March of the Clones...
|Alien 8: Knight Lore in space|
So, we're into 1985 and the era of the Knight Lore clones (as opposed to the Marble Madness clones). Ultimate's next game was the space-based Alien 8, which was really just Knight Lore with different graphics and a few gameplay tweaks, but at least they were ripping themselves off with the concept.
Everyone was getting in on the act and some of the quickest off the mark were the budget software houses (Knight Lore and Alien 8 were sold at £9.95, whereas the budget houses tended to be £1.99 or £2.50). There were two that stand out for me (even though both were obviously plagiaristic, they were sufficiently odd to remember: Firebird's Cylu and Chimera.
|Chimera: more solid, more weird|
|Cylu: alarming play area shrinkage|
To be fair, I don't recall much about the gameplay of either of these; both were just large maze games with collecting tasks, really. Neither set the world alight, but it was quite impressive and novel that the then state-of-the-art in Spectrum gaming could be ripped off and repackaged so cheaply and quickly.
|Molecule Man: £1.99 bought quite|
a lot back in the summer of 1986
And probably the best of the cheapo ripoffs was Mastertronic's £1.99 Molecule Man, which, if a bit late to the party (there were genuinely better ripoff isometric 3D games by this point) it was quite unbelievable value for money.
Not only was the game itself pretty good, the map was vast and it also included a level designer program along with the main game, so you could write your own versions, and that in itself was very much a novelty for this sort of game, never mind one selling at a quarter of the price of most games at the time.
|Head Over Heels: packed a lot|
of format into 48K
|Sweevo's World: The Monty|
Python of the isometric 3D world
|Quazatron: Paradroid, Spectrum-style|
It was a great example of what each machine was good at; Paradroid couldn't have been reproduced on the Spectrum and been as good as the 64 version (no hardware sprites, for a start), so it was done in a style the Spectrum did well.
|Fairlight: atmospheric, detailed, great graphics|
and loads of stuff to play with
It's a shame that the programmer got ripped off, he could've done more great things, I'm sure. It was a bit of a Wild West world back then though, there was a lot of that going on.
Part 3 follows, at some point...