Yandex Retro Games Battle is a game development contest, organized by the Yandex Museum that brought to life amazing games for the ZX Spectrum, like Marsmare: Alienation and White Jaguar. If released in the 80s, these games would have made the developers rich folks and the blockbusters of the time look not so incredible as our memory tells us!
This year, the Yandex Retro Games Battle has exciting news for the game developers, and not only the ZX Spectrum ones! The 2021/2022 edition (v3) has expanded its reach allowing games developed for nothing less than seven platforms: Amstrad CPC 464/6128, Atari 8 bits, BBC Micro / Master, Commodore 64, MSX / MSX2, TRS-80 CoCo, ZX Spectrum 48K / 128K.
Another impressive news is that your game will be judged by stars of game development, including John Romero and the Oliver Twins. Here is the full list:
John Romero: Programmer, game designer, co-founder of id Software, co-creator of Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, Quake and a whole first-person shooter genre.
Oliver Twins: Andrew Nicholas Oliver and Philip Edward Oliver are legendary game designers, creators of Dizzy character and game series of the same name, as well as lots of other games.
Yuri Matveev: Editor-in-chief of the Spectrofon magazine in the ’90. Scriptwriter and composer for the Star Heritage game. Currently, head of Step Studio.
Simon Butler: One of the original pixel pushers from the 1980’s, graphic artist for Ocean Software. 37 years on and still working in game development with more than 300 titles under his belt. Indie titles are his passion but also likes the occasional AAA game.
Mark R. Jones: Mark worked at the world famous Ocean Software back in the 80s. More recently he is involved in the retro gaming community and helps restore and preserve game artwork. Last year he worked on the graphics for a free ZX Spectrum conversion of the Univeral arcade game ‘Mr. Do’.
El Mundo del Spectrum: Is a Spanish media (website, podcast, video, books, etc) about Spectrum born in 1996. The staff, Alejandro Ibáñez, Javier Ortiz, Jesús Martínez del Vas (photo) and Juan Francisco Torres, spread information about the past, present and future of the most wonderful machine in history: the Spectrum. Winners of Yandex Retro Games Battle 2019
Roman Mindlin: Has been working in back office automation at Yandex since 2018. Co-organiser of the demo festival Chaos Constructions. Retro computer collector.
Mikhail Sudakov: Formerly journalist at Game.EXE, currently editor-in-chief of the KG-Portal.ru and Idpixel.ru websites. Producer of Castlevania: Spectral Interlude for ZX Spectrum. Has the largest collection of licensed games for the ZX Spectrum in Russia.
Rules and Prizes
Games in any genre are eligible to compete. The main rule is that they must run on original computers from the list.
Games also must not:
Use additional peripherals (except a joystick and mouse)
Infringe on other people’s copyrights
Participate in other competitions and exhibitions
The competition results will be announced on December 17, 2022. The jury will evaluate games on their graphics, game play, game design (out of 10 points each), and sound (out of 5 points). The total of the three scores will determine the three winners.
The money prizes are also very attractive. The first place will get USD 1,000; the second USD 800; and the third, USD 500 (Approximate values since they are expressed in Rubles).
It’s incredibly hard choosing just ten premium games for Commodore’s 8-bit machine, mainly because it has so many incredible gems on it. We’re worked hard to narrow the list down though, so take a look at it and tell us if we’ve got things right or wrong (we’ve got it right).
The Sentinel Released: 1986
Geoff Crammond’s name may be synonymous with racing games, but when he wasn’t pouring his heart and soul into his latest Grand Prix title, he was adept at turning his hand to all sorts of different genres, with The Sentinel being a perfect example of his handiwork. Haunting and with a meticulously designed game engine that gives a tremendous sense of scale and depth, Crammond’s Sentinel was one of the best strategy games on the C64 – although to be fair, it initially appeared on the BBC Micro – and even today offers a worryingly addictive challenge. Best of all, emulation means you no longer have to endure those lengthy screen loads. Lovely!
IK+ Released: 1987
There had been previous games involving the slamming of bodily appendages against each other, in a sweaty contest of stamina and skill, but it was Archer Maclean’s IK+ which was first to ménage-à-trois with the concept – metaphorically speaking. It revolutionised the mechanics of games like Way Of The Exploding Fist and Karate Champ, and also incredibly well on the humble C64. Music was by Rob Hubbard and while there was only one background, it was filled with many clever Easter Eggs (those joyous bonuses you could spend months discovering). The fluidity of control made it easy to initially play, but this was backed-up by a complex system which rewarded continued practice. A classic. Bubble Bobble Released: 1987
There have been plenty of classic coin-op conversions on Commodore’s mighty 8-bit, but Bubble Bobble ranks as one of the best. From its cute, vibrant – if slightly squashed looking – visuals to the outstanding, bouncy music, the C64 perfectly captured the spirit of the original arcade hit and proved to be the perfect game to show-off to your Spectrum and Amstrad owning mates. It might not feature all the secrets that appeared in the original arcade game and having to press up on the joystick in order to jump is no substitute for a proper fire button, but if you’re looking for an extremely competent conversion of a classic arcade hit, look no further. A superb conversion that shouldn’t be missed. Mayhem In Monster Land Released: 1993
There was no question of this not making the Top 10, what with it being regarded by many as the C64’s last great release both in terms of gameplay and sheer technical achievement. As most already know, it infamously used a “bug” in the graphics chip, which allowed entire screen scrolling and therefore much smoother and faster gameplay. Despite being a C64 title it has all the speed and tactile control you’d expect from an early 1990s platformer, which not only guarantees it a place here but also means it’s still great to play even today. Being a dinosaur and returning colour to the land has never been such fun. Turrican Released: 1990
There’s an unwritten law in videogames that states: all C64 lists must feature at least one Manfred Trenz game. While many will no doubt argue that Trenz’s Turrican II is clearly the better game, we’ve decided to stick with the original, mainly because there was nothing quite else like it when it first appeared in 1990. It may well have borrowed heavily from obscure coin-op Psycho-Nics-Oscar, but Trenz’s technical wizardry of Commodore’s machine simply blew us away, and it still manages to impress today.
Part platformer, part shooter, Turrican features incredible visuals, a stunning score by music maestro Chris Hülsbeck and some of the most frenetic gameplay around. It fully deserves every accolade that has been bestowed on it. Impossible Mission Released: 1984
We featured a Making Of article on Dennis Caswell’s timeless classic in Issue 22, so by now all of you should have had a chance to experience this classic game. Impossible Mission was a perfect blend of joystick waggling dexterity (especially when avoiding the terrifying spheres of floaty-electric-death), and also tricky puzzles (many had problems with the final password-piece assembly). Although its premise of searching furniture (to find those elusive passwords) and avoiding robots may sound nauseatingly simple, it made for a game, which was easy to get into but difficult to put down. Although ported to several other systems, for us the C64 original is still the best version.
Paradroid Released: 1985
Ask any C64 owner to name their favourite games, and chances are that this superb effort from Andrew Braybrook will almost always make their top five. Taking control of a weak prototype droid, your aim is to simply clear each boarded spaceship (of which there are eight) of its out-of-control robots. While your droid is woefully underpowered (even Dusty Bin could have it in a scrap) it does retain the unique ability to transfer itself into any available droid (albeit for a limited amount of time). This enables it to take out the ship’s more dangerous foes (via a charming mini-game) and adds an interesting play mechanic. With its subtle blend of strategy and blasting, Paradroid deserves to be in every C64 owner’s collection.
Wizball Released: 1987
Playing Wizball was a rites of passage for many Commodore 64 owners and became more than ample ammunition for those who wanted to taunt their CPC and ZX Spectrum owning peers. Insanely smooth scrolling, a scintillating soundtrack from the always dependable Martin Galway and its slick blending of genres means that Wizball will forever remain within the higher echelons of Commodore 64 classics. It might well have taken a while to get used to your ball’s incessant bouncing, but once you finally mastered it and collected a few power-ups Wizball’s true identify and depth are revealed. Quite possibly one of the most beautifully crafted C64 games that you’ll ever have the privilege to play.
Project Firestart Released: 1989
Many games claim to have pioneered the survival-horror genre but, while others came before it, Project Firestart is one of the very best and is still supremely enjoyable today. Your task is to dock with a research vessel in space and find out why there’s been no communication. From the start, when you see the body of a dead crewmember who has written the word “danger” in their own blood, you know it’s going to be an incredibly tense mission with plenty of twists and turns. Throughout the ship are mutilated bodies, log reports, even a survivor; then you encounter the terrifying invisible enemies, which randomly appear. Multiple endings guarantee regular returns to that hellish place.
Zak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders Released: 1988
It’s only fair to list one of Lucasarts’ excellent games. But we can already hear a great disturbance, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, due to our choice. Yes, we could have listed Maniac Mansion, but everyone knows Maniac Mansion. Zak McKracken is arguably just as good, and the journalistic setting struck a chord in the office. Traversing the entire globe Zak encounters aliens disguised with Groucho Marx style nose-glasses and cowboy hats. Throw into the mix wacky sidekicks, a bus which travels to mars, plus some bitingly witty newspaper headlines, and you have one hell of a crazy adventure.