User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Past Featured Games

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Killing Time

What if I told you that in 1995 there was a horror-themed 3D shooter set in and around a stylish haunted 1930's mansion with interconnected, open levels, imaginative enemies, and ghostly live action scenes that revealed the plot without interrupting the gameplay?

Such a game exists. Killing Time is a sadly overlooked FPS that was mainly ignored due to the problems of the console it was first released on. However, the PC version of this game is not only understandably smoother and more fun to play - it has a much larger playing area with many new locations, and re-designed levels with a more realistic, organic feel.

Nov 09, 2014, submitted by אולג 小奥 (171558)


Dungeon Lords

I don't know what happened exactly, but this game, made by the master RPG designer, shipped with missing features and severe bugs, got scathing reviews, and was quickly forgotten.

Sadly, not many people were willing to give a second chance to the fully patched version or even this less-than-perfect, but still satisfying re-release. If they did, they would discover an addictive RPG with an odd, yet enchanting flavor: the furious action and the non-stop collecting fever of Diablo are combined with engrossing dungeon exploration that brings back the joys of old RPGs that weren't holding your hand and had more gameplay than cutscenes.

Oct 26, 2014, submitted by אולג 小奥 (171558)


Cave Fighter

With basic graphics like most C16 games of the era, game play was an important factor but along comes, Cave Fighter, a game very unforgiving with awkward controls. Everything seems to kill you and has a jump control where the longer you hold the fire button the higher and further you jump with no indication. Worth a few minutes of your time before moving on to another game. Wrong! You are determined to master the controls and to get that bit further each time. Killed once again, start again and get that bit further.

Oct 12, 2014, submitted by FatherJack (51821)


Dark Sun: Shattered Lands

Everyone knows that Baldur's Gate heralded an "RPG Renaissance" in the late nineties, but fewer remember the game that had the biggest influence on it in terms of gameplay mechanics and general concept. But Dark Sun is more than just a prototype for Baldur's Gate: it combines multiple dialogue choices and sub-quests based on moral decisions with a rich, open world free for exploration. This is old-school AD&D with "new-school" streamlined interface: easy to learn, hard to master. Don't miss what might just be SSI's finest offering.

Aug 14, 2014, submitted by אולג 小奥 (171558)

Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail

Say "Sierra adventures" and we are swept by emotions ranging from nostalgia for our childhood to vague memories of extreme annoyance caused by unwinnable situations. This game is different from most other "quests" by being rooted in real-world culture and historical material, but also by giving the "Sierra policy" a twist: you can still miss vital items and forget crucial actions, but the game lets you continue - only don't expect to reach the best ending in that case. Diverse challenges that include jousting and fighting, clever riddles, lovely visuals, text interaction with humorous comments, wealth of information, and a broad "globe-trotting" scope make this an indispensable classic.

Jul 31, 2014, submitted by אולג 小奥 (171558)


Stunt Track Racer

Majority of driving games in the 80s for the C64 had a 3rd person perspective or overhead view with isometric or 1st person in the minority. Most followed the same formula as well with you racing round tracks with checkpoints or competing against the other drivers. Stunt Car Racer was going to be unique from having a 1st person perspective to racing in a league system against single drivers working your way up the divisions.

The biggest selling point was the tracks themselves, huge elevated tracks with nothing stopping you driving of the edge, huge jumps, tall pillars that needed clearing as well as one track based on an actual rollercoaster. Completing one lap was a challenge let alone three but all this had to be done while racing another vehicle for precious points.

Normally in a driving game you would crash off the track and the game would put you back into the centre of the track and off you drove, but drive of the edge in this game and you watch yourself just fall until you hit the ground where damage would appear on the top of your frame. Bad driving also produced a crack across the top and things got tense when the crack was close to reaching the other side of the screen and once it did it was race over.

Jul 17, 2014, submitted by FatherJack (51821)


Alter Ego

There are many games these days that allow you to bring to life humans, animals and creatures and nurture them through their lives with death even playing a part in the end of the experience. Examples like Tamagotchi keeping a creature alive or the Sims series allowing you to live a double life and live it how you wished your life could be.

One of the original and unique versions of this was Alter Ego, the game of life. You started in your Mother's womb and actually decided when you wanted to leave before trying to live a full life from infant to old person with death sayng hello at the end. How you acted was up to you with many choices presented to you by a map of icons at various stages of your life.

The only drawback to this great game was lastability, as the game became repetitive with each new life you started. After playing as yourself, a good person and probably the best being as bad as you can, the game wouldn't be played again. The joy of playing for the first couple of times though was great.

Jun 27, 2014, submitted by FatherJack (51821)


Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders

You discovered Doom, fell in love with it, and played it over and over again. You tried different skill levels, tried to find all secrets and even tried to complete it as fast as you can. Sequels came and gone as one of the original FPS can still be regarded as one of the best.

Although sending demons back to hell and destoying all that lived there was great, a change of scenery was required to freshen things up. The creators allowed their engine to be used by other companies and programmers and although many failed to recreate the pleasure of Doom, along came Heretic.

Once again you try to stop demons overruning your world and exploring the depths of the demons lairs with the same engine, map layout and gameplay. The graphics though looked different with different weapons and demons. The game soon made sure you forgot Doom and treated it as it's own game. You will eventually return back to Doom but you will have so much fun inbetween Doom sessions.

Jun 20, 2014, submitted by FatherJack (51821)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is the first installment in a series of visual novels which has deservedly captured the hearts of many fans. For all the dark murder mysteries featured in it, the series still manages to tell a pleasant story--what with its quirky humor, memorable characters, and a sympathetic, underdog protagonist: a defense attorney determined to save his clients from a heavily biased court system, even as the entire world seems to be against him.

The Ace Attorney series appeals to one of our base desires, the yearning for justice... and to the satisfaction of repeatedly wiping the smile off a smug murderer's or a haughty prosecutor's face.

Jun 13, 2014, submitted by JudgeDeadd (12387)


Hawkeye

Hawkeye is a good game, with superb graphics and a parallax background. The music and FX are spot on, with gameplay that allows you to jump straight in and enjoy. BUT it soon becomes apparent that after a couple of goes it is a bit too simple and very repetitive. Run along a horizontal landscape following a flashing eagles eye to an object. Collect enough and it's on to the next level with exactly the same gameplay. Like I said before, good game, looks and sounds great but can become repetitive.

One question many a C64 fan ask and get the conspiracy theorists licking their lips. Why did Zzap! in issue 40 give it 96% and a Gold Medal? The simple answer could be simply they really did enjoy it and enjoy simple repetive games. Just like some people like to look at hexagons and move armies across a screen while others like to control a spaceship to face wave after wave of aliens.

The other reason is could it be to do with the fact that the Publishers that owns the company that made the game, Thalamus, publish the magazine as well and the best advertisement a game can get is a huge score? The fact that a reviewer in the early days of the magazine left to work for Thalamus? Or the author of Armalyte was given a contact at Thalamus by the Zzap! team to help him publish Armalyte. We'll never know but maybe one day on their death bed, a reviewer may tell us all.

Jun 06, 2014, submitted by FatherJack (51821)


Wizball

Some games make you wonder what went on during testing and Wizball is one of them. Commodore 64 Wizball is one of the best games on the machine but has probably one of the worst starts. I wonder who thought it would be a good idea to make the main hero hard to control to put people off. I wonder how many people during it's life time have not played it because of this which is a shame because once you collect a couple of power-ups it turns into such a great game. Put some colour into a level and you can select these power-ups to stay with you when you die. Can't imagine any other classic games trying so hard to put you off playing at the start to hide the great game it becomes.

May 30, 2014, submitted by FatherJack (51821)


Betrayal in Antara

When this game came out, the fame of Betrayal at Krondor was not omnipresent enough to ensure interest in a rather drab-looking old-fashioned RPG that didn't look very promising in the beginning. However, if you give it a chance, you'll see a wonderfully rich game with great writing, strong plot, plenty of side-questing, and clever gameplay. Undeniably underrated, and highly recommended for anybody who loved Betrayal at Krondor and wanted more of the same.

May 23, 2014, submitted by אולג 小奥 (171558)