8-Bit Software

The BBC and Master Computer Public Domain Library

Games Reviews Submitted by 8BS Members
Back to Reviews
or
Back to 8BS



These games reviews are taken from 8BS issues, written by 8BS members and represent individual views of games:
 
  • Acornsoft Hits Volume 2
  • Clogger
  • Elite
  • Exile
  • MasterBreak
  • Play it Again Sam 1
  • Play it Again Sam 2
  • Play it Again Sam 3
  • Play it Again Sam 4
  • Play it Again Sam 5
  • Play it Again Sam 6
  • Play it Again Sam 7
  • Play it Again Sam 8
  • Play it Again Sam 9
  • Play it Again Sam 10
  • Play it Again Sam 11
  • Play it Again Sam 12
  • Play it Again Sam 13
  • Play it Again Sam 15
  • Play it Again Sam 14
  • Play it Again Sam 16
  • Play it Again Sam 17
  • Play it Again Sam 19
  • Question of Sport
  • Repton 3
  • Revs
  • Sim City
  • Superior Collection Volume 1
  • Superior Collection Volume 2
  • Time Slip
  • White Magic

  • Play It Again, Sam 1

    Citadel, Thrust, Stryker's Run  and Ravenskull.

    Available from:
    Superior Software.
    Price:
    £11.95 or £6 to 8BS members.
    A review by Jon Ripley (8BS Member D5B).

    First Impressions

    When I first opened the package that had arrived through my letter box I found a clear plastic case, just a little bit bigger than a CD case, inside was a colourful inlay which gave a taste of the treasures inside.

    Aside from a flippable disc was a sheet of instructions for both the BBC and Electron versions of the games. I had the 5.25" disc version for the BBC range of computers.

    The label assured me that this one disc would be as happy in an 80 track drive as it would be in 40 track drive. I tried this out and was pleasantly surprised that irrespective of the position of the 40/80 switch on my drive, the games worked!

    The disc is protected against copying but I have never had a Superior Software tape or disc fail in the 11 years that I have been buying their software.

    Citadel

    An arcade adventure by Michael Jakobsen.

    You are an intrepid adventurer (or adventuress) charged with destroying the transportation device of an evil alien dictator before it can be used to wage a deadly war against the human race.

    Murduk the dictator has built a teleportation system in an old deserted castle. When it is completed he will use it to transport his alien invasion force from the planet Codor to Earth. Your mission is to destroy the teleportation device thus averting the impending invasion.

    To do this you must find the 5 crystals that activate the system and transport yourself to Murduk's palace on Codor and bring back a beautiful jewelled figurine that can be used to destroy the teleportation system on Earth and thus stop the invasion.

    In your quest you will have to battle many dangerous foes, some can be avoided but others are out to get you. Monks, under a strange spell wander the castle, a well aimed spell between the eyes will dispatch any that dare to trouble you.

    The game consists of over 100 detailed mode 2 screens, each packed with pitfalls, puzzles and awesome foes. You start in the vast 3-towered citadel, on your journey you will need to venture to the witch's house, Stonehenge, the pyramids and across mountains, deserts and oceans. Flickering torches, splashing water and animated foes enhance the atmosphere of this game.

    You start the game in the main hall of the citadel, with 150 only energy units to keep you alive. You are presented with a side-on view of each room, ladders (and even trampolines) can be used to move between the various levels on each screen.

    Lost energy can be replenished throughout the game - over 1,000 are available but I am assured that the game can be completed using only 400. Various objects can be found throughout the castle and used to aid your quest, only two objects can be held at once so careful planning of your route is required.

    Locked doors and other obstacles block your path but these can be overcome using the right keys and some ingenuity. The keys are multi-coloured to help you match the keys to the doors, users with monochrome displays are benefited by a unique letter which each key and door possess, just match the letters and you can open the door.

    When you load the game you have a choice of 4 sets of keys that you can use to play the game, you can also use a joystick and the Space Bar instead if you like. Personally I prefer the usual ZX;/ combination and have not yet tried playing with a joystick, but all tastes are catered for. You can even choose between playing a male or female character.

    Nimble fingers are a bonus but since much of the game is spent trundling between locations those with a little less speed at their fingertips will be grateful. A careful mix of arcade action and adventure-game-like puzzles.

    Owners of the original version of this game will remember a nice loading screen and on computers aside from the Electron a voice announcing the game. This was a nice touch which is lacking from this version of the game. I remember needing to look twice at the name of the game author on the first loading screen and I am sure that many people are still wondering if the author is a pop star, I shall leave that for you to decide!

    Due to the size of this game, part of it is actually stored on the screen, on BBC computers it is hidden but Electron users will have to put up with a jumble of coloured dots both above and below the main playing area. It is not too obtrusive and I quickly got used to it.

    The graphics may seem a little dated 11 years on, but this was the first game of its kind, a true marriage of arcade and adventure. The game is highly addictive and it will take many months of game play to complete this masterpiece. Refreshing in these days when modern (usually console) games can often be completed in a few days.

    The little sound that is used in the game is effective and there is no music but this game doesn't need fancy sound effects to be enjoyable.

    Citadel is a truly classic game that has endured the test of time and can still present a refreshing challenge to game players of all ages.

    Graphics......................8
    Sound.........................5
    Playability..................10
    Overall......................10

    Thrust

    By Jeremy C. Smith.

    There was a time when all space games were just clones of Invaders, a row of aliens at the top and you at the bottom. Thrust is no such game, instead, looking back at this game was like finding an old treasure in the attic.

    When you play the game you are presented with a high resolution display of the first planet in your quest to become the ultimate space commander.

    You control a ship, and each mission you visit a different planet and you have to navigate a series of obstacles of increasing complexity to recover the Klystren Pods without which your mission will fail.

    In your way are a multitude of caverns each holding a deadly booty. Limpet guns fire at you and a single shot is fatal. Not all is lost as your ship has a shield that can withstand many hits, using your shield however drains your fuel.

    You can collect extra fuel by hovering over the tanks and using your tractor beam you can collect the fuel.

    Klystren Pods can be collected in a similar way, however you must carry these outside your ship, tethered to you by your tractor beam.

    These pods, however are much heavier than your ship and you must also carefully plan your manoeuvres to avoid the pod - or indeed your ship - swinging into a wall and being destroyed. The movements of the pods realistically follow the laws of gravity, momentum and inertia.

    You complete each mission by carrying the pod off of the planet and into hyperspace, you can gain bonus points by destroying the planet's power reactor.

    By shooting the reactor it will cut power to the limpet guns and eventually go critical. When this happens you have just 5 seconds to leave the planet before the explosion destroys your ship.

    Later missions have increased (or reversed) gravity and some even have invisible walls, each adding to the immense challenge that this game presents.

    The action in this game is so realistic that when I first played the game I thought that it must have either been written by a lorry driver or a physicist.

    I was not surprised to find out the the author holds a 1st class honours degree in Physics.

    Thrust has been a favourite game of mine since I first played it on the Electron. Indeed with Sam 1 it has followed me to the BBC and beyond. (The Electron version is essentially the same as the BBC/Master version.)

    I certainly recommend this game to anyone out there who is looking for an original challenging game. You will be able to complete the first few levels in a week or so but the full 24 planets (70 missions I believe) will take many months to complete.

    A definite must.

    Graphics......................8
    Sound.........................7
    Playability..................10
    Overall......................10

    Stryker's Run

    By C. Roberts and P. Mellor.

    A war has been fought for many years between the allied natiþns of the world and the Volgans.

    After many years the battle reached a stalemate, this would have continued but allied spies have managed to steal the plans for the Volgans next offensive.

    You are Commander John Stryker and it is up to you to take these plans back to Allied HQ, if you succeed your side will end the impasse and probably win the war.

    This task is not a simple one however, as you walk past war torn cities, graveyards, trees and mountains you are under constant danger from enemy troops and aircraft.

    Lying around are short-range aircraft that you can use to engage in an airborne dogfight with the enemy and hopefully advance your position by avoiding the ground defences. Your limited fuel will soon run out and you will have to return to the ground.

    You can walk left and right, jump, shoot and throw a grenade, your supply of ammunition is almost limitless.

    Years of training have ensured that you can take a colossal nine direct hits before dying.

    From the moment that this game loaded I was impressed by the stunning mode 2 graphics. I can honestly say that Stryker's run contains the best graphics for any BBC (or Electron) game that I have ever seen.

    Different from almost all other BBC games, Stryker's run contains breathtaking full colour backgrounds. It is unbelievable that such a game could be fitted into a 32k machine - remember that simply using mode 2 leaves only 12k for the game.

    The foreground characters are a bit flickery at times but the intense arcade action makes up for it tenfold.

    There is almost no difference between the BBC and Electron versions of this game. You can also play this version on the Master although there is a special version of the game for Master owners which has been greatly enhanced.

    The enhanced Master version contains - I am told - an extra 40k of graphics, some very good atmospheric music and many new game features make for the only game that could possibly top the original version.

    This game alone is worth the price of the compilation and if you missed its first release in 1987 you should certainly get it now.

    Graphics.....................10
    Sound.........................6
    Playability..................10
    Fun..........................10
    Overall......................10

    Ravenskull

    By Nicholas Chamberlain and Martin Edmondon.

    At first sight Ravenskull looks like just another Repton clone. I am glad to say that in just a few seconds of playing this excellent game I was proved wrong.

    As the game loads you are given a choice of which character you would like to play in your quest to unravel the mysteries of Ravenskull.

    As an intrepid adventurer you seek treasure, as an elf you seek bags of gold, the wizard searches for crystal balls and as a warrior you seek shields. The game itself stays the same whichever character you choose as it is just the graphics for yourself and the treasure that changes.

    Your quest is to save the village of Austberg from imminent devastation by Baron Strieg and his horde of evil zombies. He has stolen the mystical silver crucifix and hidden parts of it in the four levels of Castle Ravenskull.

    You must seek out each part of the crucifix and assemble it to form the complete object. To hinder you, many complex puzzles and deadly foes lie in your path.

    Many objects will help you on your quest, for instance a pick-axe can be used to break through a wall. Many other useful objects can be found, however care must be taken as others are downright lethal. There is no way of knowing until it is too late.

    You have an overhead view of a small part of the level, in fact, each level is 64 times the size of the screen. This game is truly massive, and since no maps are available to you on your quest you must discover yourself the path which will lead you to victory.

    The game uses full screen mode 5 graphics on the BBC/Master and a smaller window on the Electron. The advantage of the Electron version of the game is that you can see at-a-glance which objects you are carrying, on the BBC/Master there is a separate status screen. Not a hindrance at all.

    Although mode 5 only lets us use 4 colours (3 + black), you will truly not give it a second thought as the graphics in this game are stunning.

    The sound effects are used to good effect in the game and the BBC/Master has a jolly tune which you can listen to, it is quite repetitive but it doesn't really get in the way of the gameplay. As game music goes it is quite good!

    This is a stunning game which, while devious and complex in parts, will keep you coming back for more until you finally solve the riddle of Castle Ravenskull.

    Once you have completed a level, even if you use up all your lives, you can jump back to the start of any of the levels you have reached. However, next time you load the game you will have to start from the beginning. This is not as obtrusive as you might think, as the extra practice you will get on the lower levels will make completing your task much easier.

    To fully complete the game you must finish all four levels in one go. The challenge is well worth it.

    This game is a classic and well deserves its place on this compilation.

    Graphics......................9
    Sound.........................5
    Playability...................9
    Overall......................10
     
     

    Play It Again Sam, Volume 1 Overall Scores

    Graphics.....................10
    Sound.........................8
    Playability...................9
    Value for money..............10
    Overall......................10

    After seeing the quality and playability of these four games, it makes me wonder why such games have not been made since, for the more recent computers.



     

    Play It Again Sam 2

    Available from: Superior Software  P.O. Box 6 Brigg S. Humberside DN20 9NH

    At the cost of:-£6.00 to 8BS Members

    REPTON 3

    For those amongst you who might perchance be new to the Beeb family, I think it fair to say that you have missed out on playing what is, at least to my mind, one of the best games ever written for our machines. Repton is a colourful game, requiring ( sometimes huge great dollops of ) thought and memory to play successfully. It is split into three separate files, each of which is further split into eight screens. Any of the three files may be loaded and ( if the titles are known ) any of the screens may then be called up to be played. Although the ultimate object is to play each screen and thus automatically progress to the next, until all screens in each file are completed, the facility to call up any screen allows you to  repeatedly attempt to solve a particular screen without having to start at the first each time. Repton moves around an underground labyrinth, collecting diamonds and crowns and avoiding monsters and falling rocks. Strangely, although the rocks are susceptible to the effects of gravity, Repton seems immune, and moves nowhere unless told to. Repton can, and very often needs to, push the rocks in order to gain access to the diamonds and also dispose of the monsters, and this often needs to be done in a particular sequence to be able to complete each screen. This is where the memory bit comes in, although the time allowed is usually quite generous, and the countdown is suspended whilst you view the maps which are available for the first five screens in each file. For the last three, you are on your own! Repton 3 has an Editor which enables you to redesign existing screens, once you have solved them and discovered their Editor Code, or even create entirely new screens, puzzles and characters. There are some excellent ( and also some execrable ) examples of this collected onto one of our TBI discs. An excellent game, for which alone this compilation is worth buying.

    CRAZEE RIDER

    I don't like this game. I will qualify that by saying that my dislike is  based solely on the fact that my best-ever finishing position in the scores of times I have played it has been 48th, whilst my 13-year-old son WON the race on only his THIRD attempt and has been walking round with a smirk on his face ever since.  The game is a motorcycle race; one lap at each of several of the world's most famous racing circuits, where the object is to score as highly as possible, by both knocking other riders off their bikes and finishing in the top six in the race at each circuit, thus qualifying for the race at the next track. The main screen area shows the track disappearing into the distance, with you in the foreground being passed by all the other riders, well, that's wot happens when I play it anyway! The top area shows the circuit layout and where you are on it, the lower area shows your speed and your position in the field. You have to be a bit careful how you knock other riders off their bikes, otherwise you fall off ( doing a beautiful somersault in the enhanced version ) and have to get back up to race speed again. This seems to take you much longer than all the other riders, perhaps they have sabotaged your bike? Going too near the edge also slows you down, so aim for the middle of the road as far as possible. There are lots of similar games using similar screen displays, but this one has a touch of humour with it, making it more enjoyable to play.

    GALAFORCE

    This is one of what must be hundreds of Space-Invader-type games. It is more colourful and smoother than some I have seen, with some quite pretty aliens etc to try and zap. According to the blurb it has loads of levels to aspire to, with an ever more cunning, numerous, and destructive foe to try and contend with, but it is not really my type of game. This is not to totally dismiss it; my boys enjoy playing it and comparing their best scores, but personally I would rather watch the test card.

    CODENAME DROID

    I would class this game as a variant on the Repton theme, in that you are required to work your way around an underground labyrinth, collecting various items to help you in your mission. The variety of moves you can and sometimes have to make is greater, as is the variety of items needed to complete the mission, but planning your moves is just as important as with Repton. I mentioned the variety of moves you can make, and this is reflected in the number of keys ( 14 !! ) which have effect whilst playing. More than 20 different items also need to be found and correctly used in order to progress through the different levels and achieve ultimate success. Maps are available to help you plan your route, and the remaining energy levels in your space suit and blaster can also be called up. These can be recharged by picking up energy cells which are conveniently dotted around. The blaster is a necessity as, seemingly around every corner, there are guards trying to zap you. The screen display is colourful, scrolls smoothly in all directions as you move around and, as far as I have so far managed to get, all the objects and characters have been clearly identifiable for what they are. There do not seem to be any time restrictions during play ( or perhaps I just have not reached that deep yet ), although you do need to check on your energy levels occasionally, as I mentioned earlier. This is one of the better games of its type, without needing the frantic finger work of some, and is very enjoyable to play.


    Play It Again SAM 3

    Available from: Superior Software Price: £11.95 (£6 to 8BS members)
    Type: Four games included,
    1. Commando (Shooting)
    2. Killer Gorilla (Platform)
    3. Killer Gorilla 2 (Platform)
    4. Palace of Magic (Graphical Adventure)

    This is the third in the long line of brilliantly good compilations from Superior, and boy is this a good one! With four games, Commando, Killer Gorilla, Killer Gorilla 2 and Palace Of Magic. As there are four games, I will review each separately, and then draw the compilation together for an astoundingly brilliant conclusion type thing. So hold on, and get ready for the first!

    Commando

    This is an arcade conversion. of a highly successful coin-op made by Capcom. It has been converted to the BBC by Elite, one of my favourite software companies, also behind hits like Airwolf and Paperboy. The game does have a basic shoreline, but as with all shoot 'em ups, it is not really that important. Here though, is a brief description of the plot. You are Super Joe, a crack combat soldier. Armed only with a machine gun, you must battle your way through the hoards of marauding rebels, who seek to kill you. You must advance your way through the enemy and on to the final destination, the fortress.  The nearest you could probably come to another game like this would be Cannon Fodder on the PC and Amiga, but on a more simplistic level. It is quite an ambitious game to do on the BBC, particularly with the many objects that are on screen at once, but it is a testament to the game that the Beeb handles everything the game comes up with, most of the time with relative ease. In this game, the only thing you have to do is shoot, gun down as many troops, armoured vehicles, troop carriers, mortars and missiles as you can, and dodge the ones you miss! I liked the way you can also fire grenades, their main use is to lob them over the sandbag walls that some of the soldiers hide behind, I don't normally use them though.

    When you first start the game, it is very easy, and you don't actually have to shoot much, just dodge your way through the enemy soldiers, occasionally picking off a few that get in the way. Somehow this game manages to be intensely satisfying though, there's nothing like pretending that the soldiers are your boss/teacher, it brings a whole new dimension to the game! All too soon though, the game becomes harder, with more soldiers advancing towards you, and you can reach quite a frantic pace in the later levels, where dodging the bullets and mortars really takes precedence over the 'dodge some, shoot a few' style play of the earlier levels. This is another good thing about the game, the learning curve feels just right, you aren't put into an impossible situation at the start, and you don't feel like the game is a complete walkover, in fact, you can clearly notice when you are getting better, something that not many other games achieve.

    There are not all that many arcade conversions available for the BBC, and this has got to be amongst the best, but the game does have one stumbling block, that lies in the graphics. Being set in the lowest resolution mode is not all that important, it is the limited colour depth which shows, because the bullets are the same colour as the rocks in the ground, sometimes you cannot see the bullets heading towards you, particularly when there is a lot on screen, so you can end up dying in a most infuriating way! The sound on this game is very average, only a few bangs to show shooting and explosions, and they aren't that good at all. The strange thing is, in this game there is absolutely no music whatsoever. Considering this is an arcade conversion, you would at least expect some music, but there is none! The gameplay is definitely the best part of this, its ultimately repetitive, but fun, and as far as I know (there is no mention of size in the instructions) this is a huge game, and quite difficult towards the end. My best score is 25,300, so if anyone can beat that I want to know! All in all a good game, but the graphics let it down a bit.

    Score 78%

    Killer Gorilla

    This is probably the first ever platform game, originally created by Nintendo - ever heard of them? It was the game which catapulted them to fame, and has probably been played by millions of people over the years. The game was known as Donkey Kong, and starred that master of plumbing Mario, but since being produced for the BBC by Micro Power it has undergone a few changes (probably to avoid copyright). The main character has been replaced by a name- less person, and the game renamed Killer Gorilla. None of these changes really detract from what was, and to some extent, still is, a great game. The plot is simple; the evil Donkey Kong has kidnapped your girlfriend, and you have chosen to try and get her back. The game is sort of set in a building site, the Donkey Kong has climbed up high, and you must climb up the ladders and other obstacles, whilst he tries to stop you by throwing large barrels down the tower towards you. You can either jump over the barrels, or get one of the hammers and smash them. The latter way is easier, but you cannot climb ladders with a hammer in your hand, so you must wait until it disappears, usually a few seconds later. When you climb up to the top of the screen, the Donkey Kong runs away again, up to the next level, of which there are four in all.  So, this is a simple, yet fun to play game, sometimes frustrating, especially the way that sometimes there are many barrels rolling all after each other, but there is not enough space between them to jump over them in more than one jump, and one jump will not clear all of them! On the later levels there are things such as conveyor belts, flying girders, barrels of fire, and moving ladders, all of which make the task of completing the level harder. To get bonus points, you must collect the various items which the girlfriend has dropped, again these are placed in suitably difficult places to reach. The game is quite hard overall, and not something which you could easily complete. The four levels might make it sound easy, but once you finish level four, the game goes back to a harder version of level 1, which can extend the playing time of the game, perfect for people who like to build up big scores!  The sound is suitably good, and the title music is good too, but the sound that the main character makes when he moves, a sort of squelch sound, does not sound good, and is very annoying! A nice little tune plays when you complete a level but, apart from that, during the game there is no music. The graphics are actually quite good, something Micro Power was well known for, and they are nice and colourful, whilst being fast. The game play is what you would play this game for, a true classic, you have to own it. If you like platform games, then you have to get the one which formed the genre! Overall, a great game, if you like beating high scores and you want to see The original platformer, then go for it!

    Score: 88% (-5% if you don't like platformers)

    Killer Gorilla 2

    Ok, so you might think that having the sequel to a game on the same disk as the original would be a bit of a stupid idea, but this one actually works! If you like games with monkeys in, then you'll definitely want this disk, but others will just appreciate the games for what they are, and would have probably preferred a bit more variation in the genres chosen on the disk. Two of the same genre is a bit much, but this game is significantly enough different from its prequel, reviewed above, to be considered a worthy addition to a Play It Again Sam disk, and it does have the attraction of being a Superior Software- written hit, the first reviewed on the disk!

    The plot of this game actually has nothing whatsoever to do with the first one, a good start by anyone's measure. The story (what little of it there is) is that the evil gorilla Morris has kidnapped Killer Gorilla Junior. Playing the character of Killer Gorilla, you must rescue him from the cage he is imprisoned in. You must collect the keys to the cage before the bonus counter reaches zero, or you die. You have to dodge through the snappers, little crocodile things which kill on contact; the birds, which do the same; and the electric spikes, which (somewhat surprisingly) kill on contact! You can try and crush them by knocking off the apples and pineapples hanging from vines.  The main part of this game features swinging on vines, and jumping, a lot like platform games usually do, and it can get very infuriating when you always fall off of the vines, because it can get hard to judge whether you can reach the next vine by simply swinging to it, if you try and you can't then you will fall down and die. I thought that dying by just falling, from any distance, was a bit harsh, energy levels would have been better, or a limit so that you could safely drop from a small distance. The graphics in this game are a lot better than the ones in the original, Superior have gone for a higher resolution, and less colours, which makes all the difference. Cutesy graphics however do not make a good game, and it is a shame also that the sound is no better than in the original, with just a few beeps and bangs for the main sounds, a bit disappointing.

    They say that the sequel is never as good as the original, and this is certainly no exception to the rule, but you may want to play it if you don't have anything better to do.

    Score 70%

    Palace Of Magic

    This is the 'feature' game of the disk. There is normally one on every disk, a true Superior hit, normally every bit as good as its title says, and this is definitely one of those games. This game, you may be pleased to hear, does have a relevant plot. It is a graphics adventure, and the story goes that you have been reduced to the size of a Dwarf, after offending the evil wizard Caldeti (an anagram of Citadel, another good Superior adventure), and you have been banished to one of Caldeti's old homes, the Palace of Magic. The only way for you to escape is to search for a transporter system, and activate it. So, you must move through the palace, searching for keys and other objects of use, to get through the castle's many rooms and eventually find the teleportation system. Keys are all differently coloured, and have to be used with the correct coloured door. Sometimes this can be difficult, you think you have found the correct key for the door, but it isn't it, this is because the doors are coloured half in one colour and half in another, so you may have the key with a green top half, but a white bottom half, whereas the door may have a white top half and a green bottom half, so there are two different green and white doors and two different keys! I advise you to make a map of the rooms, you'll never remember all the details otherwise! Objects also do things, there are things such as treasure chests, and gold bars, I have also found a cross, but I don't know what this is used for. You can collect up to two objects at the same time, this makes the game harder because you always have to juggle the objects in your inventory, so you could never complete it in one go, you'd never get the right things in the right stages. The best way I have found to go about, is by exploring segments, finding new rooms, and once you have made a complete map, plan a way through that can do everything in as little time as possible. You also have an energy level, which decreases as you bump into the various creatures of the castle, and a very annoying thing is that you can 't actually shoot anything, which means you must dodge them, something that is very hard most of the time, and so this brings me to............the top hats!  These hats are spread around the castle to help you; when you pick them up, they instantly give you an energy boost, to replace energy lost from skirmishes with enemies, or from the way you naturally lose energy as you go through the game. This is a huge game, and I still haven't completed it, after playing for many hours, I still haven't got a complete map! Superior has a strong tradition of creating great puzzle and adventure games, Baron, Citadel, Ravenskull, Quest and Star Port to name but a few, this is definitely one that ranks up there with the likes of Castle Quest and Citadel, a truly great adventure! The graphics are good, detailed and speedy, good colour variation throughout the rooms, and everything is represented clearly, no flicker in any of the sprites, something that some other action game could learn from. The music is sparse, in fact there is absolutely none that I have heard, and again the sound effects seem very minimal, something shown throughout the whole disk, which is strange given the exceptional musical capabilities of the BBC Micro!  This is definitely one of those games that keeps you up until the early hours - great gameplay, solid graphics and all in all great value for money, the £6 that you pay for the compilation would be a good price for this game alone!  Buy the compilation just for this game if you're into adventures - you won't be disappointed!

    Score: 90%

    So, that's the compilation, two competent platforms, one slightly flawed, but otherwise great shooter and one brilliant adventure, not bad for 6 round pounds eh? If you like nice music with your games then steer clear of this package, but if you just feel like a good adventure, then buy this. You can play the others when you get stuck on Palace Of Magic, then return to it when you feel  refreshed!!!

    Overall score for PLAY IT AGAIN SAM 3: 83%

    Review by Crispin Boylan


    Play It Again Sam 4

    Available From: Superior Software

    Price: £11.95 (£6 for 8BS members)

    Type: Four games on compilation:
    Frak! - Platform
    Cosmic Camouflage - Shoot 'em up
    Grand Prix Construction Set - Racing
    Spell Binder - Graphical Adventure

    As you can see from the games on the compilation, this is a mixed bag, which in my opinion is a good thing, too many games of one type can seriously affect your opinions of a particular genre. Well, this is the fourth of the Play it Again Sam compilations, and there are four games, which I will review individually, so lets get cracking, no time or space to lose, and here we go!

    1. Frak!

    This is not actually a Superior Software game, but an Aardvark software one, particularly notable for their excellent conversion of the Arcade classic Zalaga, and for the brilliant Firetrack. This however, is an extremely different type of game from either Firetrack or Zalaga, and it proves that trying to be a Jack of All Trades is more likely to make you look like a bit of a Joker! This is the fairly standard platform type of game, you have to collect all the keys and also for the bonuses there are bulbs which increase the time you have left before it gets dark, and gems for extra points.

    You do all the normal platform game things, climb ladders, use a yo-yo to kill monsters, balloons and knives which kill you if they touch you, and generally progress through the screens by picking up all the keys. If you run out of time on the screen, then it becomes night-time and you can still continue, but can't shoot knives or balloons with the yo-yo. The Scrubblies are the most pointless things I have ever seen in a computer game, they are big purple things with teeth, they don't actually do anything, just stand on the platforms, waiting to be killed, one question - why are they there? It just seems very silly to put something in a game that doesn't do anything, a bit of resistance to the yo-yo I would have expected, maybe a bit of movement? They do kill you if you touch them, but its not the sort of thing that happens is it?

    I do not like this game at all, for me it is just a very annoying game, the character seems very slow in his movements, the game just has no sense of urgency about it, and it is way too hard for my liking. The daggers and balloons seem to home in on "Trogg" ( the main character) and it all becomes too annoying when they seem to fly towards Trogg much faster than he can react, in fact, I have never even completed the first screen!

    So, the gameplay is not up to much, but what about the graphics and sound? Well, actually they're not too bad, the graphics are pleasant enough, well drawn, and at medium resolution with good use of the colours, they move well, if slowly, so all in all they are quite good. The sound is also quite good, it has a nice little tune playing in the background, so it's not too annoying or too loud, the sound effects are nice, the appropriate sounds for collecting items, and a good, if annoying sound for the footsteps of Trogg, so nothing wrong there then!

    Overall then, this game is a bit of a stinker really. Ok, so the graphics and sound are nothing to be scorned, but like kit cars, you can't put the body of a Porsche on the engine of a Ford Fiesta and expect a sports car, and in this case, the engine is most definitely the gameplay.

    Overall 54%

    2. Cosmic Camouflage

    Wow, after seeing Frak being solidly beaten into a pulp with the big reviewers hammer, next up for the hot seat is Cosmic Camouflage, the sequel to Meteors which is an original game by Superior Software, if the words 'sequel' and 'original' go together.

    Let's start with the plot, I'm 99.99% sure that everyone who reads this review have played, or at least heard of Asteroids, the old classic game of one little ship shooting loads of asteroids in to loads of smaller asteroids, mixed in with a few random flying saucers, and then shooting the little asteroids into nothingness to complete a screen. Well, if you didn't know about it before, then you do now!

    Anyway, as mentioned above, this is the sequel to that game, and as you would expect, there's not a lot of room for plot development, so I shall now refer to this as merely an 'enhanced' game of Asteroids, and not a 'sequel'. Now that I've got it all sorted, if you are sitting comfortably, then I will begin with the review proper....

    The main differences between Cosmic Camouflage are that in Meteors, the things you could do to avoid asteroids were, shoot them, move away from them with the ships thrusters; hyperdrive away, which meant disappearing for a few seconds, and then reappearing somewhere else and that was basically all, a simple set of things to do, which meant for a very enjoyable game. Now in the 'enhanced' version, you can also use Camouflage Cover, meaning that you can become invisible for a few moments, and also the fact that you can use Radiation bombs, which kill everything on the screen, nothing original there then. In fact, Atari actually made a version of Asteroids, called Asteroids Deluxe, which basically added these very same things, making this seem very much less original.

    Well, despite all of this, I actually think that this game is very good! I like the way that when you use the thrusters, the ship stops dead when you take your finger of the thruster button, instead of having momentum, unrealistic this may be, it is very handy when you need to navigate through a whole load of debris! The explosions are very nice as well, adding a bit of action to the game. I was also impressed at the way the graphics moved, very slickly, even with a lot of moving objects on the screen, the graphics could have been a bit more detailed though. The range of things to shoot at is very nice, Spores which follow you unless you cloak, Decanoids which when shot release 4 spores (very hard) and Hermit Craft which appear when you shoot an asteroid, shooting hermit craft releases a Radiation Bomb which you can collect and then use.

    The sound on the game is ok, nothing special, no tune, just explosion and shooting noises, all in all pretty crap. This game gets absolutely no credit for having any originality what so ever, being written in 1988, being exactly the same as Asteroids Deluxe which was written in 1984 is hardly a coincidence!

    Although this is not original, I still like it, though not as much as Meteors, and I think it adds some nice touches to the original. If you liked the original, then you'll like this, its a game that you can quickly pick up and play, if only for a few minutes between more engaging games such as the classic ELITE!

    Overall 74%

    3. Grand Prix Construction Kit

    This is a racing game (no surprises there then) with a twist, unlike many games for the BBC Micro, it has two features which are always lacking from games, a course designer, and a split screen two player mode! Did I just say split screen? Well yes, I think I did! The only other Beeb game I have seen with this feature is Spy Vs Spy, and that is hardly the same sort of thing as a Racing game! When I saw the split screen on the back of the box, I thought oh no, this is going to be slooww! But no, when I actually get down to playing it I find that it is indeed a fast, slick racing game, for two players!

    This is a very basic racing game really, you choose the number of laps, 1 - 9, and then choose if you want to race against a friend or the computer, then off you go. Features include, hump back bridges (not on any racing circuit I've seen) which make you crash if you go over them too fast, chicanes and banked bends. All this adds to a fast, playable game which is really enjoyable for two players, however in 1 player mode it is severely lacking, there is no feeling of progression, after you win against the computer, you simply play it again, no drivers championship, or anything like that. If you're a loner, you won't be playing this game for long, unless you like designing tracks for yourself.

    Two player mode is where the game really shines, designing tracks to try and beat each other on can keep you hooked for ages, and it really does get competitive, especially when the cars are close together! The one gripe I have about the gameplay is that it is too punishing, when you come off the road you explode first time, and for a game that is supposed to be fun, not realistic, this is annoying, one mistake makes you lose the race, which can make the game boring if you keep having to restart!

    With 18 tracks already included, and the possibility of loads more with the track designer, this will never get boring, as long as you play with a friend!  The sound is good and involving, with nice engine noises, and the graphics are very fast and quite detailed, something you would not expect for a game with a split screen mode!

    Overall a solid game, nice features included, it is very easy to make your own tracks, and some competitive gameplay make this one a great play on a rainy day. If you want single player thrills however, the classic Revs is the one to get!

    Score: 80%

    4. Spell Binder

    This is the piece de resistance of the collection, a real gem of a game, beautifully done, I can't praise it enough, definitely one of the best Superior Games to play.

    Well anyway, enough of my praises, lets take a look under the hood of this graphics adventure. The story goes that you are one of the ten wise Magelords, with a large knowledge of powerful spells, sent to find the evil Zorn, a Magelord who has defected from the brotherhood, and fled to the Castle of Lorraine, you must banish him from the universe forever by making the ultimate spell.

    This is a huge game, the castle is divided up onto 2 floors, 3 citadels, a catacomb and a dungeon, so you better be prepared to make a map! By wandering through the castle, you can search the rooms by pressing the correct key, if you find anything of interest then the Spell Binder will add them to his inventory, these include spell ingredients, such as Toads Legs and Burned Ashes, or objects like corks and gold bars. These objects can all be used at some point in the game, and at certain points you may have to make spells yourself by mixing the required ingredients together in the mixer, either using the standard spells like Heal, which give 10% of energy to you, Airshield, which reduces hits on you to 50% effectiveness, and Freeze which stops monsters in the current room from moving. More powerful spells can be mixed, if you know the ingredients, you can always try randomly adding ingredients and seeing what you come up with!

    The monsters are very varied in this game, with creatures such as Zombies, Stone Dwarfs which speak advice to you, DeathMonks, Demons, Vampires and Watchers, huge eyes which float around the room. You cannot kill the monsters with standard spells, only freeze them, which is quite annoying as there are a lot of them about the castle.

    To connect all the various areas of the castle together, the catacombs, dungeons, and citadels, you must use a teleport, a nice touch I thought, as you cannot go back through these teleports to where you were before, better make sure you've done all that you can!

    The graphics of these games are reminiscent of the old Ultimate Play the Game Isometric view games, but not quite as good. These are, however still brilliant, even though the actual view area is quite small, to allow for a good speed. It is only in two colours, but the details is amazingly good, some of the best ever on the beeb. I really like the way that you can have good fun mixing your own spells, I haven't made anything interesting yet, but I'm sure I will! The sound is also good, a really good tune and nice special sound effects for things such as teleporting and spell mixing, very atmospheric!

    Overall, this is definitely the game of the compilation, superbly constructed, great sound, graphics and best of all, gameplay! The puzzles are simply brilliant, I'm still trying to solve some now! This is a game that you will really want to play until the end!

    Score: 92%, a classic.

    Overall: 2 good games, 1 classic and 1 real pile of rubbish, still worth buying, if only for spellbinder, without spell binder though, I'd find it hard to recommend this compilation to anybody, but with it included, definitely worth it, just don't play Frak, you won't enjoy it!

    Overall compilation score: 75% a solid, yet dragged down by Frak, compilation.



     

    PLAY IT AGAIN SAM 5

    Available from:- Superior Software P.O. Box 6 Brigg South Humberside DN20 9NH

    Price:- £6.00 to 8BS Members I don't know if it is a limitation of the machine, or of programmers' imaginations, but the more reviews I do ( and this is only the third ) the more I realise the few narrow areas into which all of the different games seem to fall. There may be as few as a dozen or so different types of games, and all the hundreds of different offerings ( with the occasional exception, like Imogen, which therefore stands out ) are just variations on these few themes. Now this may not come as any sort of revelation to some of you, but I said in my first ever review that I was not really a games player, so having now been obliged to sit down and both analyse games and formulate some views on them for youse to read, it has come as a bit of a disappointment to me. To be honest, apart from the previously- mentioned exception, I have been hard put to find nice things to say about the contents of this disc and, with regret, I have to say that it is not one of Superior's better offerings. Anyway, enough wittering and on with the individual reviews.

    Imogen

    Ho hum. Yawn. So there's this wizard ( that's original! ) that has been put into some caverns, and has to solve puzzles and collect spells in order to get out. Nothing special about that for an adventure game, pretty standard fare actually. The difference with this one is that you get some pictures too. Not just any old blocky, jerky, rubbish either. The phrase " small, but beautifully formed " might have been minted for this game. The amount of work that the author ( Michael St Aubyn, who really deserves to be named ) has put into his game must be seen to be appreciated. The caverns are portrayed as fairly standard platforms on which the characters move around. I say characters because you, the Wizard, are able to change into an animal at any stage of the game to enable you to climb ropes, and jump across gaps and over obstacles. It is the detailing of these characters ( and others which you meet ), and that of the various objects which you find in the caverns that really sets this game apart. The screen is all one colour, which is the smallest of the two complaints I have, but this is more than compensated for by the detail that has gone into the black outline drawings for the characters. This means that they are the same colour as the background, but they are nonetheless easily seen. I know I'm harping on, but they really are very well animated, and with a large dollop of humour throughout. There is no time limit to the game, but there is a limit to the number of times you can change between characters; this is continuously shown as the number of possible changes remaining. You start with 150, which may seem a lot, but there are sixteen differently-themed caverns to complete, half of which need eight or more changes. Sometimes you can make an infinite number of attempts at one of the puzzles in a cavern without changing character, until you succeed. With others though, each time you fail you need to change character a couple of times to get back into position for another attempt, and this can very quickly drain your remaining stock of changes. Having been through the game several times, I reckon the minimum possible number of changes needed to complete it allows you a fair leeway for mistakes. Don't get too cocky though, cos some can be real stinkers! The caverns are lettered from A to P, but this does not necessarily mean that cavern A is easier or needs less changes than cavern B. They are played in alphabetical order, but any one of four is randomly chosen as the starting point when loading, so completing cavern P could lead to cavern A. All caverns have names, usually a pun on the theme and, once discovered, these can be used as passwords to allow you to move between them at any time. If you have not solved all the puzzles in one cavern, and move to another, when you return you will find it as you left it, i.e. still unsolved! The final action ( which can be a puzzle in itself ) in each cavern is to collect the spell, which then transports you to the next. All are larger than the actual screen display, and to reach these other areas you move off the screen, as there is no scrolling. This does not much detract from the game, as the new screen appears quite quickly, but it does mean that it is worth having a look around as much as you can first, to see what is there. As to what to do, this is not always obvious, and sometimes requires some lateral thought. Some of the puzzles also require some nifty finger work and good timing. Ah, yes, you're no doubt on the edge of your seat waiting to read what my second complaint is, at least I hope you are? It is not one that many of us suffer from very often, but is very distressing at times, this being one of them. Cries of " Get on with it! ", do I hear from the rear? I don't quite know how to put this, I'm doing my best, but I'm running out of ideas as to how to keep you waiting any longer so here it (finally) is. There ain't no more! There's only the sixteen caverns, and once they're done, that's it. OK, so you get a message about how everyone lives happily ever after, which is nice, but what do you do then? Well, I went back and played the game again a few times, and again a few times more, far into the night, trying different approaches to the various puzzles, which is how I arrived at my figure for the minimum number of changes. I have been left wanting more, which speaks well of the addictiveness of the game, but where do I get my next fix? Please, somebody, tell me that there is a sequel, or that maybe you have taken it upon yourself to hack into the program ( I promise I won't tell anyone else! ) and produce some further puzzles to solve. It seems such a shame to have this game and its characters come to such an abrupt end. Sequels to all sorts of things ( I won't embarrass the actors by naming them ) have been built on far more flimsy foundations than this game has. More perleeeease!

    Bug Blaster

    I suppose all space-invader type games have to be the same cos that's the type of game they are. As I am not a devotee of this type of game, and in fact generally avoid playing them, I do not really have much idea of what is or is not a good implementation of the format. Those I have seen all seem to have you the defender at the bottom of the screen, firing as fast as you can at all the invaders coming from the top of the screen and getting ever lower if you do not zap them first, until eventually they reach your level, and then wipe you off or take one of your 'lives'. There seems to be little strategy other than 'fire as fast and often as you can', occasionally aiming for the high-value targets that randomly appear to menace you, or float across the screen to distract you from the lower-value invaders. I would think that fans of this type of game, where the sole object seems to be to achieve as high a score as possible and/or beat your ( or your friends ) previous high score before Repetitive Strain Injury sets in, would be able to rate this particular game on a scale of one to ten for all sorts of things which they would be looking for. Me, I ain't got a clue, so all I can say is that it looks pretty, I managed to master the controls before I got bored, gradually got higher scores each time I played it, until I thought 'OK, done that, what's the next game to look at?' 'Nuff said!

    Fortress

    Fly over the enemy base and shoot everything you can without getting shot down yourself. Try to get a high score, higher than your previous anyway. The view you have of your efforts is from behind, to one side and above your aircraft. This manages to give you a sort of 3-D view of the terrain over which you are flying. It does make it a bit difficult at first to judge your position in relation to the obstacles and armaments which you have to avoid and/or shoot at, but you get used to it after a fairly short while playing, and your aircraft throws a shadow on the ground, which is a great aid to positioning yourself. I haven't managed to get very far into this game, not through lack of ability, I just suffer from air-sickness. That's my excuse anyway! It seems to be a few steps up from Bug Blaster, in that it requires a greater degree of skill to position yourself for your attack run, but once again the main objective seems to be only the betterment of your previous score, although this is not to say that you couldn't have fun doing it.

    ELIXIR

    Although this game was originally released at about the same time as Imogen, the difference in the quality of the graphics is enormous. This game has the slow blocky graphics of the early days of the Beeb. I do not know much about graphics on our machines, but I am aware that some modes offer better resolution than others, although perhaps at the expense of extra problems with the programming.  This is basically a fairly primitive platform game, in which you have to move around collecting some objects, whilst avoiding being hit by others. You are Cyril, working alone in your chemist's shop and, obviously not having listened to Mum's advice, have swallowed a powerful reducing agent which has left you extremely vertically challenged. Your only hope of returning to normal size is to reach the Magic Elixir with which every  chemist's shop is stocked. Unfortunately for you, this is on the top shelf right at the back of the shop. If only the reducing agent had been there,  out of the way, you probably wouldn't be in the pickle you are in now. Oh well, perhaps you'll learn?  With the top shelf your ultimate objective, you need to work out your route up through the shelves and the boxes and bottles on them. This is made harder by the speed ( or rather lack of it ) of reaction to your key-presses. Presumably this is again affected by the graphics mode, and is a rather frustrating aspect to the game. At least this game does have the potential to be completed, although having once done so, I doubt you will be tempted to try again, at least not until next early-closing day. Cluke (K6X)
     

     

    Play it again Sam 6

    Price: £11.95 (Special discount for 8bs users)
    By: Superior Software
    Type of game: Various (there are four in the compilation)

    In this compilation there are four games, Galaforce 2, Hunchback and Hopper (all by Superior) and The Sentinel which was originally by Firebird. This was a strange collection for me, because I normally find that Superior at least includes one complexed game, such as a graphics adventure or repton style game, but unusually, this one has very simple, arcade games on it, the most complexed being The Sentinel.

    I'll start with the worst, because I want to end this review on a good note!

    The Sentinel
    This game started off on a bad note for me, mainly because, when I loaded it up, I could not figure out what the hell I was supposed to do! Normally, before even taking a peek at the manual I at least have a little muck around on the game, check out the graphics etc, before I get into it and settle down to play it properly. However, on this occasion, everything was so strange and weird that I could not even figure out what I was looking at, never mind what I was supposed to do! A look at the instructions did not really help either, I just could not understand what I was supposed to do! Anyway, I eventually figured out that you have to create robots, boulders and trees, you start in a sort of isometrically shaped world, with squares as the surfaces, in a sort of mountain formation. You have to build robots on the squares higher than you, then transfer to those robots and absorb the old robot, the eventual aim of which is to elevate yourself to a higher position on the map than the Sentinel. To stop you doing this, the Sentinel has several sentries, which try and locate you, and then attack you, draining some of your energy, which you need to build things with. Some sentries change trees into Meanies, which try and get you to reveal yourself, by forcing you into hyperspace, that is, moving you to another location on the map. Now although this may seem very simple, to me it has to be one of the all time worst plots ever for a computer game, it is just complete rubbish! The game actually moves at such a slow pace, that you could easily spend a day on just one level, it really is like a slug. The graphics are very nice and 3d, but what's the point if they hardly move? The sound is about average, with just a few pings and clicks, but the thing is that I have never ever seen any of the meanies or sentrys, they just don't appear for me. The furthest I have actually got in this game is nowhere, I have tried playing it several times, but each time I die, for no apparent reason energy gets drained. I would have to say that this is the worst ever BBC Game I have played, I really do hate it with a passion, how it got onto a PIAS compilation I will never know.

    Score: 15%

    Hopper
    Ahh, this is a nice little game, programmed by those experts at Acornsoft, who in my opinion created some of the best ever arcade conversions for the BBC, this one you may more commonly know as Frogger. We all know the game play of Frogger, but for those peoples sakes who have been on Mars for the past decade and a half, here it is, you play the part of a frog, trying to get back to his home, unfortunately a road full of traffic and a fast flowing river stands in your way. So, what you have to do is cross the road, by dodging all the traffic, then cross the river on the backs of some friendly turtles (who annoyingly dive more frequently when you are on them :-) and some logs. If you get hit by a car then you lose a life, and if you don't get off a log before it gets to the edge a screen then you die, you must get past all the logs and turtles, and then direct your frog into one of the five spaces on the other bank of the river, when you do that, it is time for the next frog to cross the road, and you repeat this until all five spaces are filled, thus completing the level. As you complete more levels the traffic moves progressively faster, as do the turtles (they also dive more) and the logs, so the game really has no limit of levels, it is more of a high score beater, which is good.

    I really like this game because it has a nice set of graphics, the gameplay is focused on, which is important, and it seems to have everything nicely timed, you actually feel yourself getting better as you play more, it has a great learning curve. The sound is nice, with little tunes and all the right effects, and it has that elusive 'just one more play' feeling. A great game overall and certainly lifts the compilation from the depths at which it lay after me playing sentinel first!

    Score: 89%

    Hunchback
    One of the golden games of the 80's, this has been ported to just about every format imaginable, certainly all the 8-bitters had this on them. Another simple, yet fun to play game, you are a hunchback, and have to rescue your sweetheart, Princess Esmerelda from the evil clutches of the baddies. The trouble is, you have to dodge the rocks, arrows and holes which stand in your way on each screen (there are 12) Jumping will suffice most of the time, but a keen sense of timing will help on the latter levels. The game is nicely presented in a side view platform style layout, it must have been one of the earliest platform games (earlier than Lode Runner?) and probably sparked off a million Sonic the Hedgehogs in its time.

    It has a great set of obstacles to overcome, and each screen is just different enough for you to like, for example, all you have to do on the first screen is jump over a couple of rocks to reach the other side of the screen, but on the second screen you have to swing across a gorge on a rope, nice varying gameplay there. I really like this game, although not as much as Hopper, because it gets very hard at the end. There are some nice sound effects, especially the sound of the Hunchback as he falls to his death! So, another triumph of simplicity over complexity then!

    Score: 81%

    Galaforce 2
    This is a shoot em up style game, in much the same vein as its predecessor Galaforce and also to a certain extent Galaga and Arcadians. Yes, you've guessed it, its another shoot the aliens in space game, but this time with a difference. I think this game is highly impressive, because not only do the aliens come at you with a startling array of formations and tactics, but also throughout the game there is a great musical score, which really does get the old trigger finger pumping, something that some shoot em ups sadly lack. Yes, it may be the umpteenth different variation on the Space Invaders theme, but it is definitely one of the best of those variations. Another great thing about it, which is not one of the normal elements of games of the era is the inclusion of Bosses, nice big spaceships, which are harder to destroy, it really makes the end of each phase (determined when you have shot enough baddies) much more enjoyable, and it very satisfying when you shoot them! The action varies in every galay (phase) of which there are 16, with completely different formations of aliens, and types of aliens, in each one.

    Another good feature is the inclusion of several powerups, such as extra laser power, extra lifes, and others, but be careful! There are an equal number of 'power downs' which slow down your movement, decrease fire power etc. Overall, I think this is definitely the best shoot em up game ever done by Superior, nothing else can match it for sheer pace and excitement which you feel when playing it, definitely one for the end of a long, hard day!!

    Score: 75%

    So I definitely think this shows a triumph of Simplicity over Complexity, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes it can be better to have a well produced simple game, than a badly produced complex game, because there is a lot more that can go wrong when you have such a complexed game as the Sentinel, and evidently by the score it received, something has gone wrong!! I don't think this is one of the best PIAS collections, but definitely not the worst, it is definitely one of the more arcade orientated ones though, which may be good or bad for you, depending on your preferences.

    Overall score: 70%

    Reviewer: Crispin Boylan (E4W)
     



    PLAY IT AGAIN SAM 7

    Available from:- Superior Software P.O.Box 6 Brigg S. Humberside DN20 9NH

    Price:- £6.00 to 8BS Members - ( Quote Membership I.D. when ordering )

     So, here we are again, yet another inimitably incisive, interesting, incalculably informative insight into i've run out of words starting with i so I'll get on with ( Oooh, hang on, interminable, how COULD I have missed that one? ) it; The Review. This compilation is a hole lot better than the last one wot I looked at. I felt perhaps I had done that an injustice, until I looked at some of the reviews published at the time of its original release, and found that they weren't overly complimentary either. Anyroadup, that's history, and this is now, even though wot I'm now reviewing is historical, if you see what I mean? DO try and keep up, or we will be here even longe YES OK NEIL, I HEAR YOU. SO impatient these upstart Essex boys! We have four games on this compilation, as follows:-

    FIRETRACK –
    It took me a little while to work out why this game looked so familiar when, as far as I could remember, I had not played it before. The CLANG of the penny dropping must have been heard over most of North London. This is a Space Invaders clone! True, there are a few differences in that the entire screen scrolls downwards ( and don't THAT make yer eyes go funny when it stops? ), you can move up and down as well as sideways, and your gun fires continuously but, whichever way you unwrap the parcel, there at the heart of it is still good ol' Space Invaders. I don't like Space Invaders. Nuff said.

     BONECRUNCHER –
    Judging by the amount of space given to it in the destructions, I thought before playing it that this would be THE game of the compilation. By their very nature, all compilations, be they audio, video, or software, tend to contain a gem or two, the rest being semi-precious and/or dross. This is definitely not dross, and the only thing stopping it from being a gem is that it is not unique. It is a copy of an original gem; Repton. Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent, but the inspiration is obvious. Upon first loading the game, you are greeted by a big green face, which seems to be suffering a severe bout of dyspepsia, giving forth the most enormous belches. On further loadings however, it becomes apparent that this is in fact you, roaring. You are Bono, no, not the front man for U2, but a dragon. You live by the sea ( in a land called Honnelee, perhaps? ), and have found your niche market supplying soap to the monsters that bathe in the sea around your castle, which is the registered office of " Bono's Bathing Company ". You make your soap to an age-old recipe, by collecting and boiling up the skeletons lying ( what else would they be doing? ) around the castle, and are aided in your business venture by a nice-but-dim partner called Fozzy, who has his uses but tires quickly. The castle has 22 increasingly hazardous chambers to work your way through, each one on completion gives a password so you can restart the game part-way through, once you have the passwords of course. There are no maps available, but there is a status section at the bottom of the screen, which shows where you are and how you and Fozzy are doing. There are three types of deadly creatures to contend with; Monsters, with which which you appear to share a common ancestry, but which nonetheless will kill you as soon as look at you, although you can kill them too and then use their skeleton; Spiders, which can be stunned but not killed, eat your main ingredient if given the chance, and whose bite is fatal to you but not to Fozzy; and Glooks, which are the equivalent to Repton's rocks, except that they are attracted to the smell of soap ( unlike certain small children that I know ), and can suddenly appear from below and trap you. As only a small ( even smaller than Repton ) section of each chamber is on view at any time, these things just seem to appear out of nowhere to make your life a misery, a bit like traffic wardens. ( Apologies to any members who may be one, either Traffic Warden or Glook, no offence intended. ) The similarity to Repton continues with the keys used to control the game, but ends when it comes to the graphics. These are less detailed and fuzzier, and are definitely slower to respond to key presses. It is not me this time! Inevitably this game has a hard act to follow, but does make an effort to be a bit different, unlike some I have seen. As I surmised, it is indeed THE game of the compilation, but not by virtue of its originality.

     SNAPPER –
    It took me no time whatever to recognise the origins of this game, see how long it takes you. Little sprite rushes around a maze, eating up dots and occasional fruit, whilst avoiding being itself consumed by nasties. Yes, you got it didn't you? Didn't you? Even with MY limited knowledge of games, I know a Pac-Man ( or Pac-Ms in these 'PC' days? ) when I see one! This is a nice implementation of the game though, requiring a little bit of planning to enable you to get all you need to get before you get got. As far as I have got, the game holds no surprises, and is really a matter of nimble fingerwork to guide yourself around through each of the thirteen progressively harder screens in pursuit of the ultimate goal - The Acorn. The graphics are simple, cos that's all they need to be for this game, and if you turn the volume down, the sound effects are OK too. The key responses seem a bit slow, at least that's my excuse for never being able to take advantage of the extra life offered for scoring 15000 points. Much like its progenitor, this game will have you saying " Drat! ", and having just ONE more go to try and better your previous effort.

     GHOULS –
    A nice little platform game, which has you jumping across gaps, onto moving platforms, picking up treasures, and avoiding loadsa nasty things whilst working your way from the bottom to the top of the screen. At least that's what you're supposed to do, within the time limit, in order to get to the next screen. Sad to say, I didn't manage to do it once in all the times I tried! It wasn't the time limit which defeated me, just my lack of timing when trying to jump the gaps or obstacles. I must have spent over an hour trying to perfect my technique, and if I tell you that the longest I managed to last before succumbing was 28 seconds ( and that was only cos I was standing still, trying to hide from the patrolling ghost ), you will get some idea of how many unsuccessful attempts I made! That patrolling ghost, incidentally, has a nasty scowl on its face until you lose a life, whereupon it exibits a rather large smirk. I had occasion to see this rather more often than I would have liked, but it's a nice touch. I suppose I could try and blame slow key response again, but I think I will just have to accept that my lack of success is totally due to ineptitude. There is a good game there, which will keep the more digitally adroit amongst you glued to your keyboard. I just wish I could have seen more of it. Judging from what I DID manage to see, the sounds are nicely restrained ( and the ghost doesn't laugh as well as smirk ), and the graphics clear and easy to see, which unfortunately didn't help ME in the slightest.

     As I said at the beginning, this is a far better compilation than the previous one I reviewed. It contains a good mix of some of the main types of game, each of which has something to lift it above the average of its genre. There is something for everyone here, even something for the weekend. K6X ( Cluke )


    Play It Again Sam 8 Review By Crispin Boylan (E4W)

    Title: Play It Again Sam 8

    Available from: Superior Software

    Price: £11.95 (£6 for 8BS members)

    Type: Four games Included: Quest (Action Adventure) Winter Olympiad 88 (Sports) Around The World In 40 Screens (Puzzle/Platform) Mr Wiz (Arcade)

    Quest -

    The first of the three games written by Tony Oakden and published by Superior Software, this is a graphical adventure in which you, Walter Cobra, adventurer extraordinaire are drawn into a mysterious and magical world, which incidently you discover by jumping down a wishing well, which it said to do on a map which you found. The object you seek is 'The Golden Dragon'. Having jumped down the well, you remember one vital thing you forgot - the map. Oh well, as most good adventurers do anyway, you have to stumble along and find the Gold Dragon without the help of said cartographical aid.

    The game comprises over 90 graphically different scenes, with many puzzles, and lots of blasting to be done to complete the game. There is quite a lot to be done in this game, apart from finding the Golden Dragon you also have to get the 12 power crystals and also destroy 3 reactors.no mean feat indeed! This is a feature packed game, and the best feature being that you have a jet pack which you can use to propel you through some of the screen, however they only work on screens with a special triangular mark, and a technique must be developed of cruising through screens which you cannot use the jet packs in, by firing the pack on a screen which you can. There are many different enemies which you encounter, each having a different level of toughness, and requiring more shots to kill. It is quite hard at first, but once you learn that shooting is not the best option, then it becomes easier to traverse the levels. You start the game with a certain amount of energy which must be replenished, and also you have to fight against time. The puzzles in this game are hard, and there are lots of them, it helps to make a map!

    The graphics of this game are nice high-res ones, with lots of nice colours, and fluid action. You can't really fault the graphics and they are perfectly done for the type of game really. The sound is to put it mildly, weak, with only a few sound effects and absolutely no music, which would have really added to the atmosphere! In general, gameplay is spot on, but perhaps there is too much needless shooting, as there are already enough objectives without having to kill and dodge things as well!

    Winter Olympiad 88 -

    This game is originally by Tynesoft, but republished with their permission on the disk, it is typical of the type of games which Tynesoft produced, ie it is a sports game. You compete against up to 3 opponents, and the winner being the one who has the most gold medals from the events before (or if two players have the same amount of golds, then it is the one with the most silvers). If you have no friends, then the beeb will help you out by playing the part of them.

    The game has six events, the Bob Sled, Speed Skating, Ski Jump, Giant Slalom, Ski Slalom and the Biathlon. Rather than choose all skiing or all off-piste events as most programmers choose when they make games like this, Tynesoft have gone for a rather nice combination of events, not one actually has similar gameplay to the others. As is a feature of most athletics games, this one features the fabled finger-tapping! If you don't know, this is where you have to rapidly press two keys in rythm, one after the other, it definitly brings a whole new feeling of realism - by the end of a lap of speed skating, your fingers feel as if they've been speed skating in real life! This is more fun than it sounds, especially if playing with friends, you need endurance! The six events are nicely different, some requiring finger-tapping, but most not. The biathlon is my favourite event on the disk, yuo have to use finger-tapping to ski, and then at regular intervals you need quick reactions to hit the targets on the shooting range. The best feature of this is that when you reload your gun, instead of using a computer generated sound effect, the tape relay clicks on and off, which sounds quite realistic, well better than a computer sound effect anyway! Probably the worst event is the Ski Slalom, as the posts just come at you from nowhere, with hardly any indication of where the next one will be!

    The graphics are quite nice on this game, they are low-resolution high colour modes though, and this creates some nice graphical effects. There are a lot of nice still pictures on this game though, and a lot of animation is not really required. It all moves around nicely and is very fun to watch. Another good thing is the sound, at the end of each event you get the nice ski-sunday tune, which is actually done quite well! The game is difficult to play, and although I won one gold on my first go, it was more by luck than judgement, and I did absolutely crap in all the other events! Good fun for one, better for two or more.

    Around The World in 40 Screens -

    Ahh, always the highlight of any compilation, a Repton Game, this was the first new set of screens for the Repton 3 game, and features 40 levels for the little green beast to show what he's made of. Played in a variety of settings, including America, The Arctic, The Orient, Oceania, and Africa, the levels are nicely designed and varied.

    Although this game offers nothing new in the way of gameplay, it is still fun to play, and the new graphics screens offer a lot to the game, it works if you have played the original, and even if you haven't. For those of you who don't know about Repton, it is basically a game where you as Repton have to collect diamonds, and dodge rocks. The puzzles are mainly to do with the way rocks are laid out, but there are others, such as monsters who chase you if you crack the egg they live in, spirits who must be guided to their cages to turn the cages into diamonds, and fungus which must be kept at bay to stop it taking over the entire screen. This is great fun to play, and you can play it at whatever pace you like, from those people who love to just think the whole level over before they play it, or those who go at the levels like a bull in a china shop, it will have universal appeal. The thing is though, that on later levels you cannot view the maps of the levels, making the game much harder! A password scheme is included so you never have to start from the beginning, and there is also an editor with the game, which allows you to create your own new levels, even using your own specially designed graphics!

    The graphics of this game, although low-resoltion are very well done, and it seems as thought every trick in the book is used by the programmers to get the game to work at its optimum speed. The whole thing is very graphically intensive, and it is great that it is animated so highly and all seems to work together so well. The sound is also good, a nice pleasant tune plays away in the background, and the one gripe I have is that the 'ping' sound when you collect diamonds is a little shrill for my young ears! You can't go wrong with gameplay like this, and the editor offers unlimited level creation, you can have hours of fun designing levels!

    Mr Wiz -

    This is something of a strange game from Superior, strange in two ways firstly because it is rather an odd one out on this compilation, and also because it is actually a worse arcade conversion than one done by another company, this is very rare for Superior. It is based on the old Mr Do! game in the coin-op arcades, basically you are Mr Do, and you have to collect the cherries which are burried in the soil, by making your own pathways through it. The aim is to collect all the cherries on the screen, but this is made harder by the fact that you have to outrun the bad guys who chase you around the pathways you make, and some even make their own. The reason it is just not as good as the other game (Mr Ee! by Micropower) is purely a matter of the graphics. In Mr Ee! you get nicely designed really colourful characters, and this one looks rather dull in comparison. The gameplay is hardly complexed, so it is no surprise that both games play pretty much the same, and when something like this happens you have to go for the graphics of a game, and Mr Wiz sadly loses out. Superior can be forgiven though, as it was one of their earliest games, and also you must remember that Micropower had been doing games for several years before Superior, and they were eventually overtaken.

    As I have stated, the graphics in this game are none too hot, they are, shall we say, functional. Being in a low-res mode, they are never going to be the pinacle of high definition, but the colours used are quite nice in a barren sort of way. The sound is adequate, though not etravagent, it is not too annoying either. The gameplay is good, and just what you need, some mindless moving after a hard days work.

    Overall -

    This is a nicely put together compilation, and the games really do complement each other, a nice mix of strategy, fun and puzzle solving make this an ideal compilation if you like all sorts of games.

    Score: 80%


    Play It Again Sam 9 Review By Crispin Boylan (E4W)

     Title: Play It Again Sam 9

    Available From: Superior Software

    Price: £11.95 (£6 for 8BS members)

    Type of Game:

    Four games In Compilation:

    Spycat: Graphical Adventure Camelot: Arcade Adventure The Life Of Repton: Action puzzle/strategy Steve Davis Snooker: Sports

    Well, I'm back again for the umpteenth time, and this time it is Play It Again Sam 9 which has fallen into my clutches.

    There are four games on this compilation, so I will review each one separately. I will start with probably the funniest Superior Software Game I've ever played, Spycat.

    Spycat -

    You are Spycat, a member of the covert branch of law enforcement, MI4.5, and after 50 years loyal service you have been retired from duties, with an extremely small pension. Therefore, as any loyal spy would do, you have decided to steal the three secret documents and retire to Greenland to write your memoirs.

    The basic game is very much in the mould of Citadel, Castle Quest and all those other great favourites on the beeb, in that you as the central character have to go around solving visual puzzles and using the right objects in the right places. There is also a bit of enemy negotiating to be done, as you have to escape from the mad machines of Doctor 'Q', cunningly named Clive Amstrad! The controls are more complexed in this game from previous games in the same genre, in that you have a six button panel which is operated with the cursor keys, this can be used to pick up and drop objects, use them, enter doors, and control the sound. Whilst this may seem a good idea in practice it is somewhat fiddly to be controlling the character with the Z,X,: and / keys, whilst simultaneously controlling this panel. It is lucky then that this game does not require a great deal of fast movements.

    The graphics in the game are very smartly presented, in the Mode 2 screen, which gives a nice palette of colours to display, and also allows fast flowing graphics. The animation on this game is simply the best I have ever seen in a game of this type, one of the nicest touches is the fact that the character does not simply flip over when you want him to move the other way, but actually turns, it is simple but makes the game a lot more attractive. The game does not suffer from the dreaded flicker that animated objects in some games do.

    The gameplay is exciting and fun, the whole Spy genre has a lot of room in it for a good game, and also provides a few laughs along the way. It is also difficult, but not so much that you feel frustrated. The only bad thing about this game is the sound, it is hardly inventive, merely functional. Not a bad attempt from the masters of this genre really!

    Camelot -

    It may seem a bit foolish to put two games which do not seem all that different on the same compilation, but once you get into it, this game actually differs quite a lot from Spycat. For one thing, it focuses a lot more on the Arcade side of the Adventure genre, really the thinking mans shoot-em-up to put it bluntly. The plot of this game is a bit thin on the ground, but it goes like this: you have been thrown out of the kingdom of Camelot, for generally being a bit of a bad king, and you have to convince the people of the kingdom that you are indeed a worthy ruler. So, as is usually the best way to prove you are a bit tough, you have to kill things and find things, and basically be a bit of a royal bully!

    The objective of the game is to gain 3000 points, most of this will come from the six bags of gold which give you 450 points each, and also from shooting and killing the various enemies which lie in wait for you around the castle. There are witches and soldiers, witches are harder to kill but gain more points. You can also cast spells, which are strewn about the castle, and these produce various effects. There are also various objects, such as keys to be collected, there are 5 of these. To make the game harder you have a time limit, and a limited amount of energy, a certain amount of this is lost every time you fire. The game is quite large, and although not as difficult puzzle-wise as some of the more famous games such as Citadel or Castle Quest, it is certainly a challenge.

    The graphics are good in this game, with some high res mode 4 graphics. These produce a nice overall effect, it is a wonder that the author (Tony Oakden, of Quest and Star Port fame) managed to fit all of them in as aswell as some of the tasks you have to accomplish! The colours used in the game are nice and bright, and don't clash, but the animation is not really up to the standard of the aforementioned Spycat. Sound in this game is a replica of Tony Oakdens other two games, beeps in appropriate places, no music, but still you can't expect everything!

    The gameplay is just what the doctor ordered if you are into the shoot-em-up and adventure genres, if you have problems with the puzzles on dedicated puzzle and adventure games, then this is the game for you.

    Steve Davis Snooker -

    Created back in the days when the record collecting cue master was at his peak, Steve Davis snooker was probably one of the first licensed games ever. Now however, Steve is well past his best, and this game can bring you all the satisfaction of playing against the real person, it certainly does have a high level of intelligence. Playing alone against Steve, or with another Human player, you basically have to beat your opponent at snooker. Standard snooker rules apply, with fouls and replays all included.

    The game is certainly very hard against the computer, and I think the control system could have been improved a bit. For example, in stead of a length adjustable line which is pointed in the direction you want the ball to go, all you get is a cross hairs which you place on the screen in the direction you want it to go. This makes it a lot harder to line up the shots, and frequently results in the cue ball missing the coloured balls all together!

    The graphics in this game are to be frank, quite dull, and not very interesting at all. Instead of green you get a black baize, the black ball is really a white unfilled circle, and the brown ball is a red ball with a green circle around it. Perhaps they could have used shading? Another fault of the game is that when you hit the ball with maximum power, as the cue ball strikes the target ball, it sometimes takes a while for it to register. This sometimes looks very fake and disappointing.

    So, not a hugely brilliant game, but then again licensed games never have been known for their outstanding success. Not surprisingly this is the only game that has not actually been written by Superior themselves, but by CDS Software.

    The Life Of Repton -

    In the fifth of the seven Repton games, you have to play through 40 screens, five specific areas each with 8 screens. These are really just new levels and graphics sets for the original Repton 3, but they are interesting nonetheless. You have Baby Repton, Schoolboy Repton, Teenage Repton, Work Repton and OAP Repton. This provides a nice variation in the graphics every 8 levels which is just what is needed. The game also features the often praised game editor, which allows you to create many levels for the game, which you can either play yourself or give to your friends (or maybe enter in a Repton competition?!) The best thing about the editor is that you can design whatever you want about the game, right down to each individual graphics picture.

    The gameplay is the same as it has been since Repton 3, this is very varied, and there are many different puzzles which can be completed. Dodging through rocks, collecting keys to turn safes into diamonds, guiding Spirits to their cages to turn them into diamonds, killing monsters. It is all in there, and very interesting and thought provoking to play. In addition to collecting all the diamonds on the level, you have to collect the Crown, and diffuse the timb bomb (all you have to do their is after collecting all the diamonds and the crown, walk over it) there is a time limit, which can be extended with the time-capsules. In addition to the monsters and spirits, another enemy is the Fungus, this is a special type of square, which spreads over the screen and blocks off objects. It is essential to stop this from spreading by surrounding it with rocks, or it will block off a diamond! This is all great fun, and one of the best gameplay ideas ever.

    The graphics in this game are up to the usual standards of the games with nice fast graphics, and very colourful and detailed sprites. The different graphics sets give a good wide range of different graphics, so you never get fed up of staring at the same graphics. The sound is the usual Repton tune, which is good but annoying after a while. The only minor gripe is that the ting of collecting the diamonds is very high pitched, luckily this can be turned off though!

    Overall Score For PIAS 9 - 88% - Definitely one of the best compilations in the series, it has a mixture of games, and only one of them won't be on the screen regularly. For four quality games, this would be cheap at twice the price.


    PLAY IT AGAIN SAM 10

    Zalaga Qwak 3D Dotty Repton Thru Time

    Available from: Superior Software PO Box 6 Brigg South Humberside DN20 9NH

    Prices:

     Original : £11.95 8BS Members:  £6.00 (Remember to quote your 8BS user ID.)

     Zalaga
    Game Author: Oriando Loading
    Screen Design: Michael Hutchison

    Your objective is to become a great Zalagan Hero by obtaining the highest score you can. The first level is quite easy, but each subsequent stage becomes increasingly difficult. Have you the rapid reactions and deadly arcade skills necessary to overcome each new wave of attackers? What's the highest score you can get.1,000.10,000.100,000.1,000,000

    Size : Unlimited

    Game Play: A typical classic shoot-em-up, something of a cross between Galaxians and Galaforce. You start each level with a blank screen onto which pour your alien friends at extreme speed. Once on the screen they take up the standard Galaxians format, moving back and forth then breaking off, diving down and dropping bombs. There is a challenge screen on levels 3,7,11,16., aliens pour on the screen not dropping bombs and there is a lot of keyboard bashing going on.

    Graphics: Although Zalaga is extremely fast the large graphics tend to flicker quite a little. This game is defiantly for keyboard bashers everywhere.

    Sound: The sound is pretty good for a shoot-em-up and there is quite a nice opening tune.

     Qwak
    Game Author: Jamie Woodhouse Loading Screen Design: Michael Hutchinson

    You take the role of QWAK, a highly intelligent and athletic duck. The objective is to collect all the keys, then go to the door to exit from the level

    Size: 24 Levels, But once completed they are repeated again but harder.

    Game Play: Qwak is a typical levels game collect the keys to leave the levels. Not overly impressed with this one. This is supposed to take over where Chuckie Egg left off, NO IT DOES NOT. There are a few comical parts but there was just nothing in it for me.

    Graphics: The graphics are very good though, very detailed. Smooth running through out it's just a pity that is the only thing it's got going for it.

    Sound: Sounds pleasant, no opening tune beep, pops and bangs.

     3D Dotty

    You are presented with a three dimensional layout consisting of three flours not unlike a multi-story car park with the floor missing. Small white dots fill the entire floor surface and all your character has to do is go round and chomp all the dots.

    Size: 8 Levels but they are repeated once completed.

    Game Play: This game has such a simple idea that will keep you entertained for hours. Chasing around the levels trying to avoid the fungus which will chase you and trying to eat the dots at the same time, some of which are hidden behind the pillars. The only thing you have in your arsenal is three block (WoW) which will stop the fungus following you so use them wisely. Also as a bonus you have a practise mode at the start of the game which will allow you to try all the levels on at a time.

    Graphics: Well what can you say, you are the only character and you look like Pac-Man with legs the rest of the cast are flat and square.

    Sound: The sound is very boring but as a bonus you can turn the dam noise off.

     Repton Thru Time:
    Game Authors: Matthew Atkinson, Mark Botterill, James Grant Loading Screen Design: Micheal Hutchinson

    You are a little man called "Repton", you have to move through the screens collecting all the appropriate pieces, all the crowns and then if that was not enough you have to kill all the monsters and then diffuse the time bomb. Each screen has a time limit and if you do not complete the screen in that limit, the time bomb will explode and you will loose a life. Repton can however travel back in time because whenever a time capsule is collected the time-bombs clock will reset. Each screen comprises of a series of puzzles. Many of these are interlinked and you may have to solve a number of small puzzles to tackle the larger one.

    Size: 40 Screens

    Game Play: This game hardly deserves mentioning now does it, you've seen it all before. I must confess I am not a great Repton fan, but from an objective point of view they are all very good games including this one. They follow the same pattern of game play for each different Repton. The screens are well designed and it's a good game to play but I find the idea of the game very boring now. I first saw this game when I was in my secondary school and ate the time I thought it was quite good. In my opinion if you have one Repton you have them all.

    Sound: The sound is what you have come to expect from the Repton series, very good.
     
     

     Overall Verdict

    If you already have two of these games in my opinion this isn't as good a buy as you might first think. However looking on the bright side if you have not got any of the above as always the Play It Again Sam disks are excellent value for money.


    Play It Again Sam 11

    Review By Crispin Boylan
    Title: Play It Again Sam 11
    Available From: Superior Software
    Price: £11.95 (£6 to 8BS Members)
    Type: 4 Games:
     Barbarian : Beat 'em up.
     Pipeline : RPG/Exploration
     Monsters : Platformer
     Baron : Arcade Adventure

    Barbarian
    This is a conversion by Acornsoft of a game that was very popular on both the Amiga and Atari ST formats in the late 80's, it is a beat-em-up, with you playing the part of the Barbarian whose quest it is to kill the evil Drax and get back the beautiful girl.  Well that’s the thinly laid plot designed to give a reason to the mindless violence - but why bother?  We all love a bit of gore now and again, especially as I've heard, ambulancemen.

    Anyway, you have to fight various one-on-one deathmatches against opponents of increasing skill, I must point out that I am completely awful at this game, and whilst I do love it to bits, I still cannot get past the third opponent - oh well.  To help you win fights there are a number of moves which you can do, blocks, rolls and ducks which are defensive, and then a range of offensive moves including (gasp!) a head chop move in which you can completely kill an opponent outright by chopping his head clean off - a humerous touch there follows were a little gremlin comes on the screen, drags away the body and kicks the head off the screen too - repetitive after a while, but nicely done!  These moves are actually quite hard to pull of, and therin lies my problem, I have never been one to pull off fiddly moves with the keyboard, and I have no better luck with this game, although I am assured by certain people that a joystick is easier.  What really gives this game an edge though is the option of a two player head to head mode, this is well worth it, and, as usual, it is much better fun to lop the head off of your best mate than it is to do that same to the beeb, and you can reduce a beginner to tears by repeatedly chopping his head of as soon as he enters the game, but how quickly they learn :(

    The graphics in this game are nice and chunky, the sprites move well with little hint of flicker, and the colours are not too bad (although they overdo it with the skin colour).  It isn't one of the prettiest games around, but then again it isn't all that terribly done anyway.  Sound is a minimum with just thuds and white noise for the swords clashing together, nothing more inspiring.

    Overall, a great game, made even better with a two-player mode.

    Pipeline
    A game in the same vein as Ravenskull, but this time set on the moon of Io, orbiting Jupiter.  The story goes that you have to collect as much sulphur as possible, and then get out of the various levels.  There are about 4 levels to do, and although that may seem very few, I must assure that these are huge sprawling levels, and well created they are too, with many a puzzle on the way.

    So, the gameplay is more or less a combination of Repton, Ravenskull and Citadel, hmmm you say, that may just work well, and it does.  The music in the background is very nicely done, and very addictive, I always find myself singing some made up lyrics to it, just out of some kind of force of habbit!  You have to collect sulphur drums, whilst avoiding the mad flames who sometimes move around the level in different places, making timing essential.  Then of course, there are the pipelines, which are abundant on each level, and consist of a mazy network of said pipes, and at times it can be frustrating that you never come out of the pipes where you want to.  Objects are also useful, and there are hammers to knock through walls, and other such things.  The gameplay isn't really that inventive, and it is displeasing at first to see how much of a rip it is from Repton and Ravenskull, but it blends nicely and you soon forget that.

    Graphics are indeed impressive, nice and colourful, clear and bright, they look very nice indeed and go well with the mood of the game.  Sound, as I mentioned earlier is excellent, although as with all tunes can get repetitive, but at least they pushed the boat out and made an effort on sound.

    Another good game, by no means a classic, but worth a few plays if you luck a Repton puzzler.

    Monsters
    An old Acornsoft classic, this doesn't really fit in with the other games, it is just so basic, but it is not a bad game, and worth repeating on a compilation, but it really shows how far games came in just a few years of the launch of the Beeb.

    Basically, the game just involves you running around various levels of the screen, linked with ladders, avoiding the monsters, whilst at the same time making holes for them to fall into, then killing them by filling in these holes.  There are varying strengthes of monster, some which require being trapped in two holes in a row before they die, and some requiring three.  It is a difficult skill to acquire, as on one hand you have to watch for monsters falling into holes, and at the same time you have to constantly avoid other monsters on the loose.  It isn't too bad, but you wouldn't want to play it over and over for more than 30 minutes.

    The graphics are very basic, just simple sprites, but they are nicely done, and look professional. Sound is also very basic, just beeps and simple effects for being caught by monsters etc, not really anything above average, but then this was an early game, I think it was one of the first three available for the Beeb.

    Not Acornsofts finest, but it is good to play now and again.

    Baron
    An all-new arcade adventure from Superior, this was the first and only time you could buy Baron, which, depending on how much you like Arcade adventures is either a blessing or a curse.  Not that it is a bad game, it just doesn't attempt to be very adventurous in its content, being an adventure it contains the usual 'where does this object that I've found go?' and 'how do I defeat the wizard when he is seemingly invincible?' questions, which, as always have their answers, sometimes being obscure.

    The gameplay is pretty formulaic stuff, avoid monsters, collect objects, make sure the time doesn't run out, and generally get up to some adventure solving.  The variety of monsters to avoid is not exactly huge, there are about 4 or 5 different baddies to get around, each one has its way of being avoided, although it is annoying the way that monsters come back after you have killed them, but then again it would be even more annoying if the game became empty because you had shot everyone!

    Graphics are not up to Superiors best in this game, they look a bit samey on each screen, I don't think enough colours are used and it all looks a bit stale.  However, they do attempt to make it better by using varying colour pallettes for different screens, this is a nicer effect, although it does look as if you are viewing the screen through tinted glasses.  Sound, again is minimal, no music as such, just various beeps and bangs.

    I'm sure this was just hashed out to satisfy the Citadel fans, but it isn't too bad, doesn't come close to either Citadel or Castle Quest though.

    Overall
    This is not one of the most brilliant compilations, but there are no bad games on there as such, and it is definately worth handing over 6 quid for, but it won't light any fireworks in the amazement department.

    7/10.

    Cris.
    E4W


    Play It Again Sam 12 Review By Crispin Boylan (E4W)

    Available from: Superior Software Price: £11.95 (£6 to 8BS members)
    Type: Skirmish (Buzzard Flying)
    By Fair Means Or Foul (Sports)
    The Last Ninja (Beat-em-up)
    Blagger (Platform Puzzler)

    Skirmish
    At first this looks like just a very odd game, with you having to fly a buzzard around the screen, and jousting with various knights also riding other birds. Then, when you see it is made by Aardvark, creators of the classic Firetrack and Zalaga games, you cannot help but feel intrigued. This is a conversion of the classic arcade game Joust, the main aim of the game being to out joust all the other opponents on the screen. You fly around, a knight on a buzzard, trying to kill all the evil knights, you do this by getting your joust stick above theirs when you both make contact, if you don't then you die, if you manage to do it then the knight dies and an egg is released. You then have to catch this egg before it hatches and a new knight is released, then a new bird comes along and the knight mounts it and you have to kill him again. There are different types of knight, each with their own intelligence, you start off the game with very stupid knights as your opponents, but then they get harder as you progress, some of the actually have very good artificial intelligence (or at least they seem as if they do)

    The graphics in this game, are very nice, they are drawn in low resolution, but are quite detailed, and the designer hasn't gone over the top with dancy backgrounds. Anyway, graphics isn't what this game is all about, it is about sheer one or two player fun involving large birds and a big lance (steady on!). The sound is also quite minimalistic, but never annoying like so many other games.

    Overall, I would say it is a classic, definiately on my list of all time favourite games, and you should definately get this game!

    By Fair Means Or Foul

    As you probably won't have guessed by the title, this is a boxing game. Basically there aren't any plots to sports games, but the task you have to achieve as a trainee boxer is to reach the status of world champion by knocking out successive opponents, which get harder and harder each time. The game is played from a side on view of the boxers, and the referee is also present, he watches your every move, and penalises you if you commit any foul moves. Yes, that's right, this game actually lets you cheat! You can kick your opponent in the private parts, head butt him, or punch below the belt. At the top of the screen there is an outline of your boxer, and this changes colour depending on what chance you have of landing a foul punch without the ref seeing. Also in side the outline is a number, which is the number of 'lives' which you have left, and when you get hit or seen by the referee, these lives get taken away.

    The gameplay is quite good, you always feel in control of what your boxer is doing, the controls are responsive, and generally it is an all round good game. The only slight niggle I have is that it is sometimes hard to block punches, because the computer does not allow your boxer to react fast enough.slight cheating on the part of the computer! Again I was impressed with the skill of the computer in this game, the different opponents have different tactics, some hold off, others go straight in, and it really does make the difference between a good and average one player game if you can believe that you are fighting someone real. The two player mode is of course, full of foul punches, especially when playing against a mate!

    The graphics are drawn in low resoltion, but have good character, and are nicely done, the large sprites don't even flicker a bit! The game has a lot of nice graphical touches, like the way that the crowd shout out different things to the boxers, which is shown in speech bubbles. The sound is also quite good, with the roar of the crowd, and the ding ding of the bell done to perfection.

    Another great game, especially in two player mode!

     The Last Ninja

    A game written by one of the best programmers the Beeb was ever lucky enough to have, Peter Scott. If you pay any attention at all to any of my reviews, then you'll know that I think this man is an excellent programmer, and he can really do a good game on just about any subject, which is quite remarkable, as different genres require vastly different skills. Anyway, back to the game, this is a shoot-em-up, done in solid isometric 3d, with you playing the part of the Last Ninja, trying to achieve your goal and get to the end of the three levels, which are all set in Japan. There are authentic weapons aplenty in this, Numchukas, Shuriken stars, Long Poles, Samurai Swords, evrything any self respecting Nija could want actually! You have to get to the end of each level, which sometimes requires some good timing, and slight problem solving (although the problems are very easy to solve).

    The game itself is very nice, a good fun game to play, it is quite varied, the controls are responsive, and nice to use. The only problem comes when the fighting starts, it is very monotonous, there are only two moves you can do with each weapon, and it is really just a matter of going in close and tapping the fire button until the opponents is dead, not at all like a real Ninja (what the hell am I saying, I've never even seen a real Ninja!).

    The graphics are good, the 3d engine can handle every situation in the game, and the whole thing is very nicely presented. There is a slight problem in that sometimes the graphics engine mucks up a bit and you can walk on top of objects you shouldn't be able to, but other than that it is very good. Sound is minimal, and I wish there had been more, maybe a nice oriental tune at the start!

    Overall, a good game, but by no means a classic, still, it's entertaining enough!

     Blagger

    The only other game not to come from Superior on the compilation, this one is by far the least good (I won't say worst because that would make it sound bad). It comes from Alligata, they basically didn't stand a chance of me giving this game a brilliant review, because of the company it's in on this compilation. Well anyway, this is a sort of Manic Miner clone, you have to move around the screen, which is shown in its entirety by one physical screen, collecting the keys whilst dodging the various obstacles in your way, liking moving objects, conveyor belts, and ground which disintegrates when you walk on it.

    The game is quite hard, and you really have to get a good look at the level before you even start to move, because it isn't the type of game you can just go through! Having said that, it suits this compilation to have a game that moves at a slower pace, and isn't all action. The only thing I would say against it is that it can be very frustrating, as the collision detection isn't exactly crash hot, and the main character does move quite slowly. Also, it isn't exactly original, it borrows a lot from various games, mostly Manic Miner as mentioned before, but also others.

    The graphics are, as seems to be the theme of this compilation, low resolution, and although they are quite nice, in a small sort of way, they don't really stand up to the same sort of level as in the other games. The sound is also quite minimal, and very annoying at times, the sounds they use to depict things just grate.

    Overall, a nice puzzler, nothing special, in fact it's rather average, but not so bad that it isn't worth just one play once in a while!
     


    Play It Again Sam 13 Review By Gary McCallum - E6G

    Available from :- Superior Software P.O. Box 6 Brigg S. Humberside DN20 9NH £11.95 (£6 8BS Members)

    The thirteenth incarnation of the Play It Again Sam Series, but is it up to the standards of the other PIAS's or is thirteen going to be unlucky for Superior Software?

    As usual there are four games on the compilation, they are :-

     HYPERBALL

    This is a bat and ball game with the idea being to destroy all the bricks and progress to the next level. Frequently power-ups are dropped from bricks that have been destroyed giving you things such as lasers and a slow ball. If this sounds familiar that is because it is VERY heavily based on Arkanoid, the classic arcade 'bat and ball' game.

    The best way for you to picture Hyperball is to imagine Arkanoid without the colour and detailed graphics, and then you have Hyperball. Obviously if you haven't played/seen Arkanoid this is going to be difficult but then Arkanoid is different from most games.

    It does have a few novel features, such as the ability to buy power-ups between levels and a few variations on Arkanoids power-ups such as collecting three 'smart blocks' to progress to the next levels, but it is basically a very poor copy of Arkanoid. There are 6 sets of 20 levels, making a total of 120 levels. Each set of levels can be loaded at any time from the menu screen, you can also select between levels 1 to 9, provided you have played them before.

    If it was more colourful and had better graphics, it would have been a good game, but unfortunately after seeing Arkanoid on a BBC, this is not acceptable.

    On the cover Superior have billed this as 'The best version of the classic bat and ball game', in my opinion it isn't good enough to wash Arkanoid's boots. I have to admit though it is better than Bat And Ball on the Welcome tape. If you like Arkanoid, you may like this because of the gameplay. but that is unlikely because of the standard of the colour/graphics. It's a sad day when I say a game is bad because of the standard of the graphics, but unfortunately today is a sad day.

    In summary; good gameplay, disgraceful colour and graphics. If you like bat and ball games and don't already have Arkanoid, beg, borrow or do something else to get a copy of Arkanoid and avoid this one.

     PERCY PENGUIN

    This is a copy of Pengo, originally released by Sega as an arcade game back in 1982. This is the third different version of this game I have seen on the BBC, the others are H-Soft's Pengo and Vision's Pengi.

    You are a penguin trapped in an ice maze populated by deadly Snobees. To survive you have to kill all the Snobees by hurling Ice Cubes at them.

    This is a good game, I've always liked Pengo games, unfortunately it isn't quite as good as the other versions available for the BBC. First of all the game is a little bit slower (this may help some of you). Secondly the graphics are fractionally weaker than other versions (this is not a problem but worth mentioning), and thirdly the music is different. In every version of Pengo I've played the music has always been 'Popcorn', you know the tune. In this version it has been replaced by a classical piece (I can't remember the name of it, the one that Vanessa Mae did), anyway apart from these minor differences Percy Penguin is a good game. I prefer Pengo and Pengi to it, but this is close enough to warrant my recommendation if you do not have the others. If you have Pengo or Pengi, this may be worth a look (especially considering you get 3 other games with it). In summary; good game, a reasonable conversion of Pengo, worth a look at the 8BS members price providing you don't have Pengo or Pengi.

    PANDEMONIUM

    This is the first of two games on PIAS 13 from Peter Scott. This game is of the Thunderstruck/Citadel kind i.e. a platform game with various 'rooms', the object of the game being to construct the 'core' by collecting all 12 core parts, whilst avoiding or shooting aliens. You have four lives to complete your task with, you also have an energy bar, on contact with an alien you lose a little bit of energy. This is one of those games where totally avoiding the aliens is impossible, so you have to time your moves carefully to conserve energy. On playing it I've found this game quite hard to play but then I've never been good at this type of game without cheating.

    This game is your usual Peter Scott game, a very well polished game with great graphics and music (providing you like the theme to Airwolf), unfortunately the gameplay is only average. There is nothing new or groundbreaking in this game, it's a variation on a theme.

    I must state that I am not a big fan of this type of game, Palace Of Magic being the only game of this type I liked (and that's because I could cheat and I had a map). If you like Citadel, Thunderstruck, Starquake or Palace of Magic, this is right up your street and I can give it the thumbs up. If like me you don't fall into this category then I would give this game a miss.

     BARBARIAN II

    This is another game from Peter Scott. For those of you not familiar with the first Barbarian, it is a one-on-one combat game, the object being to kill your opponent, either another human or the computer. Barbarian II is the flagship game on this compilation coming on its own disk with its own instructions.

    Both Barbarian games are conversions of Commodore 64 games originally released by Palace Software. I own a Commodore 64, but I have never played Barbarian II before, so I was looking forward to this. Barbarian II is different from its predecessor; instead of having a series of fights culminating in the rescuing of Princess Mariana (sexism was still rife when the first game was written), you now have to progress through 3 maze-type levels with 26 individual screens per level (the Wastelands, the Caverns, and the Dungeon) before arriving at the Inner Sanctum Of Drax. You get to choose the character you want to control either the Barbarian or Princess Mariana (both are skilled swords-people). On each of the three levels you will find two different magical objects which you need to collect to help you with your task. You also have to kill five or six different types of monsters on each of the first three levels, some of which can be killed with a well timed blow. Having played the game I can confirm that this is the case, although some of the monsters are very irritating.

    To aid this review I downloaded the Commodore 64 version from the Internet to play on my C64 emulator to compare the differences. Peter Scott has done a great job of the conversion, obviously the BBC version doesn't have the multi-colour of the Commodore 64 version but everything else has been converted well. I don't know whether it was Peter Scott or Superior Software that decided to convert this game but whoever it was needs a good talking to, especially when you consider some of the other Commodore games that could have been converted. Both versions of this game are terrible, the control system is easy in theory but on occasion (usually in the heat of a battle) can be awkward especially when it comes to doing a low chop (RETURN + ?), I had the tendency to turn around, which meant I got hit a lot. The real problem is the actual game, it is boring and repetitive (you frequently have to fight the same monsters). Monsters just appear out of thin air (literally) so even if you pause for a moment after defeating a monster, another one appears.

    I can't really recommend this game, it may appeal to some of you who want something different from their fighting games, instead of the usual one-on-one defeat a series of opponents-type game, but the BBC is not exactly well-endowed with different fighting games so I have nothing else to recommend in it's place.

     The Compilation

    I can probably justify this for the 8BS members price of `6: if you aren't a member of 8BS (unlikely but possible) then avoid this one. None of the games are more than average, Percy Penguin being my favourite, but I already have two versions of the same game which are better. This is probably the weakest of the first thirteen PIAS's, all of the others have at least one really good game on them. If I was to buy this it would be to complete a collection of Play It Again Sams. If you are in this position collect the others first and get this one last.
     


    Play it Again Sam 14

    By Crispin Boylan
    Title: Play It Again Sam 14
    Available From: Superior Software
    Price: £11.95 (£6 to 8BS Members)
    Type of Game:
      Predator - Scrolling Shoot-em-up
      Ballistix - Puzzle
      Superior Soccer - Football
      Star Port - Arcade Adventure

    Predator
    This is one of the few movie licenses ever released on the Beeb, in the 80's they weren't really popular (thank god) but nowadays they are two-a-penny and most of them are dire.  Well, this one isn't really that bad, thanks to a) It is taken from a good film b) It has been converted to the Beeb by Superior Software, and thus is well programmed.  Taken from the Arnie movie of the same name, this is a scrolling shoot-em-up where you have to be quick to avoid other army personnel trying to attack you, and from time to time, the deadly sights of the predator himself!

    The gameplay, not surprisingly is pretty simple, move through the jungle whilst avoiding such enemies as Soldiers and even birds, who on contact kill you instantly!  It must be said having Arnie killed whilst fighting off a ferocious pack of Pigeons isn't quite the way it goes in the film, but there you go.  Anyway, along the way you can swap weapons, you have to reload from time to time anyway, but fortunately plenty of soldiers have been killed by the Predator and they leave their guns lying around.  It is quite a good play, but it does suffer from being a little bit too hard in my opinion, there are just too many things to shoot at once, but it does make for some action packed gaming!  Collision detection and other aspects of the programming are virtually flawless as one would expect from Superior.

    The graphics are average, they aren't going to set the world on fire or anything but they do their job, if a bit blandly.  The colours chosen are OK, but a bit boring, mostly just orange, black, yellow and green, they go together OK, but don't always look too good!  The sound is just pings and pongs, no music even on the high score table.

    Not a bad game overall, and worth a few plays.

    Ballistix
    It has to be said, I do like this game a lot, it is very inventive and fun to play, and has the originality that many titles sadly lack.  The main object of the game is to score goals against your opponent, be it a computer or another human.  You move the main ball with the aid of pointer, which you use to fire smaller balls at the main ball, to get it to move up/down the screen, on the first level this is easy, you just shoot the balls in the direction of the goal and hopefully the ball goes in, but on later levels you are introduced to blocking walls, holes, and other such traps which hinder you, but definitely give an advantage to the computer player!  There are about 20 levels in all, each with passwords, and you are supposedly able to use them to jump to the latest level you have got to, but I have never managed to find out how to do this!

    The graphics in this game it must be said are a bit over the top, the colours used sometimes look horrible together, in particular Cyan and Red, although this hardly detracts from the excitement of a two-player game, they can be come particularly manic and not one for people who like to keep their keyboards in pristine condition, as the shoot key and be frantically pressed time and again in order to fire more pellets at the big ball than your opponent!  Sound is actually quite good, with crowd roars when you score, and various other noises for the ball hitting different things.

    This game is a great game, not quite a classic, but getting there, and like all great games you can play two players at once - excellent!  This compilation is worth it for this game alone, and although it is not really supposed to be the best on the disk, I think it well beats the other three games.

    Superior Soccer
    There are not really many decent football games on the Beeb, Match Day is probably the best, followed by the game from the 4th Dimension, for some reason no-one has really managed to combine good gameplay with lastability, but this game makes a damn good stab at it.  You can play manager only, managing and playing or just playing, and this certainly does work well.  You are in charge of team selections, buying and selling, but not really much more, however this still beats most of the games where you can actually take part in the games, but not the classic Football Manager and other games like it.

    The view of the pitch you get is a top-down mode, as if seen from an airship above the ground, and although it gives an adequate view, you don't get enough to see the goal until quite late, and it is hard to get into the opposition penalty box without being tackled.  Another quarm I have about it is that you cannot really score many good goals, you can hardly tell if the ball is off the ground, and the goals seem to be very hard to score, except the computer seems to manage it, as I regularly lose 10-0 to the computer!  It is a very complete playing game though, there are corners, throw-ins, but sadly no penalties, or yellow or red cards, but you can't have everything in 32k!  You can also have two players, and this does make up for it, as at least at first you will be roughly of the same ability, but it just doesn't do it for me with two players, none of the thrill of beating your opponent seems to be there.

    Graphics are very messy on this game in my opinion, it is played in low resolution, and the texture of the pitch looks horrible, as do the players playing on it, they don't have any details at all.  The sprites used are also a bit strange, as you will see if you try to slide tackle someone!  Sound is OK, but the annoying high pitched tone you get when the ball goes out of play just goes right inside my brain, it really is very annoying!

    Overall, not a bad attempt, but it isn't anywhere near the likes of Football Manager and Match Day, now a combination of those two, that would be a winner....

    Star Port
    Third game from the fabulously creative Tony Oakden, after his first two games Camelot and Quest, the standard was set high, I don't think Superior thought this game offered enough to be release on its own, as Quest was, but I think it is the best of his three.  Set on a triangular Star Port, you have to rescue the scientists and the lost medical supplies before getting out of there as quickly as possible.  To make things worse you only have a limited amount of air, and some sections of the station are closed off by puzzle doors, where you have to complete the puzzle in order to gain access.

    Gameplay in this is what is usually expected of you in this sort of game, explore the levels, shoot the baddies, and collect objects such as more oxygen, pass cards, and other more important objects which are used to solve puzzles in the game.  The ship is large, I have made a map of it, and it takes about 25 sheets of A4 paper, so you won't be completing it in a hurry, I've had it for about 4 years and I still haven't finished it!  The station is structured out well, and gives a feeling that it could actually be a space station, with different areas such as energy cores, etc. for you to explore - but not without a radiation suit!!  There are also one way anti-grav lifts, which move you up or down, but only one way, so you have make sure you know where you are going before you use them!  The aliens are usually easy to shoot, but some of the require more firepower, and as shots are also limited it is best to avoid these.

    The graphics in this game are highly professionally produced, high-res, colourful, and the colours work well together, it is amazing that Oakden managed to fit all this into the memory of the Beeb, but he does, and it works incredibly well!  Sound is nicely done, the noises aren't too harsh on the old ear drums, and the tunes he uses are well thought out and pleasing on the ear!

    One of my favourite adventures, it is a really good puzzler, and will keep you occupied for some time, but if only it had a save game feature....

    Overall
    A great compilation, something for everyone, and it has enough depth to keep you playing it for quite some time!

    8/10

    Crispin Boylan.
    E4W
     


    Play It Again Sam 15 Review By Crispin Boylan (E4W)

    Available From: Superior Software Price: £14.95 (£6 for 8BS members) Type: four games in compilation:

    Cyborg Warriors – Shoot-em-up Network - Arcade Adventure Ricochet - Arcade Adventure The Last Ninja - Scrolling beat-em-up

    This looks like a pretty fine compilation at first glance, especially when you see that two of the games were programmed by the ace programmer Peter Scott, and also when you consider that most of the games were great hits for Superior at their time of original release. So here is the review, it is broken down into sections for each of the games on the compilation.

    Cyborg Warriors -

    Programmed by Tony Oakden, this makes a change from his normal style of Arcade Adventure games (Camelot, Quest and Star Port) and onto the well worn path that is the shoot-em-up genre. The plot is thin, and as always with shoot-em-ups, unnecessary, who wants to be bored with the standard you are trapped in an alien world, shoot everything and you will win scenario? Luckily this one doesn't get too stuck in with padding out this thin plotline, and thus the plot is left to one or two lines at the start of the instructions. So what you do get then is a pretty impressive piece of programming, a fast moving parallax scrolling shoot-em-up with a variety of four different weapons, the Standard Issue Laser, the Multi Directional Laser, the Anti-matter Torpedo, and the Smart Bomb Launcher.

    The game is pretty much endless, and is more of a high-score getting game than a game with fixed objectives and levels, this makes a change from the objective based games of today. The gameplay itself is superb, the graphics are quite good, even though the colours are a bit on the psychadelic side, and they move with such speed and fluidity it makes you wonder what went wrong with all those badly scrolling games that there have been over the years. The screen size is impressive as well, as most shoot-em-up games have a need for speed, the window must be reduced, too much and this can lead to people going blind from squinting at a stamp sized window on the screen (you only have to look at a game called War from Martech to see what I mean) and too little and the game becomes slower than a one legged hedgehog. The game play is nice and fast and furious, and very very hard, just like shoot-em-ups should be. The only bad thing I have to say about the gameplay side of things is that the enemies are not as varied as they could be, there are only really three or four different enemies to encounter on your journeys.

    Sound is not exactly brilliant, very limited in fact, but this doesn't detract from what is probably among the best shoot-em-ups on the beeb, perhaps only beaten by Firetrack from Aardvark and Nevryon from The 4th Dimension. The weapons in the game are very nicely done, and just when you get bored, up pops a new weapon for you to slaughter the enemy with.wonderful!

    Network -

    The first of the two games on the disk by the mystical Peter Scott, who in his day (don't know what he's doing now) was probably the most consistently good programmer on the BBC, his softography is extensive to say the least. This is one of his best genres, the arcade adventure, with the quirky quaint type of characters in it that give his games a style all of their own. This one sees you, the sort of squashed egg cup shaped thing (the name is never mentioned as far as I know) trying to construct the Flynche machine by collecting all of its 20 parts. To hinder your progress there are aliens and dangerous objects which must be negotiated so that you lose as little of your energy as possible (shown by a bar at the top of the screen). This task is made easier with the inclusion of a laser, with which you can shoot said beasties, but be warned, this laser has only a limited amount of energy (shown by another bar at the top of the screen).

    The first thing you notice about this game is its size, it is pretty huge, but organised neatly into single screen areas, it is flick screen rather than constantly scrolling. The main things you have to do on this game are jumping and avoiding the baddies, this is not as easy as it sounds, and the game is actually quite hard, especially when you have to use the moving platforms, as you must match your movements to those of the platforms, they will not carry you along with their own movements. There are also other things to negotiate including springs which can be bounced on, lifts, and the especially nifty teleport machines which can move you to the other teleport machines (you have to have seen them before to teleport to them). The game moves along quite nicely, but it is perhaps too hard in places, especially at the start screen which is a task all of its own just to get out of, once you get used to how the game works though, it is nice and user friendly.

    The game uses low-resolution Mode 2 graphics, but these are very well drawn, and the colour palette varies constantly throughout the game. The graphics detailed, though not as much as in games like Pandemonium and Thunderstruck. The whole thing is very well programmed, there is hardly any sprite flicker, even when there are a number of moving objects on the screen, and the graphics move very smoothly. The colours are well combined, and there aren't really any where they clash with each other, they go rather nicely with each other in fact.

    The sound on this game is pretty poor, no music anywhere in the game, and the sounds are actually exactly the same as in most other Peter Scott games. This means just a sound when the energy goes down, and various other bleeps and pings for accomplishing things in the game. It could have certainly done with a bit of music in game. Overall though, it isn't a bad play, although it isn't Peter Scotts best work.

    Ricochet -

    The is what you could call the 'premium' game of the bundle, it was actually released before the compilation was made, and is one of the biggest selling Superior Software games. In this game you play 'Sprat' a ball shape, who can only roll around and bounce in order to achieve his goal. The objective of the five levels included is to find the hourglass in each level, and then teleport out of the level, you get a password for each new level that you visit, so you don't have to go through all of the levels every time you play. Although the passwords are available, they aren't really supposed to be used to complete the ultimate goal, to go through all five levels in one game, without stopping, this will uncover the secret message!

    Although not exactly original, this is quite a fun game, the way you have to work out which points to bounce from and in what direction so that you can reach otherwise unreachable platforms. This adds so much more to the arcade adventure genre, instead of just climbing up and down ladders, you have bounce through narrow gaps to reach things, and generally it is more interesting just moving around the levels than it is in most other arcade adventures. The password feature is excellent as well, as on most other arcade adventure games you cannot really save your game in any way, and they are normally very hard. By splitting this game into separate levels, you get the game in bite sized pieces, which can be played separately, and then you can decide when you want to attempt the whole thing at once. The difficulty level is set just right, it is nice and easy at the start, to get you into the game, and once you are in there, it doesn't just slack off but the whole game seems to move up a gear. The good thing about the keys on the game (which you must collect to open doors) is that the keys are marked with letters, and these are shown if you have the key in your inventory, also when you move to a room with a door in it, the letter of the door is also shown, so you can easily tell if you have the right key straight away, instead of relying on special colour coded doors and keys. Everything about this game seems to have been designed so that you get the most time puzzling and wandering around, and not wondering what key goes where or what the hell the object actually is that you just picked up. This has to be in my top three most playable adventure games on the beeb, a classic, right behind Castle Quest and Citadel.

    The graphics on this game are very nice, extremely finely detailed and very well drawn, they really do push the beeb to the limits of its sprite handling technology I feel. The graphics colours are well chosen, and they never clash, even with the frequent palette changes which take place throughout the screens.

    The sounds of the game are nice enough, if very bland, in fact this whole compilation seems to be one of the most devoid of sound out of the whole 18 PAS's! Sound is limited to beeps and bleeps, not too interesting really. Something which is good about the game is the fact that there is a nice little message scrolling by on the title screen, it is quite funny, and you can read it for ages, it never seems to end!!!

    The Last Ninja 2 -

    The Last Ninja was one of the few games that managed to keep my interest right until the very end of the game, and it never felt like a hard slog through the later levels, so I was pleased to get hold of this game, as I expected more of the same. The game is written by Peter Scott, a very accomplished author, and it pleased me that this game was a change from his usual style, and even more that it was nicely done. Basically, you are a Ninja in New York, and you have to fight through the six levels of the game, killing everyone, and also finding time for a small bit (and very easy at that) of puzzling.

    The game is played in a pseudo 3D sort of style, from a fixed viewpoint, but is more detailed and has chunkier sprites than some of the Isometric 3D games, prime examples of these come from Ultimate Play the Game. Anyway, it is basically easy to move through the game, the puzzles are easy enough, but the fighting at times seems impossibly hard. Until you get one of the various weapons in the game (there are some nice Ninja weapons available, the Sword, Numchukas, Stick, and my favourite, the Shuriken Star!) it is very hard to kill the people who chase you, and many of your six starting lives can be lost at only the start of the game. Once you do get a weapon though, the game becomes a lot more fun, and although the baddies are not exactly very artificially intelligent, they are quite hard. There is a good range of baddies to conquer, from Policemen to other Ninjas, and some pack a pretty hard punch with their weapons! Aside from the fighting, there are also other parts of the game which are more puzzle orientated, for example, in the first level (Central Park) there is a stream of lava (!?) and you have to step on the stepping stones to get across the level, this is hard, especially as you have to pick the right jump key (there are three, small, medium and large) this adds some variation to the game, so you don't feel like it is punching all the way.

    The graphics on this game are extremely impressive, the 3D (even though it is not exactly true 3D) is good and works well, and the colours are nice. There are a lot of different objects in the game, and the screens are always packed full of details. One minor gripe about the graphics engine is that sometimes it goes a bit wrong and you end up actually walking through solid objects! This is quiet annoying and looks a bit stupid at times. The rest of the graphics are excellent though, and very well put together. The main character is very well animated, with kicks, punches and jumps.

    The sound (as I've said before about this whole compilation) is very minimal, and again is limited to small beeps and buzzes. A bit more imagination for the music would make this game into a classic, but as it is it is a very good game, it seems to me that Peter Scott was a bit of an all-round great programmer.

    Overall -

    A nice blend of games make this one of my favourites PAS's, it has some great games, and they will all last you for a long time, two are huge graphics adventures, there is a nice beat-em-up to play which has some nice puzzley elements, and a good old fashioned shoot-em-up to relax with. If you only buy this for Ricochet (definately the best of the bunch) then you may be presently surprised by your other three acquisitions.

    Score: 89% - Recommended


    Play It Again Sam 16 Review By Crispin Boylan (E4W)

    Available From: Superior Software

    Price: £14.95 (£6 to 8BS Members)

    Type Of Games: Hostages: Action Platform/First Person Perspective Shoot-em-up Vertigo: Isometric 3D Puzzle Perplexity: Repton/Pacman clone Pipemania: Puzzle

    Hostages -

    This is really the biggest game in the package, when it was released as a single game it caused a bit of a stir, particularly because of the impressive conversion of the game from the more powerful 16-bit formats. It is not surprising then, to learn that the programmer who converted this was the multi-talented Peter Scott, a man with, to say the least, a few good games under his belt. In this game you play the part of the commandos who have to rescue the prisoners from the violent terrorists. You really play the part of the team co-ordinator, as you are in control of various different men throughout the levels, the ultimate aim being to kill all the terrorists and rescue the hostages. The game is played over three basic levels, outside the embassy, scaling the walls to get inside, and finally inside the embassy looking for the prisoners.

    Although the levels described above do not sound as if they would take too long to complete, they are in fact very difficult to play, and multiple gaming skills are needed if you are to complete the game. On the first level, you just have to dodge the searchlight of the terrorists in order to position at least one of your three men, the more men you get into position, the easy the next level is. The second levels sees three different men scaling the walls of the embassy in order to break through the glass windows and get inside. To have a good chance at this, the three men you positioned in level one can help by shooting out the glass of the windows, or covering you from the terrorists. If you are to succeed on the third level, which is inside the embassy in a first person perspective search/shoot-em-up, then you really need to get all three men inside. The good thing about this game though is that you can get past each level with just one of your men completing the task, although this makes the game harder, it also allows you some freedom, and you never really feel completely stuck or frustrated. In fact, it is one of the least frustrating games I have ever played, and it is actually not the easiest, although not exactly completely impossible - at least on the default setting!

    The graphics in this game are pretty good throughout, particularly the final 3d level, which impressed me greatly with its fluid movement and impressive programming. Although in low-resolution mode, the programmer really gets the best from them, and there is no annoying flickering of the sprites which can happen when using larger sprites on the beeb. The other two levels are fairly standard, the graphics are perhaps a bit dull, but then again the game is supposed to be set at night-time! The sound on the whole is good, not much during the actual game, as it is pretty demanding on the processor, but the overall multimedia aspect contains a high degree of quality.

    This isn't quite good enough to be called a classic, but nonetheless it is very impressive and will last for ages.

    Vertigo -

    There seem to be quite a few of these little isometric 3D puzzlers on the beeb, but this one however is an excellent game, with all the markings of a classic puzzle game. The actual game itself is quite simple, you have to guide the perfectly octahedron shaped ball around the level, which is normally made up of tricky surfaces and structures, to get the diamond at the end of the level, or other object. To make this harder there are lots of cunning 3D structures which can fool you into taking them the wrong way and taking the ball off of the structure, which loses you a life. There are 50 of these levels, divided into 5 sections, which you can use passwords for, but the ultimate aim is to do all 50 without using any passwords, the instructions say that if you can actually complete all of them without using the passwords then you should write to Superior and tell them what happens at the end of the game, and they will send you a certificate. I do not know if they still do this though!

    The graphics in this game are very impressive, the 3d is excellent, and it has loads of features to help you, such as the way that if you go behind a 3D object, you can still see the ball, and therefore not make any mistakes by losing the ball on the screen. The graphics use a high-res dual colour mode, which looks lovely. Although each level is only a single screen large, it does make the game a lot more interesting and easy to get around than some other games like this which require a lot of remembering where everything is in order to traverse the levels. Another impressive thing about this game is the good music which constantly plays throughout the game, even though it gets a bit annoying after a time! Luckily sound controls are included, but this is a very polished and playable game, especially if you like your puzzle games to be a bit more active!

    Perplexity -

    Another big game from Superior, and one which I am told sold very well at the time. It sort of brings together elements of Pac-Man and the Classic Repton, and adds a nice little 3D element to the whole thing. The aim of each of the sixteen sprawling levels is to collect every diamond on the screen, some of these are in view at the start, but a lot of them have to be produced by pushing two of the rocks together, which turns both into diamonds. To hinder your progress there are black boulders which do nothing except get in the way, and monsters which must be avoided (they cannot be destroyed). There are also keys which must be used to open the sections blocked off by doors, and also some rocks conceal magical potions which when collected in fours give you an extra life. To make everything even harder, you have a time limit of 500 seconds to complete each level, and four lives at the start of the game.

    The game plays well, and does actually combine the two aforementioned classics extremely well, in fact it does it so well that I feel the game is almost as good as Repton itself. The game is really original, which is surprising as you would have thought that by the time this was released (1991) there would not have been many good game ideas left to choose, as is unfortunately even more evident now than ever before.

    The graphics on this game are brilliant, a real credit to the programmer (Ian Collinson), the move with excellent pace, they look great, they're varied, and probably some of the best low-res graphics I've seen on the old Beeb. Sound is also quite good, some nice tunes and some good effects, this makes a change to most of the games which ignore sound for the best part of the game. A nice feature is a volume control, which will let you set different volumes, so you can turn the sound down if you still want to hear it, but not quite so loud as the Beeb thinks it should play it to you!

    This game is indicative of the whole of this compilation, a very highly polished and perfected game, and well worth the money for the compilation alone. If you like Repton and Pacman, then you'll love this, and even if you don't then it is still a worthy play, if not to see the 3D graphics moving so well.

    Pipemania -

    I have to say that this is one of my all time favourite puzzle games, probably a close second behind the classic Tetris. I've never come across it on the beeb before, except in an old Micro User type in listing (which was far too long for my humble fingers to type in) called Plumb Lunacy. It has been released on just about every format ever, and I don't feel it has ever gotten the credit it deserves. Basically the plot is superfluous to the game, but it is worth knowing that you are a plumber and have to build a network of piping to take the fluid which is about to be pumped out of the system. You have to build the piping up to a suitable length so that the fluid won't leak out. Each level you are told how many squares the fluid must travel through, and if it travels through any more after that then you earn bonus points. It is not as easy as it sounds though because you cannot choose which type of pipe you put down, it is in a random order, so the key is to think ahead and plan a route for the fluid in your head, then when you get down blocks you need, put them in the relevant places. At times this can get quite hard, particularly if you get a bad run of pipe pieces. There are also special pieces which you can use to get even more points, but which are already placed on the level, and you have to connect them into the system in a suitable way, such as Reservoir pieces which hold more ooze, one way pieces which are pretty self-explanatory, and on some levels, end pieces which must be connected last.

    One of the things I liked best about this game was the fact that there is a two player mode in which each player has a pipe dispenser, and you both have to help to build a pipeline, this can be especially competitive if the other player has different planes on what he wants to do with the pipe network!

    The graphics on this game are hardly inspiring, but they do the job, once you get into this type of game the graphics are the last thing on your mind anyway. The game is played in a high-resolution mode, which makes everything a lot clearer. Sound is also good with the usual puzzle type music droning on the background, it certainly tenses things up in the two-player mode!

    Overall, considering this game is the only non-superior game (it was programmed by Empire Software) it is pretty impressive, and easy to see why it is included, it completes a great compilation.

     Overall -

    This is my favourite Play It Again Sam Disk by far, all the games are great fun to play, and if you only have one PAS disk in your games collection, then this should be it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

    Score: 92%


    Play It Again Sam 17 Review By Crispin Boylan (E4W)

    Available from: Superior Software

    Price: £14.95 (£6 to 8BS members)

    Type of games:

    Summer Olympiad - Sports Tactic - Puzzle/Strategy Master Break - Sporting Quiz Videos Revenge - Shoot em up

    Strangely different to the others, this compilation only features one game actually written by Superior Software, has very sparse instructions (instead of a sheet you get them printed on the inside of the cover) and the packaging is different. I think this was because it was really right at the death of the BBC era, and demand wasn't as high for new games.

    Anyway, on with the review.

    Summer Olympiad -

    This is a game by (in my opinion) the masters of all Sports games, ever, Tynesoft. You may remember Winter Olympiad by them as well, well this is more of the same except from the events are different, they are Fencing, Diving, Hurdles, Triple Jump and Clay Pigeon Shooting. Basically the aim is to do as well in each event as possible, gaining either a Gold, Silver or Bronze, the winner at the end being the one with the most Gold Medals. You can play this game with up to three friends, the places not played by humans being controlled by the BBC. There are three rounds to each event, with your best score over the rounds being the one that counts after all three rounds have been played, then the medals are handed out.

    As you would expect from a game of this type, the gameplay is very varied, and you always feel like playing all the through to the end. In the Fencing you have to touch your opponents body three times with the sword, whilst parrying and blocking his attempts to do the same. It is quite random (at least the way I play it!) although the computer does use a certain amount of skill, whereas I just wiggle the sword around! It is fun though, the only bad thing being that you can't play against an friend, but only against the computer. Triple Jump is next up, and is quite enjoyable, you have to tap the Z and X keys rhythmically to get the jumpers speed up, and then press the spacebar before he hits the white line, the amount of time you press the bar for increasing the angle at which he jumps. This is a very skilled round, but fun. Skeet Shooting is my favourite event, you just have to shoot the clay pigeons which are fired, the winner being the one who hits the most clay pigeons. Hurdles is roughly the same as Triple Jump, with the difference being you have to press the spacebar at the right time in order to jump the fences. This is an annoying event because however hard you try, the computer always seems to win! Diving is fairly straightforward, just use different spins and jumps and try to get as good a landing as possible in order to impress the judges. It is fine in theory, but the moves aren't varied enough, and it is hard to control.

    The graphics are really quite superb in this game, with nice high-resolution screens announcing the different events, and a great opening ceremony view of the games. The game itself is played in low-resolution mode, and in some of the events the colours do clash a bit, but they are drawn very well. The graphics move well, no flicker, and the animation is on the whole quite good. The music is very nice as well, there is great opening scene music, and also music between events, and it is a pleasure rather than a burden to listen to! The whole game is put together excellently, but unfortunately is not as well put together as other Tynesoft games, particularly Winter Olympiad.

    Tactic -

    This one is programmed by a company previously unknown to me, Eterna. The game was originally released on the Acorn Archimedes, and is basically a twist on the age old Tetris theme. This is quite a good idea, particularly on the Beeb, as we have not been blessed with a decent conversion of the old classic yet!

    You have to make certain larger shapes out of the blocks and circles which fall from the top of the screen, this gains you points, but to complete the level you have to make a certain number of specific shapes, which is shown by a number next to each shape which you must create from the blocks. When you make all of these shapes, you have completed the level. The basic shapes you have to make are, three in a horizontal line, three in a vertical line, three in a diagonal line, four in a square shape, and finally a cross shape, made from five shapes. You have to use identical blocks to make each shape. This may sound good, but in practice it is not an ideal game, it just lacks that certain enjoyment factor which you get from Tetris, at times it can become very annoying, and the shapes are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other.

    The graphics are fairly empty, as are most puzzle game graphics, all the shapes are standard fills and shades, and the rest of the screen is blank apart from the walls of the playing area. The one redeeming thing about this is that the game can cope with two players playing at the same time, this can be more competitive, but isn't really brilliant. The sound is also very bland, in fact there isn't much any of it at all.

    Overall, not a brilliant game, but worth a play if you like this sort of thing. It is quite good for two players, but nothing more than average.

    Master Break -

    You may have seen my earlier review on this game, but now its on disk, I think it is worth a few more points. The basic game is a quiz snooker game, with you having to answer questions on a myriad of subjects in order to pot the balls.

    You can play this game with up to four players, and it is definitely not a game for you to play on your own, as you wouldn't play Trivial Pursuit on your own! The games starts with you having to answer a red ball question, which is easy(ish) and only worth one point. Should you get that right, you get a choice of any coloured ball questions, these having the same number of points allocated to them as in the real game of snooker, ie black is the most points, but is also the hardest. You can answer questions on the following topics - Science & Nature, Pop Music, Geography, Sports & Pastimes, The Arts and History. The questions are very testing, and as there are over 1500 of them, they'll keep you going for a while! I did once rumours that Superior was releasing extra question packs for this game, but it never happened, which is a shame.

    The graphics of this game are very bland, and this disappoints me because from a game like this, where not much movement is required, I would at least expect the game to be laid out in a manner which is appealing to the eye, even the loading screen is minimal. The sound is also very boring, again I would have at least expected a musical score to accompany the game, perhaps the entertainer!?

    The game is not well presented, but once you get into it, it can be a very enjoyable game, as long as you don't play it alone! One minor gripe is that a lot of the questions (and not just history ones!) tend to rely on you knowing the year in which something happened, and although you get a choice of four, it is quite repetitive.

    Videos Revenge -

    Oh dear, not another Shoot Em Up, you'd think that by the time 1992 came around (which is when the compilation was originally released) Superior would have realised how hackneyed the whole genre had become, but oh no, they stick this one on us. Written by Alligata, and hardly a classic even when it was originally released, this is the standard shoot everything type of game, no plot at all.

    The twist in this game is that you can either speed up or slow down the craft you are moving in, other than that, not a great deal has changed. You just shoot the aliens coming at you, or dodge them. As in the classic Galaforce, the aliens attack in waves, although they aren't really organised pattern formations as they are in Galaforce. On the whole this is quite pointless, and the gimmick (the speed control of your ship) is entirely unnecessary, as it breaks up the flow of the game.

    The graphics are not gobsmacking, the don't use any technical wizardry to move obscenely fast, they don't make you go wow, in short they are boring. The sound too is minimal, and not very inspiring. I can't really think of anything good to say about this game, other than the fact that it sits somewhere on the pile of Shoot-em-up games just above 'complete drivel' and below 'average shoot-em-up'.

    Overall -

    Four games, one by Superior, and it just happens to be the best of the bunch. None of the games are particularly brilliant, in fact they are all sort of just above mediocre, its hardly surprising, as they were probably scraping the barrel for good games after 16 compilations, although PAS 18, which features Nevryon, E-Type, Holed Out and Citadel 2 certainly sounds better on paper!

    Score: 69%


    Play It Again Sam 19

    Comprising:- A.N. Other, 3D Pool, XLCR, Moonbase Beta.
    Available from:-ProAction  40, Honiton Road Romford ESSEX RM7 9AJ
    Price:- £11.95 ( £8.00 to 8BS members )

    Release Date:- May 1998 !?

    This collection of games, I have been told, are mostly NEW. If this is so, I do not understand the logic of ProAction in releasing them as a compilation rather than singly, which would surely bring in more dosh! That said, 3 ( so far! ) for the price of 1 is OK by me, and I got it for free anyway for doing this review, so I'll get on with it. All I received from Chris was a disc in a plain sleeve. The disc is a flippy, although the software is all on the one side. Chris did mention the possibility of the disc carrying a fourth game when released, and when I contacted ProAction to ask for some instructions for the games I had, I was told that there would indeed be a fourth game when the compilation was released, but they had not as yet finalised which game it would be, as negotiations were still taking place. However, they sent me a copy of the instructions they had prepared, which included those for the game they hope to add to the compilation. This is only the second review I have written, both have been of ProAction releases, and both times I have had to contact them for help.  STRIKE TWO for them as far as destructions go. Whilst I appreciate that ProAction are trying to do us all a great service by continuing to publish software in a dwindling market ( and I really DO wish them success ), I feel that perhaps they ought to take a little more time to prepare their wares. Anything offered for critical analysis by an impartial observer ( posh talk for a review ) should be a finished item. I also appreciate that there is a financial risk for ProAction, but hey, that goes with the territory, and a few bad reviews of their products due to incomplete or poor presentation will not help their cause. It don't matter how good any software claims to be if you can't get to use it. My shelves, and probably yours too, have several probably excellent pieces of software on them that are unused cos I can't suss out how to use them, the programs that is, not the shelves. OUCH! Somebody just kicked my soapbox away, so I guess it is time to get on with the reviews.

    XLCR

    Little purple blobs emanate at random from all four sides of the screen border, travelling to the opposite side in a straight line. You control a maze-like box which starts in the middle of the screen. If a blob reaches the opposite side, or hits your box, you lose energy. Your energy level is shown on a thermometer-like display to one side. The box has several ordinary entrances around it, and the idea is to position the box so that a blob enters one of these entrances, travels through the box to exit from another side, and is now harmless. It will now bounce off a border or hit your box without you losing energy, but you must quickly reposition your box so that the blob enters one of the special killer entrances. This destroys the blob and replenishes your energy.

    The catch is that whilst you are doing this, other blobs are still doing their thing, and you will be losing energy. The box only moves at the same speed as the blobs, and must be stationary when a blob enters it, so you can't catch up with a blob, or catch it on the move. Several seconds may elapse with no blobs at all, then suddenly loadsa blobs appear at the same time ( I wonder if the author spent a lot of time at bus stops? ), and due to their random nature it is most often pure luck to be in the right place to intercept one. The entrances are VERY narrow, and it is VERY difficult to position the box accurately.

    After playing the game for a while with minimal success, the thought came to mind that it was like trying to keep a leaky bucket full by using the water that is leaking out of it. The high-score table claims a VERY high top score, which I find totally unbelieveable, of 10,000. My top score after two hours was 60, even with me bins on. You may laugh, but I challenge you to do better.

    Two pieces of music accompany the game. The one whilst the title screen and instructions are being displayed sadly cannot be turned off. The other one during gameplay can, as can the usual sort of sci-fi beeps and bloops sound effects. Thankfully my audio output is via my monitor, which has a volume control, which I very soon used whilst reading the instructions, although the gameplay music is OK if kept low.

    The graphics are minimal yet perfectly adequate, and the concept of the game is good yet simple, but I found it just too difficult for me to play. Apparently the game has further levels beyond the initial screen, but I hold no hopes of ever seeing what they are like unless ( whisper it softly ) someone writes a cheat for it. I went back to the game several times before writing this, but it didn't get any easier. It will join many other games that spend far more time on the shelf than in the disc drive, which is a shame, because if it was a little easier to play, I think I could find it very addictive.

    AN EMAIL REACTION TO THIS REVIEW:
    Subject:
                 X*L*C*R on "Play It Again Sam 19"
            Date:
                 Mon, 26 Oct 1998 17:25:26 +0000 (GMT)
           From:
                 Michael Grant <msgrant@cee.hw.ac.uk>
        Reply-To:
                 Michael Grant <M.S.Grant@hw.ac.uk>
     Organization:
                 "Miskatonic University, Trinovant, Eng^H^H^HScotland"
             To:
                 chris
     
     
     

    Hello; I stumbled across your review of my BBC game X*L*C*R on "Play
    It Again Sam 19" whilst, er, doing a websearch for an email address
    I'd forgotten to write down. ;^)

    <snip>
    > The catch is that whilst you are doing this, other blobs are still
    > doing their thing, and you will be losing energy. The box only moves
    > at the same speed as the blobs, and must be stationary when a blob
    > enters it, so you can't catch up with a blob, or catch it on the move.
    > Several seconds may elapse with no blobs at all, then suddenly loadsa
    > blobs appear at the same time ( I wonder if the author spent a lot of
    > time at bus stops? ), and due to their random nature it is most often
    > pure luck to be in the right place to intercept one.

    Well, if you spend most of your free time in the centre of the screen
    you'll be able to catch most beads before it's too late.

    > The entrances are VERY narrow, and it is VERY difficult to
    > position the box accurately.

    This is true.

    > After playing the game for a while with minimal success, the thought
    > came to mind that it was like trying to keep a leaky bucket full by
    > using the water that is leaking out of it.

    A good strategy I find is to head for energy-loss minimisation --
    catching new beads takes priority over killing tranformed ones.

    > The high-score table claims a VERY high top score, which I find
    > totally unbelieveable, of 10,000.

    Since when did you ever believe in scores that high? It's supposed to
    provide motivation to get that far and find out what happens (there's
    special effects after completing wave 20 (10800 points). But this is a
    game in which the further you go, the easier it is to earn points.

    > My top score after two hours was 60, even with me bins on. You may
    > laugh, but I challenge you to do better.

    Challenge taken up. I _once_ managed to get enough points to complete
    wave 10 (5400); but this was a prerelease version which had a bug
    preventing wave 10 from being completed. :-( I ended up dying with
    5520 points.

    But I've never been good at completing games. I know there are people
    out there who complete all these games; someone who was just a
    _little_ bit better than me -- and my performance at this game
    plateaued after about three weeks -- should be able to finish wave
    ten, after which it's back to a wave 1 equivalent with an invisible
    Yu; so they'd be able to get to nearly wave 20 with no problems. And
    after wave 20 it's back to a wave 1 equivalent with a different Yu; so
    they should be able to get to at least wave 25 with little difficulty.

    And lest you say I'm prejudiced, I've known other people get past 60
    points within a couple of hours. ;^)

    > Two pieces of music accompany the game. The one whilst the title
    > screen and instructions are being displayed sadly cannot be turned
    > off.

    Well, there's always good old *fx 210 1 . ;^b

    > The other one during gameplay can, as can the usual sort of
    > sci-fi beeps and bloops sound effects. Thankfully my audio output is
    > via my monitor, which has a volume control, which I very soon used
    > whilst reading the instructions, although the gameplay music is OK if
    > kept low.

    You think? It drives me nuts after a few cycles, and I wrote it! :-)

    > The graphics are minimal yet perfectly adequate, and the concept of
    > the game is good yet simple, but I found it just too difficult for me
    > to play.

    When I submitted it to Superior in 1991 they wrote "We found the game
    fun to play and well presented. [...] Certainly it is unique in its
    concept". But the recession killed off what was left of the BBC market
    and Superior Software shut up shop on the eight-bit machines; and that
    was the last I expected to hear of it until David Bradforth got in
    touch with me out of the blue last year.

    The game's going to be going out on a Risc User cover disc (once I
    finally find David Bradforth's email address); after which it'll be
    public domain and on the Risc User website. I'm intending to submit it
    to the other BBC fan websites too.

    > Apparently the game has further levels beyond the initial
    > screen, but I hold no hopes of ever seeing what they are like unless (
    > whisper it softly ) someone writes a cheat for it.

    Well, you could always ask the author... ;^b

    > I went back to the
    > game several times before writing this, but it didn't get any easier.
    > It will join many other games that spend far more time on the shelf
    > than in the disc drive, which is a shame, because if it was a little
    > easier to play, I think I could find it very addictive.

    *sigh* Oh well. My brother was going to write a 32-bit version; but
    that seems to have run out of oomph.
     

     

    3-D Pool

    This is a good game. So good that it adds to my puzzlement at ProAction's marketing strategy: this one definitely should have been published on its own. Still, it's our gain that it has been put on this compilation, cos as I said before, it IS good.

    The game screen is a view of a pool table. No surprise there if you check the title. What did impress me was that unlike some other snooker or pool games that I have played where you have only an overhead view, and an 'elastic cursor' which determines the direction and speed of your shot, in this version you can walk round the table ( well, you stay still and the table revolves ), as well as take a look from above or at table-level or anywhere in between, and even zoom in for a close-up. Whilst all this is happening, the perspective is maintained ( even down to the foreground balls being larger than those in the background ) which really does give a good impression of looking at a real table.

    You can practise playing against the computer, or play in a tournament, or just watch a demo. There is no time limit, so you can take your time to wander round the table and consider your options before playing your next shot. This is very worthwhile, because as you alter your viewpoint, a truer position of each ball is seen ( a ball that looks to be hanging on the lip of the pocket in one view, can show up to be actually just beyond it when seen from another ), letting you line up your shots more accurately. Some shoe leather can be saved during your perambulations by pressing just one key and being instantly transported to the opposite side from where you was.

    You play 'up' the screen, and can alter the power and/or any spin you wish to put on each shot. A double hit of the return key is needed to play a shot, so it is virtually impossible to mis-cue and rip the baize. My one slight niggle is that one set of balls are light red and the other set is dark red ( or light and dark blue if you discover the unlisted key which effects the colour-change ), and this can make it hard to distinguish one from t'other when they are all clustered together, but this is quite easily sorted by standing on tiptoe and taking a look from above.

    The sound effects are appropriate to the game, and as your ( computer ) opponent sometimes plays shots off the screen, you hope not to hear the clunk of the ball dropping in the pocket to know that the shot was made. Apart from my minor whinge about the ball colours, the graphics really are excellent, and show just what our old steam-driven Beebs are capable of. This is a very good game to play, and one which I would recommend you to add to your collection, if only to be amazed by the graphics.

    Moonbase Beta

    In this game, you control a cute little yellow robot on its wanderings around what looks to be a VERY large Moonbase. I make this assumption based on the need to complete the mission by 12:00 and, according to the continuously-running clock in the corner of the screen, the fact that you start the mission at 9:00! There is a bomb to defuse ( hence the 12:00 deadline ), and also a spacecraft to blow up, and various items too many to list must be found and used before you can achieve these objectives. Of course, there is a catch to all this, in that as you try to find your way around and find the items, you are constantly under attack from aliens which deplete your energy level if they hit you. I really should say WHEN they hit you, cos some of them are virtually impossible to avoid, and even when you do, they chase you! There are also various other perils, but you will find these, and how to overcome them, as you play through the game. I said earlier that there were too many items to list; the truth is that I don't think that I have so far completed even a small part of the game and therefore don't know what or where they all are, but I am still trying. ( Who shouted 'VERY'? Was that you, Neil? ) There is no music with the game, but the aliens are a noisy bunch when they hit you, so thankfully the sound can be toggled on and off whilst the game is paused. When I first loaded this game and started to play it, I did not expect to enjoy it because it looked like a 'zap-the-aliens' type of game. True, there are aliens in it, but you cannot zap them so you have to try to avoid them. The game is in fact more of a puzzle ( with attitude ), and it is probably for this reason that I keep going back to it. The colours used on the early sections that I have so far managed to explore have been mostly red and yellow ( I have since found cyan, but the following still applies ), which I found a bit too garish so I turned down the brightness so I could take me shades off. The graphics are nonetheless really rather good, and carry a lot of detail. Special Agent Sid ( our cute little hero ) moves around very smoothly, and there is a very nice routine with the doors, which I go through quite often cos it is fun to watch. This is another game, like 3D Pool, which I feel is strong enough to stand on its own, and by its inclusion only makes the compilation an even better buy.

    REPTON 3

    Four Game Compilation ( also includes Repton Thru Time, Around The World In 40 Screens, and Life Of Repton )

    Available From:-ProAction 40,Honiton Road Romford Essex RM7 9AJ Price:-£11.05( £8.05 to 8BS Members ) Format:-Various, to suit all 8-Bit machines

    For those of you who have previously seen the results of me being let loose on a wordprocessor, and don't fancy wading through yards of woffle, I have put my concluding paragraph here at the top.

    Repton 3 is one of the all-time classic games for our machines, and now that it has been released with all its subsequent add-ons contained in the one package, it really is the time to add it to your collection. It has all the addictive qualities that should really require it to carry a Health Warning on the cover. However, the game being as good as it is, I cannot do other than recommend this compilation to anyone who is looking for a game that is at once simple yet challenging. The graphics are good without being gimmicky, and respond very quickly to keyboard input. Although the Screen Editor offers the possibility of endless new variations, the game as it stands does have the potential to actually be completed. So many other games only offer the chance to beat a previous- highest score, relying heavily on your speed of reaction, ie how quickly you can press the Fire button. Some of the screens in Repton also require this fast and accurate fingerwork, but by no means all. The facility to pause the game and study a map, or go and make a cup of tea, or phone a friend for advice, means that mostly there is the time to think ahead and solve the next puzzle on each game-screen. This is not to say that you need to have a high forehead to both play and enjoy the game; my 8-year- old son has been playing it for the past 3 years, and has quite often amazed ( and thoroughly annoyed ) me by casually waltzing through a puzzle which had sent my frown muscles into overdrive. ( I can still knock his bloomin socks off at draughts though! ) To sum up:- If you ain't got it yet, GET IT NOW!

    The more adventurous among you, seekers after truth, anyone who is waiting for the kettle to boil, anyone who CAN get a good picture on Channel 5 but wants something more interesting, should read on. Remember, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED...........

    I am not a games reviewer. Cries of 'Gerrahtovit then!' do I hear? No, what I am trying to say is that I am not an EXPERIENCED reviewer of games. In fact this is my first effort at putting finger to key in this field, so even I don't know what will happen in the next few paragraphs!

    I do know that I won't be comparing this game with any other; there really are none to compare it to. I am not a great fan of zap-it-if-it- moves games; I prefer those that offer their challenge in the form of a puzzle, giving the grey cell a workout as well as the fingers. That is why, when Chris gave me the choice, I jumped at the chance to review this particular game, or perhaps I should say suite of games.

    The package I got from Chris had two 5.25" 80-track discs ( only side 0 of each with software on ) and one 3.5" ADFS disc ( this format  intended for the Compact but seems to work OK on my Master ) along with a sheet carrying instructions for Game-play and use of the Screen Editor, all contained in the familiar A5-ish sized wallet. Some parts of the sheet I found very difficult to read, and there was no mention of the three games accompanying Repton 3. There is room on the discs for a title screen which could have listed their filenames, this would have been a nice touch and was actually what I expected to find as they were not on the sheet. If like me you are familiar with the Game and the Editor ( the Screen Editor, not Chris ) then you won't need to read the instructions anyway. I wrote to ProAction about the omission and David Bradforth very kindly phoned me and, amongst other things, said that the sheet I had received was only an interim measure, and that future versions would be more legible and also contain the names of all the screen-files.

    What can one say about Repton 3 that has not already been said? It is poorly designed, the graphics are lousy, the puzzles present no real challenge, it is boring to play and totally unaddictive. All these things have not already been said about it, but only because they are not true! This tiny character stands tall amongst the all-time greats of computer games. Enough of the purple prose already! What I am trying to say is that this game, unlike so many others before and since, is easy to learn and play yet can be so frustratingly difficult to master.

    Repton is the eponymous ( look it up, I had to ) character which you move around the tunnels whilst collecting diamonds, releasing trapped spirits, avoiding deadly spreading fungus, dodging falling rocks and eggs which hatch into hungry monsters when disturbed. All this is accompanied by some gentle sound effects and a jolly-but-repetitive tune, either of which can be turned on or off at the status screen. A crown must be collected and a timebomb defused before each screen can be finished. This is not as easy as it might sound; whilst some of the tunnel walls can be dug through, others are impervious rock. Those walls which can be dug through often result in rocks falling; either onto Repton, resulting in the loss of a life, or into a tunnel and blocking it, thus preventing access to other parts of the screen. Sometimes there is a transporter to get you to the parts you could not otherwise reach but, even using these, most screens still need to be played in a particular sequence to enable successful completion. All this must be done within a time limit, although this is usually fairly generous, and the status screen tells you how much time you have left.

    Although filling the monitor screen, only a part of each entire game-screen is actually displayed during play, so choosing the best route is not easy. The game gives the option of viewing a map for some ( but not all ) of the screens, at any time during play. Careful study of those which are available ( the timer freezes when the maps or the status screen are displayed ) should enable you to work out the best route to success, but for the rest it is down to trial and ( very often, much ) error! Even with the aid of the maps, it can still take a orful lot of practise, and patience, as well as some nimble finger-work, to complete each screen.  Make certain that you are sitting on a comfortable chair, as the addiction-quotient of this game is rather high, and you are liable to be sat there for some time!

    Having completed a screen, its code-number is displayed; make a note of this as you will need it for access if you wish to use the Screen  Editor to alter that particular screen. The title of the next screen is then displayed, and off you go again. There is no facility for saving the game up to the point you are at, but this need not be a problem, as I will  explain later.

    Repton has been around since being released onto our screens by Superior Software in the summer of 1986. Followed about 6 months later by Repton 2, there was then a gap of about a year until the release of the imaginatively-titled Repton 3, upon which this compilation is based. I referred to this earlier as a suite of games; in reality, the three titles accompanying Repton 3 should be regarded as extra screen files rather than games in their own right. Repton assumes different guises appropriate to the location or era of each file ( Clint Eastwood in one! ), and all the other screen elements ( walls, rocks, diamonds, monsters etc ) are also suitably altered. However, the game is played in exactly the same way, albeit that the layout and puzzles differ from screen to screen.

    Although the title of Repton 3 did not show much imagination, this was more than made up for by the amount of thought that went into the real  difference from the earlier versions - a Screen Editor. This meant the layout of each of its 24 game-screens could be re-designed, as could the various component parts which make up the screens. This further allowed the possibility of designing totally new screens and puzzles, and there are several examples of these to be found in the 8BS pool. The Editor can be a bit tricky to get used to ( this seems to be true of all editors, be they human or machine....... ) and great care needs to be taken to ensure that you don't lose a screen that you have spent maybe several hours working on ( as I did, several times! ), but once you do get the hang of it, it really is a pleasure to use.

    As I said earlier, Repton 3 had 24 screens altogether, contained in 3 separate files, with 8 screens in each file. With the addition of all those from the three subsequent releases, this compilation contains 17 differently-themed files, and a massive total of 136 ( yes, one hundred and thirty six ) screens! Each of the screens has a different title, the first screen in each file also being the title of that file. This lets you load any screen from within a file, rather than having to start at the first screen each time. Of course, you need to find out the names of the screens before you can do this; either by playing through the screens in sequence or, as the game has been around for so long, getting hold of a list of all the screen titles and code numbers ( there are also various cheats which can give you infinite time/lives etc, some written by otherwise respectable editors! TUT! 'nuffsaid. ), but I am sure I can rely on you to find these out for yourself by solving each screen in turn, can't I? Be sure that if you do decide to take some short cuts, you will be found out! Should you manage to finish a file of screens in one sitting, a message will be displayed. If you have used some cheats to get there, the message will tell you to go back and start again. Of course, I have never used these cheats, and so have not seen the message, but this is what I have been told. Quick, duck, here comes another flying pig!

    In conclusion, the summary is at the beginning, remember? P.S. You may wonder why Repton 3, which was originally published by Superior Software over ten years ago, and still features ( along with its  sequels ) in their catalogue, is now being offered by ProAction, albeit in the form of the logical next step, ie Repton 3 and sequels all in the one package? I certainly did, and wrote to both parties inviting their comments. Both have now replied and, as I understand it, Superior intend to continue supplying existing software from their catalogue in tandem with ProAction, who will also be publishing any new software.

    Paul Clucas (K6X)


    SUPERIOR COLLECTION vol 1

    Available from: SUPERIOR SOFTWARE  PO BOX 6  BRIGG  S.HUMBERSIDE  DN20 9NH
    Price: 11.95    BBC Micro & Master Series (DFS)

    This collection has a total of eight games that can be categorised  under shoot 'em up, beat 'em up, platforms and ladders, and maze type  games. There are four games on each side of the disc, don't do what we  did and waste ten minutes trying to work out how to get to side two!  Well nobody's perfect eh, just turn the disc over and back in the  drive (and this fella made it to 24?)    There is somthing for everybody here! With all eight of the games  covering a host of age groups with titles such as REPTON, and STAR  STRIKER.    SYNCRON:  This is the new boy on the block, SUPERIOR SOFTWARE have added  this game to seven of their other classics, it is a vertical scrolling  shoot 'em up.     The gen on this one is this. You must blast your way through 16  missions, during each of these missions you have to collect a bunch of  power orbs. But you must also find the enemies Headquarters and  destroy it which is, of course your primary target once you have all  of the power orbs.    Be carfull though, each orb is heavily defended by rocket launchers  and enemy space craft (wicked evil aliens). Once you've found it you  blast away at the orb which is located within a container. When you  have the orb you must then return it to one of your bases. You can  find out how many orbs on the status screen. This screen gives you all  sorts of info on your current mission.    This game is filled with loads and loads of blasting and bombimg,  quite enough for the shoot 'em up fans out there, but maybee it won't  hold your attention for very long.    Graphics monochrome but detailed, well defined sprites if a  little dificult to see    Playabillity takes a little time to get used to the speed of the  game, but quite fun to play    Sound very little in the way of sound here, a few blip and  spot effects    Overall V.good, difficult at first but as you get the knack it  become a challenge
     

    REPTON:

    Yes this old chestnut, but what a chest nut it is eh! This was  THE game to play back when I was just a wee sproot at school, and it's  still my personal favorite now at 24.    I have spent hours on this one, it's by far the most adictive of them  all, it's a real brain teaser this one. The deal is to guide the  little green guy (called Repton funily enough) round 12 different  mazes collecting these massively over proportioned diamonds and trying  to avoid the monsters that you inadvertantly let loose and can run  about 200 times faster than you can (hmmmm, not fair).      To collect the diamonds that are placed in extremely awkward spots. To  get to them you must move rocks and things by pushing them down holes  or dropping them onto others. But beware, although this sounds quite  simple I can assure you that it's definately NOT as there are various  obsticles to deal with. These take the form of EGGS that contain these  lizard type creatures. If you break one of these eggs by pushing it  off a ledge or somthing like this, the weird monster hatches and  proceeds to chase you all over the level waving its arms about a lot.  You can kill these by crushing them with rocks if your luky enough.  They are quite thick however, if they have walls between them and you,  they don't think to walk round the wall.    With a neat password facillity and some other cool touches, Repton is  a game that will have you comming back for more when all the others  have lost your interest.    Graphics not brilliant but quite colourful mode 5 graphics    Playabillity exelent, you'll be hard pushed to find a more playable  game    Sound a catchy in-game tune, good if a bit repetative, you  can turn it off too    Overall 10 out of 10

    KARATE COMBAT:

    Hmmmmmmmm. Where to start with this one. Well, according  to the instructions it's set in the 'realm of the mystic orient'. That  may as well be, but that doesn't make up for the awkward controls and  lack of interest that this game holds for me.    DONT'T get me wrong, this could be quite a good game if you have the  patientce to suss out the controls.    OK, enough of that! The game has you cast as this tiny oriental dude  wearing a pair of pygamas ('that's a GEE stupid' the wife), and the  idea is that you fight a series of bouts against an opponent. You then  have to beat the hell out of him until his energy runs out using  flying kicks, high and low punches, blocks and sweeps. But watch it,  the other guy will be trying his best to do the exact same to you only  he's better than you.    There are 15 fights you knuckle your way through until you get to the  Master. Having not got past the first fight I can only speculate that  he's this old dude of about 90 that can kick and punch at a 100 miles  an hour, like the baddie out of a Buce Lee film. Deafete him and you  get the title of the master.    The game has a practice mode to fine tune your moves, which is a good  idea as if your anything like me you will probably need it.    OK fair enough, I don't like the game but I'bet there is a host of  people out there who'll lap it up, just beware if you don't have much  patientce though.      Graphics nothing mutch here, basic but there is a lot of detail  on the sprites, adequate would be accurate    Playabillity difficult at first, requires a little patientce    Sound just a few smack and whack effects    Overall probably good in the long term, but you'll have to  persivere to get anywhere with this one

    STAR STRIKER:

    Cool game this one! How many remember SPACE INVADERS?  Well this is it with a few neat touches thown in to spice things up a  bit.    OK, down to buisness. You have 3 space ships that can join together  (cool eh) that you can eventually transform into a mega space fighter.  You blast you way through several waves of aliens with your little  ship. If you get killed then you loose one of you ships and  effectivley 1 third of your mega fighter.     At the end of each section you must dock your ship onto the next one.  If you do it alright then you continue from there with a larger  fighter made out of the two. This gives you extra speed and fire power  for the next round.    If you get through all the stages then you go back to section one and  do it all over again, but it's harder and faster this time round.    Ther is not mutch here granted and the idea is quite antiquated but it  works well enough here. Good fun to play and can get to be a bit of a  vendetta.    Graphics colourfull, mode 5, and quite attractive    Playabillity extremely (to the point!)    Sound a few blips and spots and rumbles, but who cares?    Overall in a word, brilliant. Fast and furious, fun to play

    AIR LIFT:

    Ever wanted to fly a helicopter? Well now is your chance,  sort of. You have to fly about this amazingly fat town, where all the  houses are identical and for some reason there are all these tanks  rolling round blowing up these amazingly samey houses.    You are armed with an infinate number of bombs, just were they are  kept is bit of a mystery but you have them all the same. Use these  bombs to blow up the tanks before they total the town.    If and when the tanks bomb the houses, you are required to resue the  survivors and transport them to the local hospital. You do this until  there are no more house left standing, then the houses get rebuilt in  record time and you must do it all again. This does get quite  repetative after a while.    The way to do it is to hver over a house and when it gets bombed just  low the tank up and then land to resucue the survivors.    Baisically there is nothing more to this game than that! It may be  good for the sprogs in the familiy.    Graphics plain but smooth mode 5 graphics, very colourfull too    Playabillity it does get extremely repetative and it's baisically  doing the same thing all the time (hhhmmmmmmm)    Sound spot effects and a few explosions do nothing for this  game    Overall there is not a lot here to keep you for very long

    BMX ON THE MOON:

    Quite a funny one this is!    Right then, in this game you owm a 'MOON CYCLE' as the instructions  descibe it, and your job is to bomb around the surface of the moon and  avoid a selection meanies including space ships, bombs for the space  ships, rocks and other unusual items that you just wouldn't find on  the moon.    I had a great time with this one learning to judge the gaps between  craters that the bombs leave in the ground. There is always plenty of  stuff happening on the screen so don't let you concentration slip for  long.    Again there is not mutch here, but this is what appeals to me about  this one, simple yet fun to play. The game is just so constant that  jou tend to forget this fact and carry on playing as the further you  get into the game, the further you want to get.    It becomes quite a vendetta at times as you want to get just that bit  further, but some how that alien always manages to bomb you.    Graphics not mutch at all here but you tend not to notice. What  graphics there are are smooth and colourfull.    Playabillity in my opinion you will have hours of fun with this one.  It's not a stunning game but it can get very  challenging. The action is smooth and fast.    Sound not a lot in the way of sound here, all the usual  including the complementry annoying drone of your bike.    Overall a good little number this one, a bit plain and simple  but it's challenging and fun to play, one to come back  to again and again.

    WALLABY:

    This is a platforms and ladders game with a twist, you play  the part of a boxing wallaby. There are five screens of ever  increasing difficulty.    The idea is to resue your baby that has been kidnapped by these  monkeys that for some reason have locked it in a cage. You must work  your way to the top of the scren vai ladders and gantries to where  your baby is and free it. All the while these annoying little monkeys  (get it?) try to kill you by throwing apple cores at you (eruch,  gross).    You have a number of lives at the start bu these will quickly dwindle.  There are fruit and bells scattered around the levels, collect the  fruit for points and punch the bell to reveal fruit that are worth  more points.    You can punch the apple cores and mokeys if you're lucky, but you must  not stay still to long or you'll get an apple core on the bonce, this  game can get very frustrating but I suggest that you persivere.    Graphics simple and colourfull if a bit jerky, the sprites are  well defined and very attractive.    Playabillity extremley fun to play even if the learing curve is a  bit high at first, not the best game in the world  but definatley one that I recomend.    Sound there is still nothing special here, but the effects  are more than up to standard.    Overall a good game that takes a bit of getting used to but  very good fun indeed.

    SMASH and GRAB:

    In this platforms and ladders game you are a rouge bank  robber. The idea is to grab the bags of money that fall from the top  of the screen. To do this you must negociate a screenfull of platforms  while avoiding the bobie who'll do his best to nick you. Collect a set  number of these bags and you go on to the next stage.    The controls are a bit dodgy so you must be very accurate in  controlling your robber. There are these police boxes at the sides of  the screen, if you boot one while it's light is flashing then you get  certain bonuses, like stopping the bobie or halting the bags of dosh  so you can get them.    The game can get very frustrating as the difficulty is set a bit too  high in my opinion. I have not managed to clear the first stage yet!    Graphics good, colourful and amusing graphics that will bring a  smile to your face.    Playabillity there is bags of potential here if you have the  patientce, maybee a little too difficult all at once.    Sound nothing special but there are some spot effects that  after a while can get quite repetative.    Overall one that you will come back to when all the fancy  flashing lights of the more dressed up games have lost  their challenge. Very amusing, but maybee for the  younger player?    There is something here for everybody, well worth a look at in my  opinion. Great value for money.    E2K
     

    The Superior Collection Volume 2

    Software Review For 8BS Member ID: E4W Name: Crispin Boylan Phone: 01296 668140

    Having just raked my old beeb out from the loft, given it a good dusting down and fired up the old work horse, I then began to start reliving the memories of '89, by playing all my old BBC games. This I found much better than using my 'new' 486dx2/66, just two button presses and you're away! Amongst my collection of copies (shhhhhhh! don't tell anyone!) and originals (yes, I do have some!) I have Superior Collection Volume 1, this I like very much, for it's odd, but varied collection of games, 8 in all, which were the first ever games I bought for my Beeb. Well, when I recently became a member of 8BS, I saw that reviewing games was available and further talk with Chris (our humble editor) it became apparent that I could have the opportunity to review the Superior Collection 2, which I instantly went for, but well, we all know the saying about the sequel never being as good as the original, but just look at the Play It Again Sam collections, 16 sequels there, and not one of them is totally bad! Well on receiving this new compilation, I noticed the following details which you may also like to know: Supplier: Superior Software Price: £11.95 (8BS members: £6) Type of game: Various Scenario: Various Size: Various

    Don't worry all will be explained later, to be complete, here are the 8 games which come with the collection: Kix, Repton 2, Space Pilot, DeathStar, Overdrive, Battletank, Missile Strike and last but not least, Crazy Painter. I will head the section for each game individually, so here we go with

    Repton 2

    This is the second in the series of Repton games (no kidding) and in my opinion it is not the best. It consists of the usual (and always fun) running around after diamonds, killing monsters, avoiding rock falls etc, puzzle come platform style game. However, the format of this game is changed significantly, making the game a lot harder. In Repton 2, the levels are a lot bigger than in the other games, the goal of the game (its a toughie) is to complete all of these tasks: a. collect all 4744 earth sections b. collect all 1634 diamonds c. kill all 18 monsters d. use all 64 transporters e. collect all 42 jigsaw puzzle pieces f. collect the finish character Completing one of these tasks is hard, but all of them, well you better have your brain in puzzle mode, because if you don't there will be a lot of restarts, I can assure you! I actually like this game a lot, I think it provides a great challenge, and a change from the other Repton games. The graphics are fairly smooth, but a lot of flicker can be seen, particularly with the monster sprites, but this never really detracts from the game. The sound is a plinky plonky tune, pleasing to hear, but a bit repetitive, I like the Repton 1 tune better. Being a 16 year old brought up with the supposed delights of the Sega and Nintendo gaming diets, I think this game has a hell of a lot more going for it than about 70% of games do at the moment, definitely one I would recommend to accomplished platformers and puzzlers alike. This is a fairly large six level game, bearing in mind that the levels are BIG, so plenty to keep you going. Verdict: Hard to get into, but ultimately satisfying. Score: 78% Next up we have.......

    Deathstar

    This is a bog standard shootah, with a bit of a nice twist. I like this game a lot, it sort of reminds me of defender, but with a bit less manic style gameplay. The main story is that you are controlling a little ship, you have to fly around space, shooting the small planetoids which occasionally float by, when you shoot these you must collect the small starbombs which are emitted.  Your main opponent is the DeathStar, the Workers and the Warriors. The workers and warriors are ships which try to hinder your collection of the starbombs, Warriors shoot at you, generally distracting you from collecting starbombs, whilst Workers try to collect any starbombs which may be flying loose from the planetoids. Whilst you are busy collecting starbombs, the workers are busy building the DeathStar, this is a big flying construction, when all 20 pieces are in place, it comes after you, contact in it involves certain death, an explosion and a crackling sound from the beeb. The way to destroy the DeathStar is to release starbombs when it is on screen, eventually it will explode, and you can progress to the next level. I think this is quite a good system, nice set of tasks to do, but really an excuse for blowing up stuff........nothing wrong there then! The graphics are small sprites, with nice colours, and generally scrolling is good, very smooth and you can work up quite a fast pace on this game, a good adrenaline pumper! Its a bit repetitive, but then again all shoot 'em ups are, I would say this is an above average one though. I like the sounds, they are nice and spacey, fairly standard though. There are five levels to play, with a bonus one in between, so if you like shoot 'em ups, then this is a good game for you. Verdict: Above average shoot 'em up, with a plot......good! Score: 75%

    Space Pilot

    When I played this game first, having first played death star, I thought - wow, Deathstar in a plane, and in a way I was right. This is almost the exact same game as Death Star, the main sprite is the same, the plot is almost the same, but simpler. You are in a special plane which has accidentally been thrown into the past, your only way to get through the time zones is to shoot down as many of the planes you meet as you can, then finally destroying a boss sort of ship. On each level there are a certain number of planes you must shoot down, these planes vary according to the time zone, in 1916 its Bi-Planes, 1940 is Spitfires, and progressing through helicopters, jets and finally UFOs. I should say that this is in fact a complete copy of Deathstar and therefore not very original, but I somehow have managed to get attached to it, its very playable. Its the sort of game where when you die you think, 'just have one more go' and then this of course goes on for hours. The sound is bog standard beeping and crashing noises, and graphics are average, but adequate for the game.  Verdict: Game play shines through here, I just can't think what it is that makes me prefer this over Deathstar! Score: 85% And now for.....

    Missile Strike

    Ok, ok, this isn't really an original game, more like an arcade conversion, however I think this is a highly polished version of Missile Command, ok, so Missile Command is hardly a contender for complex/ game of the year, but it has all the good elements of a classic, the great and original gameplay, the fairly weedy graphics, showing once again that Graphics maketh not a good game. The plot, in case you don't know is that you (a sort of army base) is being bombed by the enemy, you must launch missiles at your opponents missiles, to try and blow them up before they hit the installations, and eventually kill you. This is quite hard at times, keyboard is not the best method for playing this game, joystick, or preferably mouse would help, but I suppose you just have to get used to it. Sometimes with about 8 or 9 opponent missiles raining down on you, you do find it a bit difficult to cope with, but its fun all the same! Later on in the game (it is virtually infinite levels, like space invaders) you do get things like homing missiles to cope with, adding some variation, this is a real skill game, especially for your co-ordination! I do like the sound though, it has a nice whoosh sound for launching missiles, very realistic! Verdict: A great clone of the arcade machine, but joystick support would be preferable. Score: 80% Time now to go straight to....

    Battle Tank

    Well Superior, you've got the combo right so far, up until now, that is. This has to be the worst game on the compilation, I just do not like it. It is a nice try at a 3d sort of environment, you drive a tank, move around, and shoot other enemy tanks, well you're supposed to. The keyboard response on this game stinks, the tank moves like a pig, and before you can turn enough to get the enemy in your sights, he blows you up! The graphics are fairly low resolution, and all wire frame, but very uncomplex. I don't really want to say too much about this game, because I don't want it to seem like I'm moaning, but I never played it for very long and I don't suppose I ever will. Sound is limited to say the least, graphics are poor and speed is sloooooooooowwwwwwwww. Verdict: Limited game, limited movement, limited everything. Score: 40% (and that's pushing it) after that one, lets have one to cheer us up........

    Overdrive

    Racing games have always been few and far between on the Beeb, on the serious side you have the classic Revs, and on the lighter side of things there's Stock Car from Program Power, and after that I can't think of any more. Well now there are three good racers because this is a fun little game, with a 3d look, and some nice graphical touches. The objective is simple, pass as many cars as you can, enough to send the counter into the blue section, doing this will allow you to progress to the next stage in the Driving Championship which consists of five stages, including night, snow, desert and riverside. These stages have few differences, but enough to make you think they are individual. Night has the effect of you not being able to see other cars until it's almost too late, snow makes you slide, and I never reached riverside, so I can't say.  The impressive thing about this game is the speed, you get a really good sensation of speed, and if you have a great co-ordination, or want a bit of high speed racing, just pump it up to full speed and watch yourself plough into the first car you meet! Luckily you don't have lives, just a timer, so you can crash as many times as you like, but it does slow you down. The sound is quite good on this game, with crashes and a nice engine sound, which sounds a bit funny at top speed, but makes you laugh! The car has a nice movement, good graphics, and a great sense of speed, play it, go on! Verdict: Its not realistic, but who needs realism when you have fun! Play Play PLAY! Score: 83%

    Kix

    This is another arcade conversion, and a damn fine one at that! This is based on the age old game, who's name I do not know, the object is simple, try to capture as much of the screen as you can, by fencing off parts of it with your laser cutting device. To stop you from doing this, you are chased around the quadrant (the name of the playing arena) by Tracers, and if they touch you, then you die! Also there is a big swirly thing which moves randomly around inside the quadrant, and if it touches part of a line which you are drawing, or your ship, then you will die instantly. You can gain extra points by cutting the pieces at slow speed, thus allowing more time for the sparkler to reach you, or at a fast speed with less points. To take control of a quadrant, you have to capture 75% of the area. The graphics in this game are fairly primitive, but well drawn and have no flicker, using a high resolution colour mode for the graphics. I like the sound as it has some nice music, very well written in fact, which shows off the Beeb's good 4 channel sound. This game is very addictive, and you always just want one more go, I'm pretty useless at this game though, it is a very strategical one, you have to get the tactics just right to reach the higher scores, there are many bonuses, on some screens for instance, there are two sparklers, and you can gain a bonus for splitting them into two separate areas of the screen, a neat touch. The instructions tell you a bit about the tactics, which I think is a good idea, and some advice on what not to do. This is really the 'feature' game of this compilation, the one that Superior does not release previously, and is claimed to be worth £7.95 (when the compilation first came out) in its own right, which I feel is perfectly justified. This is the game which makes the compilation complete, a great addition and worth all of the suggested price tag, although I did feel capturing 75% of the screen was a bit much!  Verdict: The creme caramel of the compilation, very slick and a good mixture of gameplay, sound and tactics. Score: 89% and last but not least..........

    Crazy Painter

    This is a very odd game, it sounds like it could be Japanese, but no it was made right here in England, and for an English game, it is very weird! It has simple instructions, and they go like this, to win the game you must paint round all of the squares, whilst avoiding the tribesman and teddy bears. If you paint the four corner squares, then you can chase the tribesman and teddy bears, for a limited time. Sounds a bit weird? Well yes, it is. I think it is a sort of cross between Kix (see above) and Pacman, it has a simple but fun aim. I thought this game was a bit average though, and if it were bought on its own, then I would probably say it was not really worth the money, but as part of a compilation, it is really just a filler, when you get bored of the others, or maybe to have a break! I'm not saying this is a bad game, it is just extremely average style puzzle game. The graphics are not inspiring, and sound is minimal, but somehow it manages to be enjoyable at the very least. Verdict: Average, but you can have fun playing it. Score: 68%

    Well, that's that over with, all in all I think it is a very pleasing collection of games (barring Battletank that is) and you can have a lot of fun with this collection, in particular Repton 2 and Kix. I think the most instantly playable ones are Space Pilot, and Overdrive, but the longest lasting would have to be the two 'main' games. I would definitely say this is great value for money, where else can you get 8 games for £6? What makes this great is that most of those games could fully justify a price of £3 or £4 on their own! Buy this now if you're looking for a mixture of nice little games. Overall score: 88%, shows Superior doing what it does best.


    !TimeSlip

    An adventure through time  An expensive waste of time

    Available from: ProAction  40 Honiton Road  Romford  Essex  RM7 9AJ

    Price : £5.95 Game Type : Challenging Puzzles
    Scenario :  TimeSlip is set in the year 2641, and you play the part of Hugard, a universal Field Physicist who has invented a time machine. The first experiment you make is to travel back three seconds through a black hole but, horror of horrors, it all goes wrong and you end up 500 years back in time and without any fuel. Thankfully, the black hole is still there so, by collecting the powerful crystal arionate, you can provide enough power for your machine to travel back to 2641 - but only in steps of ten years.

    Size :50 levels providing different challanges.  **** This is the first games review (and probably my last after I have finished with this game ) I have ever done, but I actually played this game, as a demonstration game, on a subscriber disk from the Micro User. One of the only few good points about this game is, that it was released as a demonstration game which, as far as I have seen, has not happened for the BBC Micro, even in its heyday. The first time I played this game I thought that it had very good graphics even though there wasn't a lot of them, very smooth flowing and quite nice music. I actually thought about buying this game at full price at the time, which was £9.95, but like most things I didn't get around to it. My opinion after playing the complete game, I now have in my collection is that I would have been wasting a good £9.95 at the time. The Micro User review on the back of the box reads. "If it were budget priced I could thoroughly recommend TimeSlip. It's the sort of game that will come out of the box from time to time rather than one for consistent and regular use."  Roger Frost, June 1992 The above quote says "Budget Priced", even at its current price of £5.95, it's not worth it, in its current state. After playing the game for several hours and a couple of hundred years into the future I found that after my sudden demise I was searching for a password to jump back to where I left my Head Stone, but after reading through the instructions several times, searching the main screen and getting someone else to look for it, I had to give it up as a bad job, it just isn't there. The other point is, that on the main options screen if you press <escape> you will actually escape from the game which is very annoying and means you have to load the damn thing in again. However the parallax scrolling, as mentioned on the back of the box, seems to me to be quite good.

    Overall : As a full priced game I don't think it's worth the money, maybe if it had a £5 discount on it I would consider buying it. I am not a games programmer and I don't like to criticise other peoples work but this game seems not to have been tested. I still have not played this game through to the end because after 2 hours it just lost its appeal.

    Sorry, this is just not a game for me.


    White Magic

    Available from:
    ProAction 40 Honiton Road Romford Essex RM7 9AJ
    £5.95 to 8BS Members

    Scenario   White Magic is an arcade adventure in the mould of Gauntlet, the view-from-above 'hack and slash' is set deep in myth and fantasy.

    The game is spread out over 32 levels in which you must battle ghosts, goblins, trolls, and demons, that emerge in endless streams from generators at random locations on each level. Scattered throughout the levels are items that can help you on your way such as food and keys to open doors. There are also special artefacts to find and collect that also help you to progress further into the game. You can only leave each level when you have found the master key! These keys are expertly hidden in some nasty little corner or alcove on each level, look everywhere as they are hard to find and don't get any easier either.

    All this must be done within a time limit. This can get very frustrating as more often than not you can see the exit just as your time runs out. However, for all you wimps out there there is a nice facility that allows you start on any of the 32 levels.

    For me, by far the best part of this game is that the player actually controls not one but four characters. The idea is to guide the four through the levels utilising the special abilities that each member possesses.

    The four characters are as follows;

    KALDOR   the leprechaun is not the best of the four in hand-to-hand combat but is better with magic, one of the better characters to collect and use potions with. He possesses good agility and speed.

    MORRIANA  the warrior is by far the best of the group for fighting, so try to use him in hand-to-hand combat if you can. Not the best with magic though, and not so good in the strength department either, but all in all a good allrounder.

    CHEYSUL  the titan is one huge dude who can destroy all but the biggest obstacles that you care to find. He is slow and clumsy but possesses masses of strength, good for knocking destroying monsters generators and stuff!

    Mandrake  the enchanter is 200 years old but still packs quite a punch with the old spell book. He's a wizard who can destroy bags of enemies with one potion, so try to use him for all the magic potions if you can. Don't use him for fighting as he's quite a weakling with his fists. He is the only one of the party that can cross the magic pentagrams.

    Gameplay

    The first thing that strikes you about White Magic is the speed at which the game moves. Talk about fast, but the game does sometimes slow when theres a lot on screen at once. The play area takes up a 1/3rd of the screen in the middle, with each of the four character's status displays in each of the four corners of the screen. It has quite a steep learning curve but no doubt that hardened gamesters will find it not quite so taxing.

    There are some nice colourful mode five graphics to be had and the detail on the sprites is quite good too. Things can get a bit confusing when theres about a thousand ghosts trying to beat your head in and theres firebolts flying in all directions, but then again that adds to the fun factor.

    Overall

    GRAPHICS:  Good colourful mode 5 graphics with a good smattering of detail. Good sprites too.

    SOUND:   Room for improvement, simple 'spot' and 'swoosh' effects are fine but perhaps a tune or two would not go amiss?

    GAMEPLAY:  Challenging and requiring a little patience, a game for older players maybe. The levels are large enough to keep your attention for quite a while, it makes you want to keep playing to get just that bit further.

    VALUE FOR MONEY:  Not bad at all, White Magic provides oodles of meanies and 'hack-and-slash' action with a hint of strategy. In my opinion it will keep you huddled over your machine for hours to come and then some. For the price it's a steal.

    E2K
     
     


    Master Break

    Written By: Superior Software Sold By: ProAction Game: Trivia Quiz, based on a Snooker-style set of rules.

    Reviewing this game was a bit fortunate really, I had only just managed to get the Cassette filing system working again on my old Beeb, when the review was sent to me, so it was touch and go whether this one would load, but in good old Acorn BBC fashion, it loaded perfectly first time, although the batteries on the Walkman loading it did run out halfway through!

    Upon the usual quick (compared to other old micros) loading of the game, I was presented with some fairly primitive graphics, just some pictures of the red snooker balls in their triangle formation, and some other info, such as my Break, and what I needed to advance in the world rankings, a break of about 20 is required to get to 8th Rank, as far as I have managed to get! Well, you don't know how it works yet, do you? Well let me explain! You accumulate your 'break' by answering questions on different subjects. First, you get an easy (supposedly) red ball question, if this is answered correctly, from either a selection of four or three possibilities, then you pot the red, and move onto a coloured ball question. You can select which colour you want to try and go for (they increase in difficulty as you go through the range from yellow to black), a black ball question is worth 7 break points, but you get much less time to answer it than if you select a yellow ball question. If you pot this ball, then you go on to get another red ball question, where you cannot choose which subject you get, it is random. Different balls have different topics assigned to them (they are mixed around every question) so you can have a black ball question on Science (& Nature), Leisure (Sport & Pastimes), History, Geography, Pop Music, or the Arts. In my experience, the way to play is to go for the low points on subjects which you don't know, and high points on subjects that you are good at.

    The game has a wide range of questions, with 26 different 'frames' (sets) of questions. The annoying thing about that is that you have to load a new set of questions from the tape after a few goes, which kind of interrupts the game. Also, another bad thing is that if you get just one question wrong, the  game is over in one player mode! This can be extremely frustrating, especially for thick kids like me who can only get a maximum break of 20! There are a lot of questions asked on the game, and they vary a lot, from easy to hard, but mainly hard for me! The trouble is, on 2 player mode, a lot of questions get repeated, so it is really a case of looking at the questions and sussing out which options have already been chosen, then you just choose the remaining one which must be right, which kind of negates the idea of knowing a lot of trivia!

    As I mentioned earlier, graphics on this game are not exactly extravagant, in fact they are very minimal, but quite quiz-like, this is not really a game which would rely on graphics, more on gameplay and depth of questions.  Luckily then, this game has got a lot of good gameplay and an EXTREMELY good depth of questions, you can spend hours working your way through the game on 1 player mode, trying to get to number 1 in the world, but why do that, when you can invite a couple of mates over and have a laugh at each others incompetence! Yes, this is really a game for 2 or more, great at parties (depending what sort of parties you have) and good fun for those cold winter nights when Christmas is approaching and you just want to relax away from School/University/Work/Prison! Sound is probably the worst aspect of the game, it really is appalling, it is hardly used throughout the game, only for the sounds of the clock ticking down, and a little noise if the question is right or wrong. A nice quiz-like score would have been excellent for this game, to make the answering more intense, or some opening snooker-like music, "The Entertainer", maybe?

    I think this is a great slant on the whole Pub Trivia Game sort of thing, and much better than stuffing 50p's into a machine at the local pub, its just a shame more pubs don't have BBC micros in them! If you're looking for a great game for playing with friends, or boosting your ego, then this is it, great  gameplay, and brilliant value for money! Just one thing, don't buy it on tape!

    Overall score: 83%
     


    Clogger

    Available from: ProAction  40 Honiton Road  Romford  Essex  RM7 9AJ

    Price (inc all charges): £5.95

    Price to 8BS members (for a limited period): £4.00 inc p&p

    Type of game: Repton style strategy/puzzle game

    Scenario (taken from instructions): In a strange and mystical land there lives a peaceful race of beings called the Cloggers - unusual creatures with three feet and no head. They have powers which allow them to percieve their surroundings in a way that is incomprehensible to man. They also have a great love of art, and the ambition of all Cloggers is to reach the status of Master by proving their appreciation of art in a series of cunningly conceived tasks.

    In these they must reassemble various pieces of artwork which are scattered around dangerous landscapes in the hidden valleys of Clogland. Now you have a chance to reach this status.  To become a Master Clogger you must complete the 18 landscapes without using passwords - you have 5 lives with which to do this. Each landscape is progressively more complicated with increasing numbers of individual tests of initiative.  Can you become a Master Clogger?

    Size of game: 3 sets of 6 levels each = 18 levels in all.

    Gameplay: On each you have to gather 21 pieces of picture and push them to the finish area where they must be placed correctly to build up the complete masterpiece. You must also eat all the cakes and when both objectives have been achieved the level will end and you can move onto the next. You will be given the password for the next level so that you can practise without having to repeat lower ones.  The finish area is always seven objects wide by three high but can be anywhere on a particular level. You'll find it full of earth which you will need to remove before the pieces can be inserted.  There are a number of objects which can be used to help you achieve your objective:-  Cakes: Increase your score and time. Time is increased by 30 seconds per cake but they have no effect on time if you have more than 9:30. All cakes must be eaten to complete a level.  Apples: Increase your score.  Drills: These face either left or right. When you get behind them and push them they will destroy the first three objects in their path and then disappear. You can push them in any direction but they will only destroy objects to the side they point to. They are used to release inaccessible areas full of cakes, pieces of picture etc. There are two drills per level - one pointing left, the other pointing right.  Buffers: Used to solve problems caused by gyroscopes, mentioned below.  Lawnmowers: Used to cut Cloggrass, mentioned below.

    The following things hinder you:  Earth: This gets in the way. Walk over it to remove it.  Cloggrass: Fatal on contact. Can be destroyed by a lawnmower.  Springs: Walk into these from 3 out of the four sides and you will bounce off. Approach it from the other direction and you can munch it.  Gyroscopes: These fly off when pushed and come to rest against the next object in its path. If it hits a spring it will come back to where it started. If it hits another gyroscope it will stop and the hit gyroscope will fly off as before.

    OPINIONS....

    Graphics: The animation is pretty smooth, with none of the flickering or jerking suffered by Repton devotees. The objects are fairly chunky, but easily recognisable. The map screen is excellent, complete with flashing boot to indicate where you are. The only real sprite is you walking, and that is very neat and almost perfectly smooth. Try killing yourself as well - the way you sink slowly into the ground is very clever. Other sprites, such as the lawnmower mowing Cloggrass, are crude but effective. 5/5.

    Sound: There is a background tune which is quite nice, but a volume control would have been good, as the tune comes out full volume. Not so bad for some, but my BBCs speaker is very loud. I always switch it off. The other sounds are mostly effective - along with the Repton-style tings and beeps as you pick score-increasing objects up, there are crunches for the drill, grinding noises for the lawnmower, and a nice touch, footsteps as you walk. But the noises made when you switch to the map screen, the status screen, or the picture screen, are truly horrible on a speaker like mine. It's a very high-pitched ting that goes right through my head. 3.5/5.

    Gameplay: I challenge any programmer to come up with more brilliantly original ideas for a game than those Gordon Key has had for Clogger. The gameplay is complicated, retains interest and is always exciting. The sheer number of things that can happen and you can do in this game would give some modern PC games a run for their money. Brilliant. 5/5.

    Value for money: The game represents good value. For your hard-earned cash you get an easy-to-use interface, simple controlling keys and plenty of levels. 4/5.

    Conclusion: Not to be missed. 4.5/5.

    Andrew Medworth D7Y


    ACORNSOFT HITS vol TWO

    THIS REVIEW WAS WRITTEN COLLECTIVELY BY E2K & K1M

    PRICE 11.95     FORMAT BBC MICRO & MASTER SERIES 5.25" DISC
    AVAILABLE PO BOX 6   BRIGG   S.HUMBERSIDE   DN20 9NH

    This is a four game compilation By SUPERIOR SOFTWARE. The games come in a plastic wallet with a double sided disc with the 40 track version  on one side and the 80 track version on the other.     Physically turn the the disc over for each version!     Upon receiving my review copy I noticed that there did not seem to be   any instructions with the disc. Never mind! Not one to be put off I   dived straight into playing the games (the best part of reviewing).     I later found, in small print at the BOTTOM OF THE CASE AT THE BACK;     'Remove and turn over this sheet for instructions'     This is either a cheapskate way of saving money or else someone forgot   to print the instruction sheets and it was a last minute thing. Either   way it is a BAD idea!     Any way, enough of that, into the games.......

    STARSHIP COMMAND

    This shoot 'em up type game has you in charge of a   starship, as the title suggests! Your mission, as far as I can tell is   to patrol an area of space destroying all the nasties that are also   flying around.     The game play is far from what I would expect from a game of this   sort. The way your ship moves is somewhat unusual and takes a bit of   getting used to as you don't actually move your ship, but you move the   area around it. This isn't all bad because it maintains your position   in the centre of the screen where you can take stock of all the   action.     The controls are another worrying point, as there are so many of the   them. There are your left and right, thrust, break and fire keys to   learn. But you also have keys for turning shields on and off, scanners   and other controls too. Far too many for a simple shoot 'em up game.   Joysticks and key board controls are fully catered for.     Difficulty is another problem, it's set too high! It would have been   nice to see a difficulty level where you could alter the game to your   own abillity level. Come on chaps, don't make them so difficult that   people can't get off the first stage.     There are some good fine detailed graphics to this game, even if they   are monotone and a bit small to boot. As you may expect there is an   array of information on screen during gameplay. This gives you your   score and which command you currently have (never having completed   command one I can't say how many there are). You have long and short   range scanners at the top right of the screen. These can be turned off   and on as you wish, as can your shields. You may even have an auto   setting to your shields which turns them on if enemies come too close.       Graphics   Good fine detailed sprites with no colour at all, but very,   very smooth with slick animation.     Sound   Not bad at all but there is room for improvement, an ingame tune   would not have gone amiss to complement the spot effects.     Playability   Lacking in most respects! This is a game that is all on or   nothing at all. You could be left wanting something more.     Overall   This is a game that most hardened players will find a   challenge, but I'm not impressed at all. It's too hard first up, and   you only have one chance, Too many controls to boot make this a game   that I have to force myself to play.

    ARCADIANS

    Do you remember SPACE INVADERS? For those who don't (what do   you mean those who don't?) you have a dinky little space ship that for   some reason you can only move left and right at the bottom of the   screen. With this, you must blast wave after wave of aliens (aliens   again!).     There are some very colourful mode 5 graphics here, nice to look at   and very smoothly animated.     The aliens sweep down in a variety of patterns, some very predictable   indeed but that is just to lure you into complacency. They won't all   be that easy (I have wounds to prove it).     You have the usual complement of 3 lives and also there is a ranking   system. You move up the ranks as your score increases.       Graphics   The gameplay screen is not too cluttered, and is laid out   evenly enough to see what you are shooting at, and equally to see what   is shooting at you.     The screen is attractive to look at as the variety of bright colours   distract you from the fact that these are basically mode 5 graphics.     Sound   This is a very noisy game, and if like me you have your BEEB in   the livingroom and the TV is on you WILL be ordered to either turn the   volume down or off, as the various sound effects will drive anyone who   isn't playing the game insane.     There are some funky explosion and swooping noises and some very   groovy spot effects as well. There is even a little tune at the start   of each game.     Various alarms and sirens are sounding throughout the game, which add   to the game very nicely.     Gameplay   This is an easy game to play with simple left, right and fire   controls. So you don't have to be a genius to play, and if you have a   few mates round you have all the fun of the arcade version at a   fraction of the cost. (And you don't have to worry about the attendant   throwing you out for kicking the machine when yet again you've been   unnecessarily killed).     Overall   A highly addictive game that requires quick reflexes, and will   give you older kids hours of fun as this game brings back all those   teenage memories of all those hours spent trying to get your name to   the top of the ranking list in the amusement arcade.     If you enjoyed 'SPACE INVADERS' then you will love this game.     My opinion still an absolutely brilliant classic.

    METEORS

    This game comes with many different titles, the latest of   which is METEORS. Imagine that you are piloting a small ship with a   mission to destroy waves of asteroids. Well here you are, you can live   in your imagination.     Guide your ship through each level by obliterating the asteroids that   float accross the screen and if you are not careful straight into you.     The game takes place in a plain but easy to see play area. The screen   does get cluttered often making it very difficult to see just what is   going on at any one time.       Graphics   Wire frame graphics give this game a very boring appearance   at first, but don't be deceived as the speed that the meteors and   flying saucers move at make up for the plain graphics, and pretty soon   you don't notice them.     There are 4 colours to this game Pale blue, Purple, Red and Yellow.   And I feel that this was a poor choice of colours as all but the   Yellow tend to clash     Sound   Annoying pipping sounds as you fire (which you have to do   constantly), and whenever a flying saucer appears it emits a high   pitch warbling noise which leaves your ears singing.     Game play   You have to shoot all the meteors and flying saucers that   you see before you can progress on to the next level, and you have to   be quick as if you're not careful you can end up with everything   coming at you all at once, and as you progress through the levels it   becomes even harder.     The controls are simple left & right rotation with thrust and fire   which are very responsive, and just to be generous you can even use   hyperspace to get out of bad situations.     Overall   This is an intriguing little game but invariably seems quite   pointless, as there does not appear to be an ultimate objective.     This however is not a problem as you are soon caught up in the   struggle to not get killed as wave after wave of meteors float towards   you and saucers shoot at you as they float by.     This is not a bad game but it is let down by poor graphics and sound,   this could have been better with a little effort.

    LABYRINTH

    You play MORK in this game, and you are trapped in a maze   filled with weird and nasty little creatures that you must avoid, kill   or genrally mutilate to survive. All this takes place in a wonderland   of attractive Mode 5 graphics, you WILL sometimes find yourself   getting killed as you gaze at the incredibly smooth and basically very   nice screens.     The general idea behind this one is to escape from the maze that you   are, unfortunately trapped in. To do this you must negotiate the vast   collection of rooms to find some sort of 'Magic Crystals'. These   crystals will dissolve the force fields that separate the different   levels. Don't worry though as you can collect fruit to replenish your   dwindling energy, keys and other items that will help you on your way.     At first this game is vaguely reminiscent of REPTON, the controls are   very basic but very responsive. These are just up, down, left and   right with fire as your main ones. All are easily laid and are   comfortable to use (as opposed to some awkward controls, oooooh thats   not nice!).       Graphics   Very colourful Mode 5 graphics make this an appealing game to   both play and look at. There is a patterned background which gives a   nice even backdrop that doesn't clutter the screen.       Sound   Nothing new here I'm afraid to have to report! There are a few   nice spot effects and other such blips and beeps, but apart from that   nothing special at all.       Gameplay   This is a maze type game where you guide Mork through all 7   levels, eating fruit and killing baddies. A good memory is needed as   there does not seem to be a map that you can refer to.     Overall   A time consuming game that could have been made even better   with a few additions such as a map or common reference points. All in   all a very good challenging game that will keep you going for many an   hour.     Compiled, written & edited by K1M & E2K!
     
     

    Sim City Review by Crispin Boylan

    Price: £14.95 (£7 to 8BS members) Available from: Superior Software Type: Strategy/God Game

    The fact that this game even exists on the BBC is something of a minor miracle, thanks to the enormous programming skills of one Peter Scott who became something of a 'conversion master' during the later years of his programming for Superior Software, converting such classics as Barbarian and Hostages for the BBC.

    If you own a computer other than a BBC you will have probably heard of this game before, it started out on the Commodore 64 as a somewhat simpler game than it is on the BBC, and was then converted to the Amiga. PC, ST and tonnes of other computers, and has spawned many other games in the 'Sim' series by Maxis, including Ant, Life and Rainforest!!  Needless to say, the sequels were not as good as the original.  Anyway, in this game you become the Mayor of a village as it happens, you have to build the various things, including industrial zones, residential areas, and commercial centres, all of which help to keep the business alive in your ever expanding village/town/city.  Then of course you need to keep the population under control with the Police and Fire services, all of which require money each year to function, so you have to set taxes to a level at which you can provide the services and get money for expansion, whilst keeping everyone who lives in your city happy.  This is much easier said than done, and it is at times disheartening to see on the yearly readout that only 33% of your population are happy with you!

    Anyway, once you have built your first little city with the small amount of money that is available, you generally have to keep everything working, and occasionally recovering from several disasters which occur randomly, including Monsters, Tornadoes and Earthquakes.  If you have a Nuclear power station then this can also be a hazard as it may occasionally have a melt down, which is quite disastrous for the population!

    Your score points on this game based on the amount of people who are happy, the design of the city, and various other things such as how the traffic flow and crime problems are dealt with.  500 out of 1000 is counted as an average score, and the author himself has not gotten the full amount!  So far I have managed about 450 points, and am still trying hard to beat this!!  It keeps me occupied for hours on end, and the instructions provided with this game are sparse, which is very deceptive as you think the game is also quite simple, but it has a hidden depth, it isn't just about putting down a few buildings and connecting them up to the power station, but about actually managing the city, building it is easy.

    I think the depth is one of the best things about this game, the graphics, done in a low res mode are not superb, but they never were on the original computers it was designed for, they do their job, and probably don't take up too much memory (on the PC you needed a 640k machine to play the game, god knows how Peter Scott got it to fit into 32k!).  It has a very nice method of control, use the arrow keys to scroll the main screen, and the usual Z,X,/ and * keys as a way to move the pointer onto the nicely designed icons at the foot of the screen. It is simplicity itself do design the city, although I do have a problem with the speed at which the years go by, still it is all in proportion!

    This game is a rare item indeed, one which doesn't require you to read pages and pages of a manual to get to grips with it.  It has a great learning curve and you just find yourself getting more and more into it the more you play it.  Something is always happening and you never get bored, there is always some way to get just a few extra points out of the game.  This is definitely one of my favourite games on the Beeb, and is very interesting!  Also ranks high in my list of technical achievements on the BBC, right up there with Elite and Exile. 


    Revs Review by Crispin Boylan

    Name: Revs + Revs 4 Tracks
    Price: £14.95 (£7 to 8BS members)
    Type: Formula 3 Racing simulation
    Available From: Superior Software

    This game is another one of the re-releases of games originally produced by Acornsoft, but it was so successful the first time that Superior repackaged it and released it again.  They were dead right to do so because this is one of the most accurate racing simulations ever to hit the disc drive of a home micro.  The concept of the game is simple, you drive your formula 3 car (viewed from inside the cockpit of the car) as fast as you can, in order to get as good a lap time as possible.  Although it seems simple, it is very much harder in practice.  For a start, this is no mickey mouse game, everything is modelled on the real world, the car can skid, it won't respond very well to sudden jerks of the steering wheel, and bumping over the grass can seriously damage your car!

    There are options for either practising one of the five circuits supplied (Silverstone, Snetterton, Donington, Brands Hatch or Oulton Park), or taking part in a race - take it from me, for the first 100 times go for the practice, its embarassing how bad you are at the start!  Although this game has a very steep learning curve, it is not a matter of getting bored, the manual leads you through the game and how you should drive the car, and even takes you on a lap of the Silverstone track written by David Hunt, former champion.  This really adds an extra dimension to it and helps you really immerse yourself in the game.  Although the car, like in real life (probably, I don't know) it is very hard to drive a car with the degree of skill and accuracy as they do on the telly, and you will find yourself spinning helplessly off the track time after time.  But take it slowly, learn from your mistakes, and soon you will be ready for the big time - race day.  It is tremendous fun to take part in the race, although once you've done that consistently (I havent yet!) there is even more fun to be had in shaving vital miliseconds from your lap time of one of the circuits.  If there was one simulation in the 80's that really worked well modelling a real life situation, it is this game.

    The graphics are pretty good, although not in a high resolution mode they definitely look the part - even the steering wheel moves as you turn around the circuit!  Gear changing is shown by a little number on the dashboard, and everything is fully functional.  Although it doesn't give the greatest impression of speed, it is pretty good, and the sound definitely works for me!  The graphics are actually very very smoothly done, something of a minor miracle as quite a lot of pixels need to be shifted to get the car to move!

    The game itself is written by first class programmer Geoff Crammond, who not surprisingly is a physicist at heart.  Since this game he has gone on to create two sequels (albeit on the PC) called F1 Grand Prix and F1GP2, both hit games and classics in their own right.  In fact, the Grand Prix simulation is something Geoff has made his own since the early 80's, and rightly so, there is no-one to touch him.

    A superbly fun game, although probably not to everyone's tastes - but definitely one of the best Beeb games in terms of longevity!

    Overall Score: 89% 


    Elite Review by Crispin Boylan

    Name: Elite
    Price: £14.95 (£7 to 8BS Members)
    Type: 3D Shooting/Trading/Space Flight Simulation
    Available From: Superior Software

    Well, there really isn't much to say about this game that hasn't been said before, unless you've been on Mars for a good fifteen years you will most definitely have heard of this game, possibly the most advanced game for its time this century.  Created by the now infamous David Braben and Ian Bell, this is a space trading and shooting game, set far into the future where Space Travel is commonplace and nearly everyone makes their living by the stars.  It is up to you, Commander Jameson, what you make of your career, you start in a fairly downbeat star system, with the lowest spec lasers and equipment, and 100 credits to your name.  Your options at the start are fairly limited, either buy some items to trade with, or go out into the stars and shoot for a living.  As you are ill-equipped for this sort of thing it is probably best to trade with other systems at first, then when you have the money to buy equipment for the ship, improve it so you have at least a fighting chance of winning!

    It is this open endedness about the game which is so very appealing to almost everyone who plays it, there are no real rules of the game as such, you aren't told what you must do, you do what you feel like.  If that means blasting the engines off of whatever comes near you then so be it, but if you so happen to shoot a police ship don't expect them to be too kind!  The real technological achievement comes in two places in this game.  Firstly the graphics used to portray the outside world are quite frankly superb for their age (1984), they consist of wire frame models using hidden line removal (i.e. they appear to be solid, a very difficult and processor intensive feature) and everything is modelled in 3D, be it Space Stations, planets or suns.  The main screen consists of a window in which Mode 1 is used for black and white graphics, and Mode 4 for which 4 colours are used to display the text readouts such as fuel, status (green for clear, yellow for caution, and red if you are under attack).  This is a novel idea, and works as it conserves memory as well.  The second technological achievement is the game size, it is huge, there are 8 galaxies, each consisting of several hundred star systems, each with its own individual characteristics such as the technology level (higher means you can purchase more advanced systems for your craft) and the government type (meaning how the system is policed, obviously anarchy systems are full of pirates waiting to blow you out of the stars, but corporate states are very rich and well policed, meaning it is very unlikely that you will be shot at).

    The game is very very hard at first, with you trading in whatever you can between star systems (the prices of different materials range depending on whether the system is agricultural or technological) and scrambling back to the space stations with your precious few credits.  Ah..I didn't mention space stations did I? Well, this is also one of the hardest parts of the game, you have to dock with a rotating space station, getting your ship lined up with the part of it that you can enter through, then holding pattern with the rotation - it is very hard at first, and a Docking Computer is a wise move when you make your first 1000 credits or so!  Once you move up though, get a few credits, you can try more risky actions, like trading in illegal substances (including radioactives and narcotics), or being a bit of a bounty hunter.  Bounty Hunting is my favourite task in the game, one on one combat with the computer operated ships, if you destroy them then you get a certain number of credits, depending on how dangerous they were.

    In the disk version of the game there are quite a few ship types to watch out for, the toughest being the Mambas and Kraits (real pirates ships) and the Boas and Pythons are the real cargo carriers which can be shot at and if you succeed in blowing them up you can have their cargo, as long as you have some fuel scoops to pick up the cannisters!  Fuel Scoops I hear you say - yes, you can buy a lot of equipment in this game, depending on what job you want to do you may want to pick up better lasers, mining lasers (to turn the asteroids you find into smaller minerals to scoop up), more missiles, docking computers, energy bombs (wipes out everyone in the area except you) or escape capsules.  This really gives you something to aim for in the first stages of the game, especially the docking computer - pure heaven when you get it!

    Also included in the game is the Elite ranking system for combat, basically you start of as 'Harmless' but after shooting a couple of ships you may be regarded as 'Mostly Harmless', and so on right up to ELITE!  For this though you must get about 6400 kills - believe me it is a lot of shooting!  Other ranks you progress through are Poor, Average, Above Average, Competent, Dangerous and Deadly, it really is satisfying when you see your new ranking, and it takes a lot of work!  Then of course there are the secret missions...but we won't go into those as I don't want to spoil it!

    Anyway, this is superb fun, and it shows exactly what the Beeb is capable of, since 1984 this game has been ported to every format under the sun - and if you have an Archimides then that contains what is probably an even better version of Elite than this - but not by much!  This of course is not the original release of the game, it was first released by Acornsoft, and ran on the BBC B only, but this new version contains enhancements if you have a Master (coloured ships, no loading from disk after initial loading) or a 2nd Processor (more advanced gameplay), which is great value for money!  One thing I would say is that this new packaging lacks the Novella 'The Dark Crystal' originally supplied with the game, and although interesting it doesn't do much to enhance the game play or the already excellent Flight Training manual.

    This game is a must - you really should play it if you haven't already!
    Overall score: 95% 


    A Question of Sport Review by Crispin Boylan

    Name: A Question Of Sport
    Price: £14.95 (£7 to 8BS members)
    Type of game: Quiz simulation
    Available From: Superior Software

    The TV licence is a curious sort of game, always bought in droves because people who love the TV show will obviously want to play it at home, but there is always a tendency with this sort of thing for the programmers to take the 'it will sell whatever' attitude and not write the game they could have done.  This is very true of A Question Of Sport, it is nothing if unspectacular, and I find it hard to get excited about this game when it is so obvious that it is not up to the usual standards of Superior.

    Of course it contains graphics of Bill, Ian and David (although all three have now been replaced several years ago by Sue Barker, John Parrot and Ally McCoist) and you get to answer questions about sport - but it is hardly ground breaking in format or style.  It contains most of the rounds that they do on the TV show - but as the BBC is not exactly suited to video style graphics the 'What Happened Next' round has been changed to just being asked a question about what happened next rather than seeing a film clip - fair enough, but couldn't they have done something more interesting?  Basically, every round is the same - no picture board for the same reasons, just a question behind each square, and this format stays the same all the way through - it is just which question is asked that changes.  Also, the number of questions available is not particularly huge, it is possible to get asked the same question more than once in the game, and this happened frequently to me when I played.  Now you see what I mean about shoddy workmanship?

    The graphics, sadly do not look very credible, and when you consider that two other games, namely Elite and Revs are the same price as this, you start to laugh at it - or, if you bought it, cry.  Simple blocks and lines are used, save the pictures of the various celebs faces (although they are out of date now).  Sound is very very minimal, not even any applause when you win the game!  Sorry about this, but it is just very boring both sonically and visually.

    If you were absolutely nuts about sports (and you would have to remember quite a bit about 80's sporting events) then you might buy this game - but if you just wanted some fun, then I find it hard to recommend over something like Play It Again Sam 1 or for that matter any of the Sam's.  Definitely not Superior at their best.

    Overall score: 56%


    Exile by Ian Lane

    Exile Review

    “Yes.  Exile.  For life!”   So said Edmund, Prince of Wales (otherwise known as the Black Vegetable .. er, sorry, Black Adder).  And how right he was!  This is a monster of a game, incredibly crammed into less memory than my PC uses to store this document.  A game so ahead of its platform, that it was a big hit on the 16 bit Amiga with only cosmetic touches to disguise its origins.  A game that created such an impression on some Acorn enthusiasts, that a project was started to write a 32-bit version (how’s it going, chaps?)
     
    Included in the package is a double sided 5.25” disk (40T on one side, 80T on the other), an instruction manual, a chart giving the keyboard controls (again double sided, Electron on one side, BBC/Master on the other) and a novella telling the story of the Pericles’ crew.

    The story tells of the ill-fated mission of the Pericles to investigate the planet Phoebus for colonisation.  The crew start to disappear and they eventually discover the mad scientist Triax is using robots and genetically altered creatures to pick them off.  From the garbled reports received it is unclear who, if anyone, remains alive. As Mike Finn (luckily the closest Columbus Force operative to Phoebus) your mission is to rescue any Force personnel while defeating Triax and learning two South American languages (OK, not the language bit then).

    The game begins with the theft of your ship’s Destinator (a vital piece of equipment, basically your ship is useless without it) being stolen.  Then it’s up to you and your jetpack as you explore your surroundings.  You spend this game exploring, collecting and using objects, managing your power, defeating guardians, opening doors and more.  There are no ‘lives’ as such; instead you can store up to 6 save points – if you start taking too much damage you are teleported to the last location stored, although there is a score penalty and things tend to fall out of your pockets as well.  You can also choose to teleport to the last stored location – quite handy when you are being chased by angry wasps.  The game is very unforgiving e.g. if you waste your first grenade then tough it’s gone, you don’t get it back.

    Finn is a fairly agile bloke – he can thrust up or down, lie down, pick up, drop or throw objects, store/retrieve objects from pockets and aim his current weapon at any angle.
     
    The graphics are excellent, colourful and well animated.  Being in Mode 2, all the colours of the Beeb are available and they are used to the full.  The viewing area is a bit narrower than the full screen, but by using the cursor keys it is possible to scroll around a bit (Finn is always kept on screen).  The screen scrolls smoothly as you move around.
     
    The sound too is good – no background tune (that would be too reassuring) – but sound effects, birds, explosions, gunshots.  For those with sideways RAM there are sampled sounds (mainly shouts of pain which you hear when colliding with a solid object too quickly).
     

    Exile is available from Superior Software for £14.  If you like your games challenging and long lasting, buy it.


    Back to 8BS