|Mmmm... delicious, glazed, doughnutty goodness!|
When you think about U.S. Gold, you think of a meganormous American company shipping their exotic foreign wares to a grateful British gaming public. In truth, it wasn't exactly like that. True, they did produce or publish some amazing stuff, but they also put out more than their fair share of dross, particularly in the early days.
Interestingly, several of their better games, particularly in later years, were programmed by British coders. One of my favourite U.S. Gold games was Archer MacLean's Dropzone. That wasn't always the case...
|These are the things that will be killing you now.|
Then, one fateful day, I was walking around Newcastle with ten pounds to burn. There was no question in my mind that it would be spent on a game (or some games)... the only question was which game?
|I'm so busy, my head is spinning...|
I had a great time when I got home, loading them up one at a time for an evening of cracking entertainment. Spy Hunter, Tapper and Up 'N' Down were all excellent arcade conversions. Aztec Challenge was great fun with excellent music (although if you've ever tried to play it on a black and white telly, you'll know that there's a problem that effectively renders you blind on one of the levels).
|It's the end of the world as we know it.|
I didn't even know how this could be. I mean, I knew I wasn't exactly excited by the prospect of Blue Max, but Dropzone wasn't even supposed to be in this compilation! Why would they replace Blue Max with that, of all games? Damn them!
I played it a few times, and only broke the 10,000 barrier once or twice. It was so hard and I hated it. I vowed never to play it again.
|Some things never change...|
Slowly, with intense concentration, I began to improve. I reached 20,000, then 30,000... and I found myself enjoying the game. With the computer on the floor, my left foot on the Commodore key for my invisibility cloak and my right foot on the space bar for the smart bomb, I had a set-up which was comfortable and saw me making decent progress. And I saw the game for what it really was... an incredibly challenging shoot 'em up which ranked up there with the very best.
|Foot, meet face.|