Chaos (ZX Spectrum)

by PaulEMoz

Today, I figured it was time to break out an emulator. I was never a Spec-chum, or whatever they call themselves these days, in that I didn't own a Spectrum. I did enjoy playing on those owned by friends, though... I had some great times with the likes of JetPac, Knight Lore and Jet Set Willy. But I owned a Commodore 64, and that's where most of my love for the era lies.

That being the case, I know I've missed out on a lot of great games. Choosing one to start with was always likely to be difficult... and then I remembered Chaos. A mate mentioned years ago that it was one of his favourite games of all time, and that kind of stuck in my mind, and then just a couple of weeks ago it was brought to my attention again when Mat 'mogwins' mentioned it in an early-morning post-beer and Rodent Awards discussion. I decided that Chaos would be my Spectrum starting point.

So what is Chaos? It's a single-screen turn-based strategy game, featuring spells and wizards and their evil creations. Basically, it's a wizarding stand-off between anything from two to eight wizards, any of which can be controlled by human or CPU. The object of the game is simple - kill the opposing wizard(s).

Chaos reigns.

Obviously, although it sounds simple, it isn't. You may have a variety of spells at your disposal, with all manner of creatures and weaponry at your beck and call (if your spell is successful, that is...), but so do they and they're just as adept at using them... moreso, usually, on higher difficulty levels. That's where the strategy comes in... it's not just a case of finding the best means of attack, you also have to be mindful of fending off their heavies, too.

A nice touch here is that you don't have the same spells every time. What you do have can make a lot of difference to how you play. For instance, in my first-ever game, I didn't have many powerful creatures to call on, and the game petered out in a draw. But then in my second game, I had a green dragon, and I'd wiped out the opposing wizard in two moves.

Chaos is fantastic. There's a huge amount of tinkering available to balance the game out or make it more interesting as you get better. You can increase the skill level of the opposing wizards, or simply up the number of opponents. A battle between you and several other wizards is pretty intense, and highly enjoyable. I'm really glad I picked this as my first Spectrum game, and I'd recommend anyone give it a try.