28th May 2022: The Entire Spectrum
Of all the games that I had played in the past, and still really wanted to complete, this one was the oldest. Dating all the way back to 1983, I tried this game several times as a young lad on our family's old Speccy, but could never figure out what the hell to do. I probably never would have figured anything out this time either, if I'd not watched a Youtube video showing that you need to put several items into a magic box, in order to craft a spell that can defeat the main villain of the game: The Evil Warlock!
Yes, this game is Alchemist.
So, as you might guess, you play as an alchemist. You look a lot like a wizard, and can cast spells, and you fight monsters, and you can turn into an eagle, and the object of the game is to defeat a warlock.
But you're definitely an alchemist.
Well, this is essentially an action platformer, though you don't really do much platforming. I guess your old alchemist legs can't do much, so instead, you turn into a bird and fly around the place.
There's also not much action. Sure you can try and zap the enemies with wibbly beams of energy, but I was never able to kill one like that. It also takes forever for your spell energy to recharge. So instead, I just walked into the enemies, and we both took damage until the enemies died. The big advantage here is that there was an ever-respawning food item that healed you, so I just kept using that.
So it's old, and clunky, and only takes about 15 minutes to complete once you've figured out what to do. But I've got to give the game its props. Compared to the other Spectrum games I've played while doing this blog, this one controlled by far the smoothest. Sometimes it would double click when I would pick up or put down an item, and the alchemist would just pick it straight back up or put it straight back down. Which was odd. But that was the only thing that was janky. Well, by Spectrum game standards that is.
But I can finally say I finished it. And that's cool.
I maybe only tried this next game two or three times as a kid, where my bro, my next door neighbour and I couldn't even get out of the initial couple of rooms. We were all real big fans of the TV show the game was based on, so were all incredibly disappointed with this pathetic attempt at an adaptation.
But all these years later, I'd still got a little spark inside that wanted to see what the whole game was like. So down I descended into the Dungeon of Deceit, to tackle Knightmare.
So, not going to lie. I had exactly the same trouble as an adult as I had as a kid. I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get out of the first two rooms. So I had a quick check online in order to progress, and then got stumped figuring out what to do next. Sigh.
The problem is, the game is just too unintuitive, and to be fair, nothing like the TV show at all. I ended up having to follow a guide for pretty much the entire thing. And even following the guide, I did not understand why I was doing most of the things I was doing.
I mean, why am I digging in random rooms in order to dig up pitch? And what the hell is pitch anyway? And why am I drinking this random potion that makes the screen go all wibbly? Just what did it do? And why is the final boss dragon poking its head through a hole in the wall? And why am I defeating said dragon by throwing a jar of fat at it?
Urgh. The game made no sense whatsoever.
The least they could have done is make it feel like the TV show. Here, you have to fight off enemies by throwing rocks at them or stabbing them with a sword, where in the show you could only beat enemies through wits and knowledge.
And the dungeon master, Treguard, could be a bit sarcastic in the show, but here he's an absolute prick who just insults you over and over.
Well, I'm glad this one is behind me at least...
Of all the computers and consoles I've played games on in the past, my PS3 is the only one I'm fully done with, with no reason to go back to. After playing this next game, I would be entirely done with the ZX Spectrum platform, meaning I could finally tick another machine off the list.
The game is one I played a lot on as a kid. I was sure it was with my brother, but he couldn't remember it very well. Scoob, however, was sure he played it a lot, and even finished it, which is something I can't remember doing. So who I played it with and how far we got will forever remain a mystery to me.
Probably the first ever side-scrolling beat em up we ever played, the game is Target: Renegade. It seemed like an obvious choice for Scoob and I to team up and try to kick this thing's ass, just to be sure.
Well, I did say try.
The effort that Scoob and I put in actually happened all the way back in July last year. We couldn't even get passed the first level after several attempts, so we called it quits and the game was put back into its time capsule. That was, until recently, when I had a proper good single player attempt.
To put it simply, there is no way I finished this as a kid. Even trying my hardest, and utilising the save state functionality to the max, I could only get to level 4 out of 5. It is just too hard to properly control your character, what with this being a Spectrum game. Half the time, you tell him to do a specific attack, and he just walks away, or does a different attack entirely. Sometimes even getting him to turn and face the other way is an exercise in futility.
Still, I got to where I did by using the flying kick a lot to knock down the enemies, then finish them off by beating the snot out of them when they were on the ground. What undid me on level 4 is the fact that most of the enemies can dodge the flying kick, meaning there is no way to quickly knock them down, allowing multiple foes to surround you and hit you from all sides. Add in that you must complete each level within a certain time limit, and with the controls being so crap, it was too frustrating to spend any more time on.
Though I failed at the original game, I discovered there was another chance at conquering Target: Renegade. All the way back in 2006, someone made a Windows remake of it that was still available to download.
So, out came my old Windows XP laptop to give this a go, and see what it was like.
Holy crap, this thing was so much easier than the Spectrum version, even though it had more levels. The enemies didn't have the evil intelligence to surround you like the original game, so I could easily line them all up in front of me and keep swinging while they walked into my fists.
In fact, the hardest thing about the entire game was trying to get screenshots, as both Fraps and Bandicam struggled to detect it.
So with all of the Target: Renegade shenanigans out of the way, the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of my ZX Spectrum adventures.
There were a bunch of other games I played as a kid, but none I've ever thought about playing again, or have ever looked back on with the desire to complete.
So I can say goodbye to another aspect of my childhood. Ah well, it's not like I'll miss playing Speccy games. With my brain, give it another few years and I probably won't even remember that far back anyway...