If you ever used an Amiga back in the day, prepare to feel old, because Commodore’s masterpiece just turned 30. Back in the late 80s and early 90s it was a beast of a machine, with its 16-bit processor, custom chips for graphics and audio, colour mouse-based UI (take that, Mac Plus!), and enough RAM to make all the 8-bit micros green with envy.
Advertising at the time suggested the Amiga was the ideal business machine, or perfect for creative endeavours. But of course everyone just wanted to play games. Here’s Stuff’s definitive guide to the ten best Amiga games ever made that are still worth playing today. (If you disagree, leave a comment. But the first person to mention the risible Shadow of the Beast will be forced to play Rise of the Robots for a solid week as punishment. You have been warned.)
Photo credit: Tobias Toft
1. The Secret of Monkey Island
While Lucasfilm’s point-and-click SCUMM engine appealed to audiences upon Maniac Mansion’s release, it was the near-perfect Secret of Monkey Island that consigned the traditional text-based adventure to oblivion. Ron Gilbert’s superb writing infuses this cartoonish pirate adventure with energy and life. It also eradicated the typical dead-ends seen before in so many adventures, by making it impossible for protagonist Guybrush Threepwood to die. Fall off a cliff and you’re hurled back into the air by bouncing on a rubber tree! It’s not surprising the adventure keeps getting remade and reimagined on modern kit, but the original Amiga outing remains especially joyful to play.
2. Cannon Fodder
Command & Conquer usually gets kudos for kickstarting the modern RTS, but Cannon Fodder got there first, adding an injection of black satire that sailed over the heads of every do-gooder censorship-happy miseryguts and tabloid hack of the day. The premise was to lead your little squad around battlefields, stealthily taking out enemies and completing missions.
Controversy came through the juxtaposition of humour and war, and the roll calls at the end of each level, which listed the names of the fallen against a poppy backdrop; your squad was then refreshed from an endless queue of oblivious recruits awaiting their turn, next to a hill that amassed an increasing number of graves. Brilliant, poignant and playable, it’s a title ripe for remake.
Forget FIFA and PES — in the 1990s, SWOS was where footie games were at. Sensible Software (quite sensibly) decided ‘realism’ was a waste of time if you only had 16 bits to play with, and instead presented football as you imagined it to be in your head as a kid, winning the World Cup on a barren patch of grass behind your gran’s house.
The result ended up more like pinball, with fast and furious overhead matches that were endlessly frenetic and exciting. Quite why we haven’t seen a proper mobile version for Android and iOS is a mystery.
4. Stunt Car Racer
If you’re into thoroughly modern racers, you might balk at Stunt Car Racer’s jerky framerate and simple graphics. To do so would be to sniffily avoid a fantastic racer that asked the question: how cool would it be to mash-up drag racing and roller-coasters? The answer: very.
With perfect, solid-feeling physics, it’s one of very few racers to properly leave your stomach in your mouth as you zoom about on vertigo-inducing tracks, slam into banked corners, and try very hard not to nitro your eyebrows off in a mad dash for the chequered flag.