While Sega, Nintendo and ZX Spectrum games are appearing in App form, on both Android and Apple platforms, where is the love for the games of the classic 90s computer, the Commodore Amiga?
Now, before anyone jumps in and spams me in the comments section, I am well aware that Speedball is available on the App Store, and I have been playing it regularly on my commute to work. Really, this is the crux of my article – where are the rest of the classic games from this revered 90s computer?
Going back 20-odd years, much of the Amiga’s videogame output was a reflection of what was going on in the console market at the time, with designers producing button bashing beat-em ups and side scrolling shooters to try to rival what Sega and Nintendo were putting out on their respective platforms.
As such, you might think that the Amiga’s back catalogue would sit quite happily on the App Store next to console classics such as Gunstar Heroes, Altered Beast and Golden Axe, and yet, for some reason, the classics from this era are missing.
So without further ado, here are are 10 Amiga games I’d like to see on mobile phones…
Batman (1990 – Ocean)
As part of the Amiga Bat-Pack bundle of the early 90s, Batman was, of course, based on the Tim Burton take on the Caped Crusader, and was (for the time) a great little platform/racing hybrid that took you through Axis Chemicals, the streets of Gotham (using both the Batmobile and Batplane) and finally to the ultimate showdown with the Joker in Gotham’s cathedral.
Fun, innovative and quite addictive, this release from Ocean (probably its best film property tie-in, outside of The Great Escape) would be perfect for the iPhone.
Beneath A Steel Sky (1994 – Revolution)
While there was a glut of button-bashing games on the Amiga, there were also a few exceptional adventure games, and while it was tricky to pick one (both Flashback and Simon The Sorcerer were also excellent) it would be great to see a new, updated version of the Dave Gibbons-influenced sci-fi adventure, Beneath A Steel Sky.
A huge game at the time (over ten disks), this looked and felt epic, and had a nice stylish noir/cyberpunk feel to it. As a bonus, maybe the download could come with the comic Dave Gibbons created to give away with original copies of the game, which expanded the lush chrome metropolis in which the game was set.
Blood Money (1989 DMA/Psygnosis)
A fab little side-scrolling shooter that takes an idea or two from R-Type, this little space/aquatic hybrid was simple, full of power-ups and weird and wonderful alien ships. The game had you working through numerous environments (ice, water, space) in a variety of ships and space-suits.
More enjoyable that the flat, metallic Xenon, the vivid graphics, snazzy music and use of multiple ships for you to control all meant that Blood Money gave you a lot more variety. Just one suggestion though for anyone looking to make a handheld version of Blood Money – please get rid of the original’s irritating two minute tech demo involving a space battle through asteroids, which had very little to do with the game itself.
North & South (1989 Infrograms)
Part military strategy game, part shoot-em up, part side-scrolling platformer, North & South combined the need for strategic thinking, as well as outflanking your enemies’ sieges on your forts.
With cartoony gameplay and the ability to send your small yet perfectly formed mini-armies (consisting of cavalry, footmen and cannon) into battle against a friend or the computer, the game was light-hearted, easy to play, and didn’tt require an instruction manual the size of an encyclopaedia to play.
Very little in the way of stats or experience points made it a pick-up-and-play strategy game that made the slow-but-sure takeover of America fantastic fun.
Rick Dangerous (1989 – Rainbird)
Coming ever so close to copyright violation to Indiana Jones, Rick Dangerous was a short, gun and whip wielding archaeologist whose exploits on the Amiga still fill fans with nostalgic glee.
Cleverly designed levels and chunky sprite design made Rick Dangerous a simple yet fun platformer that had a steady and intelligent learning curve (although we should note that many hate it for its die-and-learn-from-your-mistake gameplay mechanic). The game would be perfectly playable on a hand-held device and at, say, 59p, would be a great way to make up for the nuking the fridge insanity of Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
Nuclear War (1989 – US Gold)
A turn-based strategy game, the essence of Nuclear War was to annihilate your competition with atomic weapons. Designed in a similar style to the Spitting Image videogame tie-in, the game had you being able to pick one of several stylized world leaders from varying countries (who, of course, had no resemblance to real life people), and in turn you could decide what size nuclear weapons you should unleash on your unsuspecting neighbours.
You could also block or make friends with other countries and, for a time, they wouldn’t bomb you – but where’s the fun in that? An updated port of this (maybe with the addition of new world leaders) would revive the fun of this point-and-click adventure game, and once again allow you to watch your character stand in the middle of a nuclear wasteland waving their little flag in victory.
Battle Chess (1988 – Interplay)
While I am sure there are numerous chess games out on handheld devices, I would also guess that not many of them have their pieces come to life and perform finishing moves on their opponents.
Want to see bishops bashing pawns with menacing-looking flails, knights riding over their prey, or where a queen keeps her explosive material? Battle Chess added a whole new dimension to the ancient board game, and for many, this was their first introduction to the complexity of the game, even if it was just to see what grim things rooks would do to their opponents.
Nebulus (1987 – Triffix)
Not one of the most well remembered games, Nebulus was a clever little game that had your frog character Pogo scaling up the outside of a cylindrical tower collecting things while all the time the environment slowly filled up with water. Clever in its simplicity, this unique game would convert perfectly well to a handheld device.
Zool (1992 – Gremlin Graphics)
The Ninja From The Nth Dimension was, let’s be honest, a bit of a clone of Sonic. But once you got past the similarities to Sega’s spiky mascot, Zool, for all its Chupa Chups advertising, was a pretty good platform game, with our little masked ant-like hero able to scale the sweet-strewn environment and perform some quite fluid and dynamic mid-air twists and turns to get to all those tricky to reach platforms and bonuses.
More fun than either James Pond or Magic Pockets, Zool, while never gaining the success of Sonic, was one of the best platform games on the Amiga, and certainly caused a lot less controversy than the infamous Super Mario clone, The Great Giana Sisters.
Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight (1991 – Mindscape)
A sword and sorcery slash-fest, Moonstone was part adventure game and part beat-em-up, where brightly coloured knights set out on a quest to bring back the elements of the Moonstone, but more often than not, were dragged to their deaths by a particularly hard to kill swamp monster.
Filled with blood and guts (which you could slip on if the battlefield became too bloodstained), this was a perfect mix of fantasy, adventure and all-out violence.
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