FIVE STAR GAMES 3
Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Types†††††††† : Arcade
Release Information††††††† : 1988: FIVE STAR GAMES 3, Beau Jolly, £9.95
Compilation Comprises†† : 1. SOUTHERN BELLE, Hewson
††††††††††††††††† † 2. WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST, Melbourne House
††††††††††††††††† † 3. THUNDERSTRUCK, Audiogenic
††††††††††††††††† † 4. STRIKE FORCE HARRIER, Mirrorsoft
††††††††††††††††† † 5. CAVEMAN CAPERS, Icon
††††††††††††††††† † 6. PROJECT THESIUS: RICK HANSON 2, Robico
††††††††††††††††† † 7. FRAK!, Aardvark
Stated compatibility††† : Electron
Actual compatibility††† : Electron, BBC B, B+ and Master 128
Supplier††††††††††† : BEAU JOLLY, 29A Bell Street, Reigate, SURREY RH2 7AD
Disc compatibility†††† : 1. Unknown
††††††††††††††††† † 2. Incompatible
††††††††††††††††† † 3. Unknown
††††††††††††††††† † 4. Unknown
††††††††††††††††† † 5. CDFS E00, DFS E00
††††††††††††††††† † 6. Incompatible
††††††††††††††††† † 7. CDFS E00, DFS E00
Instructions currently unavailable.
Review (Electron User) - "Classic Collection"
This is Beau Jolly's third FIVE STAR compilation and, as expected, the games are yet again classic selections from the list of Electron best-sellers. Altogether there are seven games, making up a twin cassette package.
First on tape one is SOUTHERN BELLE, a realistic simulation of an old King Arthur class steam locomotive hauling a passenger train from London to Brighton during the early 1930s. I missed this title at its first release, so I was anxious to find out what it was really like.
As it turned out, I was going to have to wait a while because my Plus 1 caused no end of problems during loading, and eventually had to be completely disabled - the software should do this automatically.
The idea behind SOUTHERN BELLE is simple enough in theory, if not in practice. You must drive the locomotive from London to Brighton, stopping at each station along the way, while observing the proper conventions such as blowing the whistle before entering a tunnel and stopping at signals.
The cassette insert supplied sufficient explanation of the controls to get me going, and I was soon chugging out of Victoria heading over the Thames and towards Battersea power station.
Several things surprised me about SOUTHERN BELLE. Firstly, each station on the route is represented by detailed line graphics, together with the station's name at the top of the screen.
Secondly, the whole train run is in real-time, which means that each station rolls into view only after the correct mileage has been covered, and it can take over an hour to reach Brighton on a normal run.
The fun begins when you select the Record Run option - this reconstructs the conditions of the famous record-breaking Brighton run in 1903, and you really have to perform well. I regularly managed to either blow the pressure plugs or boil the engine dry after only ten miles or so!
Moving on to the next program, THE WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST needs no introduction to the vast majority of Electron owners as the original - and some say still the best - martial arts combat game.
I am a FIST fan of long standing, albeit on the BBC Micro. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to find the Electron version just as smooth and responsive, and extremely playable.
FIST, although over two years old now, is my favourite out of all the games on the FIVE STAR 3 tapes. Far from being conducive to causing violent acts, it is a great game with which to work off your aggression.
The keyboard arrangement looks a little bewildering at first. However, your fingers will soon find their way around the ten player keys with remarkable ease. To win a round, you must either be the first to have scored two full hits, made up from any combination of full or halfhits, or have the most hits by the time the 30 second round is over.
The computer player falls down with such a satisfying crunch when hit properly, yet displays uncanny intelligence on the harder levels. Each level appears in the form of a more highly qualified opponent, and the reward for vanquishing him is a higher Dan rating. Anyone reaching fourth Dan or higher will have a tough job keeping their status during the ensuing onslaughts.
The third program on the compilation is THUNDERSTRUCK, an arcade adventure. You play the part of Spreco, the space refuse collector, who has been transported to an eerie castle by a space-time thunderstorm.
All you want to do is get back to Myrtle and the kids, but you are trapped here amongst all manner of medieval trappings, and the only company is a bunch of hostile assistdroids.
These used to be your garbage collection droids, but they are convinced that their incarceration is all your doing and in true Frankenstein form turn on their benefactor.
The castle is inhabited by eight characters, all of whom will help you by supplying useful objects in return for something which they in turn can use. Objects are to be found scattered about the dusty corridors of the castle, and some require careful thought if you intend to pick them up.
I enjoyed this game. The large spaceman sprite moves about smoothly, as do the various characters and other objects. The gameplay was a bit frustrating at times due to the fact that I tend to find arcade adventures a strain on the old grey matter.
Nevertheless, THUNDERSTRUCK is a fun game and a worthy inclusion for this compilation tape set.
The next game, STRIKE FORCE HARRIER, marks the start of the second cassette. This is a full-scale flight and battle simulator involving that most famous of jet-aircraft, the Harrier Jump-Jet.
There is a great deal to this game, but briefly you are in control of a Harrier during a large-scale battle. Your objective is to clear the way for ground troops to assault enemy HQ which is 500 miles to the North-East.
In order to enable the troops' forward movement you must prepare landing sites along the way before signalling the troop carriers to move forward. However, the odd obstacle is ready and waiting to thwart your plans in the shape of SAM surface-to-air missile sites, enemy tanks sporting very accurate artillery, and supersonic jets which are closely modelled on the MIG23.
But all is not lost. You have at your disposal a high-velocity cannon, two Sidewinder infra-red homing missiles and three bombs. The cannon is quite tricky to fire, but effective against tanks. The sidewinders, on the other hand, are a joy to use. Once you hear the steady growling which signals that a sidewinder has locked on a target, just launch the missile, bank off to one side and watch the fun as it disappears into the distance to be followed by a rewarding explosion.
Now for the disappointing part. STRIKE FORCE HARRIER is a brave attempt to bring a successful flight simulator to the Electron, but the view from the cockpit window can become so complex that quite a reduction in speed becomes apparent at these times.
The scrolling movement of the hills is far from smooth for the same reason. One minute you can be flying low, watching the radar and thinking how lovely and flat the horizon looks, when suddenly a 1000 foot mountain appears out of the blue. After a while you learn to give the mountains a very wide margin.
All in all, an excellent battle simulation with all the tactical ingredients necessary for hours of wit-straining fun, let down by slow screen-handling.
Now on to CAVEMAN CAPERS, game number five. You, as Ogg the caveman, have just found a new form of transport - Kickstart the turtle. Needless to say, Kickstart is far from amenable to the idea of giving anyone a ride, and is doing his best to throw you off balance. This is something at which he is rather adept.
The object of the game is to manage to stay aboard Kickstart while controlling his progress past various obstacles. Holes have to be jumped, pterodactyls dodged, and snakes ducked as they fly overhead.
CAVEMAN CAPERS is quite good fun. The characters are large and friendly-looking, especially Ogg, who looks just as if he was taken straight from an animator's table.
I did tire of the whole idea eventually, because although the smoothly scrolling background is always presenting yet more hazards to Ogg in his travels, I just couldn't complete more than the first handful of screens, and there are 60 in all. Still, CAVEMAN CAPERS is a great fun game where humour is definitely the order of the day.
The next game of the set is a text adventure, PROJECT THESIUS: RICK HANSON 2. As such adventures on the Electron go, this has got to be one of the best ever. I simply couldn't believe the amount of detailed, atmospheric description which abounded with every location.
The program was written using a unique text-compression system, and very impressive it is too. The descriptions ranged from 50 to 80 words each, and kept me hooked by the sheer escapism of the game.
PROJECT THESIUS is, as the subtitle suggests, the sequel to the first RICK HANSON adventure from Robico. This time the plot involves an un-named enemy who has secretly made a major breakthrough in particle beam technology, and is currently developing an advanced weapons system, codenamed Project Thesius.
As special agent Rick Hanson you must maintain the balance of power by finding out as much as possible about Project Thesius. You will be taken by submarine to the enemy coastline and left in Fisherman's Cove. The rest is up to you. The submarine will wait offshore until you have completed the mission, whereupon it will take you back to H.Q.
I found PROJECT THESIUS immensely enjoyable. Some of the puzzles are infuriating, but I'm sure that the solution was always within my grasp. At one point I was greeted by a particularly officious lady guard who insisted that I'd been swimming - which I couldn't deny - whereupon she announced that swimming was strictly illegal and promptly shot me with her rocket launcher.
That brings us to the last game in this classic collection - the famous FRAK! by Aardvark. Again, this program needs no introduction as one of the most original, humorous and playable Electron games of all time.
FRAK! involves a caveman, several large hairy monsters and a yo-yo. Before you close this magazine in disgust, let me assure you that FRAK! is in the best possible taste.
You play the part of the hapless caveman who, armed only with his trusty yo-yo, must find and collect a large key which will allow him to pass on to the next screen.
Each screen is a maze of platforms, ladders and ropes populated by incredibly cute-looking eight foot high hairy monsters which look incredibly gormless. Touching a monster though, is not recommended as you will lose a life and have to start again from the beginning of the level.
What sent FRAK! rocketing to the top of the charts at its original release is probably the funniest idea ever incorporated into a game. To kill the monsters no axe, bow and arrow or club is needed. Instead, with a flick of his powerful wrist the wily caveman shoots out his yo-yo which promptly dislodges any monster careless enough to be sitting in its path.
The title of the game comes from a little cartoon bubble containing the word "Frak!" which appears above your caveman's head when he is unlucky enough to touch a monster or fall off a log.
Add to this game three amazing background tunes - and you can quickly see why it was so successful the first time round. In my opinion, it deserves to do well this time too.
There you have it. Seven games, each one a timeless classic, and all for £8.95. Bear in mind that the marks given below are general averages over all the games, as they differ one from another so widely.
Although I had my doubts about one or two of the games at times, as a package FIVE STAR 3 is pretty unbeatable value.
Sound ........................... 7
Graphics ........................ 8
Playability ..................... 9
Value for money ................ 10
Overall ......................... 9
"Electron User Golden Game"
Chris Nixon, ELECTRON USER 5. 5