Royal Mail Video Game Stamps – A run down of the British games featured
The Royal Mail has finally decided to take a break from commemorative stamps featuring boring old literature, history and science and has finally put out a set that would make any stamp collection…well…interesting. The Royal Mail video game stamp collection features games from British developers, showcasing the innovation across time and genre that the UK has had on the gaming world. We take a look at the eight featured stamps below.
Our love for this game knows no bounds (check out our article on Dizzy here). Codemasters were at the top of their game in the late eighties/early nineties. The spinning, gravity defying, puzzle solving egg from could have been a real contender with Sonic, Mario and Crash had it not been for bad business decisions and internal politics. But that should not distract from what a great game and concept this was. A platform puzzler, the likes of which we rarely see anymore, that crossed age boundaries and genre.
Sometimes when I pick this game up, I am transported back to a Christmas with my first Playstation. Wipeout was the bundled game in amongst a few others with my console. Now back then when you bought a console and it came with game offers, my parents would think it was a bargain and end up with four crap games to give me with the console. Thus not knowing anything about it, I put in Wipeout and….hated it.
It was unlike anything I had ever played. Hard to control. Most of my time was spent banging off corners. In fact I could not corner at all. The craft would go from blisteringly fast to a dead stop as soon as anything hit me. Terrible. Back in the box.
Then something just kept calling me back. I have no idea what it was. The unique concept? The realistic feel of zero gravity racing? Before I knew it I was hooked. All the things I hated before were actually strengths. Add to this spectacular graphics and Wipeout quickly became one of my favourite racers of all time.
Not the only hit by Liverpool developers Psygnosis on the list either…
Games that your mother likes should not be cool. So why is Lemmings different?
Probably the fact that it was so fun you would find yourself four hours in before you even realised that you were learning as you played. As previously mentioned, Liverpool developers Psygnosis were extremely innovative. Problem solving, creating, building, teamwork, all the things they try to teach in school but do terribly wrapped up in a game that saw cute furry animals perform ritual suicide.
It is still a mystery as to why this has never been capitalised on, merched to the high heavens and remade to death. Because it should be.
God I loved Codemasters. Once you got your head around the top down view and learnt how to drive, the playabilty on this game was endless. Originally tiny toy cars from Hasbro, some genius came up with the idea to mine the endless back catalogue of products and race them in real life locations. Speed boats in a giant bath tub? Super cars on the breakfast table? Monster trucks in the garden? A classic that had to be included in the Royal Mail video game collection.
Taking the micro character idea floated in Lemmings and adding an array of heavy weaponry sounds ludicrous. It is. But it is also glorious.
The concept is simple. Take your team of Worms, kill the other team. You have an array of weapons such as hand grenades, an Uzi, rocket launchers and can pick up items on the way. Blast the scenery to bits as you go but don’t fall off dry land or lose your health.
The real beauty of Worms though was the comedy touches. Excellent catchphrases with weirdly wonderful weapons such as exploding sheep gave it a humour lacking in other games of the time.
Ever played God? Populous made it possible. Use your divine power to gain followers. Then lead your acolytes to glory by defeating the others deity’s followers and moving onto the next stage.
The game used an isometric perspective that developers created using Lego during planning. The game actually has 300 levels and started out with no particular ending. Bullfrog would later go on to create the excellent Theme Park and Theme Hospital using the same concept. A truly revolutionary studio.
One of the longest running video game franchises, Elite is a space themed trading game that has been around since 1984. Trade, pirate, mine and bounty hunt yourself into profit. Upgrade your ship, take on bigger missions and traverse the galaxy.
Originally published by Acornsoft for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron (total school computers for anyone growing up in the UK in the eighties) it was transferred to pretty much every home computer at the time (yes, that does include the Tatung Einstein). It is still going strong, with its last incarnation being a crowd backed Kickstarter campaign.
I always thought tagging a game ‘Sensible’ was a really odd thing to do. Who wanted sensible games? We had a snooker based geometry game on the BBC Micro at school and that was sensible. Not something I would rush to play though.
Sensible Soccer was anything but. It eschewed top down, side views for the zoomed out standard we know and love today. It allowed you to edit teams so you could add your own name and players, which in itself adds half a days worth of schoolboy fun as you input the school team into the game. In fact, Sensible World of Soccer was the first game to actually attempt to stuff the whole footballing world, including obscure teams and divisions, into a playable format.
Another four stamp set is also available to go with your Royal Mail video game stamp collection. Featuring Lara Croft and her temple running adventures, we could do a whole article on Lara so stay tuned!
Thank you to Royal Mail for the images and info.
Also thanks to Codemasters for the images and….
www.mobygames.com for all other images