The Hardest Retro Games?

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Sep 28, 2006 - #2: Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES) . ..... The game responsible for introducing cheats to video games. It was impossible to ..... This game would be defined by yet another speeder race in an underground tunnel. ..... Those feeling the need for speed, however, will discover a title that's not only graphically.

The Hardest Retro Games? Contents The Hardest Retro Games?.................................................................................................................. 1 Top 10 Hardest Sega Genesis games. ................................................................................................. 7 The 15 Toughest NES Games of All Time ................................................................................................ 9 Games That Defined The Sega Master System ..................................................................................... 25 Top 10 Lists: The Top 10 Most Difficult games on the Super Nintendo ............................................... 29 #10: Earthworm Jim 2 (SNES) ........................................................................................................ 30 #9: Prince of Persia (SNES) ............................................................................................................ 30 #8: Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (SNES)....................................................................................... 31 #7: Super Star Wars (SNES) ........................................................................................................... 31 #6: Judge Dredd (SNES) ................................................................................................................. 32 #5: The Lion King (SNES) ............................................................................................................... 32 #4: Super Return of the Jedi (SNES) .............................................................................................. 33 #3: Castlevania Dracula X (SNES) .................................................................................................. 33 #2: Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES) ............................................................................................ 34 #1: Super Empire Strikes Back (SNES) ........................................................................................... 34 The ZX Spectrum’s 30th Birthday: ................................................................................................... 35 I couldn’t resist including these 30th anniversary posters ............................................................... 35

.............................................................................................................................................................. 35 (Courtesy of http://sintech-shop.co.uk) ............................................................................................. 35 .............................................................................................................................................................. 35 (Awesome work by http://fryguy64.deviantart.com/) ...................................................................... 35 30 Greatest Spectrum Games............................................................................................................. 36

19. Back To Skool ........................................................................................................................ 44 18. Ant Attack.............................................................................................................................. 45 16. Turbo Esprit .......................................................................................................................... 47 15. Jet Set Willy ........................................................................................................................... 48 14. Chase HQ ............................................................................................................................... 49 13. Chuckie Egg ........................................................................................................................... 50 12. Stop The Express................................................................................................................... 51 11. TLL......................................................................................................................................... 52 10. Starquake ............................................................................................................................... 53 9. The Great Escape .................................................................................................................... 54 8. R-Type...................................................................................................................................... 55 7. Knight Lore ............................................................................................................................. 56 6. Target Renegade ..................................................................................................................... 57 5. Manic Miner ............................................................................................................................ 58 4. Elite........................................................................................................................................... 59 3. Head Over Heels ..................................................................................................................... 60 2. Chaos ........................................................................................................................................ 61 1. 3D Deathchase ......................................................................................................................... 62

3 7.5 0 Jet Set Willy - Commodore 64 Practically all Spectrum, Commodore 64, early Atari games were far harder to complete than today’s rows of 360 releases. So instead of cluttering up the list with impossible early video game action, let’s just focus on the toughest, then move on in the knowledge that as graphics have got better, we’ve got softer. Jet Set Willy wasn’t meant to be so joystick-flingingly difficult, but it had a bug that meant as soon as you entered the attic, the game corrupted and was rendered unbeatable.

611 8.8 0 Metal Gear Solid - PlayStation A bit of a cheat. Psychic boss Psycho Mantis could read your mind, blocking every attack you threw at him (he also read your memory card to comment on your progress through the game and about what else you were playing). The killer was trying to work out how to beat him. The answer: by switching your controller into player two’s port. CelShader's rating:

21 6.7 0 Shinobi - Sega Master System

The seemingly endless waves of enemies were bad enough, and the last boss was a bitch, but just to make things a little more extreme, whenever you weren’t slashing and hacking at the Hellspawns or dogs with swords in their mouths, your weapon sapped your health. As if you didn’t have enough problems.

323 8.1 0 Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - PlayStation 2 Released in Japan first, Capcom reassessed its stylish brawler for the worldwide release, taking the unfathomable decision to rechristen the hard mode as normal. It’s widely seen as a bad decision, which they rectified just over a year later with the release of the Special Edition. CelShader's rating:

75 8 0 Ikaruga - GameCube The game the term “bullet hell” was invented for – that’s when there are so many enemy projectiles on the screen that avoiding them is practically an exercise in futility. CelShader's rating:

120 7.3 0 Battletoads - Famicom and NES This did a hell of a job of luring us into a false sense of security. The first level was a breeze. That changed fast. Makers Rare went on to make kid-friendly games Viva Pinata and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. They’re clearly trying to make amends for the surfboard mission.

210 8.1 0 Demon's Souls - PlayStation 3 After over a year of waiting, Demon’s Souls is finally coming out in Europe in June. Impatient gamers have already imported it played it to death. They’re clearly masochists. The second you start the game you’re robbed of half your health, which you can then only get back by defeating the end of level boss. By which point, you don’t really need all that health anyway. CelShader's rating:

196

8.2

0

Contra - Famicom and NES The game responsible for introducing cheats to video games. It was impossible to complete without entering the Konami code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A). And even then, getting military commandos Bill and Lance to their final showdown with Red Falcon with a teeth-grindingly infuriating experience. CelShader's rating:

66 7.7 0 Super Ghouls N' Ghosts - Super famicom and SNES What use is a suit of armor that falls off after just one hit, leaving you in your underwear? Not much, especially as it just delays the inevitable – getting hit again, dying and going straight back to the beginning of the level. It’s made even more bastard hard by Sir Arthur being unable to change his direction mid-jump. And if a zombie rose from his grave directly below you? Well that’s just tough.

64 8.3 0 Ninja Gaiden Black - Xbox and NES/Famicom(Ninja Gaiden Trilogy) After complaints the original Ninja Gaiden was too difficult, Tecmo went back and remade it. And made it even harder. How? By making the enemies stronger and more aggressive, while toning down the power of your moves. As a compromise an easier difficulty setting was added too, but if you played that, your character was awarded with pretty coloured ribbons.

Top 10 Hardest Sega Genesis games.  

by WhiteLionWarrior, Feb 22, 2011, 9:54:18 AM Journals / Personal

Well seems every game console has to have it's share of challenging games, this one I want to talk about is the Sega Genesis games. Throughout my childhood I played the Super Nintedo and the Sega Genesis and enjoyed playing mostly Mario and Sonic, but as the years passed and I wanted to explore more games that I never played before. That's untill I download and played the KegaFusion applications. Here is my list of what I think are some of the hardest Genesis games I've played. 1. Altered Beast (1989) Now I know this is a classic game, but the genesis version to me is very frustrating to complete. I only made it up to the third stage and died when I got to the boss. What makes this game #1 on this list is that it has no continues. 2. Vectorman 1 & 2 Now these games make me want to break my controller when ever I play them. The first game is a real pain in the ass because you can get hurt so easily and I died numerous times on the first boss until I got a game over. And in the second game is where I start to loose my mind because at the beginning of the game you have to navigate you're way in a dark jungle and the are a lot of hard obsatcles for you to overcome. 3. Golden Axe Trilogy Now this is what I call a hard trilogy. Now I could breeze through the eariler stages in all three games but until I reach the later stages the enemies become tougher to beat and the bosses are whole lot tougher than the enemies themselves. Even when you max out you Spell attack and unleash it, the enemies still manage to survive the attack because they are so damn strong. 4. Streets of Rage 3 Now I not talking about the Japanese version of he game (Bare Knuckle III), this is the censored American version. Since they changed the storyline and censored most of the enemy and character sprites, the difficulty in this game is much harder than the Japanese version. The enemies tend to be a bit more difficult to beat an require a lot of practice to master defeating them. Also the bosses are far more difficult than the were when i played Bare Knuckle III, because when I got to the Stage 4 boss featuring the 3 Yamatoes, thats where this game starts getting out of hand. Overall it's not a bad game its just a bit more difficult than Streets of Rage 2. 5. Aero Blasters I don't know if you all heard of this game before but it is a side-scrolling shoot em' up that takes time to get used to when playing. What makes this game difficult is that it has certain stage hazards that are featured in the second and later stages and the require a watchful eye to look after. If you look away just one second your brown bread. Also the bosses are just as challenging as the stages

themselves because they'll start spamming bullets and missles at you and are sometime difficult to dodge unless you have enough energy to use you're special attack. You should give this game a try it's a decent game unless you're a hardcore gamer. 6. Super Thunder Blade This game is where I have the most trouble with. In this game you take control of a helicopter. The helicopter itself uses guns and missiles, and can also air brake. A distinctive feature is that it use different viewpoints during the entire game, during normal gameplay and when fighting sub-bosses, the game utilizes a third-person perspective from behind the helicopter, similar to Space Harrier, but the camera changes to a top-down perspective when fighting bosses. These features are what make the game challenging and fun at the same time. 7. ESWAT: City Under Siege This game is fun until you reach the 3rd and 4th stages. In this game you take control of a cybernetic police officer who's only weapon is a pistol, which he can vertically and horizontally. But if you complete the 2nd stage he will be given a armored powered suit that allows him to hold more variety of weapons and is given the ability to fly using a jetpack that is attached to the back of his suit. What makes this game hard is that there are enemies firing at you in every corner and platform that you come across. 8. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Ah one of my all-time favorite games of the Genesis. This game is considerably smoother, with less emphasis on difficulty and more on speed than "Revenge of the Shinobi" was. In addition to the ability to run from place to place, Joe comes equipped with a new array of moves and techniques, including a mid-air dashkick, the ability to jump-scale walls and a powerful running slash that renders him temporarily invincible. Some stages took me time to remember like the stage with the falling rocks and the pagoda which features multiple doors and booby traps. This such an awesome game though and probably the best in the Shinobi series. One thing I'm trying to figure out is why the call kunais in this game "Shurikens."

9. Alien Storm Alien Storm is a side-scrolling beat 'em up. The game resembles Golden Axe, with a similar artistic style, three playable characters (a man, a woman, and a novelty character) and pick-up or power-up special attacks. The player selects from the three different characters to embark upon a quest to save the Earth from an alien invasion. I usually use the robot character fo this game because when I play as either Gordon or Karen, I will lose health constantly and the bosses have the most unusal attack patterns that you have to avoid. 10. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle Probably my least favorite game in the Genesis library but a decent one. The player guides Alex through eleven stages by fighting and avoiding enemies and obstacles. Alex can jump, kick, crawl or punch enemies, causing them to explode into gold coins, called Baums. What I don't like about this game is that whenever I try to attack someone I will die easily because I either didn't jump properly or I didn't time the attack at the right time.

The 15 Toughest NES Games of All Time Madison+ April 14, 2016 Video Games No Comments Tweet

Some video games today are pretty tough (like, for example, the entire Ninja Gaiden series), but most don’t hold a candle to the difficult games of my childhood. Perhaps it’s the fact that as I’ve gotten older, my eye-hand coordination has improved, but back in the day, games didn’t have different difficulty settings. Furthermore, without the Internet, walk-throughs were non-existent. Some old school games were simply relentless, and only through tears of frustration and sore eyeballs could one persevere. I imagine a list like this has been compiled before, but as lists like this are very subjective, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to compile one of my own. Keep reading to see the 15 toughest NES games of all time. Keep in mind that they’re my toughest games and are not presented in any particular order.

Ninja Gaiden

Why it’s so tough: Countless enemies come at you, but the worst are the ones that seem to hit you right when you’re above a pit, sending you falling to your death. Also, dying on any of the three final bosses at the end of Stage 6-4 will send you all the way back…to Stage 6-1. How far I got: I was actually able to beat this one after hours of crying, cursing, and controller-chucking.

Rygar

Why it’s so tough: It’s a long, sprawling game featuring item collection, leveling up, backtracking…and no passwords or save points! If you’re going to take on Rygar, you’ll need a few hours to kill. And oh yeah, the bosses aren’t easy. How far I got: I managed to beat this one, too, but not until owning it for a long. long time.

Battletoads

Why it’s so tough: Where to begin? Regular enemies are difficult, the game features all different types of play, and in many levels, one wrong move and you’re toast. How far I got: I could never pass the level in which you ride some type of scooter and have to avoid obstacles in your way. Impossible.

Ghosts N’ Goblins

Why it’s so tough: You die if you get hit twice, which isn’t a lot, especially when you consider that enemies fire projectiles and swoop directly into you. How far I got: I can hardly remember – level 2 in and of itself was a nightmare – but I definitely got no farther than level 4.

Blaster Master

Why it’s so tough: Like Rygar, there’s weapons and upgrades to collect, tough bosses, and tons of backtracking…and like Rygar, there’s no save points or passwords. Just a few continues; that’s it. In the areas in which you exit your vehicle, every hit you take weakens the effect of your gun. It’s so frustrating. How far I got: I always had a lot of trouble with Level 5 and the “crab boss” at the end, but I managed to beat him once or twice. I never passed Level 6.

Gauntlet

Why it’s so tough: The game seemingly has no end, and your character’s health drains down constantly, as if it’s a timer ticking down your imminent doom. Plus that black figure (Death, I assume) sometimes appears and kills you quick for no reason. How far I got: Oh man, who knows? Not far, that I assure you.

Mega Man

Why it’s so tough: Lots of falling and lots of spikes. That’s pretty much it. How far I got: I managed to beat Mega Man.

Silver Surfer

Why it’s so tough: Just about everything – even the level’s structures – can kill you. One hit kills you, and enemies come flying in swarms at ridiculous velocities. How far I got: Never farther than the first couple of levels or so. Let someone else lose their mind over a lame superhero.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Why it’s so tough: Since only Donatello is worth a damn in this game, you’re pretty much finished once he dies. Jumping is a true skill in this game, and oh, did I mention the “dam” level where you have to swim around mines? I though turtles were supposed to be good swimmers. How far I got: I was pretty decent at this game, but just not good enough. I once killed the giant Mouser boss, but died quickly in the stage that followed.

Karate Kid

Why it’s so tough: There’s this one level with a lot of “wind,” and that wind tends to push you into pits, killing you instantly. How far I got: That level with a lot of wind.

Top Gun

Why it’s so tough: It’s tough to see the missiles enemies fire at you until the last second, but really, how many people crashed every time when trying to land at the end of the first level? How far I got: I’m proud to say that I once made it all the way to the fourth stage.

Bionic Commando

Why it’s so tough: The controls are a bit awkward (you can’t jump), and the layout of the game is pretty confusing at first. How far I got: I beat this game, but I had my cousin over my shoulder telling me where to go. Still, I was the one playing, so I think it counts. Not really proud of it, though.

Contra (with no Konami code)

Why it’s so tough: Because with just three lives – instead of 30 – simple, fluke mistakes can end your game quickly. No matter what it is, it just takes one hit to kill you. How far I got: I actually managed to get up to Stage 6 in this one. I couldn’t beat it without the code.

The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Why it’s so tough: This may actually be the toughest game on this list. The fighting is tough enough, but try the shooting levels without an NES Advantage and the Turbo buttons. The hardest, though, are levels 4 and 5 – the driving levels. Simply hitting a post on the side of the road kills you, but you can’t take your time – if you take too long, your game is over. How far I got: Once – just once – I made it all the way to the final boss(es). I did alright, but they killed me, and I never made it back to that spot again. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!

Why it’s so tough: The game wouldn’t be that bad if Tyson wasn’t so ridiculously hard. One punch during the first 1:30 of Round 1 and you’re knocked to the ground. As with a lot of games, though, pattern recognition is involved, and figuring out Mike is no different than figuring out the patterns of anyone else; there’s just much less margin for error. How far I got: I actually got pretty good at fighting Tyson (and everyone before him) and have beaten him about a dozen times. I’m just used to it. Any NES games that gave you fits that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments section! Also, I listed only games that I’ve actually played. For example, a lot of people tell me that Bart vs. The Space Mutants is very difficult, but since I’ve never played it, I felt it would be a bit disingenuous to include it.

Games That Defined The Sega Master System

While most gamers probably think of the Genesis/MegaDrive as Sega’s first console, the Master System System actually preceded the the 16-bit wonder but failed to adequately compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System. Technically, the Master System was superior to the NES, with better graphics and higher quality sound. However, the SMS came up short for the most part in terms of quality games. Even though the Master System may not have quite the library that the NES has, there are a few gems to check out if you happen to have a Master System or at least via emulator. Here is a quick rundown of the best exclusive games in the Master System library. Phantasy Star As one of the greatest exclusive SMS games, Phantasy Star was an RPG that topped any other game in the genre that was from the 8bit generation. Phantasy Star was also the first console RPG to be released in the United States since Nintendo had not seen fit to import either Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy for the NES at that time. Phantasy Star was jam-packed into a full 4MB cartridge and was superior to both games in terms of both graphics and sound. It delivered fully detailed on-screen displays and character graphics (as opposed to the tile-like graphics of Nintendo’s offerings) and made full use of the Master System’s PCM synthesis chip to deliver one of the best FM-based audio experiences ever heard in an “old-school” 8-bit RPG. Originally developed a showpiece, Yuji Naka’s Phantasy Star was also one of the last titles ever made by Sega for its 8-bit console. It went on to became one of the most popular games Sega ever released and quickly attracted a worldwide following. A science-fiction RPG with decidedly fantasy elements as well, it told the story of a young woman named Alis and her quest for justice against an age-old evil threatening her world.

It was superior to both of them in terms of graphics and sound, delivering fully detailed onscreen displays and character graphics (as opposed to the tile-like graphics of Nintendo’s offerings) and making full use of the Mark III’s PCM synthesis chip to deliver one of the best FM-based audio experiences ever heard in an “old-school” 8-bit RPG. It is also worth mentioning that Phantasy Star was the first RPG to use first-person perspective (during the dungeon-crawling sequences). As a true landmark in RPGs, Phantasy Star is definately worth a try. Full Review of Phantasy Star Golden Axe Warrior The Legend of Zelda was a ground-breaking game in the 8-bit era and many other development houses did their best to join in on the party and make their own “version”. (This practice still goes on to this day — Grand Theft Auto clones, anyone?) As good as The Legend of Zelda was, there were actually “ripoff” games that actually beat out the original ins a number of aspects. SMS’s answer to Zelda was known as Golden Axe Warrior (Golvellius is another title in this catgegory as well, but was not exclusived to the SMS). Golden Axe Warrior was a RPG spin-off of the popular Golden Axe arcade series that follows a young warrior who was trying to avenge the death of his parents by exploring nine caves and collecting missing diamonds. The infamous Death Adder, from Golden Axe, makes a cameo as the boss of the game. The graphics in Warrior were the most obvious improvement over Zelda (much like other “clones” like Crystalis) with colorful and detailed sprites with plenty of animation. While the sound and music department didn’t hold up to Zelda, Warrior was still solid in terms of gameplay and story. Now that these older games are much more accessible (aka emulation), games such as Golden Axe are definately worth a good look for those that enjoy the Action RPG genre. Full Review of Golden Axe Warrior

Sonic the Hedgehog Perhaps most impressive Sega Master System games were the late-era conversions of Genesis hits like Sonic the Hedgehog that truly showcased the power of Sega’s 8-bit machine. If you are at all familiar with the Sonic games on the Genesis, you know what to expect in term of gameplay. While the Master System version obviously is going to have some graphical compromises, it holds up fairly well. (Keep in mind the Game Gear uses the same basic hardware) Master

System Sonic is still incredibly colorful and there is a surprising amount of detail. While this game is still a rarity (see our feature on the Holy Grails of Console Gaming), you should still be able to emulate it quite easily. Alex Kidd Before there was Sonic the Hedgehog, there was Alex Kidd. This monkey-like boy in the red jumpsuit was Sega’s mascot in the early years. His first game, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, was released in 1986 and is considered to be a true classic. In 1990, this game was rereleased, by having it built into the Master System II model, replacing the Snail Maze/Safari Hunt/Hang On (depending on the version) game(s) of the first model. Unlike the Sonic series where changes in game mechanics between games are minimal, most games in the Alex Kidd series differ dramatically from one another, the sole exception being Alex Kidd in Miracle World, and its direct sequel Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (from the Genesis/Megadrive). While most games in the series were still platform-based, the only things tying these games together as a series were the name and the title character. The fact that fans of the first game were completely lost with the rest of the series may have been a contributing factor to the failure of this series. The Alex Kidd Master System franchise included Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars,Alex Kidd BMX Trial, Alex Kidd in High-Tech World, (This game is actually a modified version of the Japanese Master System game Anmitsu Hime.) and Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. Wonder Boy Yes, the 8-bit era was filled with platformersa-plenty. As if Alex Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog were not enough, we also have another gem of a series called Wonder Boy. The main character in Wonder Boy is known as “Tom-Tom” – a caveman-like character whose girlfriend has been captured by a monster. The player must guide Tom-Tom through nine areas (each with multple rounds) made up of forests, hills, oceans, caves and ice palaces. Tom-Tom can arm himself with a stone hammer, which he can throw at oncoming foes, a skateboard with which he can rush through the levels and survive one attack by an enemy, and temporary protection by a fairy which allows him to destroy foes by simply running into them.

The original Wonder Boy game was also followed up by Wonder Boy in Monster Land and Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap. It’s also interesting to note that Hudson’s Adventure Island series actually started off as a clone of Wonder Boy. The first game was basically Wonderboy with slightly different sprites and a different title. (The sequels were original, however) Full Review of Wonder Boy 3D Games The Sega Master System was also the first home console to experiment with virtual reality in the form of 3D glasses. These spectacles were little more than an electronic variation of the red/green or red/blue 3D spectacles used by thrill-seeking moviegoers back in the 1950s. Each lens would rapidly strobe between opaque and clear, and this was carefully timed to correspond with identical rapid shifting of on-screen graphics imagery to simulate a 3D environment. While admittedly crude by today’s standards, they worked quite well and proved popular enough to warrant a series of SMS games designed especially for their use. This was the topof-the-line model as far as the SG-1000 product line went, but it would not be the last iteration of the hardware. Gamers raved about them (and still do), because they provided a very immersive experience. Unfortunately, only six 3D games (Blade Eagle 3D, Maze Hunter 3D, Missile Defense 3D, Space Harrier 3D, Poseidon Wars 3D, and Zaxxon 3D) were released, and the glasses only worked with the first version of the SMS (SMS I). Arcade Ports One of the biggest selling points initially for the Master System was its library of arcade ports. This technique may have worked if every other console didn’t use the same marketing technique. Fortunately, the Master Systems superior power gave it an edge over the NES. However, most of the arcade ports still weren’t terribly impressive. Sega naturally built up the bulk of the arcade libary with titles such as Outrun, After Burner, Space Harrier, Hang-On (which was integrated into one version of the console), Thunder Blade, Teddy Boy, and Shinobi. In addition to the Sega arcade classics, you can find some enjoyable ports of other arcade games. Double Dragon was far more faithful to the arcade hit than the NES version, and

Sega’s version of R-Type was just amazing. Other successful conversions include Ninja Gaiden, Rampage, Ghouls n’ Ghosts, and Choplifter.

Psycho Fox Ok, here is yet another platforming game — I just could let this one slip by. Psycho Fox didn’t get a worldwide release, so not everybody got a chance to play this title. Throughout the game, Psycho Fox has the ability to transform into a hippopotamus, a monkey, or a tiger, each of which has its own special ability. This was a rather unique feature in the early days of platforming (but made popular by Super Mario Bros 3.) Although it wasn’t my favourite Master System game, it is definately worth a play every now and then. Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy are a lot better in many ways, but it is a good complementary title in a Master System library. Full Review of Psycho Fox Honorable Mentions: Astro Warrior – Along with Hang-On, integrated into one version of the console (the Sega Base System, which was slightly less expensive and lacked the Light Phaser). Safari Hunt – Sega’s answer to Duck Hunt Integrated into one version of the console Snail Maze – A simple maze game that was included on the system BIOS. It was accessed by pressing and holding Up and buttons 1 and 2 after turning on the system without a game loaded. Ys: The Vanished Omens – While it was not a SMS exclusive, this version is credited with introducing many players to the legendaryYs series of RPGs. Similar Posts From These Categories: Sega Published: September 28th, 2006 at 11:56pm by racketboy

Top 10 Lists: The Top 10 Most Difficult games on the Super Nintendo When the Super Nintendo was released in the early 90s, it made a fairly obvious change in its games. Not only did they look better and feel better, they were considerably easier than their NES counterparts. From top to bottom, the SNES library of games lacked the challenge that

the Nintendo Entertainment System had. However, the SNES still have several games that gave players all across the country that similar feeling of frustration. This is their story. #10: Earthworm Jim 2 (SNES)

Earthworm Jim 2 was a sequel to a surprise hit that used gross humor to charm adolescent players. In this sequel, the game turned up the difficulty settings in almost every phase. The "get-a-way-to-get-out" philosophy of this franchise was upped in this game as puzzles and enemies would frustrate a player to no end. Jumping from a ledge to the left while firing at an enemy to the right while catching your worm-head to a hook without falling to a pit of spikes pretty much sums up Jim's escapades. #9: Prince of Persia (SNES)

Long before the Playstation and Xbox capitalized on this franchise, there was a Super Nintendo Prince of Persia game that was on the shelf. The game's central character had slow, strange movements that were awkward at best. But the most frustrating attribute wasn't the enemies or the difficult bosses, but the timer that counted to your doom. Beating a boss and saving the princess is one thing, to do so in the short amount of time that is allotted for you is something else entirely.

#8: Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (SNES)

Another SNES sequel except this time it followed up the NES smash hit. Battletoads in Battlemaniacs had about half the difficulty that the NES original had. However, that is still saying a lot. This game would be defined by yet another speeder race in an underground tunnel. This game is actually beatable, but it was still one of the more frustrating games on the SNES console. #7: Super Star Wars (SNES)

Super Star Wars was clearly the easiest of the 3 SNES Star War games. With that said, it's difficulty set it apart from almost every other game on the market. It featured an easy, normal, and hard setting. The Easy setting was harder than most every other game. the Normal setting makes it one of the top 10 most difficult games. And the Hard setting is downright relentless.

#6: Judge Dredd (SNES)

Judge Dredd was a good video game from a bad movie. Judge Dredd was also one of the more difficult games to come out of the SNES. Taking caffeine from drug dealers never seemed so hard until you took the role of Dredd. Though many gamers enjoyed this game, not too many actually beat it. It was an underground hit for the more experienced player. #5: The Lion King (SNES)

The Lion King was Disney's blockbuster movie. The Lion King on Super Nintendo was their liquid-like-graphics, beautiful, hit of a video game. But with the pretty colors came a frustrating adventure. Little Simba had one of the more difficult paths to endgame that any SNES video game character could remember. The game wasn't stricly platform either. It challenged you in various other styles throughout the game.

#4: Super Return of the Jedi (SNES)

Super Return of the Jedi was the final Super Nintendo game based on the movie trilogy. This game kept the same style as Star Wars and Empire with 3 different levels of difficulty. However, there was one final element added in this game. If you were good enough to get through Super Star Wars, then you're good enough to get through Return of the Jedi and defeat the Emperor. Ah, but it did not end there. The game's most frustrated phase came in the final flight scene where you had to navigate your way through an insanely tough path out of the Death Star. And you had to do so with flaming fires hot on your trail. This final level is probably one of the most difficult levels in SNES history. #3: Castlevania Dracula X (SNES)

The 2-D Castlevania games have always been difficult games to master. Dracula X on the SNES was no exception. In fact, it rivals that of Castlevania III on the NES as one of the most difficult Dracula epics yet. The challenge of all Castlevania games are carbon copied into this game and then multiplied several times over. The enemies are relentless and come from every direction. The bosses are faster and a little more unforgiving. And the final battle with a dissappearing/reappearing Dracula on 5 columns is one of the more difficult final boss fights of its time.

#2: Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)

Contra III is downright nasty. The word "impossible" is a bit overused when told to describe this game. The SNES version was about 10x more difficult than the first 2 games on NES. It was also longer and kept the ability to play with 2 players. However, 4 players on the screen at one time wouldn't give you a fighting chance against the alien hordes that come from every angle with every type of weapon. Each level had typically 3 bosses. 2 mid level bosses, than a final boss. And with one hit ending your life, your frustrations came early and often. #1: Super Empire Strikes Back (SNES)

Super Empire Strikes back was the hardest in a trilogy of extremely difficult video games. This game had codes that could take you to any level, codes for invincibility, codes for unlimited health. Yet, even on the easy setting it was difficult to get through this game with those codes. There was no code that kept you from falling to your death or aided you in escaping each level's difficult terrain. From Hoth to Dagobah to your first confrontation with Darth Vader, you were open to all attacks from all enemies from all directions. And the boss of each level had a health bar that almost went off the screen. Even the most experienced gamers were unlikely to beat this game on the easy setting. Every player's skill level varies from game to game. There were a lot of other SNES games that some people couldn't beat, while others found easy. However, these games usually had the majority of its players struggling. Most of these games are either a video game remake of a movie or a sequel to a successful NES cartridge. Nevertheless, they all had a challenge that few could deny.

The ZX Spectrum’s 30th Birthday: I couldn’t resist including these 30th anniversary posters

(Courtesy of http://sintech-shop.co.uk)

(Awesome work by http://fryguy64.deviantart.com/)

30 Greatest Spectrum Games As the Spectrum turns 30, we take a retrospective look at some of the greatest games to grace the console.

30. Batman

Year: 1986 Publisher: Ocean Sharing DNA with iconic Spectrum smash Head Over Heels, John Ritman and Bernie Drummond’s Batman is a tough as nails platform platformer. The game follows a pint-sized Batman scouring the perilous Batcave in search of parts for his sabotaged jet. The classic Batman TV theme rounds off the package nicely.

29. Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future

Year: 1986 Publisher: Virgin Games Based on the 1950’s science-fiction comic-strip, Virgin’s first Dan Dare outing was hugely memorable for its then ground-breaking Spectrum visuals (six colours on-screen at once!), fast-paced screen-by-screen side-scrolling arcade shooter action and a tension-building twohour countdown clock in the bottom corner of screen, as players battle their way across an inhabited asteroid to foil the Mekon’s plan to blast it into Earth. A challenge for the reflexes and the mind – you’ll need to remember where you’ve been – and a technical marvel that laid the groundwork for the impressive Dan Dare III.

28. Match Day 2

Year: 1987 Publisher: Ocean Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond are best known for the sublime Head Over Heals but, back in 1987, they laid the foundations for ISS, PES, FIFA and all other football games to come. That genius football game was called Match Day 2. At the time it was the most realistic football simulation around: it had passable ball physics, league and cup options and a power gauge that enabled you to vary shot power and angle. Like all football games of this era, Match Day 2 had its sweet-spot goals so, once these were learned it became a battle to manouver the ball into these areas to score. Looking back now, its like watching a whole match in slow motion, but in 1987 this was revolutionary stuff.

27. The Sentinel

Year: 1986 Publisher: Firebird The Sentinel is a wonderfully abstract and creepy-as-hell puzzle game where the objective was to move – via the teleportation of consciousness – around a 3D landscape. Ultimately the player would gain enough height to absorb the level’s Sentinel, replace him, and progress to the next level. The catch was that the player could only absorb or create objects on surfaces he could look down upon, and power to create objects and the Synthoid bodies to which the player could teleport to, was limited and had to be earned through absorbing trees, boulders and disused Synthoid bodies. Graphics-wise, there have been few games to match The Sentinel’s bleakly abstract world and few that can offer the sheer number of levels. Amazingly, for a game that was contained in less than 48K of code, The Sentinel boasted 10,000.

26. Trap Door

Year: 1987 Publisher: Castor Cracking Group Trap Door wasn’t impressive because of its content. With only six screens for big blue Berk to explore, the idea was to have you discover your limits within those boundaries. The only objective is to keep the ambiguously named ‘Thing’ content as he orders Berk to provide him sustenance. The game, therefore, is discovering exactly how those objectives are met – whether that’s crushing eyeballs, frying slimies or canning worms. Trap Door’s excellent sprites and methodical nature of the gameplay were really something of a revelation back then, and really helped bring some character to the game.

25. Batty

Year: 1987 Publisher: Hit Pak Arkanoid may have received an extremely polished conversion on the humble ZX Spectrum, but it couldn’t compete with this monumental epic from Hit Pak. Each level has been beautifully constructed, there are huge amounts of power-ups that include a bog- standard laser, your typical extender and a handy level warp, and there are also a variety of different options, including a wonderful co-op mode that effectively splits the bottom of the screen into two parts. You monitor one side of the screen, while a friend manages the other. Add in some fiendishly well- put-together levels, some bold, cartoon-like visuals and some hellishly addictive gameplay and the end result is one of the best Breakout clones of all time. The fact that it was initially given away for free with Your Sinclair is absolutely staggering.

24. Cybernoid

Year: 1988 Publisher: Hewson Consultants Raffaele Cecco’s wonderful Cybernoid harks back to the good old days when game testing was solely the responsibility of the developer, shoot-’em-ups were one of the most popular genres around and games required pixel- perfect timing in order to proceed. Cybernoid is possibly the toughest game in our top 25. It requires insane levels of concentration, dextrous keyboard and joystick skills and the patience of a saint. Despite this, Cybernoid always pulls us back for one more go and remains so polished you can almost see your face in it. What makes it so essential is its jaw-droppingly vibrant visuals, intricately designed levels and spot-on controls (it has the sort of pixel- perfect precision normally seen in platformers). It’s not for everyone, but it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed under any circumstances.

23. Nebulus

Year: 1988 Publisher: Hewson Consultants There’s a veritable deluge of brilliant platformers and puzzle games available on the ZX Spectrum, but very rarely are these two rather distinct genres successfully combined. Nebulus – which is also known as Tower Toppler or Castelian depending on whereabouts you live – is a wonderful example of this combination of genres and sees you guiding a cute bipedal alien named Pogo to the top of several towers. Once at the top, these towers must then be detonated. Working against a tight time limit, you’re required to use lifts and handy doorways to zip back and forth through the cleverly rotating towers – a graphical feat that still manages to impress today – in order to avoid the tower’s numerous enemies. As challenging to play as it is gorgeous to look at.

22. Fantasy World Dizzy

Year: 1989 Publisher: Codemasters Ever since Philip and Andrew Oliver’s ovoid creation 22appeared in the Ultimate Cartoon Adventure we’ve always had a soft spot for Disney. Fantasy World Dizzy is not only Dizzy’s greatest 8-bit adventure, it’s also the very last 8-bit Dizzy adventure from the Oliver twins – development duties for the game’s sequels were handed over to Big Red Software. The brothers certainly left on a high though. Fantasy World Dizzy is a huge, beautifully crafted adventure that features well-thought-out and far better-balanced, puzzles, a new Magic Knight- style interface, the introduction of the Yolkfolk and a surprising amount of humour.

You may not be able to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, but by not damaging their mascot the Oliver twins certainly proved that it was entirely possible to create an excellent arcade adventure.

21. RoboCop

Year: 1989 Publisher: Ocean After churning out cheap-and-cheerful licensed dross like Transformers, Knight Rider and Highlander, Ocean turned a corner and began releasing quality movie tie-ins. RoboCop remains one of the best examples, and by using the template of the incoming Data East blaster and juxtaposing the action with clever mini-games, such as rescuing hostages and putting face IDs together, Ocean created a tie-in that few other developers (Ocean included) were able to improve upon. The mostly monochrome visuals do a great job of capturing the spirit of the original film, and while the action is a little more pedestrian than we remember, it nevertheless remains great fun to play. Film and TV licences were ten a penny on the 8-bit computers and it’s a testament to both Ocean’s development skills and RoboCop’s enjoyable gameplay that it’s the only example to make our list.

20. Sabre Wulf

Year: 1984 Publisher: Ultimate: Play the Game We’ve been playing Ultimate’s 20brilliant Sabre Wulf for 24 years now and we still haven’t been able to collect all four pieces of that sodding amulet. Not to worry, though, it simply allows us to appreciate what a staggering game Sabreman’s first outing actually is. Taking place over an absolutely humongous 256 screens, you’re required to do nothing more than explore the vast and varied jungle to recover the four aforementioned missing pieces of a precious amulet. Of course, as you would probably expect, this is much easier said than done, and Sabreman has to contend with some rather angry natives, the titular Sabre Wulf and all manner of horrible jungle critters before he’s able to complete his lofty goal. With its gorgeous visuals, fast-paced gameplay and massive environment, Sabre Wulf is typical of the care and attention to detail that the Stamper brothers put into all of their early Spectrum games, so don’t be too surprised if you see a few more Ultimate games before our top 25 Spectrum games feature is finally complete.

19. Back To Skool Year: 1985 Publisher: Microsphere After wowing Spectrum owners with the brilliant Skool Daze, David Reidy and Keith Warrington returned a year later with a sequel that was even more ambitious. You were once again cast in the shorts and blazer of the mischievous Erik, but this time he was able to get up to even more mayhem and mischief. A new girl’s school increased the playing area. Erik also had access to stink bombs and water pistols as well as his trusty catapult now, while it was even possible for the little scamp to catch mice and frogs (of which the former could be released in the girl’s school). Other improvements to the original included the ability to ride a bike and the handy option of opening desks in order to discover what was hiding inside them. Back To Skool still proved hard going for those used to being hand led through their games, but it still managed a level of interactivity that few other Spectrum titles have ever been able to match.

18. Ant Attack Year: 1983 Publisher: Quicksilva Predating It Came From 18 The Desert by a good six years, Sandy White’s Ant Attack remains a game of stark beauty and cunning gameplay. Taking control of either a young girl or a young boy – don’t worry they control in exactly the same way – your task is to venture into the abstract walled city of Antescher in search of your missing beau. While the first level is relatively easy – a quick hop, step and a jump over the wall and you’re practically done – later stages are anything but, and it’s here where White’s true genius becomes apparent. Initially coming across as little more than a pile of hastily assembled Lego blocks, the city of Antescher soon reveals itself to be a deadly maze, where ants can jump out at you at any time. Granted, you’ve got 20 grenades to take them on with, but the claustrophobia quickly sets in, and later levels became a frightening race against time as your ragged nerves deal with five or six ants, a missing loved one and a constantly ticking timer. Truly terrifying.

17. The Lords Of Midnight

Year: 1984 Publisher: Beyond Software You’ll never forget the 17 first time you played Mike Singleton’s The Lords Of Midnight. With its lavish packaging, accompanying overlay card and distinct gameplay, it proved that there was more to the Spectrum than simple platformers and arcade conversions, and it remains a very atmospheric title without equal. What impresses most about The Lords Of Midnight is its flexibility. While the main objective is to lead your four adventurers on a quest to destroy the fabled Ice Crown, it’s possible to forget the task completely and just concentrate on amassing a huge army. If that doesn’t take your fancy you can just as easily combine the two into an epic adventure that few other 8-bit games could match. Massive in scale – the pseudo-3D graphics display over 31,000 different views – and rich in atmosphere, The Lords Of Midnight is a Spectrum title that everyone should experience. If you’re familiar with it, go back and play through it again. A true classic.

16. Turbo Esprit Year: 1986 Publisher: Durrell Turbo Esprit, not to be confused with the Gremlin game 16 with a very similar name, is a criminally great sandbox game from the makers of Harrier Attack. This sublime little gem had you taking to the mean streets of Wellington, Gamesborough, Romford and Minster and indulging in a spot of covert stakeout-type drug busting. Boasting bustling cities crammed with Durell’s signature ant-looking denizens, staggering AI and a novel feeling of freedom, Turbo Esprit would later go on to become a major influence on Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series. And while the game probably would have benefited from a slightly punchier title, such as ‘Turbo Elite Cokehead Apprehender’, playing the game was still like being in your own episode of Miami Vice. Quite simply there’s nothing quite like it on the Speccy and so, for that reason, it’s in.

15. Jet Set Willy Year: 1984 Publisher: Software Projects We’ve all been there, the morning after the night before. In this case, a house party, probably the outcome of a careless exchange on a popular friendship website, has meant that Willy’s mansion, after being packed to the rafters with beer guzzlers and winos, has now been alcoholically decimated. And to make matters worse for Willy, his lardy housekeeper has put her stomping foot down and is preventing poor Willy from going to bed, recharging the old batteries and promising to do something about the mess in the morning. Matthew Smith’s second house of pain was a sublime and simple platforming jaunt that built on the brilliance of Manic Miner. Jet Set Willy was released into a swathe of high expectancy, both by gamers, preying that it would be as good, if not better, than the original, and by its publisher, who was hoping to make a shed load of cash – which was the reason that the game came packed with an annoying copy protection card. Jet Set Willy’s quirky and colourful palette, warped imagery and surrealist humour captured perfectly the irreverence of videogames of the time. And as it was built with the Spectrum in mind, it is widely considered to house the finest version of the game.

14. Chase HQ Year: 1988 Publisher: Taito Taito’s wonderful pursuit racer still gets 14 a lot of play in the Retro Gamer offices. While we would lovingly hand the best conversion accolade to the Amstrad for its colourful finesse, the Spectrum’s offering does feel fractionally more fluid, especially when you’re belting across Chase HQ’s quasi-3D tarmac, screaming, “Let’s go Mr Driver!” The Speccy has been blessed with some truly brilliant racing games in its lifetime, but Chase HQ showcases a real eye for detail and technical ability from Ocean. An almost impractical chasm sat between the arcade machine and the ZX Spectrum, and yet, somehow, Ocean managed to rev the Porsche 928 to pretty much clunking-out point before flicking a nitro switch and jumping that gorge magnificently. Chase HQ was blessed with an almost perfect home arcade port – easily up there with the likes of Sega Rally and Buggy Boy. It is the quintessential Spectrum racing game and was massively popular with Speccy owners back in the game’s heyday… so popular, in fact, that Your Sinclair readers went on to vote it the best Spectrum game of all time.

13. Chuckie Egg Year: 1984 Publisher: A&F Software Nigel Alderton’s classic 13 platformer is so ingrained in the minds of BBC owners that it’s easy to forget it started off life as a Spectrum title. Based on some of Alderton’s favourite coin-ops, such as Donkey Kong and Space Panic, Chuckie Egg is an insanely fast platformer that sees hero Hen House Harry going up and down ladders and leaping across platforms in search of eggs, while avoiding the angry hens. Unlike other platformers of the time, which were more methodical and slower-paced, ‘Eggy Kong’ (as it was originally known) dashed along at a cracking pace and really felt like it had escaped from your local arcade. It may have only had eight levels, but they were fiendishly designed and it wasn’t until several loops had passed and the huge caged duck had been released that you began to appreciate just how expertly crafted they were. It‘s not one of the Spectrum’s most original platformers, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the most polished. A classic in every sense.

12. Stop The Express Year: 1983 Publisher: Sinclair Research Ltd If we’re honest, 12th seems a little 12 meagre for this sublime Hudson title, but the reasoning is this: there really is an abundance of top-notch games on the Spectrum. Chunky arcade-style graphics, quirky premise and compulsive playability sum up all the factors that make a classic retro game, and Stop The Express succeeds in ticking all those boxes. Playing a shaggy-haired blonde chap in green pyjamas, it was your job to stop a train by fighting your way from one end to the other. Trying to put a leaf on your track were ‘train gangsters’ who could be felled by grabbing and kicking ‘snake birds’ at them. Brilliant. After you’d traversed the first ten carriages from the rooftops, the game put you inside the train, where you had to avoid more dagger throwers and the ectoplasm of trundling ghosts. Stop The Express is a simple and beautiful Speccy game. We believe a “Congraturation! You sucsess!” is firmly in order here.

11. TLL Year: 1984 Publisher: Vortex Software If you’re the sort of Spectrum owner who’s constantly hounded by C64 and Amstrad owners, show them Vortex Software’s amazing TLL and watch them shut up faster than a superglued clam. Created by Costa ‘Deflektor’ Panayi, Tornado Low Level (to give it its full title) is an insanely slick looking title that features some of the smoothest and flicker-free scrolling you’re ever likely to see on Sir Clive’s humble 8-bit. Taking control of a Tornado jet, you’re simply required to fly around and participate in strategically placed missile strikes. There are no actual enemies and nothing to shoot at; it’s just your fighter, a constantly dropping fuel supply and plenty of hazards – trees, houses, telephone wires – to avoid. It sounds simple, boring even, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. TLL requires a cool nerve, insane gameplay skills and a hefty pair of balls – you have to fly dangerously close to the ground to bomb your targets – and is not for the faint-hearted. Those feeling the need for speed, however, will discover a title that’s not only graphically amazing, but, more importantly, has the actual gameplay to back it up. Stunning. Simply stunning.

10. Starquake Year: 1985 Publisher: Bubble Bus Stephen Crow’s Starquake may share many 10 similarities with a typical Ultimate release – brilliantly drawn visuals, engaging gameplay, strong main character – but extended play soon reveals it to be something quite different. Essentially a cross between a shoot-’em-up, platformer and an adventure game, Starquake is a fun title that casts you in the form of BLOB (Bio-Logically Operated Being) who must find the missing parts of his crashed spaceship. Fortunately, in order to make traversing the huge – 512 screens – planet easier, BLOB has a number of handy abilities. As well as being incredibly fast – the game pelts along at a cracking pace – he can create platforms, which last for a limited time, to reach out of the way areas, or he can simply jump on to a nearby hoverboard (although this makes it impossible for him to pick up items). There are even handy teleports to use, therefore making the gigantic world far more manageable. With its beautifully drawn visuals, clever mishmash of genres and addictive gameplay, Starquake manages to deliver an experience that’s quite unlike any other Spectrum release. Visit the World Of Spectrum website today to discover its magic for yourself.

9. The Great Escape Year: 1986 Publisher: Ocean This hazy movie tie-in by Denton Design proved to be a very surprising hit for Ocean when it was released on the Spectrum. The Great Escape plonked the player into a peculiar monochrome ritual of breakfast, roll calls and wily absconding. It was a brilliantly designed game that brimmed with a stellar cast of innovative ideas – it offered various different escape routes from the camp and your hero would automatically adhere to the camp’s routines if you left him to his own devices for too long. The Great Escape proved to be a trailblazing Spectrum classic that benefited from the computer’s small colour palette by coating the game in a tense cheer-destroying bleakness. It also helped to give movie tie-ins some credibility, dragging the much-reviled genre out of solitary confinement and proving that it could fit in with the rest of the law-abiding game genres that existed at that time.

8. R-Type Year: 1988 Publisher: Electric Dreams It’s been 20 years now and we still can’t work out how Bob Pape and Mark Jones pulled off this stunning conversion (if you’re reading guys, we’d love to hear from you). Anyway, R-Type on the Spectrum is a thing of beauty and is easily the best arcade conversion to grace the machine. The graphics are incredible, with huge, brightly coloured sprites, very little colour clash, insanely smooth scrolling and amazing looking bosses. Level layout throughout is virtually identical, with many classic scenes from the arcade original being instantly recognisable, making for a wonderfully authentic experience. It wasn’t just R-Type’s gob- smacking visuals that impressed, as its gameplay was just as finely honed. The force might not have been as responsive as its arcade parent, but that’s our only niggle, everything else – enemy placement, movement and structure – is near identical, meaning that many of the tricks can be pulled off perfectly. An astounding conversion that proved to Amstrad and C64 owners that the Spectrum was still a force to be reckoned with.

7. Knight Lore Year: 1984 Publisher: Ultimate Sabreman returns, but this time he’s gone isometric! After wowing gamers with titles such as Jetpac, Sabre Wulf and Pssst, Ultimate ushered in a new era of Spectrum visuals by dressing up Sabreman in some brand new isometric clothing. Granted, an isometric Spectrum game was certainly nothing new – take a bow 3D Ant Attack. However, Ultimate’s new ‘Filmation’ engine pushed the unique-looking style to previously unseen levels and delivered a title that was both stunning to look at and an absolute joy to play through. After receiving a wolf bite at the end of Sabre Wulf, Sabreman has to explore the enormous castle and create the potion that will help to free him from his lycanthropic curse. Along the way he also has to deal with some incredibly fiendish puzzles that require critical timing, fast reflexes and plenty of skill. Oh, and did we mention that the poor blighter turns into a werewolf every evening? Constantly imitated (most notably by Ultimate itself), but very rarely bettered, Knight Lore is a gloriously fun adventure that not only helped to cement the Stamper brothers as a force to be reckoned with, but also proved that Sir Clive Sinclair’s humble 8-bit machine still had the ability to pleasantly surprise.

6. Target Renegade Year: 1988 Publisher: Imagine What do you do when you release a hit conversion of a popular arcade game that’s never been blessed with a proper sequel? If you’re Imagine Software you simply release your own unofficial spin-off that’s even better than the arcade original. With its bold, cartoony visuals, incredibly violent gameplay and frantic two- player action, Imagine’s Target Renegade instantly captured the hearts of those arcade gamers who were obsessed with Technos’ Double Dragon and delivered a home experience that no other fighter of the time was able to match. Never mind that the plot’s flimsier than a house of cards and has the disgraced gangs trying to redeem their honour by killing the renegade and his identical twin brother – Target Renegade was all about the action and Imagine did not disappoint. Punches, vicious knees to the groin and flying kicks were just a few of the moves the brothers had access to, while weapons like hammers, chains and even pool cues could be used to dish out additional hurt to your hapless foes. Excellent stuff.

5. Manic Miner Year: 1983 Publisher: Bug-Byte For further insight into the nutty world of Manic Miner head over to page 22 and read our indepth ‘Making of’. Manic Miner created many imitators, but none quite reached the heights of the original. It is the Spectrum’s best platformer and a stunning example of the genre. Despite being only 20 screens long – although it would take you some time to finish – Manic Miner proved to be the crowning jewel of Smith’s short-lived career and delivered an experience that, if we’re truly honest, Smith never had a fair chance of succeeding. Indeed, it’s very much platform perfection. Every enemy is well placed, the structure of each platform feels almost organic, while the pixel-perfect jumping will never – for the most part – test your patience. With its jaunty opening, boot-stomping ending and bizarre enemies, Smith’s game proved to be a masterpiece that, 25 years later, still manages to impress. An utterly ingenious piece of programming that shows just how far you can go with sheer talent and a very healthy imagination.

4. Elite Year: 1985 Publisher: Firebird Software We came extremely close to leaving Elite out of our top 30 list altogether, mainly due to its heavy association with the BBC. However, after giving it a little bit of thought, we suddenly realised that there’s no other Spectrum game out there that offers the same kind of unique experience as Elite. With Firebird owning the rights to a glut of new systems and David Braben and Ian Bell busy at work on other conversions, it was left to Torus to handle the highly anticipated Spectrum conversion. Fortunately though, the end result was a highly accurate re-creation of the original BBC release that not only offered the same sense of wonder and astonishment that the BBC and Acorn outings had delivered a year earlier, but even added a few original touches of its own. Armed with nothing more than a Cobra Mk III and 100 credits, the universe of Elite is literally your oyster and you’re given a real sense of freedom that is incomparable in other Spectrum releases. It might be a little more sluggish when compared to its BBC counterpart, but the same gripping and absorbing gameplay remained, and Torus even had the foresight to include several new missions that had never actually appeared in the BBC and Acorn originals. Ultimately though, for all its cosmetic changes, this was Elite through and through and it instantly received rave reviews from popular magazines such as Crash and Sinclair User. With its sandbox gameplay, moral dilemmas – did you always play as the good guy, or occasionally go after some easy bounties? – and beautiful – if rather stark – wireframe visuals, Elite remains a true classic that no self-respecting gamer, Spectrum or otherwise, should go without experiencing at least once in their lives.

3. Head Over Heels Year: 1987 Publisher: Ocean After the arrival of Knight Lore in 1984, virtually every videogame publisher began jumping on the isometric bandwagon, desperate to cash in on what was becoming a rapidly popular genre. Despite many fine efforts – the majority of them usually being from Ultimate – none have ever come close to the sheer brilliance of John Ritman’s utterly sublime Head Over Heels. After cutting his isometric teeth on the thoroughly enjoyable Batman, Ritman’s next project would be far more ambitious and included more devious puzzles, many, many more screens to explore, and, in a twist that was highly original for the time, two distinctive characters for the player to control; each with their own special abilities. Head was a large-nosed… well, head… with a pair of stubby wings that enabled him to make mighty jumps and also glide for short periods, while Heels was an adorable puppy-like creature whose huge feet allowed him to quickly move through Bernie Drummond’s surreallooking environments. Originally known as ‘Foot & Mouth’ the duo are not only insanely cute (no easy task when you’re dealing with a limited amount of pixels), but instantly recognisable to anyone from the 8-bit era. Initially trapped in the bowels of Blacktooth Castle, your first task is to actually escape. These early screens are not only filled with some brilliantly conceived puzzles, but also act as the perfect tutorial for both Head and Heels’ skills. Of course, once you’ve struggled through these first 40-odd rooms and managed to escape, your adventure not only truly begins, but Ritman also plays his masterstroke by revealing that the two odd-looking fellows can be combined to create one super-being.

It’s not only a brilliant touch, but also enabled Ritman to create even more devious puzzles, as you were now forced to tackle rooms in a variety of different ways, with many of the later screens requiring a considerable amount of head scratching before you could finally move forward. Spread across a total of five huge planets (each with its own distinct themes), and populated with some truly wacky sprites – Bernie Drummond created everything from a Prince Charlesheaded Dalek to staircases made out of puppies – Head Over Heels is an unmissable adventure that’s not only filled with enough charm to sink a battleship, but proves that two heads (okay, a head and heels) really are better than one.

2. Chaos Year: 1985 Publisher: Games Workshop Julian Gollop lent his brain to some of the finest strategy games to appear on the 8-bit micros. His greatest works include: Laser Squad, Lords Of Chaos, and the sublime Rebelstar. Set on the planet of Limbo, Chaos was a very early and deceptively deep strategy game. If you’ve ever wondered why Games Workshops still seem to inhabit the high streets, or considered taking that plunge into the ‘strat-’o’-fear’, then you should really make Chaos the next game you boot up and play. But be warned, set aside a quiet afternoon because it’s annoyingly addictive. Beginning with a series of questions to help you create your hero and set you on course for the wonderful world of wizard duelling, the game then gave you the keys to a messy magical melee against up to seven other wizardly foes. Okay, the graphics looked crude, and it wouldn’t do much to impress any of your C64 and CPC chums, but its rudimentary look made getting a head around all the spells and rules of engagement more accessible.

After you had created your wizard, he would be blessed with a random collection of spells to help you vanquish your opponents. The most innovative feature about Chaos was the fact that during play, being that your spells were purposefully temperamental little buggers, there was no guarantee that they would actually work. The more potent the spell, the higher the risk of seeing it seize up on you. So while the Giant Rats were reliable, trying to persuade your Speccy to let you have access to one of Chaos’s bashful Golden Dragons would prove a little trickier. To improve your odds you could cast some of the smaller spells to influence the laws of the game board and make opting for the stronger enemies less of a gamble, opening up a world of tactical possibilities.

1. 3D Deathchase Year: 1983 Publisher: Micromega Now if you’re a tree hugger, tree surgeon or a puppet you might want to avert your eyes, because this is a game that will more than likely cause you to grab the closest chainsaw and stick it into the nearest available hunk of wood. Yes, this game does absolutely nothing for relations between humans and trees, but tons for the Speccy, 9K and gamer dealings. Now there really is only one word to describe 3D Deathchase and that word is: trees. So, out of the billion or so Spectrum titles that were ever released, why should 3D Deathchase be considered the zenith of the machine? After all, many magazines of the day weren’t overly kind towards the game when it was released. Sinclair User awarded the game a measly 60% and the oracle of Spectrum gaming Your Sinclair, weren’t massive fans of the game either.

It took Stuart Campbell to right past wrongs when he compiled and wrote the magazine’s Top 100 Speccy games of all time list and reserved the number one spot for this brilliantly simple game. Admittedly, the game is blessed with the most inanimate of enemies: trees. So yes, to some it might sound like a profoundly stupid idea in principle, and with a lot of green, blue or black – depending on whether you were on ‘night patrol’ – permeated with plenty of lofty orangey thick lines, it would be fair to say that it didn’t really look all that fantastic neither. We would have loved to have been in the room when Mervyn Estcourt pitched his idea to Micromega though… “So then Mervyn, just so I’m 100 per cent clear on this. You want to make a pseudo-3D Space Invaders game about driving a bike through a forest. Oh, okay, so what do you have to fight? Other bikes, okay, and these bikes, they can fight back right? They can’t fight back, okay, right, so where’s the actual threat, where are the enemies in your game? The trees you say, as in the green leafy things outside? And these trees, you’re giving them guns right?” Playing a futuristic bounty hunter, 3D Deathchase found you swerving through bountiful forests of ever-increasing density to chase and blow up two brightly coloured motorcyclists. Your enemies rely on astonishing driving abilities to draw you into groups of trees, with the hope that the Ents dish out some tree-hurt. The greatest aspect about 3D Deathchase was the sheer simplicity of the thing. The whole principle of the game was to avoid and invade. And the game occasionally threw in mothership- style bonus targets that allowed you to earn extra points. Star Wars fans would probably find appeal from its peculiar similarity to the speeder bike chases in Return Of The Jedi, and wannabe Jedis would lovingly replay the scenes by booting up the game in tandem with a rather rich imagination. The game also featured brilliantly swift scrolling and, with the trees on the later stages coming at you at breakneck speeds, an ingenious and visually fathomable difficulty curve was brought to the game. And when the game switched from day to night, the menacing dark sky would cause the pursuit to become a shade twitchier and destroying those skittish bikes that extra bit harder. It was all in your head though and, secretly, you knew it. You could never get angry at 3D Deathchase, though. With all of the game’s win/lose elements so clearly defined, unwittingly becoming one with nature was always of your own doing. A genius game, with a genius concept… quite simply: genius. 3D Deathchase, we salute you.