Budget Day 2015 - Amaurote (ZX Spectrum)

by Paul Morrison


Being a Commodore 64 owner with only limited access to a Spectrum meant that I missed out on quite a lot of games.  I could really only ever play the games my Speccy-owning mates wanted to play, rather than what I wanted to play, when I went to their houses.  This was a bit of a shame, because I used to read as many computer magazines as I could, and I would often see something that looked interesting but that I was unlikely to get a shot at.

Amaurote was one such game.  I thought the screen shots in CRASH looked great, but when I saw the review of the C64 version in ZZAP! 64... well, they looked like completely different games!

Ugh. A filthy, stinking bug.  Get it!

Ugh. A filthy, stinking bug.  Get it!

And of course, to some extent they were.  The Spectrum version was in glorious isometric 3D-o-vision, whereas the Commodore 64, which was renowned for coping less well with that viewpoint, had to make do with a version that was viewed from overhead.

I've played the C64 version for comparison's sake, and although it has a nice atmospheric soundtrack and is considerably easier than the Spectrum version, it certainly isn't as good, nor is it as impressive.

Written by the Gods that are the Pickford Bros, Amaurote on the Spectrum is stunning, for a budget game.  Epic in both scope and intent, the game sees your world overrun by insect invaders and your task is to clear them all out of each of the twenty-five districts in the city of Amaurote.

To be honest, I'm not sure if I want to go to this one.  I'm a bit frightened...

To be honest, I'm not sure if I want to go to this one.  I'm a bit frightened...

Yes, I said twenty-five districts.

Consider the fact that each district is made up of 100 screens, and you begin to realise what a mammoth game you have here (and what a mammoth task you have on your hands!).  Most full price releases came nowhere near Amaurote's size.  It makes you wonder if Mastertronic (or MAD, in this case) was the right label to release it on...

But who among us was complaining?

That shatter of pixels is an exploding insect.  The only good bug is a dead bug...

That shatter of pixels is an exploding insect.  The only good bug is a dead bug...

Amaurote is certainly not an easy game.  It takes quite a while just to get the hang of actually playing the game.  Your vehicle is a curious contraption, not the easiest to control and with an unusual weapons "system".  Once you know what you're doing, though, it becomes a compulsive challenge.

It's also a massive challenge, as you've probably already gathered.  I still can't believe that this was a budget game, even with the higher budget price of £2.99.  It has to rank right up there with the best value-for-money games of all time.  It even has an enhanced 128K/+2 version!  What a stunning piece of work... quite possibly the Pickford Bros' finest Spectrum hour.