Okay, so Christmas is still a few weeks off, but I'm sure you're all already wondering what to put in big red capital letters as first choice on your prezzie lists. I'm also pretty sure you can guess what Hewson would like you to put there. And here it is. The splendiferous, soopa doopa, who-dressed-the-baby-up-and-stuck-her-on-top-of-the-Christmas-tree Christmas Collection!! After all, the house will be crawling with undesirable relatives and the last thing you want to do is sit there discussing school. So let's see how much of a Chrimbo blues-buster it really is.
I never actually got around to playing this one when it first sprung forth, and it would seem that I missed out on something bordering on the serviceable. It's essentially a road-scrolling-towards-you game, but in a space setting and with formations of aliens to shoot, things to avoid, all that sort of stuff. The trouble is that it kinda grows on you for a while and then fades away. I don't think it's got anything to do with the horrendous graphics, which were obviously designed on a black and white telly in the hope that they'd look all right in the end. There just doesn't seem to be enough to it to make up a complete game. All the same, Eliminator has the potential for a bit of fun between playing all the other bits and pieces on the tape.
This is one of two contributions from Gargoyle "Where are they now?" Games, a company that's more vividly remembered for its surreal arcade adventures. As you can probably see from the piccie, it's in 3D and takes place entirely underwater. As Sweevo, the start ofthat other game Sweevo's World, you have been given the job of emptying the Deathbowl of water (whatever that may be) by pulling out a series of plugs that are scattered around. There are loads of 'humourous touches' and the general feel of things is very nice indeed. Come to think of it, 'nice' is quite a good word to describe the whole game. Not only does it apply to the 'feel', but also to the graphics and sound too. Very handy, as it saves me from having to think too hard. The puzzles you'll need to solve are probably quite nice too, but I found that just swimming around seeing the sights was sufficiently amusing in itself.
But what else? Well, what it all boils down to is the original game with a few add-ons scattered around the place. And considering this is the jobby that established Hewson as one of the most sickeningly slick outfits around it's no surprise that it's such a corker. In case you've forgotten the plot (I had) the idea is to fly around over a long thin spaceship blowing things up and avoiding bits that stick up from the surface. As well as having some of the fastest scrolling and spookiest graphics in history, Uridium is also extraordinarily addictive. There are loads of levels, graduating nicely from difficulty to difficulty, and you'll probably have to replace your joystick at least 7,022 times before you crack them all.
This was Mr Cecco's first offering, although it probably surpasses most people's 109th. It originally appeared and gasps of disbelief and thuds of astonished reviewers hitting bar floorborards, but underneath the fab graphics and apocalyptic explosions Exolon is really fairly tedious. There, now I've said it. All the game involves is walking through each of 125 or so slightly different screens and shooting things. Vitorc, the guy you control, can also dress up in an exoskeleton suit which reduces his manoeuvrability but protects him from the majority of alien forces. He also has the delightful ability to release missiles from a launcher on his back. These streak off towards their targets, which then evaporate in the usual puff of smoke. It's definitely worth having as part of the compilation, but whether you'll still be playing it after you've discovered the cheat and plodded through all the screens is another matter altogether.
This is the other Gargoyle number in the bunch, and while not exactly bad it's probably the most lacklustre of them all. It's an attempt to bring the scrolling shooter to the Speccy in full colour - something it achieves very well. The amount of colour scrolling all over the place is most impressive, although if you look closely you can see the giveaway black outlines and character-by-character movement. It's this chunky movement, I think, that ruins the illusion of arcadyness. It does mean, however, that everything can bomb around the screen with alarming speed making the game extremely tricky to get to grips with. The plus points are that the graphics are truly superb and Andy says, "I really, really love those noises..." I think (and hope) that he was referring to the game.
Another Hewson original, from its pet programmer Raffaele. Quite a handy person to have around, and this is his tastiest program to date (that I've played anyway). The screen positively seethes with colour. Debris flies in all directions. Sprites appear, launch things at you and then disappear, hopefully in a disintegrating mass of flashing pixels. There are piles of add-ons to collect which slowly transform your ship from merely being a devastatingly powerful killing machine which not only obliterates anything that strays into its path but also wastes its family, close friends and pets, to being a craft possessing such awesome powers of destruction that your joints start to leak sinovial fluid if you so much as look at it. In amongst all this excessive violence there's also an excellent game with some beautifully designed screens. I still haven't found a way to get past the second one without losing a life but then I'm probably quite stupid.
Phew, at an average of about 78' each, and all six for £12.99, that works out at, eeerm, pretty good value really. There isn't a single rubbishy one among them, and they should keep you out of range of the festivities at least until the New Year. So long as there's still some of that turkey left when you've finished your waggling you'll probably end up sending Hewson a thank-you letter too.
One of the best compilations floating around. Requires little in the way of brainpower, but on Boxing Day that's probably just as well.