All Together Then: QuByte Classics

Raiding the Piko catalogue once again

What better a reason to bring back All Together Then, than a fairly cynical-seeming series of releases offering up a few lesser-known classics? Nauties, I feel it is my sworn duty to investigate QuByte Classics and let you all know whether or not these titles are worth a look. You may be pleasantly surprised! I certainly was, though I'm itching to get this one out of the way first:

The Humans

"It's a bit like Lemmings!" cries every half-arsed website and publication that clearly didn't even bother playing the game before giving a 7.5, cheers for the review code, thanks, three-quarters of the way to a 10/10 mate. Yes, I'm throwing shade. The Humans is nothing like Lemmings and it's absolutely god-awful. If the game itself wasn't already a boring, slow load of rubbish, the presentation here ruins it. Frequently, bafflingly, unexplainably, the game's performance tanks and the sound goes to hell. Thankfully with The Humans you're not missing too much. You can play the SNES and Game Boy versions as well as apparently unlocking the "alt 16-bit" version (apparently the Mega Drive port), but I would be surprised if any human being on earth could be bothered. It's just not a fun game, sadly - the controls are gubbins and redefining them is just not worth the effort to play the game. I'm sure The Humans has its fans, but I'm not one of them.

The Immortal

A fairly iconic isometric RPG sort of business, I actually rather like how utterly unreasonable in difficulty The Immortal is. Both the Mega Drive and NES versions are included, and both remain fitfully fun games, though the complete lack of documentation of any kind will send you running to Google - the screen on which you redefine the controls reads "action 1, action 2, action 3" with absolutely no way to tell what in the name of the sainted infant Jesus Christ of Nazareth you are actually doing. Is it possible that this may be the first and only time when it's actively valid to say "lazy devs"? Harsh, yes, but an included digital manual would have gone a long way to making this package more enjoyable. Compared to the Humans set, performance here was basically fine when I went back to test it - somewhat surprising, as I'm sure I remember it being pretty poor. Patched, maybe? I don't recall. Anyroad, make sure you study a scan of the manual or something before you even attempt to play The Immortal, or you'll never get past the second room.

Radical Rex

I really love Radical Rex. I'm afraid I do. Played it a lot as a kid, so it's special to me. As a platformer, it's a bit of a cut above what you'd expect, taking you through a series of interesting, diverse stages (the inside of a giant dinosaur's stomach is a highlight), then taking you back through them again (with totally different layouts) right when you think the game is over. It's genuinely good stuff, and it's nice to have it on Switch via this release. Some will find it too floaty, but I think it's just fine. The levels are just the right size and packed with secrets and gimmicks. This is a decent version of the game, though the sound can be a little shakey at times, which is kind of odd, again, given the age of the game and how the Switch effortlessly emulates Mega Drive software elsewhere. Still, I can recommend this one. Oh yeah, you also get the Game Boy version - Baby T-Rex, the game that became Radical Rex, essentially. It's a perfectly acceptable, if unremarkable platformer that plays to the Game Boy's strengths - small sprites, clear action. Not bad at all.

Zero Tolerance Collection

Continuing the streak of fairly good games comes Zero Tolerance Collection, which packages up the original Zero Tolerance, prototype sequel Beyond Zero Tolerance, and the additional stages from the cancelled Mega CD version of Zero Tolerance seen here for the first time as Zero Tolerance Underground. Now, you must understand that Zero Tolerance is a pretty primitive game by many modern standards, but it retains a charm in its accessibility and immediacy. Also, you can shotgun enemies and send them flying, painting the walls with their grey matter. Which is always a delight, of course. The only real issue I had with this QuByte version is that you cannot map strafing to the shoulder buttons in any useful way, which becomes even more baffling when you're actually able to strafe using them by default in the Underground bit. Still, none of that detracts from the fact that Zero Tolerance is still enjoyable and that this compilation offers about the most complete experience of the series that you could reasonable expect.

Head Over Heels

Hold the phone, this is a bit of a surprise. Spectrum classic Head Over Heels gets its now-classic remake from Retrospec ported to Switch with almost no fanfare whatsoever? What a to-do! If you haven't played either the original Head Over Heels or Retrospec's remake, you should consider getting this absolutely excellent release in. While it is just the remake and basically nothing on top, you're getting which is arguably the very best way to play one of the absolute finest isometric adventures ever made. You'll absolutely need to get hold of the tape inlay/manual online and maybe even read a little guide, but this is a marvellous game and a strong release by virtue of simply being Head Over Heels, unmolested. It's a tough game to get to grips with, but you'll be glad you did. Well, probably. If you're not, then you're probably some sort of charlatan anyway, and I don't care for you or your perspective. BE GONE. Thanks.