The Gold series was publisher US Gold's branch into the compilation market and had been very successful for them. The original collection, like this one, featured an oversized clamshell plastic box with each game's title gleaming upon a gold ingot. It boasted solid arcade conversions such as Spy Hunter, Buck Rogers and Tapper alongside seminal classic Beach Head and the fun Blue Max. By the time they got to the Gold Collection III, however, things were starting to look a bit shaky...
Originally released by English Software, Leviathan was a Zaxxon-inspired shooter that lacked any of that ancient games' playability, style or even graphical prowess. Featuring strange "stippled"-like sprites that basically made the game look unfinished and rendered your spaceship invisible at regular intervals, Leviathan was a total mess and one of the worst games released on the Spectrum in its prime.
The arcade original wasn't great, but at least had a modicum of playability. The poor Speccy unfortunately couldn't hack it - unresponsive controls and unimpressive graphics meant this was an average conversion of an average arcade game.
Psi-5 Trading Company
This odd strategy space adventure certainly didn't want for ambition, but got slated in the press of its lack of actual excitement or even anything to actually do. Elite had done the trading thing so much better in combination with shooting action and Psi-5 just felt like an extremely hollow experience in comparison. Nice graphics - shame about the game.
I'm a big fan of the arcade game, and US Gold did a reasonable job of converting Bentley Bear onto the Spectrum. It suffers from the same control problems as its parent, yet at least Crystal Castles has some playability and staying power to it compared to some of the other miserable efforts on this compilation.
Oh dear, it just gets worse! Renowned as one of the poorest arcade conversions on the Spectrum, Breakthru is a side scrolling shooter where you take control of an armoured car. The graphics were neat enough, but the game was hamstrung by appalling collision detection and was also ridiculously easy - I got a fair way into the game by simply jumping my way from one end of a level to another!
There will be no fond farewell for The Gold Collection III I'm afraid; although it may have been Ultimate it was in name only, as Martianoids was a disappointing release from the famous publisher, another 3D isometric game that didn't really add anything to the classic Knightlore from three years earlier. And in fact Martianoids borrowed heavily from another of Ultimate's filmation games, Alien 8. And despite being deeply flawed and unplayable, the Spectrum magazines at the time still couldn't quite bring themselves to give Ultimate a bad review.