Alex has fond mem­o­ries of Spec­trum game Chaos.

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Alex Cox, Op­er­a­tions Ed

I was five or six. The play­ground, when not em­broiled in games of tag, would de­volve into ar­gu­ment: He- Man or Thun­der­Cats? Mon­ster Munch or Space Raiders? And, most im­por­tantly, ZX Spec­trum or C64? The an­swer, of course, is Spec­trum – shut up, it is. And the rea­son is Chaos. Up to eight flimsy wiz­ards, per­son­alised with hi­lar­i­ously puerile monikers, en­ter the bat­tle­field. Bum, Poo et al cast spells – ev­ery­thing from vam­pires and dragons to cas­tles and creep­ing waves of slime – in an at­tempt to make the other wiz­ards ex­plode. If you’ve got seven friends, you can all crowd around your Speccy and play an epic battle turn- by- turn. But you haven’t got seven friends, have you? Or one friend. Your dad might play. Once. Just me?

Any­way, Chaos. Those spell slingers are also masters of de­cep­tion. You might have a 30% chance of pop­ping out a big scary Golden Dragon but you’re free to cast an il­lu­sion­ary ver­sion with 100% suc­cess. This puts the em­pha­sis on your op­po­nents; will they sac­ri­fice their spell- cast­ing this turn to “dis­be­lieve” your wob­bly abom­i­na­tion? In my teeth- grind­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, yes they bloody well will, and your oth­er­wise un­stop­pable beast will dis­ap­pear into noth­ing­ness, your valu­able spell wasted for­ever.

See, Chaos is a game of hid­den in­for­ma­tion. You’re never given ex­plicit in­for­ma­tion about the re­main­ing health of your bear, pe­ga­sus or even your own char­ac­ter. Ev­ery hit you or your army takes could be its last. And you never know what the other wiz­ards have up their sleeves; with each spell­book limited and ran­domised, and new spells only avail­able if some­one is nice enough to cast a mag­i­cal for­est, you may well be screwed be­fore you even begin.

It is ut­terly un­fair and ex­tremely silly, but Chaos is one of the rare games from its era which is still em­i­nently playable. It doesn’t even need to ex­ploit the un­told power of the Speccy’s vastly su­pe­rior graph­ics and sound ( ahem); mono­chrome sprites on a black back­ground do the job be­cause the game it­self is so epic. The Spec­trum might have been sur­passed in the stupid eyes of the public, but Chaos truly is eter­nal.

Woo, just look at those graph­ics! Who needs PlaySta­tion, eh?!

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