Hero Quest on the ZX Spectrum is a great version of the equally underrated board game of the same name from Games Workshop, It is an isometric tabletop strategy/RPG game that simplifies RPG statistics without simplifying gameplay. It was released by Gremlin in 1991 on the ZX Spectrum but also on DOS, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64.
In the boardgame the game is played on a grid representing the interior of a dungeon or castle, with walls segmenting the grid into rooms and corridors. One player assumes the role of the evil wizard character (Zargon/Morcar), and uses a map taken from the game's quest book to determine how the quest is to be played. The map details the placement of monsters, artifacts, and doors, as well as the overall quest the other players are embarking upon. Quests vary and include scenarios such as escaping a dungeon, killing a particular character, or obtaining an artifact. The evil wizard first places the entry point on the map – usually a spiral staircase, although on some quests the players enter via an external door or begin in a specific room. The map may also specify a wandering monster. This is a monster that may enter the game if a player is unlucky while searching for treasure.
When the computer game was released it forced Sierra On-Line to rename their Hero's Quest series to Quest for Glory. We have both version of the Sierra game here in the museum and below you can see a picture of the original Hero Quest from Sierra, HeroQuest based on the board game and then the later renamed Sierra title (Quest For Glory).
Here you can see a small video with gameplay from the sinclair spectrum game.
Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior is a video game first released for Commodore 64 personal computers in 1987; the title was developed and published by Palace Software, and ported to other computers in the following months. The developers licensed the game to Epyx, who published it as Death Sword in the United States. Barbarian is a fighting game that gives players control over sword-wielding barbarians. In the game's two-player mode, players pit their characters against each other. Barbarian also has a single-player mode, in which the player's barbarian braves a series of challenges set by an evil wizard to rescue a princess.
Instead of using painted artwork for the game's box, Palace Software used photos of hired models. The photos, also used in advertising campaigns, featured Michael Van Wijk (who would later become famous as 'Wolf' in the TV series Gladiators) as the hero and bikini-clad Maria Whittaker, a model who was then associated with The Sun tabloid's Page Three topless photo shoots. Palace Software's marketing strategy provoked controversy in the United Kingdom, with protests focused on the sexual aspects of the packaging rather than decapitations and other violence within the game. The ensuing controversy boosted Barbarian's profile, helping to make it a commercial success. Game critics were impressed with its fast and furious combat, and dashes of humour
Above is the original cover of the game. During the 1980s, the prevalent attitude was that video games were for children. Barbarian's advertisements, showing a scantily dressed model known for topless poses, triggered significant outcries of moral indignity. Electron User magazine received letters from readers and religious bodies, who called the image "offensive and particularly insulting to women" and an "ugly pornographic advertisement". Chris Jager, a writer for PC World, considered the cover "a trashy controversy-magnet featuring a glamour-saucepot" and a "big bloke [in leotard]". According to Leinfellner, the controversy did not negatively affect Barbarian, but boosted the game's sales and profile tremendously
The version for the 8-bit ZX Spectrums is mostly monochromatic, displaying the outlines of the barbarians against single-colour backgrounds. The sounds were also recorded at a lower sampling rate. The budget label Kixx published this version we have here without Whittaker on the covers.
Last week we got this game called Turrican on the ZX Spectrum, and I ended up spending the weekend both playing it and reading up on it, and what I discovered sparked enough interest for me to throw in a little video about it.
Turrican was first released on the Commodore 64 in 1990. It was developed by a German programmer named Manfred Trenz. The guy was a household name in the commodore scene in the 1980s and he is most famous for his first computer game called the Great Giana Sisters. That game was so so similar to a certain Italian plumber that Nintendo sued him concerning the game.
In Turrican you play a futuristic soldier sent to a colony that’s been invaded by an evil alien overlord. Armed with big guns and cool gadgets, you blast your way through five large levels to battle the evil MORGUL. Where Turrican stands apart from many other games is its freedom of exploration. Taking your time and looking around is loads of fun and well worth the effort.
Turrican is heavily inspired by big games on the NES like Contra and especially Metroid, but Turrican also influenced other games that would be released in the future. One game flat out stole and used graphics straight from Turrican, The game? Duke Nukem from apogee.
Shortly after its release Turrican saw conversions to many other computers, including an Amiga version that featured highly improved graphics and a stunning soundtrack by Chris Huelsbeck. The soundtrack elevated Turrican to the legendary status it enjoys today, but the basic fact is that Turrican is a damn fine action game.
The Spectrum version, which we have here at the museum, was voted number 36 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time-list.
Turrican had 2 sequels made: Turrican 2 was released the year after and was also both coded by Trenz and originally intended for the C-64, however the Amiga version was completed first. Turrican 3 came the year after that but was developed by the programmers that originally converted Turrican to the Amiga.
Turrican still lives on today and in there are many fan made versions of the game available. Most notable is the game Hurrican which was released in 2008.
The Sinclair QL (for Quantum leap), is a personal computer launched by Sinclair Research in 1984, as an upper-end counterpart to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The QL was aimed at the serious home user and professional and executive users markets from small to large businesses and higher educational establishments, but failed to achieve commercial success.
Based on a Motorola 68008 processor clocked at 7.5 MHz, the QL included 128 kB of RAM (officially expandable to 640 kB; in practice, 896 kB) and could be connected to a monitor or TV for display. Two built-in Microdrive tape-loop cartridge drives provided mass storage, in place of the more expensive floppy disk drives found on similar systems of the era. (Microdrives had been introduced for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in July 1983, although the QL used a different logical tape format.) Interfaces included an expansion slot, ROM cartridge socket, dual RS-232 ports, proprietary QLAN local area network ports, dual joystick ports and an external Microdrive bus. Two video modes were available, 256×256 pixels with 8 out of 256 RGB colours and per-pixel flashing, or 512×256 pixels with four colours (black, red, green and white). Both screen modes used a 32 kB framebuffer in main memory. The hardware is capable of switching between two different areas of memory for the framebuffer, thus allowing double buffering. However, this would have used 64 KB of the standard machine's 128 kB of RAM and there is no support for this feature in the QL's original firmware. The alternative and much improved operating system Minerva does provide full support for the second framebuffer. When connected to a normally-adjusted TV or monitor, the QL's video output would overscan horizontally. This was reputed to have been due to the timing constants in the ZX8301 chip being optimised for the flat-screen CRT display originally intended for the QL.
Yngvi Th. Johannsson
Retro gaming enthusiast and all around computer collector.
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