• Graeme Mason

The Antstream Arcade Years: 1990

With the Antstream Arcade search facility capable of narrowing its range by year, there’s a great way to discover the games from a time you remember especially fondly. In the latest of this 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 gaming time machine and zip back to the year 1990. 8-bit home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 are still desperately holding on in the face of the Commodore Amiga and consoles such as the shiny new Sega Mega Drive. But firstly we find ourselves at that most wondrous of places for any gamer in 1990, the arcades.


Space Gun

We begin our trip back to the gaming world of 1990 with Taito’s Space Gun, a fearsome and bloody mission on board a stricken space station. Vicious aliens have taken over the installation and are busy wiping out the human population. Your mission? Blast off their limbs and rescue the colonists before the station is completely overrun! Fast, incessant and ludicrous, Space Gun is a brilliant first- person arcade shooter.


What They Said: “Real gun-toting, heart-stopping excitement this one and no mistake” – Zero

Magazine, Feb 1991.


Smash TV

Ghost, Home Alone and Pretty Woman are the movies packing out the cinemas in 1990 – but we’re too busy gaming down the arcades to bother with the flicks! We’ve dragged ourselves away from the alien-maiming action of Space Gun to the equally manic Smash TV. Eliminate dozens of

opponents in this most dangerous of game shows, and don’t forget to pick up that VCR. BINGO!


What They Said: “Smash TV is simply brilliant. The straightforward objective coupled with excellent graphics, tough, but amazingly addictive action, and some superb touches like the game show host who pops up every few screens and says amusing comments like ‘I'd buy that for a dollar!’” - Computer & Video Games, Aug 1990.


Cadaver

16-bit computers the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST are in full swing in 1990 and here’s a fantastic isometric adventure to load up once you’re back home from the arcades. Guide Karodoc, a gold-loving dwarf, through the perilous chambers of Castle Wulf, fighting and puzzling your way to the evil Necromancer Dianos.


What They Said: “Cadaver is a strong package, and definitely one of the most complete arcade

adventures to grace the small screen this year.” - CU Amiga, Nov 1990.


Paradroid 90

While we’re sitting comfortably in front of the Amiga, let’s try another 1990 game, Andrew

Braybrook’s fab update his C64 classic, Paradroid 90. As with the original, the player takes control of the Influence Device, fully charged and ready to tackle the many rogue robots within five enormous space freighters. Kill everything, clear all the ships and survive – easy!


What They Said: “It’s [the] near-perfect balance between action and strategy coupled with the

believable intelligence of the droids that makes Paradroid 90 so captivating.” - The One magazine, Sep 1990.


Gaiares

Released in Europe during the Autumn of 1990, it’s about time we had a peek at something on offer from the mighty Sega Mega Drive console. Those fans with deep pockets will have invested in a Japanese Mega Drive, importing delights such as this rock-hard shooter from Telenet. It’s you versus the space pirates in a noble battle that will decide the fate of the human race.


What They Said: “Gaiares is phenomenal! 8 Meg of incredible graphics put it in a league of its own.” - Electronic Gaming Monthly, Mar 1991


The Secret Of Monkey Island

Before we head off to check if those ancient 8-bit machines are still working, let’s hoist the

mainbrace and prepare to be boarded with this famous piratical point and click adventure. Laugh at the silly pirate-based humour! Wonder at the verdant lush vistas of Monkey Island! Wince at the flimsy cardboard Dial-A-Pirate protection system – but don’t worry, that’s not required with

Antstream Arcade!


What They Said: “If adventures are your thing – or you fancy something with humour, challenge and style – I recommend this as a great game to while away the evenings.” - CU Amiga, Apr 1991.


Kwik Snax

Ever since that daring little egg first ventured out in the original Dizzy, gamers have been charmed

and excited by the ovoid’s adventures. In this spin-off from the main series, the evil wizard Zaks is at it again, kidnapping Dizzy’s friends and family. Gather food and squish Zaks’ minions in order to free them in this quaint ZX Spectrum effort from 1990.


What They Said: “Kwik Snax is addictive beyond belief. Once you start playing, you just won’t be able to stop, and why should you when it’s as good as this?” - Crash magazine, Dec 1990.


Deliverance: Stormlord II

Let’s hop across the road to our friend’s house where the Spectrum’s biggest rival, the Commodore 64, is awaiting us. And loaded up in this particular C64 in 1990 is Deliverance, the sequel to the previous year’s smash hit, Stormlord. Once more you’re battling monsters to free fairies in a massive and challenging arcade adventure.


What They Said: “On the positive side the levels are all very different and packed with variety, one level even having an Asteroids influence!” - Zzap!64, Oct 1990.


The Adventures Of Rad Gravity

Finally for this month’s spot of time travelling we have an NES game, specifically the platform-tastic Adventures Of Rad Gravity. In this action-packed space adventure, Rad explores eight different planets in search of valuable hidden biotechnology known as compuminds. Watch out for the crazy world of Turvia where the whole game suddenly becomes topsy-turvy. Or should that be topsy-Turvia?


What They Said: “The sprites, especially the big ones are excellent, although the backgrounds are a bit naff. The sound is jolly enough, and there's plenty of challenge there if you enjoy platform games with lots of action.” - Computer & Video Games, May 1991.


Not happy with our picks? Here are some more 1990 games on Antstream Arcade: Spectrum games Bigfoot, Cavemania and Impossamole keep the Sinclair flame alive, while the C64 boasts The Last Ninja 2, Creatures and Bubble Ghost. But it’s with the Commodore Amiga where most of the 1990 magic happens. Check out this roster of wonder: Flimbo’s Quest, Globulus, Insects In Space, Kick Off 2, Loom and Supercars. Elsewhere, for Mega Drive lovers, there’s metallic fun with Granada and Final Zone while arcade games are still popular in 1990. Data East’s arcade reboot of Boulder Dash, brawler Double Dragon 3 and hack ‘n’ slasher Dark Seal are all great 1990 games you should try out before racing home to catch the latest episode of Canned Carrot!

As the wiggly lines return, that’s it for another Antstream Arcade year as we are dragged back to the present day. Stay tuned for another Antstream Arcade Year soon!


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