Hindsight : Uridium 2
Cart: Uridium 2
Cab: Atari ST / Amiga / C64
The phrases ‘hidden gem’ and ‘undiscovered classic’ are thrown around anytime a game achieves cult status. These pointless sayings are usually aimed at Japanese games that were never released in the West, or odd arcade games that never made the leap to home systems.
People who use these phrases happily ignore the fact that these games have usually been played by millions of people over the years. A game isn’t a hidden gem just because you have never played it.
So, how about this for a game that really shouldn’t be a hidden gem, but somehow is. Sequel to one of the biggest and most well-known games from yesteryear? Check. Released on one of the biggest home computer platforms of the time? Check. Positive reviews? Check. Created by an admired and respected developer? Check.
Yet, Uridium 2 sold horrifically and has been largely forgotten. Its Wikipedia entry is empty(!), there was a homebrew port for the CD32 in 2011, again largely ignored and there is little else on the Internet about it, aside from a few download portals, occasional forum mention and magazine scans.
It is all the more baffling when you consider that Uridium 2 is an absolutely stonking shoot ’em up. In gameplay that is like the original Uridium turned up to 11, you pilot your Manta class ship along the top of massive dreadnoughts, weaving in and out of gun emplacements, enemy ships and missiles. You are free to fly back and forth as you like, with the ability to turn your ship sideways an act for the brave of heart wanting to squeeze through the tightest of gaps.
Death is always a split second away, and the ability to get yourself out of a tight situation is something that only practice can bring. There is a two player co-op mode, with player two following the general movements of player one, but able to strafe up and down within those movements, and fire at will.
Once you and a friend get the hang of things, it is an absolute riot, and strangely, one of the few games that really make you feel you are playing out the final scenes from Star Wars, with your tiny ships zipping between enemy fire.
Perhaps the only letdown with the game are the parts where you go inside the dreadnoughts to take down the ship’s core, with a poorer standard of gameplay there that is disappointing.
It is possible that the game’s greatest strength, its difficulty, was also its greatest weakness. A demo of the game was glued to the front of some of the most popular Amiga magazines of the time, and it is easy to see people being put off by the unrelenting pace and difficulty. The speed of your ship is hard to master, as it is tempting to whizz around at maximum speed, but this usually leads to a quick death.
You can pick up the game on eBay, although there are only three listing as of writing, and of course you will need an Amiga to run it. If you have an A1200, you get extra effects, such as smoke trails for the missiles.
This is a brilliant shooter that has been criminally ignored for many years. Find it, learn it, treasure it.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.