Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Over the next few weeks, every Friday will see another round of spiffing games drop into Antstream Arcade. So if you’re still unsure about signing up, or just looking for fresh challenges, this is the place to start as we continue our weekly roundup of the new titles you can play.
One of the finest bouncing ball-type games that appeared in the mid to late Eighties, Trailblazer is fast, furious and fun. The game is set upon a series of checkered pathways (called the Cosmic Causeway) as the player’s continually bounding sphere travels onward, encountering hazards such as gaps in the floor. Many tiles have a physical effect, adding challenges such as reverse controls, and decreasing or increasing the speed of its bounce. A weird mix of racing and puzzle games, Trailblazer is also a sonic treat and is a devious game that’s hard to stop playing!
Ant-Fact: A sequel, Cosmic Causeway: Trailblazer II appeared a year after Trailblazer, to similar acclaim.
Ant-Tactic: Red slabs slow the ball down to minimum speed, while green and white slabs vastly increase its velocity. Beware the cyan slabs which reverse the player’s controls.
International Karate (C64)
Antstream Arcade is certainly feeling the Commodore 64 love this week, with this famous beat-‘em-up debuting, another stone-cold classic from the popular home computer. Created by Archer MacLean, the concept wasn’t particularly original, even for 1986; yet International Karate’s superlative animation, music and crunching range of attacking moves mark it out as one of the finest examples ever of the one-on-one fighter. A subtly-tuned level of difficulty means the player cannot keep relying on spamming one move, and the enemy AI is impressively crafty, so you’d better not spend too much time gazing at those magnificent backdrops!
Ant-Fact: The game’s wonderful soundtrack is by ace tune-master Rob Hubbard.
Ant-Tactic: As with International Karate’s forebear, Way Of The Exploding Fist, there’s a complicated set of moves to be learned. Master them and victory will be yours, grasshopper!
The grand-daddy of dungeon-crawling RPGs comes to Antstream Arcade this week with all the playability that you’d expect from the genre. Descending the delightful-sounding Dungeons Of Doom, the protagonist’s job is to retrieve an ancient piece of jewellery known as the Amulet Of Yendor. Throughout the dungeon reside assorted nasties, useful items and treasure as well as lethal hidden traps. As with its appearance on other systems, Rogue is not likely to win any beauty prizes; yet under the hood is a neat and varied role-playing game that will entertain for hours.
Ant-Fact: The Spectrum version of Rogue was released as a ‘Flippy-Flippy’ by publisher Mastertronic – the Amstrad CPC version was on the flip side of the cassette.
Ant-Tactic: Searching is vital as it often reveals hidden traps and objects in the immediate vicinity.
We’ve another sweet Amiga platform game for subscribers this week in the form of Ocean Software’s Sleepwalker. Sleepwalker is the story of a little boy named Lee who, in a bout of chronic somnambulism, has decided to take to the streets outside of his bedroom. Arms aloft, Lee strolls inexorably from left to right, oblivious to the numerous hazards in front of him. Fortunately, his faithful hound, Ralph, is there to help his owner around these dangers and guide him back to the safety of his warm bed. Witty and endearing, yet still challenging enough for most gamers, Sleepwalker is a good-looking platform puzzler with plenty to offer with its amusing gameplay.
Ant-Fact: Sleepwalker was repackaged by Ocean into a Super Nintendo licence called Eek! The Cat a year later.
Ant-Tactic: There are some amusingly random power-ups in Sleepwalker. Whoopee cushions grant invincibility while custard pies can be used for building bridges. Do not try this in real life.
The shift from 8-bit to 16-bit enabled games to become not only better visually, but also more complex, and this tactical strategy precursor to the Commando series is a perfect example of this. Evoking real-life elite organisations such as the SAS, the Sabre Team are a covert ops squad with you in charge: arm each member, deploy them into the hostile zone and infiltrate the enemy operations. Once positioned, each soldier has a prescribed number of action points per turn (a system which will be familiar to fans of games such as Laser Squad) in which to move, attack and use items. With five intense missions and its smart isometric graphics, Sabre Team is an assignment well worth investigating.
Ant-Fact: There are five diverse missions in Sabre Team, taking you from a sweaty and dense jungle to an ocean liner and the American Embassy in London.
Ant-Tactic: Use opportunity moves where you can. These are sometimes enabled by having a certain amount of action points left over at the end of your turn. Enemies that wander into view during their turn can then be fired upon or dodged.
Also new to Antstream Arcade this week
The Codies budget hit Terra Cognita is a cheery vertical shoot-‘em-up tumbling into Antstream Arcade this week, and it’s actually the third in a series of games that includes the unpronounceable Nonterraqueous and its sequel, Soul Of A Robot. If you prefer your shooting games to be horizontally-scrolling, then we’ve also got you covered this week with fellow Codemasters game, Kamikaze. As the name suggests, Kamikaze requires you to load up with explosives and crash into an enemy castle to help free prisoners. And if that sounds a little too – final – for you, we also have Steigar, a neat helicopter shooter in the vein of Choplifter. Finally, to close out this week’s round-up there’s Krakout. Like a bit of Breakout? Then this game, a neat variation on the bat and ball classic, should be your first call on Antstream Arcade today.
Still not subscribed to Antstream Arcade? Head here and sign up right away for instant access to a library of hundreds of classic retro games.