This is the fourth in my ’30 Best’ series of articles in which I discuss my favourite games ever on a system-by-system basis for the first time. In case you missed them, I’ve already covered the 30 best DS games, 30 best GameCube games and 30 best Dreamcast games.
As before, because this is my own personal list and not a collaborative effort for a magazine or website, there will be some glaring omissions of games I simply didn’t play or didn’t like. So yes, I know SimCity and Civilization aren’t on there: deal widdit, as the kids say.
If one of your favourites isn’t on the list, feel free to give it a shoutout in the comments below (politely though, mind) and tell everyone what it meant to you.
Xbox One versus PS4? Pffft. Xbox 360 versus PS3? Load of pish. Mega Drive versus SNES? Wouldn’t wipe my balls with it.
The two biggest wars among gamers – in the UK, at least – were between computer owners, not console owners.
The ’80s saw a brutal three-way battle between the ZX Spectrum (hooray!), the Commodore 64 (yes, well played) and the Amstrad CPC (hahaha, aye, okay mate).
When these systems died out and were replaced by 16-bit computers, the war evolved and two new competitors stepped forward (because nobody counts the Acorn Archimedes).
In the red corner, the Atari ST. In the blue corner, the Commodore Amiga.
Oddly, although both were manufactured by American companies, both were arguably more popular in the UK, where the microcomputer market was already booming thanks to the previous generation’s offerings from British companies Sinclair and Amstrad.
Although I never took sides in the console wars because I was fortunate enough to own them all, when it came to computers I was a staunch supporter of the Amiga, my trusty A1200 providing me with countless hours of entertainment.
Without beating around the bush, part of the Amiga’s success was down to piracy. It was piss easy to get hold of copied Amiga games, and while developers and publishers suffered as a result there could be no denying it was a big selling point for some would-be customers.
On a definitely, honestly unrelated note, I had hundreds of Amiga games (ahem), so choosing just 30 for this list was bloody difficult. However, that said, here are the 30 Amiga games I spent most time with and loved more than any others.
The annoying notes bit which is a tiny bit different from last time
This list is in alphabetical order. Much like it’s pretty pointless deciding whether a game’s getting a score of 72% or 73%, it doesn’t really matter if Rainbow Islands is my 8th or 9th favourite Amiga game. Everything in this list was deemed good enough to make the cut, so I recommend them all with similar enthusiasm.
In previous lists I’ve included affiliate links to buy these on Amazon. Since most Amiga games are over 20 years old and the floppy disks they came on are likely riddled with errors, I won’t be doing the same this time.
Instead, I’ll be telling you if there are any other ways to get hold of each game on different, still active formats.
What if you want to specifically play the Amiga version, though? Well, not that I would promote it, but it’s worth bearing in mind that all of these games can be found for Amiga emulators if you look hard enough. I won’t be telling you how to do it though.
That aside, on with the list.
Listbench version 3.1 (Amiga joke there)
1) Alien Breed I, II and Tower Assault
Why it was chosen: Team17’s series has been the recipient of a number of reboots over the years but the bog-standard polygonal efforts released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC (Alien Breed Evolution, Assault and Descent) don’t really come close to the simplistic yet effective Amiga originals which were pretty bloody intense at the time.
Obviously the genre has come a long way since then but I played Alien Breed 2 recently and it still holds up.
How to play it: Like a lot of Amiga games on this list, the first and third Alien Breed games were also released on PC during the MS-DOS days. You can therefore find Alien Breed and Alien Breed: Tower Assault on abandonware sites, which specialise in letting you download DOS games that are no longer available and considered ‘abandoned’ by their publisher.
A warning though: not only are these dubious (not that anyone will pursue you for it, mind), because they were designed for ancient computers they can also be a bit annoying to get running on modern PCs. Read up on how to play old MS-DOS games using programs like DOSBox.
2) Another World
Why it was chosen: These days describing a game as ‘polygonal’ is about as descriptive as saying you play it with buttons. Back when Another World was released though, the limited power of computers and consoles meant that polygonal visuals were the exception rather than the standard.
Another World wasn’t a particularly long game and it verged on infuriating at times, but its atmosphere and general look truly made you feel like, as the title declared, you were in another world.
How to play it: The 20th Anniversary Edition of Another World was recently released on Steam, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, 3DS, Vita and PS3. It lets you play throgh the game with both old-school and updated graphics.
3) Archer Maclean’s Pool and Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker
Why it was chosen: These days Pure Pool is the king of the (admittedly small) cue sports simulation world, but in the Amiga days there was only really one game that met our needs. Well, two. Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker was a breathtakingly realistic snooker game, letting you rotate the table (polygons again, innit), line up shots accurately, add spin and even chalk your cue when the need arose.
Its massive success warranted a sequel, so Archer Maclean’s Pool did exactly the same thing, only instead with a focus on that other stick-based ball-hitty sport. Both games offered brilliant attention to detail as well as a wry sense of humour: take too long to play your shot and the balls will start taunting you.
How to play it: Archer Maclean’s Pool is Amiga only but you can get the PC version of Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker on abandonware sites. It also had a sequel, Jimmy White’s 2: Cueball, which was released on PC, PS2 and Dreamcast.
4) Brutal Sports Football
Why it was chosen: The name Brutal Sports Football is a slightly inaccurate one. It’s referring to American football – which explains why your players pick the ball up and run with it – but its lack of stop-start play and touchdowns make it feel more like a rugby game instead.
Regardless of what sport it’s trying to emulate, it’s bloody good: both figuratively and literally. The game has no fouls, you see, meaning you can dive into opposition players with hellacious tackles as you see fit or even grab weapons like the swords lying around the arena. The more players are attacked the weaker they get, staying on the deck longer and longer until eventually, your next attack pops their head off in a fountain of gore.
This opens up different strategies: do you play it by the book and endeavour right from kick-off to to score goals? Or do you concentrate on killing as many opponents as possible, letting them score if need be, with the hope that you’ll be able to catch up later as you nonchalantly stroll through the corpse-riddled field and score freely as the game nears its end?
How to play it: Once again, the DOS version is available on abandonware sites.
5) Cannon Fodder 1 & 2
Why it was chosen: Just as Sensible Soccer transformed the football genre by bowing out of the race for realism and instead focusing on simplicity and fun, Cannon Fodder did the same with the ever-growing real-time strategy genre.
Putting you in charge of up to four soldiers, its controls rarely go beyond ‘left click to move, right click to shoot, click both to fire a missile or grenade’. This lets you instead concentrate on exploring your surroundings, killing the enemy and, crucially, investing emotionally in your little soldiers.
With the simple act of giving each solider a name and ensuring that when they died they were dead for good and replaced with another queuing recruit, Sensible drove home the real horror of war. There are few things more effective in gaming than seeing a big hill gradually filling up with the tombstones of the men you’ve lost along the way.
How to play it: The Cannon Fodder games were released on a number of different formats, and the PC versions of Cannon Fodder and Cannon Fodder 2 are available on GOG, a site dedicated to re-releasing old and previously considered ‘abandoned’ games. The twist is that GOG tweaks and optimises the games so they’ll work on modern computers, meaning you don’t have to go through the trial-and-error nightmare of getting abandonware to work.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the PC versions of Cannon Fodder aren’t as good as the Amiga ones because they don’t look or sound as good. Stay well away from the recently released Cannon Fodder 3, too: it’s nothing to do with Sensible Software and is terrible.
6) Every LucasArts adventure
Why it was chosen: I was thinking of splitting the LucasArts games into individual entries but then they would take up about a third of the entire list. In short then, here’s a list of every LucasArts point-and-click on Amiga, in order of release, and why they’re all brilliant.
Maniac Mansion – A darkly comic love letter to B-movie horror films.
Zak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders – Not the most well-known LucasArts game but a funny tale of one journalist and his quest to stop aliens reducing the Earth’s intelligence.
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade – Before GoldenEye, this was the game everyone gave as proof that not all movie tie-ins were bad.
Loom – More serious than other LucasArts games, this beautiful adventure has a clever music-based spell system that predated Ocarina Of Time by eight years.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge – Guybrush returns with increased confidence but consistently low intelligence.
Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis – Forget that alien pish, this is the true Indy 4.
How to play it: The aforementioned GOG is in the process of adding all of LucasArts’ archive games to its catalogue, so you can get most of them there. You can also get both Monkey Island games on Steam, Xbox 360 and PS3. Steam also has a LucasArts Adventure Pack featuring both Indy games, Loom and PC adventure The Dig for a low price. For the rest, I won’t get into specifics but look up ScummVM.
7) Fast Food
Why it was chosen: I’ve said before on Tired Old Hack that sometimes the simplest games make for the most enjoyable experiences, and Fast Food is proof of this.
It’s really just an elaborate version of Pac-Man, in which Dizzy has to make his way around a number of themed mazes collecting food which for some reason is wandering around (hence ‘fast’) while avoiding the enemies trying to catch him. There really isn’t much more to it than that but its charming level design and catchy music will always stick with me.
How to play it: It was released on PC and so, you guessed it, can be found on abandonware sites.
8) Formula One Grand Prix
Why it was chosen: Geoff Crammond’s name may not be spoken in the same breath as the likes of David Braben, Peter Molyneux, Jeff Minter or Matthew Smith these days but his racing simluation is every bit as impressive as their creations.
Look at it now and Formula One Grand Prix doesn’t seem like much but try to imagine a time when racing games tended to be little more than variations on arcade titles like Out Run and Grand Prix’s influence becomes clearer.
This was the first game to take racing seriously, letting you tune the car and switch the tyres and race full-length F1 races that took hours. To this day, 23 years later, it still has a small cult community that continues to play it.
How to play it: Formula One Grand Prix was released on PC in the US under the title World Circuit, so you can find it here.
9) Heimdall and Heimdall 2: Into The Hall Of Worlds
Why it was chosen: Even those who never played Heimdall may still at least be familiar with one part of it: its axe-throwing mini-game.
Featured once on GamesMaster and a weekly challenge on Sky One’s rival show Games World, players took control of a drunken Viking and had to throw axes to cut off a young girl’s pigtails without accidentally smacking her in the face.
The mini-game aside, both Heimdall games were entertaining RPG adventures that served as perfect entry points for those new to the genre.
10) International Karate +
Why it was chosen: Give IK+ to a young gamer spoiled by the likes of Ultra Street Fighter IV and they’ll look at your enthusiastic face as if you were handing them a plate with a shite on it and saying “here, it’s delicious”.
Granted, it’s extremely basic these days, but its one-on-one-on-one gameplay kept things exciting and back in the day you couldn’t help giggling when, on rare occasions, one of the fighters’ trousers would fall down. Look, we didn’t have YouTube or anything like that back then, we had to find entertainment elsewhere. Give us a break.
How to play it: Believe it or not, IK+ was ported to the GBA and PlayStation some sixteen years after its release. You can also get the Commodore 64 version on the Wii Virtual Console.
11) James Pond 2: Codename Robocod
Why it was chosen: The first James Pond was an adequate underwater platformer in which a secret agent fish swam around taking out bad guys and seducing mermaids. It was pretty forgettable stuff, which is why developer Vectordean decided to up the pun ante by putting James in a robotic suit similar to Robocop’s and dubbing him Robocod.
The resulting game was a brilliantly cheery platformer with ace music and a great sense of humour, in which the player had to travel to the North Pole and rescue Santa Claus from the evil Dr Maybe while trying their best to ignore the blatant advertising for Penguin biscuits.
How to play it: The PC version is considered abandonware. Alternatively, it was also released on the SNES and Mega Drive back in the day, and more recently the GBA, PS2 and DS. There was also a port on the PlayStation, which can be bought on the PlayStation Store for PS3 as a PS One Classic.
12) Lemmings, Christmas Lemmings, Oh No! More Lemmings and Lemmings 2: The Tribes
Why it was chosen: There have been loads of different Lemmings games over the years but that initial batch of Amiga titles remains arguably the best of the bunch. The first game in particular, released initially on the Amiga, was so successful it’s since been ported to over 30 systems.
Later games tinkered with the formula by either adding more abilities or enhancing the graphics, but it was Lemmings’ simplicity – both in game and visual design – that made it so endearing.
How to play it: Like I say, they’ve been ported to countless systems so I’m sure you’ll be able to find them somehow. If you’re lazy and want to go down the abandonware route yet again, then have at it: Lemmings, Christmas Lemmings, Oh No! More Lemmings and Lemmings 2: The Tribes.
13) Lethal Weapon
Why it was chosen: The Lethal Weapon video game (released around the same time as Lethal Weapon 3) was available on a load of different systems, but the Amiga version was best because of one thing: the music.
The game itself was a fun little action platformer in which you could switch between Riggs and Murtaugh and shoot the shit out of loads of baddies, but I say with no exaggeration that the music in the first level is one of the greatest video game tracks ever. Have a listen and tell me I’m wrong.
How to play it: You can find the SNES, NES and Game Boy versions fairly easily if you look around and the PC DOS version is on abandonware sites but, seriously, they’re nothing without that Amiga version’s music.
14) The Lost Vikings
Why it was chosen: Nothing says ‘fish out of water’ more than a trio of Vikings being trapped in an alien spaceship. It’s up to Erik, Baelog and Olaf to work together and use their unique powers to escape.
It’s a concept that’s done to death these days but though The Lost Vikings didn’t create it, it certainly mastered it.
How to play it: The best way to play The Lost Vikings is via Blizzard’s own site Battle.net, where the PC version is available to download absolutely free of charge.
Why it was chosen: Public domain (or PD) was the Amiga’s equivalent of indie gaming. Bedroom coders would create their own games and either sell them through mail order, or offer them to magazines like Amiga Power and Amiga Format to feature on their cover disks.
Poing was my favourite PD game because though its idea was simplistic (as most PD offerings were), it was bloody great fun. Essentially a side-on version of Breakout, what made it unique was that all the levels were connected, and the aim wasn’t really to break all the bricks, you just had to break through the right-hand wall to reach the next stage.
Here’s the twist: if you missed the ball you didn’t just lose a life, it would drop through the previous stages at an insane speed. This gave you the chance to recover by hitting the ball then knocking it through the levels you’d already cleared. Look, this video demonstrates it best.
On a side note, one day a 12-year-old me got an enormous score in Poing and for some reason decided to enter my name as FUCKHEAD on the high-score table. Then, worried my dad might see it (as if my dad would just play Poing one day for a laugh), I spent hours each day frantically trying to beat my ridiculous score ten times to knock it off the table.
I never did, so somewhere out there there’s still a Poing game with FUCKHEAD sitting at number 4 in the high-score table.
How to play it: Usefully, developer Firestorm Productions released a freeware PC port called Poing PC. Just be careful: the developer’s site closed down a while back so the version I’ve inked to above is a repackaged one on another site. When you install it be very careful and be sure to decline the three annoying toolbars it tries to get you to install.
Once you get past that you’ll need to click on the PoingPC.exe file, choose Properties, go to the Compatibility tab and run it in compatibility mode for Windows XP. You’ll also need to choose reduced colour mode of 8-bit (256 colour) and to run in 640×480 resolution. A lot of hassle but it’s worth it.
16) Premier Manager
Why it was chosen: It’s commonly accepted that the Championship Manager games (which later became the rebooted Football Manager) were the best in the football management genre, but for some reason I had a softer spot for Gremlin Interactive’s game instead.
Forcing you to start in the Conference, the aim was to work your way up to the Premier League and win it. It offered just enough detail without getting too deep: as well as the obvious team management stuff you could improve your ground’s capacity and even choose the advertising hoardings that went around it.
Being a daft 10-year-old, I naturally had Zool and Daily Star ads draped around Moss Rose, home of the mighty Macclesfield Town. Well, they were mighty when I was in charge.
How to play it: PC version on Abandonware, you ask? Of course.
17) Rainbow Islands
Why it was chosen: When you completed Bubble Bobble with the ‘true ending’ (no mean feat) you got to see dragon heroes Bub and Bob turn into humans. Rainbow Islands, then, saw them taking on another adventure, this time in human form.
Now named Bubby and Bobby – apparently being human means a name extension – the pair have to make their way up a series of vertical stages and defeat the bosses of numerous themed worlds.
The unique gameplay mechanic here is their ability to fire rainbows which not only kill enemies, but can also be used as temporary makeshift platforms in order to climb higher. Not convinced? Well, the theme music is the catchiest rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow you’ll ever hear.
How to play it: Rainbow Islands hasn’t seen a proper port since the PlayStation days. You can find it in Taito Legends on PC, PS2 and Xbox, but other than that you might have to go down the emulation route. Stay the SHIT away from PSP game Rainbow Islands Evolution and XBLA / WiiWare game Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure. Both are horrendous.
18) Sensible World Of Soccer
Why it was chosen: I’m terrified to think of how may hours I spent (not wasted, mind) playing Sensible World Of Soccer. I played it for so long I eventually took Celtic to countless European Cups with a superstar team including Cantona, Baggio, Romario and George Weah.
It is, simply put, a perfect arcade-style football game, giving you so much control with a single button it’s unreal. The most satisfying swerve you’ll ever see in a game and players that actually do feel different made for a stunning game that I still lose hours on regularly to this day.
How to play it: PC gamers can get SWOS 96/97, the last released ‘proper’ version of the game, on GOG.com: you’ll need to have a fiddle around to get gamepad support working, but there are forums explaining how to do it.
Someone’s even made a season 2013/14 update for it, which works perfectly. Alternatively, Xbox 360 owners can still get it on Xbox Live Marketplace, complete with advertising hoardings for the late CVG. *sniff* Goodnight, sweet prince.
19) Shufflepuck Cafe
Why it was chosen: How’s this for a plot: you’re a space salesman but your ship has broken down. You need to call the intergalactic equivalent of the AA to get it fixed but the only phone for miles is at the nearby Shufflepuck Cafe. The cafe’s clientele are expert air hockey players and they won’t let you use the phone until you can beat all eight of them.
Okay, so it’s basically fancy Pong but I love Shufflepuck Cafe’s character. Each of your opponents has a different personality which affects their playing style, from The General – an ex-military pig alien who blasts shots at you with no real accuracy – to Princess Bejin, who uses telekinesis to move the puck to the center of the table and make it harder for you to react to her shots.
Best of the bunch though is Lexan Smythe-Worthington, a posh alien who starts off nearly impossible to beat, but slowly gets drunk on wine as he plays and eventually becomes a walkover. Love this game.
How to play it: The (not quite as good) PC version of Shufflepuck Cafe can be found on abandonware sites. Alternatively, there’s a tribute game called Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe on Steam (complete with Oculus Rift support) as well as a slightly shitter free-to-play version of it on iOS and Android.
20) Simon The Sorcerer
Why it was chosen: It goes without saying that LucasArts was the king of point-and-click gaming in the Amiga days but that doesn’t mean it was the only show in town.
Adventure Soft’s hilarious Simon The Sorcerer had a sense of humour that came close to that of Monkey Island, its nine disks(!) packed with daft quests based on various fairy tales and a recurring joke about Simon storing his entire inventory in his magical hat.
How to play it: There’s a port of Simon The Sorcerer on iOS but it’s as broken as a school teacher’s patience the week before the holidays. Instead, get the old PC version from GOG, which was actually better than the Amiga one because it featured voice acting, with Simon played by Chris Barrie (aka Rimmer from Red Dwarf).
They’ve also got the equally brilliant sequel Simon The Sorcerer II: The Lion, The Wizard And The Wardrobe, which didn’t make it to Amiga. Don’t bother with the third, fourth or fifth games, they’re shite.
21) Soccer Kid
Why it was chosen: Soccer Kid puts a clever spin on the standard platform game by adding a football to proceedings. The titular Soccer Kid (known as Kid Kleats in the US… ugh) has to travel through various cities, using his football to take out enemies, collect hard-to-reach power-ups and bounce him to higher platforms.
In the days before complex physics engines were commonplace, there was something excitingly tense about the way the ball could roll down hills if you didn’t control it properly. Plus you could change the colour of his shirt on the title screen, meaning you could turn him into a Celtic fan.
How to play it: The PC DOS version can be found on abandonware sites. You know, I should probably just start copying and pasting that by now. Alternatively, it was also released on SNES, GBA and PlayStation so it might be worth trying to track down a second-hand copy.
22) Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
Why it was chosen: It’s no Brutal Sports Football (come at me, haters) but Speedball 2 is still a fantastically violent take on what’s essentially handball. In teams of nine, players have to chuck a metallic ball into their opponent’s goal while avoiding no-holds-barred attacks.
Alternatively, you can build the potential points you’ll get for a goal by chucking the ball off various score multipliers, creating a brilliant risk/reward system. Cracking game.
How to play it: There’s an HD remake on Steam but to be honest, I haven’t played it and it’s got very Marmite reviews, with some long-time fans loving it and others despising it. Since it was also released on PC DOS back in the day you can find the original on abandonware sites.
Why it was chosen: Anthropomorphic animal platforming mascots were all the rage in the early ’90s and you didn’t really count as a true games publisher if you didn’t have some sort of platform-leaping cat, fox, squirrel or hedgehog in your portfolio somewhere (more on this in a future article though).
Superfrog was Team17’s offering and was a speedy little game with massive levels and loads of collectibles to find. It was also a shameless ad for a certain energy drink, with our hero able to restore his health by picking up bottles of Lucozade dotted around each stage.
How to play it: Team17 recently released a new version of Superfrog called Superfrog HD. It plays identically to the Amiga version – albeit with improved visuals and the Lucozade replaced with something more generic – and can be bought digitally on Steam, PS3 or Vita.
24) Super Skidmarks
Why it was chosen: It should have become clear from some of my previous 30 Best Games entries that I love simple games, and Super Skidmarks is another shining example of this. It’s little more than an isometric racing game but it’s so perfectly balanced and brilliant in multiplayer that it’s just fantastic.
It’s also got some charmingly daft vehicles in there, meaning alongside the usual sports cars you’ve got Minis, caravans and even a cow on wheels.
How to play it: The only other system Super Skidmarks was released on was the Mega Drive, so if you can find a second-hand cartridge then get stuck in.
25) Theme Park
Why it was chosen: Yes, it’s common knowledge that the first two Rollercoaster Tycoon games are the finest theme park management simulators ever, but those were mere metaphorical semen swimming around the sack of Bullfrog Productions’ Theme Park.
As the name suggested, it was the first game to let you create your very own Alton Towers or (if you weren’t so good at it) Chessington, choosing where to place the rides and adjusting miniscule details like the amount of salt you put in the chips (more salt costs more, but makes the guests thirstier and more likely to buy a drink too). A hilarious game.
How to play it: You can find the PC version of Theme Park on GOG.com. In fairness, Rollercoaster Tycoon can be found on there for the same price, and it’s even better (though not on this list because it wasn’t on the Amiga), but that’s not to say this doesn’t still hold up.
26) Trolls and Oscar
Why it was chosen: Newcastle-based developer Flair Software released Trolls in 1992. Based not on the cave-dewlling creatures but rather the Danish doll craze from the early ’90s, it’s a collect ’em up platformer that seems hell-bent on including every colour visible to the human eye, as well as some that aren’t.
Flair’s next game Oscar was more successful (partly because it was bundled with the Amiga CD32 and was therefore on display on numerous shop tellies), even though it played identically, albeit with a new protagonist and new movie-themed levels. Both are solid, speedy platformers with solid mechanics and worth a look.
How to play it: As ever, you can find the PC versions of Trolls and Oscar on abandonware sites. Alternatively, a port of Oscar called Oscar In Movieland was released on DSiWare (and can therefore be found on the 3DS eShop).
27) TV Sports Boxing
Why it was chosen: TV Sports Boxing was unique at the time in that it let you create your own crappy boxer and build up his stats as he fought his way up the rankings.
It was surprisingly deep too: obviously it’s not quite as detailed as the Fight Night games or anything but it let you pull off a number of different straights, jabs, hooks and uppercuts and let you work on your opponent’s body or head should you so choose.
How to play it: Since it was also on PC, the DOS version of TV Sports Boxing is on abandonware sites. Alternatively, it spawned two Mega Drive sequels – Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing and Greatest Heavyweights – which play similarly.
28) Wiz ‘N’ Liz
Why it was chosen: Way back before it was renamed Bizarre Creations, Liverpool studio Raising Hell Software gave us this criminally underrated, frantic platform game.
Playing as either of its titular wizards, the player had to run through each looping level, collecting rabbits. Some rabbits are holding a letter that floats off when they’re collected, and to finish a level you have to collect all the letters to spell out a word before time runs out.
The problem is, you can’t tell which rabbits have letters so you have to run at full pelt (ahem) through the stage, ploughing into as many rabbits as you can, and slamming on the brakes any time you see a letter pop out.
What made it even better was its fruit system: once you collect the letters in a stage you can spend the remaining time left collecting the rest of the rabbits, who now drop fruit instead. Mixing up different combinations of fruit in the hub world’s cauldron results in one of numerous bonuses, ranging from mini-games to extra points to weird shit like it saying “Game Over” and killing you, then respawning you and saying “only joking”. I adore this game.
How to play it: Wiz ‘N’ Liz was only ever released on the Amiga and Mega Drive, so – shock horror – it isn’t on abandonware sites.
Why it was chosen: Ask a long-time gamer to round off Sensible Software’s greatest games and chances are they’ll round off the likes of Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder, maybe even Sensible Golf or Mega Lo Mania, before they remember to mention Wizkid. In reality, it should be one of the first games on everyone’s list.
Describing Wizkid in a small passage like this is nearly impossible, so I’ll focus solely on it in a later article. For now, just try to digest this bite-sized explanation. You play as Wizkid, a floating head, who has to rescue his dad Wizball (star of an earlier ZX Spectrum game), his cat wife and their eight kitten children.
You do this by playing through numerous block-filled stages in which you defeat enemies by bashing the blocks into them. Eventually, by collecting musical notes, you can give Wizkid a body, at which point the adventure section of the game kicks in and he can wander around solving puzzles.
Like I say, I’ll cover it more in-depth in another article, but put it this way: how many other games feature a level warp that you find by going to the ladies’ toilet, doing a massive shit and flushing it to unblock a volcano, which can then be entered?
How to play it: Wizkid was also released on PC so the DOS version can be found on abandonware sites, but from what I can gather it’s a bastard to get up and running on modern computers.
Why it was chosen: There have been a frankly unnecessary 19 games in the main Worms series, and that’s not even counting spin-offs like Worms Crazy Golf and Worms Blast. In reality, you only really need the first game.
Though not as cartoony as its numerous successors it’s still a brilliant strategy game at its core and is still packed with character thanks to its daft dialogue. Further proof that keeping it simple is often the right way to go.
How to play it: The PC version of the original Worms can be found on Steam. If you’re an early adopter of Tired Old Hack and are reading this shortly after I put it up, be quick: it’s only £1.24 on Steam for the new few hours instead of the usual £4.99, so get on it. Alternatively, the Worms Collection – which consists of 21 Worms games (Christ) – is also briefly on sale for a ridiculously cheap £16.99 (instead of £67.99).
More? Okay then, since you asked so nicely. Here’s another 15 that didn’t quite make the final cut but really deserve a mention.
Beneath A Steel Sky
Beautiful point-and-click adventure by Charles Cecil, before he went on to create Broken Sword.
The Chaos Engine
Top-down shoot’em up action by The Bitmap Brothers with a Steampunk Victorian aesthetic.
An isometric cyberpunk adventure in which a load of genetically engineered bioweapons have taken over a lab.
A gruesome horror point-and-click with a world and creatures created by Alien designer HR Giger.
A little-known puzzle game in which you have to switch tracks to direct trains to their respective stations. An early ancestor of Flight Control.
Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight
Gloriously gory game which is part turn-based strategy, part real-time battling. Bloody beheadings are the order of the day.
Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies, Pinball Illusions and Slam Tilt
Four cracking pinball games by Digital Illusions CE. Yes, as in DICE, as in the studio now known for Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge.
The Peter Molyneux god sim people thought they’d be getting when they crowdfunded Godus.
A puzzle game in which a little chap called G.I. Ant (geddit?) has to push over dominoes for some reason involving popular corn-based crisp snack Quavers.
Shadow Of The Beast
Psygnosis’ action platformer was so beautiful with its speedy parallax scrolling, it was the showcase Amiga game displayed on shop TVs up and down the country.
Comic Relief sponsored game in which you controlled a dog trying to guide a sleepwalking boy to safety. If Lemmings was a platformer it’d be like this.
Stunt Car Racer
Over-the-top racing game featuring a first-person viewpoint (rare for the time). With pinpoint accuracy required to make some jumps, it feels more like a flight sim at times. In a good way, mind.
Much-lauded run ‘n’ gun platformer with a magnificent soundtrack by German composer Chris Hülsbeck.
Xenon 2: Megablast
Vertical shooter known for two things: the ability to pull back and scroll the screen down for a limited time during tense moments, and the best intro music of all time.
Loved by some, hated by others, but you couldn’t deny Zool’s chutzpah. Sorry, I mean Chupa Chups: the lollipop brand’s logo was plastered throughout the game.