Alex has fond memories of Spectrum game Chaos.
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?!