Sunday, 31 March 2013

Encyclopedia Galactica (ZX Spectrum)

Gone are the heady days of adventure and exploration, here on our tiny planet, where anyone could strike out on a voyage of discovery to make their name, make a fortune. Long gone. The days when Darwin set forth in the Beagle and sent back specimens of exotic flora and fauna. The days of the great plant hunters like Sir Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain Cook and introduced plants like eucalyptus and acacia to Europe. I am sure that even today there are innumerable undiscovered species lurking under rocks, in the deepest jungle, or clustered around deep sea vents. It's just that... well, it's too much like hard work to find them, isn't it? Wouldn't it be better if we could cross the next great frontier and get out there to explore the rest of the universe?

That is what Encyclopedia Galactica, the new game from Jonathan Cauldwell, imagines: it is, quite literally, exploration on rocket fuel. That's not to say it is adrenaline soaked or delivered at a breakneck pace. On the contrary, the game plays at a gentle trot, and patience and methodicalness are rewarded over an itchy trigger-finger. Galactica puts you in the shoes of Dr Theo Rao: one scientist with a whole galaxy in front of him, star systems to explore, and new lifeforms to discover. All in a tin can of a spaceship that's like a GTI version of the one those kids made out of junk in Explorers. You must scour the galaxy and catalogue all life, from microscopic plankton in the oceans to intelligent - and sometimes aggressive - aliens. Many lie somewhere in between: fungi, herbs, fish, molluscs, birds... but mostly it's a menagerie of weirdness, as you'd expect.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Not Even Human - Inhumane Edition (C64) (2011)

System Requirements

* A Commodore 64/128 (PAL/NTSC).
* A joystick/joypad (two for two-player).
* A VDU preferably connected to a loud sound-system.
* A friend to play with (optional, yet strongly recommended).

Note that the game is also playable on the GS, but is limited to two-player mode only.


Download Not Even Human - Inhumane Edition in .d64 program format HERE!
Download Not Even Human - Inhumane Edition in .crt cartridge format HERE!
BONUS! Download the original 2008 version of Not Even Human HERE!

EMULATOR PACKAGE! Download the game ready-to-run combined with the Windows 32-Bit version of the VICE emulator HERE!


Back in 1977, the first Voyager probe was launched towards the far reaches of our solar system bearing a golden disc containing information on our species and the location of our homeworld. The disc also doubled up as a vinyl record (the most popular media of the era), holding further information on our civilisation in an audio format; an initial message to any alien race whom was to discover it.

In 1985, we received an answer.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Subacuatic (MSX/ZX Spectrum)

An entry into the MSXdev'12 challenge, Subacuatic by the Mojon Twins is difficult to pigeonhole into a single category - I'd perhaps call it an "action-adventure," but I wouldn't want to give the impression that there's lots of action going on, so let's go for "underwater exploration game." Maybe that's better.

Moving along, in Subacuatic players take the role of Ferdinand W. Templeton, an archeologist who must dive underwater to rescue his 4 prized artifacts so he can marry his lover and have enough money to keep on going. He has a phobia to water as well.  This does not bode well for Mr. Templeton, as the perils of this particular undersea world are everywhere. Even the seaweed will actually kill him, as no doubt many players have already discovered the hard way.

Ramiro El Vampiro (ZX Spectrum)

The website 'World Of Spectrum' lists over thirty titles credited to The Mojon Twins published over the last six years. It is pleasing to see that their impressive output doesn’t show any signs of slowing and the lovely Ramiro El Vampiro is their latest, and quite possibly one of their greatest so far.

Cheril the Goddess (ZX Spectrum)

I can only apologise for my crassness, but I don't think it is going to be possible to review the Mojon Twins' Cheril the Goddess without addressing her bosoms. So, I'm just going to get this over with: you see, she has a rather large and prominent pair (see the tasteful loading screen above). And, for reasons unexplained, she is apparently buck naked for the duration of the game - or at least wearing an article of clothing so skimpy as to make no difference.

Despite a discernible bounce when Cheril moves, there's really no need to shy away from playing when your partner/mum/grandma might see. Her sprite is so tiny that no, erm, details are on show - and despite having lovely hair she certainly does not titillate. Think Atom Ant with big boobs. On second thought, don't - it's a bit wrong. Now, there's an image I wish I had never conjured up...

Knights & Demons (ZX Spectrum/MSX/Amstrad CPC)

Being a retro geek and a high fantasy nerd, seeing a new game on the ZX Spectrum called Knights & Demons (from Kabuto Factory) naturally got me all aflutter. You can imagine then, my disappointment when I realised it was actually a puzzle game based on the old Light's Out toys from the 1990s. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I did have to readjust my expectations somewhat.

Light's Out was a puzzle game featuring a grid of lit tiles, where the aim was to switch off all the lights on your board. By selecting a tile on the grid you switch the status from on to off (or vice versa) as well as those tiles directly adjacent to the one you have just selected. Knights & Demons essentially takes this concept and replaces the lights with, you guessed it, knights and demons. It also introduces 'pikes', which allow you to switch off a tile without flipping any of the other tiles around it, which is useful for dealing with individual tiles when you don’t want to switch the others adjacent to it. As you progress through the game the number of pikes you possess doesn't reset, so the game becomes progressively harder as the number of pikes dwindles and you have to rely on your skill alone to clear the gameboard.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Berzerk Redux (C64) (2013)

System Requirements

* A Commodore 64/128/GS (PAL/NTSC) (6581 SID Recommended).
* A joystick/joypad.
* A VDU preferably connected to a loud sound-system.


Download the Final RGCD build of Berzerk Redux (1.18) in .crt format HERE!
Download the Final RGCD build of Berzerk Redux (1.18) in .d64 format HERE!

BONUS! Check out the source code HERE!
BONUS! Check out Onslaught's cracked version in .d64 disk format HERE!

EMULATOR PACKAGE! Download the game ready-to-run combined with the Windows 32-Bit version of the VICE emulator HERE!


The astro date is 3200 and you are the last survivor of a small group of Earth people who came to the planet Mazeon. Soon after landing, you discovered the planet is a dark and apparently uninhabitable place, but by then it was too late to turn back because your space craft had been destroyed by Automazeons!

Now you are a prisoner here, trapped in a maze where even the walls are death to touch. Grim robot thugs known as 'Automazeons' stalk you relentlessly and you must systematically pulverise them with your laser gun before they eliminate you with theirs.

Sn4ke / Grazer (PC)

Games that use procedural generation, either random or from a seed value, have always fascinated me. Ever since first playing Elite as a child and wondering how on earth a eight galaxies could fit on a single disk, the concept of a game world or design structure unfolding itself from an algorithm into memory seems like the ultimate solution to the limitations imposed by the time consuming, manually-crafted alternative. By using procedural generation, games can be huge (even endless) yet developed and delivered by small teams with minimal assets. The lack of bulky level data means that huge games can also be tiny.

Now, before you get excited about the prospect of n.h.k.'s Sn4ke and Grazer featuring gigantic, expansive worlds, let me set the record straight. They are not huge at all. In fact, they are incredibly simplistic, so much so that if judged on the playing experience alone it could be argued that they don't really deserve feature space at RGCD at all. Yet, nonetheless they are special little games, with 'little' being the key word here; combined, Grazer and Sn4ke take up less than 8KB of disk space.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Intergalactic Space Rescue (ZX Spectrum)

Rescuing stranded space ships, lost in the inky black void of space – now that sounds like an exciting job, doesn't it? The ZX Spectrum has a long history of confounding expectation regarding the levels of excitement found in particular jobs. Trashman and Paperboy took the commonplace and mundane and made them fun. Unfortunately Intergalactic Space Rescue manages to defy expectation, and makes the fantastical rather mundane.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Super House of Dead Ninjas (PC)

The superb Super House of Dead Ninjas (by Adult Swim Games and Megadev) started its life on Adult Swim's online platform. Back in August of last year, after a brief play of the game, I closed the window and bellowed my wishes for a proper desktop release out into the ether. Apparently, someone at Adult Swim was listening, because Super House of Dead Ninjas was recently released on Steam and, as promised, I bought it immediately. This remake of the original, much more low-fi House of Dead Ninjas simply knocks it out of the park.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Wasteland Kings (PC)

As part of the 3-day Mojang & Humble Bundle run Mojam 2 (a live-streamed charity game jam that raised over $500K and resulted in Minecraft's Notch shaving off his beard), Vlambeer - the Dutch indie-heroes responsible for Super Crate Box and Gun Godz - created Wasteland Kings, an 8-way scrolling post-nuclear shmup featuring heroic, shotgun-wielding mutant fish, plants and silicon-based crystal lifeforms duking it out for supremacy and ownership of the blasted remains of human civilisation.

Using a 2.5D perspective, the game instantly bought back memories of the ancient DOS classic C-Dogs - albeit with a modern WASD and mouse control combo - and although there are only three different worlds and a small number of different enemy types, the fact that each level is generated randomly is enough to keep the experience from growing old. Add to that the five different player character classes (each with their own stats and special attack) and a frankly ludicrous arsenal of weaponry, it has to be said that compared to the other games created during the jam, Wasteland Kings is certainly the highlight.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Huenison (Preview) (PC/AmigaOS 4)

It can be incredibly hard to provide a friend with honest criticism when asked to play-test their game during development. How honest should you be? Will brutal analysis put your friendship at jeopardy? Should you lie and say that it's great when actually it's the opposite? Are the faults actual problems or simply unfinished or unrefined features? It can be only too easy to completely demotivate a developer, and I suspect that often overly-harsh beta feedback is one of the contributing factors that result in so many game previews never progressing past that first milestone.

So when I was invited to play-test and give my views on Retream's new game Huenison last year (with a view to showcasing at our Play Expo stand), I found picking fault with the game quite a stressful experience - but not for any of the above reasons. Instead, the problem I had was actually finding complaints to report that didn't sound pathetic on my part. The game, even at that early stage, was excellent - and in the past months it has evolved and matured to become even better.

Bleed (PC/XBLIG)

As I write this my hands are shaking and my wrists are aching. Tonight I fired up my review copy of platform shooter Bleed and didn't stop playing until I had completed it. At one point (not my greatest achievement but close) I used my foot to drag a shopping bag full of energy drinks over to me while I continued to play. That's how absurdly gripping this game is.

Late in the game there's a level where the field of play tilts. Right now I've lost my sense of balance and I feel like I've just got off a ship because it took me ages to get past that part. But I didn't give in, spurred on in part by our heroine's all-too-nice insistence in the game over screen that her horrible and repeated deaths were totally not my fault (although the times when she asked if I had an older brother who could take the reins were a bit of a slap in the face) and eventually ploughed through the entire thing, coming out feeling like a satisfied, caffeine-crashing hummingbird with arthritis.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

LumASCII (ZX Spectrum)

Bob Smith's latest Spectrum game LumASCII is a side scrolling shooter, with an aesthetic twist - it's all rendered in the Spectrum ROM font. The game plays as a tricky (power-up free) shoot-em-up, with your character and all the baddies and environments rendered in a screen full of squint-tastic coloured text. (Insert your own R-'TYPE' pun here.) If you touch a baddie your energy bar is chipped away - run out of energy and you lose one of your five lives. Classic stuff.

The text based 'sprites' in the game are often animated, and are amazingly recognizable given the limited palette of shapes available to draw them. Jellyfish, crabs, plants and other more abstract baddies come alive within this textual world. Graphical polish is evident, and the effort put in to make these look good shines through. Neat touches such as background star-fields (made of full stops) drift by in the background, and the main character (the wonderfully named "Chi-Chi Skyrocket") leaves a movement trail that fades as she moves around. Bosses come at the end of each stage, complete with their own energy bar to eat into. The production values are very high in this release, and continue to the loading screen, an ASCII homage to the iconic JetPac artwork.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Introducing The New RGCD Shop!

Well, it's not the system that was initially proposed about six months ago, but damn, it is at least better than a ridiculously long page full of PayPal buttons! The new RGCD Shop has finally arrived, courtesy of BigCartel - check it out here.

I know it isn't perfect, but at least it offers combined shipping and a proper shopping cart. More of interest perhaps is the fact that we've been working away behind the scenes to extend the new 'deluxe' packaging across our entire catalogue of Commodore 64 games - and you can even buy the empty boxes too. Nice!

Many thanks to all the people who helped me with testing and tweaking the interface (Sandro Mestre, Dave Almer and Stefan Nowak). It'll no doubt be improved further over the next couple of weeks, but for now I'm letting it settle as we open the doors to the public for the first time...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Kaikan (PC)

For as long as I can remember, a sure-fire way to get a smile on my face has been to sit me in front of a gamepad/arcade stick and a screen full of explosions and bullets. And Kaikan has left me grinning inanely, ear to ear.

Heavily inspired by Battle Garegga and other Raizing games, Kaikan is a joyous cacophony of pixellated fire and death. At times there is so much going on it takes on the appearance of a technical demo, with the computer spamming the screen with sprites to see how many it can vomit into your eyes during a single screen refresh. And despite its doujin shortcomings and non-intuitive design, I found myself sniggering away as I piloted my ridiculously over-powered fighter craft from one chaotic encounter to another. It's by no means the perfect shooter, but hot damn, I had fun beating it - and I confess that I even enjoyed the trial and error investigative experience of figuring out how the gameplay mechanics worked.