The name Beau-Jolly became synonymous in the eighties with bountiful compilations that contained masses of games for eager youngsters. Their tactic was simple: identify a possible candidate, ideally a classic game experiencing a downturn in sales; then offer an up-front fee to buy the game then mix up a few genres and stick them all together on one or two cassettes.
The first of these I bought, and the first from Beau-Jolly was their self-styled 10 Computer Hits, so let's have a look back at the games that featured on it.
This classic egg collecting game was getting a little long in the tooth by 1985 but was still a magnificently playable title. Generally Manic Miner or Jet Set Willy were the platformers of choice for most Speccy-ites, but Chuckie falls just behind and is a masterpiece in level design.
Romantic Robot's one foray into the software market remains an idiosyncratic and devious game to this day. The only maggot simulator I've ever played, it's nefarious maze and tricky gameplay infuriated many at the time - but it was still huge fun discovering new screens!
Brian Jack's Superstar Challenge
From the tailwind of Daley Thompson's Decathlon came many a second-rate joystick waggler, and this was one of them. With a flawed central tenet in place (Brian Jack himself was famous for going round schools encouraging kids to get active rather than, um, sitting in front of the
telly playing games...), there were several events such as cycling, archery and oddly, squat-thrusts which is about as much fun as it sounds. Nowhere near polished enough and Daley had me covered by then.
I never gave this 2-player only strategy title enough time really, which is a shame because apparently it's ok. Oh well.
I so wanted this game from the generally-brilliant Micromega to be good. But the first stage was just so damn tough it almost made me cry. Ok, it did make me cry! In order to land your craft on the planet below the player had to align a "dot" up and keep it there long enough for the docking computer to land properly. If you didn't quite make the grade even by a single 0.1 then your craft crashed. I recall getting to the second part once or twice and the experience was definitely not worth it.
Sorceror of Claymorgue Castle
I loved the freedom of text adventures, especially the Adventure International ones with their fancy graphics. But the problem was I was utterly shit at them. It took me hours in this game to work out how to lower the bloody drawbridge - the first puzzle in the game, and when I finally completed it with the considerable aid of the World of Spectrum Tipshop, I came to realise that I stood absolutely NO chance of completing Claymorgue Castle back in the day. Still, in a perverse way I enjoyed it!
Another Micromega game, Jasper has lovely graphics for the time and got some extremely positive reviews in the gaming press. I never liked it though as I found it far too frustrating to play, and the appeal of discovering new screens quickly died away.
Simple, yes. Difficult to control, aye. Buckets of shootin', tootin' fun? Oh most definitely! I played Harrier (essentially a Scramble clone) over and over again, eagerly awaiting the final section where you can bomb the crap out of the town that concludes the level. Every compilation needed a good shooter.
This Micromania release was one of this maze type games that appeared after the success of Sabre Wulf. This one is set in space, with the player controlling Cadet Farley and his mission to save the SS Future. Plenty of shooting action and some nice colourful graphics.
And finally, a bonafide classic. Skool Daze broke the mould in terms of gameplay: free roaming and inventive, it was an early sand-box style adventure with the added bonus of being able to personalise the character's names. I admit I never even got as far as hitting all those darn shields, but had loads of fun wandering around the classrooms, hitting the school swot and framing the bully for it.
10 Computer Hits: HITS: 6 MISSES: 4