Retro bytes: ‘Blue Max’


A more familiar title from my childhood compared to Hudson Hawk (Which I only recently got playing). Think ‘Zaxxon‘ with a aeroplane flying across WW1 Germany, and what you have is Synapse Software’s ‘Blue Max’.

Blue Max on the C64
Blue Max on the C64

This is a game from way back in 1983 released on the likes of the Atari, C64 and Spectrum and which I have a bit of a soft spot for, as its one of those titles which I grew up with as a kid.

My first encounter with the game was when I was about 9/10 yrs old browsing a selection of second hand games that had just come in to one of my regular haunts, a old second hand shop called ‘Stuffs’ (Which is still going today – albeit minus old games sadly). I picked up the game off the shelf for the C64, when a school friend came up and said what an awesome game it was on their Atari 800XL and that I should get it. I basically ignored their praise/advice on the game and plumped for Roadblasters and Super Gran (Oh the shame!…).

Blue Max on the Atari
Blue Max on the Atari

Some time later, I went round the friend’s house and they loaded up Blue Max on their A8XL (Which took a bit of an age) and I was blown away by the game and how much fun it was (Even though trying to even get the plane to take off at first was a pain!). Straight away I tried to hunt down a copy, when I finally came across a second hand tape from a magazine cover (From A.C.E magazine – which had Gift of the Gods for Speccy users) and then I was hooked.

The aim is simple – take off, bomb as many things as you can and shoot as many planes as you can. The main aim really though is to try and in particular focus on objects which flash blue or have a target above. Clearing all of these will help you progress in the game to achieve your main objective. The problem is that you have an ever decreasing fuelload, shot and bombs, so you must ensure you land at landing spots to replenish after a run. It is also a useful time to fix any damage you may have picked up along the way – damage in the form of the inability to drop bombs, cannon damage and general movement (Too much damage results in a crash).

As you progress, you go across lands with vast amounts of buildings and cars to bomb, with eventual progress taking you to a final run where you must destroy 3 key buildings to complete the game. If you score so many points, you will attain the ranking of Blue Max (and not the beginner’s “Runway sweeper” – especially if you do not master take off! 😉 )

One of the fun aspects as a kid was the ability to destroy pretty much everything on the screen, even down to the small character based tanks (of which there are many spread around). Hitting the moving subs and boats also require skill and precision. As you progress further you will always find yourself picking up damage, and there can be some scary moments when you are one hit away from crashing and down to only seconds of fuel with no bombs/shots left.

Overall you could say that this game is one viewed through rose tinted specs, but really its not. I still occasionally load this game up today for a quick blast, even though i’ve clocked it many times. It’s great fun across the formats, though my recommendation is with the C64 version with its improved graphics and sound (Though the Atari version is still superb). I’ve not checked the Spectrum/Amstrad(?) versions, so I cannot comment – but check them out too via emulation.

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3 thoughts on “Retro bytes: ‘Blue Max’

  1. jas84 November 18, 2009 / 12:06 pm

    tried the game ..not too great

  2. WoL June 9, 2010 / 3:10 pm

    One of my alltime favorites! The C64 version has super sfx and playability, w/ high immersion-factor, so to speak.

  3. Vinny Mainolfi October 29, 2011 / 4:25 pm

    Great write-up Frank 🙂

    Just to let everyone else know about our crazy trainer hack that adds 41 extra in-game features to the original Blue Max. It’s a lot of fun 🙂

    http://www.hackersoft.co.uk

    Enjoy 🙂

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