Sunday, 13 November 2011

BBC Micro Emulator for the Android

Own an Android device? Yearn for the days of playing Elite etc on the BBC Micro? Then what you need is the "Beebdroid emulator". It's freeware and open-source, and can be found on the Android Marketplace.

The official blurb:

  • Relive the glory days of 1980s 8-bit computing with this epic BBC Micro emulator
  • We grew up with the BBC Micro and we loved it, so we're bringing it back to the world!
  • See that Android phone in your hand? That's not Intel inside - it's powered by an ARM processor. The 'A' in 'ARM' stood for Acorn, a visionary British company that produced the seminal BBC Micro, and thirty years later - coming full circle - your phone hosts its venerable ancestor today.




Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Retro-Respect: Feud

A rather well-known game about differently-shaped blocks falling down the screen was once described as “brilliantly simple, simply brilliant” – or something like that, anyway.  That sentiment has rarely been demonstrated quite as well as Mastertronic’s classic game Feud – a game that would seem to be ripe for a remake, yet somehow no-one’s ever seemed to be able to do a good job of it.  It was the first release on their “Bulldog” label and, while that was a worthy label for budget games, perhaps they peaked too soon – I don’t remember any other game released by Bulldog reaching quite the level of popularity of Feud.   Released way back in 1987, it’s still a much-loved part of gaming history.

Coded by The Pickford Brothers, who were involved in the creation of a myriad games for the 8 and 16-bit computers and consoles, it was a game of elegant simplicity; you and your brother are wizards, have a bit of a feud going on, and try to kill each other.  Oddly enough this was one of the games that my sister and I played repeatedly – apparently controlling warring siblings is good for real-life family relations. 

The graphics were very good for the Spectrum at that time, bold and chunky to avoid the dreaded colour clash, and the sound effects were okay.  This definitely wasn’t a game that aimed to wow you with aesthetics though – the focus was on game play, which it has in bagfuls.  Played in a flip-screen area (of course back in those days, scrolling game maps were virtually unheard of), the game simply consisted of gathering herbs, bringing them back to your cauldron to create spells (once you had the right combination of ingredients), and using those spells to inflict the maximum effect against your brother.

You could play against the computer, but the real pleasure of Feud was playing against another human – or in the case of my sister, partly human.  This was done on a split-screen display so you could, if you were sneaky enough, spy on what your opponent was doing – of course, they could do the same to you.  The brothers, Learic and Leanoric, never seemed to think that it would be a good idea to just get along.  On what seemed quite a large game map you could find ingredients such as Feverfew, Burdock, Ragwort and Bog Weed (yes, Bog Weed) etc – some easy to get to, others far more tricky.  Each combination of two ingredients for a spell tended to require a lot of travel, and there could be other dangers besides your brother to be avoided.  Naturally, the more powerful spells required more legwork and cunning to gather the necessary herbs – but the end result was definitely worth it!

You had a range of spells, twelve in fact, to aid you or clobber your hapless sibling: Teleport, Protect, Sprites, Zombie, Swift, Freeze, Doppleganger, Invisible, Reverse, Heal, Fireball and Lightning.  Twelve might not seem like a great deal but there was a great deal of variety in how you could play the game, and a lot of scope for devious strategy – reversing your opponent’s controls when they were in a dangerous area was always great fun, and watching fireballs and lightning strike the enemy never got old.


Ported to various other systems, Feud for the ZX Spectrum alone managed an estimated 180,000 sales.  It remains a much-loved game and, in some ways, unequalled.  Who would have thought that gardening (well, searching a garden to gather herbs to create spells to blast your brother into subatomic particles, which is almost the same thing ) could be so much fun?!


(This articles was first published at Retroaction Issue 4.)






Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Maniac Mansion remake in the works, TDOTT style!

This is a rather long trailer for a very interesting project - a Maniac Mansion remake, done in the style of The Day of the Tentacle! (On a similar note, the MI1/2-style remake of The Curse of Monkey Island has been cancelled, though maybe someone will resurrect it.)




Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator