CPC Games in 2005

2005 has been the best year for new games on the CPC for a long time. As far as I know, there were eight new releases and one re-release. It may not sound like much compared with the dozens or hundreds of releases per year in the 1980s and early 90s, but new CPC games in the age of 8-bit emulation are always welcome! Could this be the start of a small renaissance for Amstrad CPC games?

I have reviewed the new releases for 2005 in alphabetical order, and followed them with details of three games that may or may not be released in 2006. If you know of any games (either already released or forthcoming), please e-mail me at nich <AT> durge <DOT> org and I'll add it to this list.

2005 games: Citadelle | CPC Aventure | Formule 1 | HERO | Ishido | Justin | La Planète Mystérieuse | Yarkon Blues | zblast SD
Forthcoming games: Fun Park | Iron Sphere | Stranded

2005 games

Screenshot of Citadelle
Citadelle (French)
(Tom et Jerry)

This is a conversion of a French text adventure released by Loriciels back in 1984 for the Oric Atmos and the Philips VG5000 computers. While Tom et Jerry has retained the text-only look and feel of the actual game, he has added a loading screen and an introductory sequence with several lovely pictures and really atmospheric music. The adventure sees you as a 20-year-old warrior who wants to become a knight, but to prove your worth, you must retrieve three objects from the nearby citadel of the dead. Traditional text adventures on the CPC were never really popular in France in the same way that they were in the UK, but this one is rather good, if perhaps a little simple.


Screenshot of CPC Aventure
CPC Aventure (French)
(Christophe Petit & Ludovic Deplanque)

In 2004, there was a project to get many French CPC fans to collaborate with each other and create a new adventure game. Unfortunately that project got nowhere, but the founding member, Christophe Petit, didn't give up on it totally. With the help of programmer Ludovic Deplanque, he decided to design a point-and-click adventure for the CPC, featuring many well known characters from classic CPC games. The graphics have all been converted from the PC to the CPC and compacted so that everything fits on to one disc (most games as big as this one require two discs!). This is arguably the biggest and most ambitious CPC game of 2005 and is well worth playing, although of course, you'll need to understand French to play it properly.


Screenshot of Formule 1
Formule 1
(Christophe Petit)

As well as being involved in CPC Aventure, Christophe Petit also wrote this little racing game which was announced in a French CPC forum and seems to have been virtually unnoticed until now. Race around three circuits and try to complete three laps in the shortest time possible. The scores for each circuit are saved to disc. There are no sound effects, and the colour scheme is a bit inappropriate (an orange track surface?), but it's actually quite a nice game that could be improved - especially with respect to the joystick controls, as the game is unplayable using a joystick.


Screenshot of HERO
(Philippe Widmer)

The author of the relatively new WinCPC emulator, Philippe Widmer, remade this classic Atari 2600 game for the CPC. Originally released in 1984 by Activision, you control R. Hero and must explore a network of mine tunnels beneath Mount Leone in order to rescue the trapped miners. You have a jet-pack and a laser to blast any monsters that you may encounter. It can also blast away some walls, although you can also use dynamite to do this. The graphics and gameplay are both almost identical to the Atari 2600 version, and although I've never played the original, I'm sure that if you have owned or played the original version of HERO, this remake will bring back some nice memories.


Screenshot of Ishido

Arkos are better known for their many excellent demos, including the recent releases DTC and DemoIzArt, but one of their members, Targhan, has made a version of Michael Feinberg's board game for the CPC. The game takes place on a 12 × 8 board, and there are 72 tiles. Each tile has a particular colour and shape. At the start of each game, there are six tiles on the board, and you must place one tile at a time on the board so that either the colour or the shape matches that of an adjacent tile, or tiles. One aim is to try to score as many '4-ways' as possible, where a tile matches the properties of all four tiles surrounding it, but this will take practice to master. The graphics (drawn by Slyder of Hard'Os) are gorgeous, with the entire screen being used, and the music is absolutely beautiful. The concept is very simple but addictive.


Screenshot of Justin

Philippe Widmer isn't the only CPC emulator programmer to try writing a game. CNGSoft, who is responsible for the CPCE emulator, spent several months working on this isometric arcade game, inspired by Dinamic's Dustin and some of Ultimate's Filmation games like Knight Lore and Alien 8. I first learned about this game when CNGSoft e-mailed an early demo to me in June 2005, and I was very impressed with it. You are a thief who has to explore a mansion, find four safes and blow them up with dynamite and collect the gold inside them. Of course, there are many hazards in the mansion which must be avoided, and with 99 rooms, this is a game that will take a lot of goes to complete! The graphics are extremely bright and colourful and very well drawn, and the overall design of the rooms is very clever. My only complaint is that it's rather difficult, as with many Spanish games.


Screenshot of La Planète Mystérieuse
La Planète Mystérieuse
(Ludovic Deplanque)

Not only did Ludovic Deplanque work on a point-and-click adventure for the CPC (see CPC Aventure), he also wrote a utility for the PC called PJA that allows you to create your own icon-driven text adventures! This game merely demonstrates its facilities and shouldn't really be considered as a full-blown adventure, as there are very few objects and it's rather easy to complete. (Note that my rating is for this game and not for PJA!) It's set on an unknown planet that is rather similar to Earth, and your aim is to find the lost treasure, which is the most fabulous treasure in the galaxy... The game is available in French and English and contains digitised pictures for each room, although some of the results look very messy on the CPC. It's a shame that PJA hasn't received the attention it deserves.


Screenshot of Yarkon Blues
Yarkon Blues
(Jason Davis/Cronosoft)

Actually, this is not a new game, but a commercial re-release of a text adventure that is some 17 years old! It was written by Jason Davis using Incentive's Graphic Adventure Creator. In the adventure, you take control of Rik McQuick, who has crashed his spaceship, the Odour-Eater II, on an unknown planet, and you must find a way of leaving it. This is the second of Jason's games to be re-released by Cronosoft, the first one being The Smirking Horror last year. Two more GAC text adventures, Yarkon Blues II and Help! Inc. were scheduled for re-release this year by Cronosoft, but there has been no indication at all as to when, or even if, they will be released.


Screenshot of zblast SD
zblast SD
(Nicholas Campbell)

This is also not a totally new game but a conversion of a brilliant shoot-'em-up for the ZX Spectrum that was released for the 2003 Minigame competition and finished in 4th place in the 4K category - although in my opinion, it should have won. I liked it a lot, and since the source code is freely available, I decided to have a go at converting it to the CPC. Unfortunately, because the CPC's screen layout is quite different to the Spectrum's, the CPC version is a lot slower than the Spectrum version, but it's still quite playable and enjoyable - although I would say that, because after all, I was responsible for it! I still have no plans to convert any more Spectrum games to the CPC in 2006, but one never knows...


Forthcoming games for 2006

Screenshot of Fun Park
Fun Park
(Jonathan Cauldwell)

Jonathan Cauldwell is currently one of the most prolific programmers for the ZX Spectrum, and never seems to stop writing games! This one is based on a game that, like zblast SD, was written for the 2003 Minigame competition and finished as runner-up in the 4K category. A version for 16K Spectrums was then developed and released by Cronosoft in early 2004. The aim of the game is to manage your very own theme park, building rides and facilities, and trying to keep your paying customers happy. The CPC version should have more rides and extra features in comparison to the Spectrum version. I got the chance to play a preview version in June, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the final version - if it is ever finished.

Screenshot of Iron Sphere
Iron Sphere
(Ian Munro/Cronosoft)

This game was announced by Cronosoft back in April 2005 (and I first saw it it long before that), but like Fun Park, there is still no sign of its release any time soon. It contains a mixture of arcade and puzzle elements and is quite enjoyable to play. You control an iron sphere and must guide it through a maze of 100 rooms, looking for diamonds and trying not to fall off the ledges, or roll on to any bomb tiles. It was originally programmed in 1990, but the author, Ian Munro, found the original discs and sent them to me so that I could transfer them to my PC. Retro Gamer magazine reviewed it in issue 18 and gave it 7/10, and a Spectrum version is also being written, although I don't know when it will be released either.

Screenshot of Stranded
(Kevin Thacker/Cronosoft)

It seems that I'm not the only person who is converting games from the Spectrum to the CPC. Kevin Thacker is working on converting a Spectrum game that was originally written back in 1989 by Bob Smith, and released by Cronosoft earlier this year. It's a puzzle game in which you control a blob called Moosh. Each of the 32 levels consists of a grid of tiles and holes, but if Moosh steps on a tile, it will disappear. You must guide Moosh along the tiles to the exit without falling off. It's easy enough on the first few levels, but like all good games, it becomes trickier on the later levels, and some thought is required before you attempt them! I've only seen a handful of screenshots of this game so far, but it looks fairly promising. Let's hope that Cronosoft will get round to releasing this in 2006 if Kevin finishes it.