There are currently hundreds of classic retro games on the Antstream Arcade and with this sheer wealth of gaming delights on offer, it’s easy to miss the odd little treasure. Having covered several of our hidden gems on previous episodes of this series, we thought it was about time we revealed another bunch of those lesser-known – but just as awesome – games that may have slipped past you on Antstream Arcade.
Starforce – Tecmo, 1984
Back in the Eighties, arcades were stuffed with shoot-‘em-ups so it’s not unlikely that this brilliant little game from Tecmo may have escaped your attention. Also known as Mega Force, the player takes control of the Final Star, a nippy spaceship that scrolls up the screen, destroying enemy forces both in the air and on the ground. While far from original, and missing the range of power ups from subsequent arcade shooters, Starforce is such unashamed fun that it’s hard not to love. Plus you’ll be humming that tune for days.
Pheenix – Alternative, 1983
We stay in the shooting genre now but move platforms to the ZX Spectrum. Arcade clones on the Sinclair computer were rife in the early Eighties, and there are no prizes for guessing which game Pheenix rips off! Incredibly this fantastic game was coded within just 16k, and there are several different screens culminating in the boss level seen here, with plenty of fast and furious shooting action. Re-released by Alternative in 1986, Pheenix enjoyed a second life as a budget game before becoming cemented its legendary status on Antstream Arcade.
Snoball In Hell – Mind’s Eye, 1989
Remember the arcade game Arkanoid from Taito? One of the most entertaining power ups of this Pong upgrade is the laser cannon and Snoball In Hell, available on both ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, forms a whole game around the idea. On the far left of the screen sits a tank, and the player controls it vertically, firing its cannon at the enemies while making sure they keep the bouncing ball in play. A neat fusion of two genres, Snoball In Hell is an entertaining and easy to play 8-bit hidden gem.
Traysia – Telenet, 1992
We switch genres and platforms now with this Sega Mega Drive RPG from 1992. Lead protagonist Roy is bored, the ennui of his bucolic and peaceful life driving him out to the wilds surrounding his village. Somewhat inevitably, Roy soon stumbles upon an evil force that is threatening to destroy his home and more. An uncomplicated game, Traysia won’t trouble seasoned role-playing gamers for too long; yet it’s twee Nintendo-esque visuals and combat combine to make it a pleasant enough diversion for fans of the genre.
Cops ‘n’ Robbers – Atlantis, 1985
Controversy surrounded this maze game upon release with the player able to shoot policeman on their way to robbing the local diamond dealer. There are multiple levels as the thief (known as Fingers Lonegan) first negotiates the streets before making his way to the Acme Diamond Company or – if you’re feeling daring – the Haunted Mine. With a limited supply of bullets, the aim of this caper is to gather as many precious stones as possible before a trip to jail – or worse, the morgue!
Gondomania – Data East, 1987
This Data East arcade game is an odd shoot-‘em-up, and named after the enemies of the piece, the devilish and aggressive Gondos. Sitting astride a sleek airbike, one or two players fly up the screen, destroying Gondo warriors via their rotating cannon. Each dead enemy drops a coin and these can be used to purchase weapon upgrades such as grenades and fireballs. A strange fusion of sci-fi and medievel visuals, there’s nothing quite like Gondomania!
Force 7 – Datasoft, 1987
Inspired by the arcade game Gauntlet and smash hit movie Aliens, Force 7 is an ingenious and deep sci-fi horror maze game where the player controls a septet of nervous marines, investigating a xeno-infested base. With each character possessing different skills and weapons, careful manipulation of your team is essential if you’re to rescue everybody from the slobbering and deadly alien menace. A Datasoft classic, and a true underappreciated gem.
Slayer – Hewson, 1988
Finally we have another shoot-‘em-up, this time for the Commodore Amiga. First released by Hewson back in 1988, Slayer is a horizontally-scrolling shooter that, while again far from original, is a smooth and challenging game that will prove testing for even the most experienced gamers. Fly your spaceship, destroy the enemies and pick up power ups in another hidden gem on Antstream Arcade.