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22nd July 2022: Amiga Marathon 1: Going To The Movies

After putting the Spectrum platform to rest, I've been looking at finishing off some of the other retro games I used to play in the past. As I still have quite a few Amiga games to attempt, I decided to move forward with some of those first.

After looking down the list of games, I saw many of the Amiga titles group together quite nicely. This first group I'm going to attempt are all games based on movies.


I just had to try this game, which is based on my favourite movie of all time, Jaws. I had this as a kid but never really got anywhere in it, but I figured I could do better than that as an adult. I quickly learned I was very wrong.

There's no way to mince words here. This game is utter trash, and the people who made it should be ashamed of themselves. Not only is it frustratingly tedious and boring to play, it has absolutely nothing at all to do with either the book or the film. Well, except that there's a shark in it. A shark which you never see, because 99% of your time is spent trying to make your way through an underwater labyrinth where the shark does not go.

And why do you have to go into the underwater caves? Why, to find pieces to a big gun that can kill the shark of course! I mean, why would the gun be anywhere else?

Anyway, I remembered all this going in, and I kind-of knew what to expect. I set myself up to give it as good a go as possible, and during my first forays into the game I started to make a map of the underwater maze, so I could plot where the parts to the gun were. Several attempts didn't see me getting very far, as the submersible is hard to control and many, many things are out to kill. I started watching a longplay of the game on Youtube, marking on the map with simple arrows where that player went and where the parts were.

However, it was watching this footage that turned me right off the game. Whoever was playing it was incredibly good and very well-practised and very patient. And even then it was taking them a long time to get around and find the parts. I decided I didn't have time for that, and promptly gave up. Life's too short.

Unfinished mappage

Unfinished mappage

You remember when they loaded that funky-looking submersible onto the Orca, right?

You remember when they loaded that funky-looking submersible onto the Orca, right?

Getting chomped by an angry Bruce

Getting chomped by an angry Bruce

Better keep this beach closed. There's a shark out there the size of an entire town.

Better keep this beach closed. There's a shark out there the size of an entire town.

Trying to navigate the underwater labyrinth

Trying to navigate the underwater labyrinth


Another game I had was the game of the 1989 Batman movie. Trying to play this again really surprised me with how hard it was.

Ultimately, this turned out to be another game I just couldn't face pushing through. Batman just moves too slow and clumsily for the game to feel any good.

Add in that all of the takedowns must be at range, with Batman taking damage if he even brushes past an enemy, and things get even worse. I mean, you can't even throw Batarangs diagonally, instead having to use the grapple as a weapon if you want to do this. The problem here is, the grapple takes ages to go out, then ages to come back in, and Batman can't move while doing it. Plus, he can't throw out the grapple if he's standing near a ladder, for some reason.

Still, I was making slow but decent progress through the first level using save states, but then, upon my sudden death, I realised the game had a time limit. Trying to go through the level again at a much higher pace just saw me getting twonked left and right, and even using save states I just ran out of patience.

What's frustrating here is I know for a fact I got further as a kid even without the save state functionality, as I distinctly remember driving the Batmobile, and shooting out grapples to help turn round corners (or mostly missing them, in my case).
But here I could just not manage it.

But oh well, I gave it a go. Now on with another...

Grenade to the face

Grenade to the face

Oh, hello

Oh, hello

Batman points and laughs as goon falls off ladder

Batman points and laughs as goon falls off ladder

Grappling hook takedown

Grappling hook takedown


This was a game I remember giving a good go when I was a young lad, based on the 80s action classic: Robocop.

This was way easier to get through than the other Amiga games I've attempted recently, but I still had to use some save states to pull through.

When I got to the end, it all felt a bit familiar, but I think it's highly unlikely I beat it as a kid, unless I threw some cheats at it or something.

But anyway, I've actually managed to finish one, and I can move on with something else...

Getting into a shoot out

Getting into a shoot out

Looks like a couple of 1970s football hooligans

Looks like a couple of 1970s football hooligans

Robocop shoots out old Epic Space Marine barrage templates

Robocop shoots out old Epic Space Marine barrage templates

Not movie accurate at all. I mean, where's the ridiculously long arms?

Not movie accurate at all. I mean, where's the ridiculously long arms?

15th July 2022: 7 + 25

Playing this 'ere game through again is something I really should have done back in 2019 or early 2020, in order to act as a refresher before its remake/sequel came out. But unfortunately, I didn't really have any motivation or desire to play JRPG-style games. Which is odd, considering this is my favourite game of all time, and I've had quite a good time going through it again for the first time in over 20 years.
And it is most certainly a JRPG.

This is my big, and probably final, playthrough of Final Fantasy VII.

At first, I thought about playing this 25-year old game, on my old PS1, just for the added nostalgia factor. That old console is still plastered in a cheesy sticker that came with a games magazine just after the game was released. However, there was no way to connect it to my current monitors, and I didn't want to get my old TV out of the loft.

So instead, I just carried on from where I left it a couple of years ago, where I was leaving Midgar and heading into the Kalm flashback.

Can you believe it's really been 25 years?

Can you believe it's really been 25 years?

My old PS1 couldn't get a look in

My old PS1 couldn't get a look in

As I'd pretty much always just used Tifa and Barret as my party members in the past, I decided to change it up and focus on Red and Yuffie this time. However, not using Tifa at all quickly started to feel weird, so I instead decided to rotate through all the characters except Vincent and Cait Sith, who I don't like because of their crappy limit breaks. Oh, and Aerith of course. Because of, well... you know. Reasons.

I'd made it through most of disc 1, when an idea formed in my tiny brain. Surely, I thought, if this was going to be my last play of this game, maybe I should make it worthwhile, and actually try and do all those things I'd never really tried before, upto and including the two superboss Weapon fights.

Of course, I made this decision just as I was about to do the Temple Of The Ancients, and I had not used Aerith at all by this point due to... reasons. But now I needed to make sure she got her final limit break, which I had never bothered with before. So off I trudged to at least try to get her stuff unlocked so I can say I did it at least once.

Luckily I ended up having to stay away several times for work during March. So I took my laptop along to whittle away the evenings, and give me something to look forward to after digging all those holes and filling them in again.

And so it was that, after some grinding, I was able to cast Great Gospel for my first time. Probably my last.

Tifa really likes somersaulting

Tifa really likes somersaulting

Kweh!

Kweh!

I hope his name wasn't Jimmy

I hope his name wasn't Jimmy

Barret and Dyne sorting out their differences

Barret and Dyne sorting out their differences

That's a lot of frogs

That's a lot of frogs

The one and only time I will ever use Great Gospel

The one and only time I will ever use Great Gospel

Now that the cat was out of the bag, it seemed anything and everything in the game was up for grabs. I decided to do as much as possible while Cloud was out of the party, so the other members could catch up in levels a bit.

After doing some research, Tifa led my team in some grinding, item finding, and even some forced RNG shenanigans in order to get an early gold chocobo so I could start levelling the materia from the caves. This then allowed me to use my new chocobos to get to the Ancient Forest early. I brought Vincent along for this as he was my only current member with a 255% hit chance weapon, which would apparently counter the high dodge rates of the enemies here. But he still kept missing, meaning I had to do a lot of the work with magic. Well done Vincent, your one and only job and you screwed it up. Go get back in your coffin.

After Cloud returned, I took some time off to deal with the FF7 Remake again, then hit the Gold Saucer for races and battles until I'd got all the items I wanted.

And then there was more grinding. So much grinding. Man, that materia is thirsty.

After I finally continued with the story, I was able to get all of the Turtle's Paradise flyers, and then made my first loop of the Northern Crater. For this, I brought along Cait Sith for his one and only moment in the spotlight. Well, he performed better than Vincent, I guess, and I was able to get all the items I needed to set me up for my last round of grinding.

How are they going to handle <i>this</i> in the remake?

How are they going to handle this in the remake?

Tifa and Vizna go materia hunting

Tifa and Vizna go materia hunting

How did all of this train fit in that tiny reactor?

How did all of this train fit in that tiny reactor?

Cloud unleashing on the enemy

Cloud unleashing on the enemy

Here comes big boi

Here comes big boi

Smacking Proud Clod all up and down the street

Smacking Proud Clod all up and down the street

From there it was some more grinding until all of the necessary materia was mastered. Off I trudged to Cosmo Canyon to pick up my very first set of master materia. This set me up nice for an attempt at Emerald Weapon.

I read up on a few methods for tackling ol' big, green and mean, but most of them looked really cheesy. I wanted to fight. So I went with the tactic that utilises the Fury status and lots of level 3 limit breaks to twonk that big bugger nice and good. Cloud's and Tifa's limit breaks, while doing some work, didn't seem to do anywhere near the damage Yuffie's "Doom Of The Living" did. Pretty sure she outdamaged both of the other party members put together. I was well impressed.

Cid and Red subbed in for the fight against Ruby Weapon. I went with the same style of tactic, but added in heavy use of an item called Dazers to keep the big bastard stunned as much as possible. Still, this fight was incredibly hard. After scapping for a good 25 mins or so, he ejected two of my party members, leaving just Red, who could not do as much damage as the others, and I failed. As far as I had read, Ruby Weapon could not eject characters from the game during this phase so I was well miffed.
Another attempt created a similar situation, but this time leaving Cid on his own. And after a good long 40 minute scrap, Ruby Weapon was defeated.

With seemingly nothing else to do, I then ventured into the crater and killed Sephiroth. These end fights all felt very strange after the fights with the two super Weapons, as each of the fights ended in victory after just 4-5 normal attacks. It just shows how much stronger you have to get to take on those Weapons.

But that was the end of this run. So surely now I was done with the game?

Or was I?

I'm just as bad at rolling dice here as I am in Warhammer 40K

I'm just as bad at rolling dice here as I am in Warhammer 40K

All that grinding pays off

All that grinding pays off

Zack is best boi who didn't deserve this

Zack is best boi who didn't deserve this

Yuffie damn near took Emerald Weapon on her own

Yuffie damn near took Emerald Weapon on her own

Red and Cloud get sucked down into the sand...

Red and Cloud get sucked down into the sand...

...but Cid is able to complete the task alone.

...but Cid is able to complete the task alone.

I remembered there was one other thing I had never done, and never even tried to do. This was to get Cloud chosen as Don Corneo's bride. To do this, I had to start the game again and get to Wall Market. This entire little subquest must have been very strange for people to play through and discover for themselves back in the day. For me, it was incredibly weird just going into the original Honey Bee Inn for the first time ever, especially after knowing how it looks in the remake.

But it didn't take long to accomplish this task.

So finally, I truly was done with the game.

Though it's my top game of all time, I readily admit that FF7 is certainly not the best game of all time. It has its fair share of cheese, and of janky mechanics. But it holds its top position because of what it did to me back in the day. All I had ever played before this were football games, fighting games, racing games and other action games. There are only two games I can think of that I had attempted prior, being Resident Evil and the 7th Guest, that were even slightly different to my usual types of games, in that they even had any kind of story. Even then, story wasn't really the focus in those games.
And plus, it's not like I even finished those games back in the day either.

This game is so, so different. The story and characters shine through even amidst all the obvious cheese and jank. And even the long slog moments like getting through the northern continent, and the times I was grinding, did not annoy me as much as the slow moments playing FF7 Remake again.

It really is a shame the new game is so annoying with its slow moments. Because lets face it, the writing quality is so much better in the remake. Though the characters are cool in this old game, they seem so simple and cheesy in comparison. All I am hoping, is that they don't ruin it with the next games in the franchise, like how they damn near ruined it originally with the spin-off games in the past.

Twonking Sephy for what maybe the last time

Twonking Sephy for what maybe the last time

My first visit to OG Honey Bee Inn gets really weird

My first visit to OG Honey Bee Inn gets really weird

You have been chosen

You have been chosen

Well, if I never revisit you again, Final Fantasy VII, thank you for the wonderful memories. I will cherish them forever.

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.

Okay...

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.

Just going for a strut around this funky coloured castle

Just going for a strut around this funky coloured castle

Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

The Evil Warlock looks a lot like an angry strawberry

The Evil Warlock looks a lot like an angry strawberry

What an awesome end screen

What an awesome end screen


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...

I'm blindfolded. What do you expect?

I'm blindfolded. What do you expect?

Why does Treguard keep calling me a 'pheasant meal'?

Why does Treguard keep calling me a 'pheasant meal'?

Can't have a Knightmare game without some wall monsters

Can't have a Knightmare game without some wall monsters

This is a bedroom? Does she sleep on the floor?

This is a bedroom? Does she sleep on the floor?

Everyone knows you have to throw fat at a dragon in order to kill it

Everyone knows you have to throw fat at a dragon in order to kill it


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.

Scoob tries to fight off the villains as I take a nap

Scoob tries to fight off the villains as I take a nap

Flying kicking my way to victory

Flying kicking my way to victory

Getting owned by some buxom lasses

Getting owned by some buxom lasses

Socking a hoodlum in the jaw

Socking a hoodlum in the jaw


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.

Getting some revenge

Getting some revenge

Lining them up...

Lining them up...

...and knocking them down

...and knocking them down

Twonking Mr. Big

Twonking Mr. Big


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...

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