With the Antstream Arcade search facility capable of narrowing the selection of retro games by year, there’s a great way to discover all the particular releases from a time you remember especially fondly. In the fourth of this regular series, we take a look back at one such year and the noteworthy games that make it a fantastic time worth travelling back to on Antstream Arcade. This month, we pop into our retro time machine and zip back to 1985, a period when the arcades were magical places and the 8-bit home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were at their peak.
Everyone’s A Wally
We kick off our journey through time with a visit to that delightfully eccentric lot, the Week family. Everyone’s A Wally is the third game in this very British series, following on from Automania and Pyjamarama, and it’s the game that introduced the rest of the Wally Week’s clan as playable characters. Now you can enjoy the antics of not only Wally, but also Wilma, Tom, Dick and Harry as they attempt to discover the combination that will open the safe and enable them to claim their wages. Only by logically combining items and solving puzzles can the Weeks succeed in their mission to get paid and – hopefully – go on holiday. But that’s a story for another game!
It’s into the arcades now with this fast-paced Namco game from 1985. Taking control of a character known only as ‘runner’, the task is to race across each horizontally-scrolling level as quickly as possible in order to meet a series of checkpoints. Obstacles can be avoided or jumped over while the checkered floor often holds devious segments that slow down the runner, or worse. With the running mechanic taking place automatically, it’s down to the player to ensure safe passage, but with a multitude of hazards to negotiate, this is far from an easy objective. Take too long and its an electrical end for you!
We stay in the arcade for another alternative coin-op game from Namco, Motos, a videogame interpretation of the famous funfair ride of bumper cars. Throughout each increasingly-cunning level, enemies will attempt to bump the player off the edge of the playing board. The only way to progress is to get them before they get you, but with more and angrier opponents occupying each subsequent screen, you’ll have to be on top form to avoid being pushed into the inky black depths!
ASO – Armored Scrum Object
If you like your shoot-‘em-ups hardcore, then this SNK arcade game from 1985 is a perfect choice on Antstream Arcade. After a cataclysmic war virtually destroys their own planet, the survivors of Tetrenova have decided it’s time to up sticks and find a new home. Unfortunately for mankind, they’ve chosen Earth, and in the customary fashion it’s up to a lone fighter to take on the mass of Tetrenovan forces and send them packing. With a vast range of power-ups and enemies, there’s plenty to tackle in Armored Scrum Object – are you up to this challenge?
Way Of The Exploding Fist
If you owned a Commodore 64 or Spectrum computer, chances are you played this Melbourne House classic back in 1985. We have both flavours of this high-kickin’ game on Antstream Arcade, and both have their strengths. The Commodore 64 version has a suitably Eastern tune and more colourful graphics, while the Speccy game some crunching sound effects and sharp monochrome sprites. But forget the rivalry – both are wonderful games with a huge array of moves and simple, compelling gameplay.
A recent addition to Antstream Arcade, Gauntlet is a true legend of the arcades with its huge four-player cabinet and uncomplicated gameplay. Taking on the role of either warrior Thor (strong attack), elf Questor (nippy), Valkyrie Thyra (good armour) or wizard Merlin (good magic), the goal is to explore each dungeon, killing monsters and collecting treasure while watching out for helpful potions and food to replenish lost health. Gauntlet is great fun either solo or with a friend – just don’t argue over who gets the life-restoring food!
Who Dares Wins II
Along a similar vein to Way Of The Exploding Fist, Who Dares Wins II is worth playing on both the available versions on Antstream Arcade, Spectrum and Commodore 64. In the C64 original, this run ‘n’ gun adventure scrolls vertically with non-stop action, colourful graphics and meaty sound effects. Over on the Spectrum, the flick screen format means a more measured approach can be taken, with each level similar to its Commodore counterpart in terms of enemies and structures. Both versions remain as enjoyable as they were 31 years ago.
We finish up our trip to 1985 with the Andrew Braybrook and Hewson marvel, Paradroid. Starfleet is infested with enemy robots, and it’s up to you as a lone ‘influence device’ droid to eliminate them, either by laser fire or taking them over. The latter is achieved via an elegant mini-game involving circuits and logic gates. Defeat the opposing droid and all of its various parts are yours as you assume control of the new robot. This compelling mechanic is repeated in the ZX Spectrum game, Quazatron, released a year later, and Paradroid 90, released on the Amiga in 1990. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – literally!
Stay tuned for another Antstream Arcade Year soon