game that it’s pretty surprising it took them so long to get round to it. Another arcade conversion, this is one where the Speccy graphics really look shonky compared to the original, but the great gameplay shines through. Bet you can still whistle the music as well. True fact: the characters of Bub and Bob were based on Scottish crooners The Proclaimers.
YS Rated it: 9/10 (YS69)
Jon “Match Day” Ritman fancied trying his hand at one of those isometric 3D puzzle-platformers that Ultimate were so darn good at. He managed to get DC Comics to let him use Batman as his guinea pig. The result was spankingly good – all the polish of an Ultimate game, but with smarter level design. Interestingly, Ritman originally wanted to let players switch between Batman and Robin, but couldn’t work out the coding in time. He cracked the problem for his follow-up though, a game which is currently awaiting you at Number 13…
Back to Skool (1986)
The sequel to Skool Daze (flick forward for that truant treat) is, in many ways, the better game. There’s a lot more to do, more locations including a girl’s school across the yard, and your tasks are more varied than the simple shield-shooting and detention-dodging of the original. And the jump over the school gates is still an action highlight of the 8-bit era.
Auf Wiedersehen Monty (1987)
Auf Wiedersehen is, of course, German for “please take Jimmy Nail back – we don’t want him”. It can also mean “Goodbye”, a fact which led many Monty fans to choke back a sob at the thought of this being the final game to star the brave little mole. It wasn’t the last we’d see of him – he’d be back in Moley Christmas on the YS cover tape the same year – but it was his last commercial outing. And it’s a predictably solid platformer from the Gremlin team, with an amusing international theme. Sleep tight, Monty.
3D Ant Attack (1985)
Sandy White’s minimalist classic of game design can certainly lay claim to being one of the first to truly make the most of the isometric viewpoint, creating an eerie city populated by giant ants from which you had to rescue your boyfriend/girlfriend. Yep, the game even let you choose your sex-parts, a feature which would later inspire Coronation Street to introduce the character of Hayley Cropper.