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The Antstream Arcade Years: 1989

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 releases from that extra special time. In the latest of this series, we take a look back at one such year and the games that make it a treat to travel back to on Antstream Arcade. This month, we pop into our retro time machine and zip back to the year 1989. 8-bit home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 are clinging on and rubbing shoulders with the Commodore Amiga and consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System – but the arcades are still the most wondrous places for all gamers.

Sly Spy

Let’s kick off our little trip back in time with Sly Spy, Data East’s James Bond style secret agent caper, a solid hit in the arcades of 1989. A terrorist organisation known as The Council for World

Domination (CWD) has attacked the president of the United States. With the future of democracy at stake, secret agent Sly is sent in to eliminate the CWD and restore freedom to the world. A vast army of goons face Sly but fortunately he’s equipped with a pistol and can pick up more weapons such as a machine gun and devastating golden gun. Full to bursting with spy movie tropes and James Bond references, this is a great start to our quick tour of 1989.

What They Said: “It is blatantly obvious where Sly Spy’s inspiration comes from, and it’s probably the best secret agent game so far.” –The Games Machine, August 1990.

Fantasy World Dizzy

We’re back at home now for our next 1989 game and the latest in the series of popular Dizzy games. Fantasy World Dizzy is the third game in the mainline of Dizzy games and sees the fragile ovular fellow explore the titular world in search of his girlfriend Daisy. Along the way, he needs to collect 30

gold coins while solving simple puzzles, most of which involve combining the items he finds scattered around. Designed by The Oliver Twins and published by Codemasters, Fantasy World Dizzy

is considered one of the best Dizzy games and is entertaining Spectrum owners up and down the

country in 1989!

What They Said: “All the cute sprites, colourful scenery and excellent sound add to the cartoon

atmosphere and are totally addictive. There’s even digitised speech to greet you when you’ve loaded the game up.” –Crash Magazine, January 1990.


Let’s stay in the bedrooms and lounges of 1989 with Deflektor, a puzzling mirror manipulation game from Gremlin. Originally designed by Costa Panayi and released on the Spectrum and Commodore 64 in 1987, Deflektor finally saw refraction on the Amiga in 1989. The objective is simple: direct the

laser beam into the receiver using the many adjustable mirrors that sit in each level. However, with barriers, spikes, nodes and a strict time limit, Deflektor is anything but easy!

What They Said: “60 screens of puzzling and frantic joystick manipulation accompanied by some

great music… fascinating stuff.” –ACE Magazine, April 1989.

Prehistoric Isle

Let’s get back to the arcades with SNK’s fast and fabulous shoot’em-up, Prehistoric Isle. Evincing Seventies B-movies such as The Land That Time Forgot, along with the addictive shooting of the famous arcade game R-Type, Prehistoric Isle is a manic and rock-hard shooter that awaits you in the arcades of 1989. Throughout each level, terrifying dinosaurs – and worse! – assault the player’s biplane and there’s no doubt this game will soon be chugging down those 10p pieces!

What They Said: “It was a fantastic concept for its time and it remains a highly satisfying shooter,

mainly due to its innovative power-ups.” –Retro Gamer Magazine

Xenon 2: Megablast

The original Xenon was a huge debut hit for The Bitmap Brothers and this 16-bit follow-up, released on the Commodore Amiga in 1989, does the business again. The Xenites are back and have planted bombs throughout the world. Throughout the graphically lush levels, there are plentiful enemies to destroy, power-ups to collect and scenery to dodge. A fantastic game for anyone lucky enough to own an Amiga in 1989.

What They Said: “As soon as you hear the Bomb The Bass soundtrack you know you are going to be in for a treat, and both the graphics and the gameplay continue this high standard.” –Amiga Action, October 1989.

Saint Dragon

Even in the late Eighties, the arcades are still wonderful places full of amazing arcade games. So let’s take a stroll back to the local arcade and check out Jaleco’s Saint Dragon, an original shoot-‘em-up that has the player controlling a powerful dragon, complete with a lengthy metallic tail/body. With

its handy upgrade system (via tokens dropped by enemies), novel concept and end-of-level bosses, Saint Dragon is a superb game, and playable right now in Antstream Arcade’s virtual 1989.

What They Said: “Saint Dragon is a very well-designed shoot-‘em-up. The most important element of any game of this genre is its playability and on this score the game can’t be faulted.”

ST Format, November 1990.

Myth: History In The Making

For our final game of 1989 we revisit an old favourite at Antstream Arcade. Already part of the System 3 Super Six, Myth: History In The Making is a brilliant platform arcade adventure that varies enough on its three formats to almost be considered a different game! Venture through time and battle skeletons, demons and Medusa herself in this super 8 and 16-bit game.

What They Said: “Myth marks a romping return to the heyday of arcade adventures and will keep

you puzzling and hacking for a long time indeed.” –Crash Magazine, November 1989.

Not happy with our picks? Here are some more 1989 games on Antstream Arcade: Stormlord,

Midnight Resistance, Switchblade, Arch Rivals, ACE 2088, Battle Shark, Persian Gulf Inferno and

many, many more!

And as the wiggly lines return, dragging us back to the present day, that’s it for another Antstream

Arcade year.

Stay tuned for another Antstream Arcade Year soon!


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