• Graeme Mason

The Antstream Arcade Years: 1993

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 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 1993. 8-bit home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 are facing the end as the 16-bit revolution continues.


Spinmaster – Arcade

We begin our trip back to 1993 with a merry jaunt to the arcades. While the price of these

graphically fantastic games is no longer ten or 20p, there are many great experiences to behold

despite the arrival of the coin-pushers and lucky dip machines. And what better place to start than

with Data East’s Spinmaster, a fun romp set across a series of crazy locations from around the world. Also known as Miracle Adventure, this is an arcade treasure hunt with a twist – your weapon is a yo-yo!


What They Said: “Spinmaster combines the technical advantages of the console - absolutely smooth parallax scrolling in bright colors - with varied levels and many gags.” – Man!ac magazine, Feb 1994.


Fighter’s History – Arcade

We remain in the arcades for our next game and another Data East coin-op machine, Fighter’s

History. Offering many – ahem – similarities to Street Fighter II, Fighter’s History has nine playable characters and a unique weak point system which ensures the game is satisfyingly set apart from the legendary Capcom series.


What They Said: “The addition of weak points on the characters are great! Fighter's History [is]

definitely worth a look if you want something new in the fighting game genre.” – Electronic Gaming

Monthly, June 1994.


Shadow Force – Arcade

Before we head home for our tea and the latest episode of Beavis and Butt-Head, we spy one more arcade machine we’d like to investigate. Technōs' Shadow Force is a side-scrolling brawler pitting one or two players against the evil Dr Wong and his Teaser brigade of henchmen. Inspired by classics such as Double Dragon and Renegade, Shadow Force is easy to pick up yet deviously relentless. Don’t forget your special moves!


What They Said: “Shadow Force might actually be Technos'; best-looking beat-em-up ever, as the

level of detail is exceptional.” – Hardcore Gaming 101, May 2009.


TinHead – Sega Mega Drive

One bus journey later, we are back home with a cup of tea, ready to power up the trusty Mega

Drive. As popular as ever, five years since it was first released, the Sega console is home to many

amazing videogames, and TinHead is another lightning-fast platformer in the mould of the

masterpiece of the genre, Sonic The Hedgehog. An evil goblin has stolen all the stars in the sky – only intergalactic guardian TinHead can rescue them and save the day.


What They Said: “Great graphics are the highlight of this cart. The stages are a little hard, but the

bosses are dynamic and practically take up the entire screen. The standard attack is a bit weak, but the power-ups compensate.” – Electronic Gaming Monthly, Jul 1994.


Top Racer 2 – SNES

Got a driving game-mad friend with a SNES? Chances are that in 1993 they were playing this

supremely smooth ride from Sheffield publisher and developer, Gremlin. Race through 16 countries, upgrade your car and compete against your friend in this colourful and fantastic racing game. So it’s about time you nipped over the road and took them on, right?


What They Said: “The graphics are excellent; I especially liked the levels with snow and fog. Driving

control is about the best in any car game I've played. And of course, the sound is excellent. Top Gear II is top-notch with me.” – Game Zero, Dec 1993.


Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – SNES

After a few tense darts around the various tracks of Top Racer 2, what better way to relax than with a friendly and easy platform game? Your friend grins as he places The Empire Strikes Back into the Super Nintendo’s cartridge slot; this second entry in the Super Star Wars series is many things. But easy, it is not! Beginning, as with the movie, in the snowy wastes of Hoth, each player character is constantly besieged by natural enemies and the Empire. Better get practising with that lightsabre!


What They Said: “I will admit that I thought that there was no way that any game could match the

original, but LucasArts comes through once again with this excellent sequel. There are many new

scenes and backgrounds, and the excellent play control was maintained.” Game Zero, Dec 1993.


The Chaos Engine – Commodore Amiga

With the shadows lengthening, it’s time to stroll home and check what’s going on on the

Commodore Amiga. Frantic top-down run ‘n’ gun mayhem, that’s what! Set in a dynamic steampunk Victorian era, The Chaos Engine is a one or two-player battle against the despicable Baron Fortesque, inventor of the eponymous machine. Unfortunately, the Baron’s experiments with space and time threaten the fabric of our universe – one way or the other, The Chaos Engine must be destroyed!

What They Said: “You'll notice all the Bitmaps trademarks - stunning graphics, electrifying sonics and music creating the most convincing and absorbing atmospherics I have experienced in a game. Superb.” – Amiga Action, Mar 1993.


Magic Rufus – Commodore 64

Remember the mind-bending tile-flipping game, Reckless Rufus? It’s time to dust off the old

Commodore 64 and load up its sequel, Magic Rufus, one of the final commercial games on the

system. Safely back in his homeland of Atwicky, Rufus has donned a starry cape and become some

sort of superhero-magician mash-up, ready to battle the evil witches that have taken over his world.


What They Said: “I hate to admit it, but it is rather cute. Large levels, and eight of them too, smart

stompin’ sounds [and] loads of weapons.” Commodore Format, Feb 1993.


Day Of The Tentacle – DOS

The rest of the family has gone to bed, so it’s time to switch on the family computer downstairs and see what DOS adventures 1993 holds. It’s a bountiful year for PC gamers, and top of the disk pile today is LucasArts’ jovial point ‘n’ click, Day Of The Tentacle. Purple Tentacle has mutated into an evil genius plotting to take over the world. Only computer nerd Bernard Bernoulli and his pals can save the planet. Well, with your help, naturally.


What They Said: “The cartoon style graphics are brilliant, and there are lots of hilarious animation sequences to keep you entertained. The puzzles are pretty wacky, so you need to use your loaf, but you'll have a lot of fun in the process.” – Computer & Video Games, Sep 1993.


Not happy with our picks? Here are some more 1993 games on Antstream Arcade. In the arcades,

we have the prehistoric sequel Joe & Mac 2: Lost In The Tropics, while the Commodore Amiga is

well-represented with titles such as Brutal Football, Super Methane Bros and Alien Breed 2. Don’t

forget those consoles, though. The spooky Zombies Ate My Neighbours debuted on SNES and Sega Mega Drive in 1993, as did the latest Dizzy game, Dizzy The Adventurer, on the NES. Finally, for PC fans, there’s more mirthsome delight in the form of that crazy detecting duo Sam and Max in Sam & Max Hit The Road.



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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