We live, viewers, in the world of the quicksave. Through a combination of gamers being whiny wimps who complain if they can’t see every level of a game the same day they buy it, and designers being lazy incompetents who can’t make a game challenging without simply killing the player without warning and relying on him to have quicksaved so he’ll know what’s coming next time, almost all of the tension and edge has been taken out of gaming. So you can probably only imagine how excited Emulation Zone was to recently uncover the world’s most hardcore games console.

The Odyssey2, known in this country as the Philips Videopac G7000, was an ill-fated attempt to compete with the Big Two of late-70s home console gaming, the Atari VCS and the Intellivision. It was ill-fated because compared to the other two it was technically primitive, and had a slightly nerdy image thanks to its ZX81-style touch-sensitive keyboard, with all the “educational” horrors that implied.

But what the Odyssey2 had going for it, that meant nothing at the time but seems somehow heroic now, was its sheer rock-hard-ness. In almost all of the 70-odd games that came out for the console, you only get one life. No shields, no energy bars, no second chances. You get hit, game over. Reality gaming.

The system’s most successful title, Alien Invaders, was even more ferocious. Though you did get defence bunkers in this one, you were faced with four lines of enemies, the first of which comprised indestructible moving shields. Every time you got hit, you had to sacrifice one of your own defence bunkers to supply your replacement laser base. 

And in the highly unlikely event that you managed to fend off the barrage of alien fire and the swooping attacks of the boss monster and wipe out the entire screen, you know how many points you got? One. Shooting the boss monster scored zero, shooting the second- and third-row aliens scored zero, doing anything except wiping out a whole screen – zero. Games with one life that almost always ended in a score of zero. Modern gamers are such pussies.


Emu Zone’s personal best is 3, incidentally.

Another high score for the mysterious “??????”.








MANIC MINER (Sam Coupe, 1992)

The SAM Coupe was one of the strangest computers ever to be launched in this country. Basically a souped-up ZX Spectrum (and backwards-compatible with the Sinclair machine), it came out right at the end of the Spectrum’s life, just as the 16-bit gaming platforms like the Amiga and Mega Drive were coming to prominence. In one of the least surprising developments in gaming history, the SAM stiffed spectacularly, and the format played host to very few games (though it did host notable conversions of Lemmings and Prince Of Persia which were both the equal of the 16-bit counterparts). The Coupe’s greatest moment, however, was its version of Speccy classic Manic Miner.

Actually three games in one, SAM MM featured the original 20 levels plus two excellently-designed (especially the middle one) all-new “sequels”, bringing in a few new features and bumping up the graphic and sonic qualities somewhat. The real innovation, though, was that the coders doubled the speed of the original game, turning what by the 90s was a rather pedestrian effort into a fast, exciting and fingernail-chewingly addictive game more in the style of Chuckie Egg, where anything less than total concentration and co-ordination can see your entire game lasting less than a minute. (No quicksave here either, you blouses.) Manic Miner has just been revamped and released for the Gameboy Advance, but the SAM Coupe version handles the same task immeasurably better, and Emulation Zone hasn’t been able to put it down all month.



(Left) You’ve got no chance of getting this far, wimps.


Emulation Zone is brought to you in association with the International World Of Stuart Foundation.