Monday, 29 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Skool Daze & Gauntlet

Ok so its time to give the last two names on my list of Top Ten Spectrum games so without further ado here we go.

Skool Daze

So Skool Daze was a game which believe it or not saw you play the role of a kid attending school. Ok so a game about school might not sound that great of the bat but the game was commercially and critically successful, as well as being praised for the originality of its concept. It is often also thought to be one of the pioneers of the whole sandbox video game genre, so I guess its starting to sound a little more impressive right? Skool daze was simply brilliant if I was to try and describe it to a modern gamer then I would basically say that it was the great Grand-Daddy of the game Bully.

So in Skool Daze youy play as a schoolboy named Eric, with the basic story of the game being your quest to steal your own report card from out of the staff room safe. The game features a lot of none player characters including the headmaster Mr Wacker, various other teachers and other pupils including Angelface the bully and Einstein the swot (as well as other unamed sort of blank/undiscript pupils) You have the option of renaming the characters before the game starts which is great as well you can rename characters giving them names personal to you and your own days at school. So to win you need to get your report, and to loose well you need to get expelled, you will get expelled if you get 10,000 or more lines, you get given lines for being caught out of class or well just missbeahving in general. Other kids will get you in trouble though by pushing you out of your chair or by firing projectiles at teachers when your close to a teacher and therfore get blamed despite it not being your fault. The whole thing is just so fun and diffrent that you cant help but love it. It was one of the games that I stupidly sold when younger but thanks to my wonderful girlfriend buying it me for Christmas I once again have it in my possession and shall not be letting it go anytime soon.


So home computers back in the day had loads and loads of arcade conversions, with the vast majority of them being either very poor or at the least incredibly simplified but the conversion of Gauntlet was both incredably good and was also a game that I spent a great deal of time on both alone and with a good friend (I also used to play the C64 version at his house and that was excellent as well).

Gauntlet could best be described as a fantasy-themed hack and slash multiplayer dungeon crawler which came out in the arcades in 1985 apparently its creator Atari sold a heck of a lot of arcade cabinets of it and made a lot of money out of it so its no suprise that Gauntlet was ported to lots of home systems including but not limited to. the Apple II, the MSX, the NES, the Sega Master System, ,the Atari ST, the Commodore 64, the Amstrad CPC and of course the ZX Spectrum. It doesnt end there though still to this very dare Gauntlet is showing up on various retro compilations on all manner of systems and there is a reason for this and if you ask me a large part of this is that its a great game. Part of what makes it a great game is that you can play it co-operativly with a buddy.

You start the game by selecting from four playable characters they are the Warrior, theWizard, the Valkyrie, and the Elf. Each of the characters has his or her own unique strength and weaknesses. The Warrior is strongest in direct combat, where as the Wizard has the most powerful magic, the Valkyrie is the best armoured and the Elf is the quickest, this is great as it lets you pick the character who best matches your own personal play style.

The game is very easy to pick up and play, as soon as you pick your character you are dropped into the first in a series of top-down third person perspective mazes where you need to find the exit in order to finish the level and move on to the next. Its not a case of just walking around looking for a way out though no you collect loot, and you collect keys and you collect food  and magic potions all of which serves a purpose but you also fight against hordes of various diffrent enemies.

The enemies are an assortment of fantasy monsters, including ghosts, demons, sorcerers and all manner of other creatures, each of which comes out of a specific monster generator, generators which can be destroyed to prevent them from spewing more monsters into the maze. The ultimate villian you will meet is death who quickly drains your life force and who is absolutly solid to kill, so most often you will run from him most likly screaming at your friend to haul butt and get the monkey fudge out of there.  At first the game is easy but as it progresses it soon gets tougher, the further you get the more skill is needed and trust me if your playing with a buddy you better learn to talk, to share and to generally co-operate if you want to keep going through the levels.

Gauntlet is on this list because as far as I am concerned its the ultimate game to play with a buddy if you want some frantic co-operative fun. I think that this is where so many games today started take something like the Diablo series and you can see that at its core there is a little bit of Gauntlet and the reason for this is that Gauntlet was quiet simply a wonderful game and it still is.

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