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.

09 October, 2012

Desert Commander

Release Date: 1989
Platform(s): NES
Developer: Kemco
Genre: Turn-based Strategy

Desert Commander is one of the more complex turn-based strategy games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Set in North Africa during World War II, the player chooses between commanding either the Allied Forces of George S. Patton and Bernard Montgomery, or the Axis Powers or Erwin Rommel. Similar to 1943, using this point in history informed the visual aesthetic of the game and simplified the vehicle design, a necessary compromise for the underpowered NES.

The game uses a top-down view for strategically placing vehicles and assets against the opponent, much like a board game. The player manages resources, helping to simulate the decisions that go into deployment of a military force. When an encounter between opposing sides ensues, the game switches to a close-up view of the battle. While it was a rudimentary view with limited animations, it created a design aesthetic that remains to this day, even with systems that are capable of sophisticated animation and photorealism. The abstracted landscape keeps a focus on the numbers engaged in combat instead of the surrounding visuals. Animated sequences were used to depict special actions, such as refuelling or the gathering of supplies.

Operating on a limited platform and dependent on utilitarian visuals, Desert Commander managed to build a sophisticated tactics game.

03 October, 2012


Release Date: 1991
Platform(s): Amiga, ST, PC, Other Ports
Developer: DMA Design
Genre: Puzzle

Few games other than Tetris can claim to have appeared on as many formats as this historic action puzzler. Dave Jones, the founder of DMA Design, claims to have lost count at twenty, and that was before the numerous PlayStation and mobile iterations were added to the list.

Famously, the idea was conceived almost by accident, when artist Mike Dailly was experimenting with the animation of tiny characters in an 8 x 8 pixel grid. Programmer Russel Kay saw the results and pronounced: "There's a game in that." And there certainly was.

At first glance, perhaps, Lemmings looks like a standard late-1980s platformer, its sparse yet neat visual style presenting teeny, teeming sprites.But it is, in fact, a masterpiece of sandbox design, allowing players endless ways to complete each level. Over a vast series of levels, the player must guide a set number of tiny lemming characters from the entrance to the exit, avoiding hazards such as lava pools and large falls. Instead of directly controlling the critters, however, there is a range of eight skills that can be designated to individuals via a point and click interface.

The builder skill, for example, allows a lemming to construct a staircase across a chasm, while bashers, miners, and diggers all create differently angled holes in platforms to create new routes. It is up to the player to decide how, the available skills should be used to solve each level.

Press coverage at launch was very enthusiastic, and 55,000 copies flew from shop shelves on day one (impressive at the time). The ensuing conveyor belt of sequels and conversions led to subsequent sales of more than fifteen million units. Alongside contemporaries such as Worms and Populous, it's a defining work in the British game design canon.