Spy Hunter

With its smart weapons, awesome cars, Spy Hunter was viewed as a very stylish game back in the arcades on the early 1980s. It was a title that playing into any boy's fantasies- secret agents, nasty weaponry, and a driving lincese. Make no mistake though, it was the action packed gameplay that kept people coming back for more again, again, and again...


The year that the war ground on may have been 1943, when rationing continued to bite down hard, construction work on the Pentagon was completed, and the Japanese forces were driven back from Guadalcanal, but it's a whole lot more enjoyable if you think of it as this wonderful little vertical-scrolling shooter from Capcom, released for the delight of the arcade-going populas in 1987...


The game isn't just a good looking isometric dungeon crawler, it is THE best dungeon crawler. A simple - almost brainless trek through caverns and catacombs filled with vile creatures, not to mention all the loot. Blizzard spent a lot of time working on the generation of the game's spaces, making items, enemies, and geography be different every single time you load up the game...

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls games are best known for the fourth chapter in the series, Oblivion, released in 2006. In comparison,The Elder Scroll's Morrowind is altogether more of a curate's egg, neither as commercially successful nor critically applauded as it's successor. Perhaps because of that, however, it's also a much more interesting game...


Rogue first appeared on college Unix systems in 1980. It contains an infinite variety via a series of randomly generated, ASCII-rendered dungeons that must be explored in a bid to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor (Rodney spelled backwards) from somewhere behold the twenty-fifth level -- an unlikely achievement given the imposing difficulty of even the earliest dungeon layers.

22 November, 2011


  • Release Date: 1980
  • Platform(s): Unix
  • Developer: Michael Toy, Glenn Wichman, Ken Arnold
  • Genre: Strategy / Role-Playing

Rogue first appeared on college Unix systems in 1980. It contains an infinite variety via a series of randomly generated, ASCII-rendered dungeons that must be explored in a bid to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor (Rodney spelled backwards) from somewhere behold the twenty-fifth level -- an unlikely achievement given the imposing difficulty of even the earliest dungeon layers.

Practically no information is disclosed to the player, so every new game is a voyage of discovery, not just the dungeon's layout, but also of the monsters and items within. Progression to the deeper parts of the dungeon is such a rarity that there are inevitably new monsters to meet. Quaffing potions and reading scrolls along the way is always a calculated risk; you might discover that you've just gulped down a potion of strength ("You feel stronger. What bulging muscles!"), but if you've guzzled a potion of blindness ("A cloak of darkness falls") you can kiss goodbye to any chance of surviving to the later levels.

Other obstacles include simple hunger, which can wipe out even the bravest of adventurers;dead ends; and a cruel variety of traps.

One of Rogue's Many Randomly Generated Dungeons (Click to Enlarge)

20 November, 2011

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • Release Date: 2004
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox
  • Developer: Rockstar
  • Genre: Action

With sales of more than 20 million copies since ts launch in 2004, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the biggest-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time, and not without reason. Though initially a game about gang bangers and turf wars in a fictional Los Angeles (Los Santos), channeling scenes from Menace II Society and Boyz N the Hood, it blossoms into an ode to the entire West Coast. Three whole cities -- the others being San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venturas (Las Vegas) -- create a game four times bigger than Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, home to just about every idea from Rockstar's whiteboards. Weight gain, pimping missions, robberies, drive-bys, swimming, clothes shopping, martial arts, casino games, horse racing -- the list goes on and on.

The hero this time is Carl "CJ" Johnson, a Los Santos native who returns for his mother's funeral after five years in Liberty City. Chaos greets him, his neighbourhood falling to gang violence while rivalries and suspicions break up his family. Blackmailed by the crooked Officer Tenpenny (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) and distracted by girlfriends, hippies, and everyone in between, he gradually unearths the secrets behind his mother's murder, following the clues to the far ends of the map.

Just as important as the urban centers of San Andreas are the spaces in between: the rural
retreats and vast open roads that turn the game into a road movie. No Grand Theft Auto before or since has let you point toward a random horizon and just keep on driving, capturing that post-Woodstock spirit of movies like Easy Rider and Vanishing Point. None has featured a more star-studded cast, either, or so many ways of getting from point A to B via X, Y and Z. Though it lacks an occasional dab of polish, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an embarrassment of riches.

04 November, 2011

The Incredible Machine

  • Release Date: 1992
  • Platform: MS-DOS, 3DO, Macintosh
  • Developer: Dynamix
  • Genre: Puzzle

Emergent game play and physics-based interactivity may seem like fresh concepts, but it was The Incredible Machine that really introduced these major game components almost twenty years ago.

Without a doubt inspired by the ridiculously elaborate contraptions imagined by cartoonist Heath Robinson and Rube Goldberg, The Incredible Machine tasks players with inventing their own devices to carry out a series of simple actions. On each level an objective is give, ranging from popping a series of balloons to launching rockets to re-housing goldfish. A range of "useful" components is provided in limited quantities, which can be dragged and dropped onto the game space to construct the relevent machine. Basketballs, flashlights, and pulleys all figure -- as do mice, cats, and monkeys on bicycles -- and all can be variously combined to complete the tasks.

The beuty of the game is its accurate simulation of gravity, inertia, and other vital physical processes. Just as important, there is no one way to complete each level, and emergent approach that encourages endless exploration. The game also comes with a sandbox mode in which users are free to construct their own machines from scratch.

The game was a huge success on the PC (later appearing on the Mac and 3DO console), and creators Kevin Ryan and Jeff Tunnell would carry on to oversee two sequels, as well as a range of spin-offs, before their company, Dynamix, was dissolved in 2001. The series would surface again in 2007 as a mobile adaptation, courtesy of Vivendi. Two years later, Tunnell brought back the rights and further titles were planned. After a decade-long hiatus, the machine is finally being switched back on.

Incredible Machine can get wild sometimes.