COMPETITIVE MATHS (Tape)
COMPETITIVE MATHS (Tape)
DIAMOND MINE II
MATHS WITH A STORY: 2
QUICK THINKING PLUS
ROBIN OF SHERWOOD
ROBIN OF SHERWOOD
STRIKE FORCE HARRIER
ANSWER BACK SPORTS QUIZ
STAIRWAY TO HELL
WORD GAMES WITH THE MR MEN
THIS was the first adventure ever to be released for a home computer,
and if that isn't reason enough to buy it, let me state it is also an
The object of your quest is to collect and store thirteen treasures.
You start the game in a forect and though you aren't a social climb-
er the view is disappointing.
The axe is soon found in a sunny meadow and when I tell you that
Bunyon's first name was Paul you'll know where to visit when you try
You might bear this in mind when you visit the quicksand, a definite
case of sink or swim!
The chiggers in the swamp will soon get under your skin so protect
it. The cypress tree is worth a visit but it is not necessary to do so
to finish the game, though it will provide a clue.
Having been given the chop, your next problem is getting down to the
main body of the game.
An examination of the room descriptions and a careful choice of
wording is as essential here as it can be elsewhere.
Before you go back up you might consider playing the lead in
Aladdin!! A score of 38 out of 100 should be your mark and a means of
lighting the lamp will also be found underground, though don't go too
if you die you will go to limbo and you only have one move you can
make here - a Hell of a choice!
By now you are well into the main body of the adventure, and though
you will still have to return to the surface several times the answer
to most of your problems lies underground.
Scott Adams rates this game at moderate level. I think it is more
like beginners' level, especially when you compare it with some of his
That is not to say that it doesn't have some fiendish problems
though! What makes it easy is the level of help given.
The seasoned adventurer can expect to finish it within a couple of
days, but the novice will find it the perfect introduction to the
An excellent adventure that is worth having for its collectors'
value alone. If you haven't got it, you should have!
IN BATTLEFIELDS, a two-in-one deal of two player games, BBC Soft is
offering a game of strategy, the American Civil War, and a game of tac-
In case you're puzzled as to the difference between strategy and
tactics, strategy is the manipulation of armies, people, politicians and
resources to make history go the way you want.
Tactics are how you manoeuvre elements of armies to achieve victory
Put more simply, strategy is how you win wars, tactics are how you
American Civil War presents you with a map of the south and east
states of America which were involved in the conflict.
The object is to capture a proportion of your opponent's territory
and wipe out his forces.
Each side starts at pre-set locations with three fleets and seven
armies, details of which are given for both players at the start.
Each turn is equivalent to one year of the war, divided into eight
movement phases representing about one month's campaigning.
Players input all eight moves for each turn in secret and the com-
puter then does the rest.
You quickly become used to the movement system but planning your
moves to cope with what your opponent may do is definitely more chal-
This is an excellent little strategy game and a good introduction
to this type of computer wargaming.
The second part of the package. Waterloo, is representation of the
famous last battle of Napoleon which brought the First Empire to an
It covers the area around Waterloo and may last for the equivalent
of several days. Each turn represents an hour of time.
The armies consist of units commanded by a named general, with most
units made up of a mixture of artillery, cavalry and infantry.
Initially the Allies are to the north and east and the French to
the south. Each side inputs its movement orders, which are carried out
by the computer.
First though - and this is the most interesting part - it reports
whether any of your units have sighted or contacted the enemy.
Based on this you plan your next move, but you have to remember
that the reports relate to where the enemy was, not where they are now.
When you do clash with the enemy the computer will decide whether it
is just a skirmish, and calculates the casualties accordingly.
Alternatively it gives you a close up of the battle area and the
battle takes place in 10 minute segments.
I find the last an excellent idea, but wish that more detail could
have been incorporated.
As with American Civil War you quickly get used to the movement
system, but finding and dealing with the enemy is another problem.
Both games have good, clear graphics bearing in mind and the scale
they are working at, and will keep players busy for a few hours.
I do not believe that there is yet a true wargame available for the
Electron of a standard acceptable to serious wargames, but BATTLEFIELDS
is certainly leading the way.
IF your idea of fun consists of tearing through the prehistroic wilder-
ness standing on the back of a runaway tortoise, CAVEMAN CAPERS is for
Press the Spacebar to start the game and the background begins to
scroll from right to left.
Balancing precariously on the back of a turbo-charged tortoise, you
must leap over the potholes as you career towards almost certain disas-
Some well-timed stabs at the Return key are sufficient to get you
past these first obstacles.
Having been broken in gently, you will now be buzzed by pterodactyls
while still jumping craters.
With the use of the Z and X keys to move our caveman hero short dis-
tances to the left and right, you can avoid nutting the birds.
Section three seems quite easy as there are no craters to jump - just
a series of purple snakes hanging down from the treetops.
The problem with the snakes is that they are bobbing up and down.
Should they be in the down position as you pass below, then it's
PROCheadache for our hero and shellshock for his transport.
The next two levels are very similar.
The first involves using extended jumps to clear some toadstools and
in the second you're jumping logs.
The next stage is the one that is giving me great difficulties at the
moment. I'm having trouble with the crabs.
One minute they're lying nice and quiet on the ground, the next thing
you know they're doing flipping star jumps at about waist height!!
Icon has really gone to town on the graphics with this game as every
character is drawn on a grand scale and in the brightest of colours.
One character who has not yet played a part in the game is a rather
large dinosaur who keeps poking his head on to the screen and grinning
mischievously. I'm sure he's up to no good.
CAVEMAN CAPERS is an excellent game. It's got fast action, simple
controls and is just brimming with humour.
THIS chemistry package follows the standard format for Letts' revision
You get two cassettes crammed full of programs, along with a small
booklet explaining how the software can be used - all in a neat library
As usual there are ten programs. The first deals with atomic struc-
ture and bonding and is a Cloze activity.
This means aspiring O-level or CSE chemists must complete a piece of
text by typing in the missing words.
They can choose whether to have only a few of the chosen words miss-
ing or the whole lot.
If they get stuck, pressing X enables them to see all of the text.
Activities like this are not only considered educationally sound,
they should also be of real benefit to a revising pupil.
Program two moves on to the centre pillar of inorganic chemistry, the
periodic table. Students are expected to enter various elements on to a
Options include entering chemical symbols, atmoic numbers or electron
structures. The idea is good, but the presentation could have been im-
proved. Nevertheless it is a useful revision program.
Formulae and equations come next. This is another very important
topic and any fairly friendly help from a micro is a good thing.
This program considers various reactions and you have to balance the
Alternatively, a list of chemicals is given and you decide if they
are reactants or products.
The equation for the reaction is then given and you must balance it.
There follows a program called deductions. Here you are presented
with a series of clues as to the identity of a substance.
Some clues are mathematical and calculator, pencil and paper will be
needed. If you an't get the substance within five guesses you are told
what it is.
The last program on tape one is concerned with electrolysis.
With a choice of molten electrolytes or solutions, you must identify
the ions present and to which electrode they move. The ion equation
must then be completed. Tape two begins with two related programs on
apparatus. In the first of these you must put together the equipment
neded to prepare the gas of your choice.
This is done by selecting the correct pieces from a collection and
swapping them around. This is very fast, smooth and fun.
When completed, all other bits of apparatus are cleared from the
screen and then you label your diagram and complete the equation for
preparing the gas.
The second program gives you a wrong diagram. You identify the fault
and label it.
The third program, acids, bases and salts, returns to the Cloze idea.
There are four pages of text to complete.
Then in a separate section you must decide whether a reaction goes in
the direction shown. You are also asked a few questions about it.
Pupils actually get marked on this section which is surely helpful
The third section introduces the concept of molarity and then asks
you to predict titration results. It's a little complicated.
The package ends with two programs on organic chemistry. The first is
a series of Cloze procedures, enlivened with diagrams to illustrate the
Working through this program certainly reminded me of the organic
chemistry I used to know.
The second program requires identification of isomers and homologues.
I found this the weakest program on the tapes. There were just too many
CHs on the screen for me.
The instructions suggest that this program is to test your powers of
observation. Mine obviously are not good enough.
This is without doubt what it says - a revision package. Don't expect
it to teach you if you known absolutely no chemistry, because you will
end up very confused.
Despite the large amount of material here, the price of 11.50 seems a
It is, however, fit for its purpose and pupils taking chemistry at
16+ levels could find it useful.
THIS is one of those programs you might tend to dismiss on first sight.
However on persevering I became quite addicted to it.
The idea is to choose a mathematical subject out of addition, sub-
traction, multiplication and division. You are then asked for the level
of difficulty - there are three.
Now sit back and prepare yourself for the next sixty seconds of
quickfire mental arithmetic questions as the compuer prepares its bar-
I found I could cope well with the addition and multiplication ques-
tions, but when it came to subtaction or division I has some catching
up to do.
That's where the program came into its own for me. Due to its com-
petitive nature you feel that you can't stop - not yet anyway, just got
to beat that last score.
After a while the questions became easier for me and I moved to lev-
el three. The levels of difficulty are well worked out. Each time you
achieve a maximum score of 39 you move up a level.
On level 3 I have as yet been unable to better my high score of 27.
One complaint I have about this program though is that in the rush
to type your answer in, it is often easy to hit a wrong key and this
causes a point to be deducted from your score.
I suppose this helps to train your reflexes but I still found it
This is an addictive game, that is both fun and educational for
children and adults alike.
Electron User Vol. 3 No. 7
Product: COMPETITIVE MATHS (Tape) Supplier: Duckworth
IMPROVE your mental arithmetic by beating the clock to a new high score.
The idea is to answer as many quick-fire questions as possible within a
minute. You can choose any of addition, subtraction, multiplication or
division - with varying skill levels.
"Quick Peek" From Electron User Vol. 3 No. 3
Product: DIAMOND MINE
Supplier: BLUE RIBBON
Available on ADFS "Blue Ribbon Games 1" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Pat Hillery in Electron User Vol 3 No. 6
AT just two pounds fifty, this program is aimed quite definitely at the
"pocket money" market.
However, the low cost is well matched by a low interest level, little
originality and little in the way of addiction.
It's not that the program is particularly bad, but just that I cannot
really find very much to get enthusiastic about.
Imagine a mine - which is essentially a vertical maze - and at the
top is the beginning of a pipeline.
You must guide the pipeline through the mine in search of diamonds.
There are a number of rather cute bugs which have a disconcerting habit
of eating the pipeline and these must be avoided using the usual Z, X,
*, ? combination of keys.
The walls of the mine must also be negotiated, or else a length of
pipeline is lost.
Having said that, there is remarkably little to add. It is not a
particulary easy game to play, although naturally success comes with
Sadly, I found that boredom also set in, although the game might keep
some younger players interested for a few hours.
The Electron has been around a long time now, and the level of much
other software makes this particular program look rather poor in compar-
ANOTHER budget label game from Blue Ribbon, DIAMOND MINE II not sur-
prisingly carries on the scenario set in their earlier game.
This is - surprise, surprise - a diamond mine, but one with more to
collect, more problems to overcome and quite a bit more "stickability
Actually, I wasn't over-impressed for quite some time, and only
came back to load it in again because I found I had a review to write.
Then I found I hadn't read the instructions on the cassette inlay
I had been trying to guide my vacuum cleaner pipe down through the
mine, collecting diamonds, but my lives went quickly because the var-
ious monsters kept touching the pipe.
Then I read that Return would retract the pipe, and the game alter-
It was not a frustrating but possible assignment to collect all the
diamonds from one level, on occasions having to retract a long length
of pipework as a monster appeared near the top of the screen.
Still, there was always the revenge of sucking it up in the vacuum
for some bonus points.
The direction keys can be used in conjunction, so corners could be
negotiated simply and swiftly, but that didn't make the game any
easier to win.
Should the pipework clear a screen a harder mine soon appeared and
after ten such, the screens become invisible.
However, I will have to take Blue Ribbon's word for that as I've
not got there yet.
But I'll keep playing until I do!
Sound ........................... 6
Graphics ........................ 8
Playability ..................... 8
Value for money ................ 10
Overall ......................... 8
Electron User Vol. 3 No. 7
I SUPPOSE I'm the wrong person to review GREMLINS, for I haven't seen
the film and I can't finish the adventure - despite the hint sheet that
came with it!
The promotional material says the game is based on the film so I sus-
pect that anyone who has seen it will have a decided advantage.
The object of the exercise is to kill all the gremlins. To encourage
you, your mission starts in your bedroom with a gremlin throwing darts
Unless you are quackers, you make a quick exit into the living room
where you'll find a gremlin too, but he soon gets the point.
A quick visit to the kitchen will probably find you as baffled as me,
so it's off down the road to explore the town.
The cinema is showing GREMLINS (wouldn't you know it!) and the real
McCoy are as interested in the ending as you are.
The petrol station is a useful hiding place, and the department store
is well worth a look but don't let those new-fangled gizmo's loose you.
I must admit that I felt there was something different about this
adventure all the time I was playing it.
But somehow the atmosphere just didn't seem to be there, and I was
left feeling slightly disappointed.
I haven't finished the game, and to be honest I don't think it gene-
rates enough interest to make me want to.
Overall, a capable enough adventure that is not quite up to the stan-
dard of the others from Adventure International.
THIS is not so much an adventure as a way of life. Superficially, the
game seems to be an ordinary text adventure that requires you to get to
Hampstead Heath to complete the game.
However it is less a case of solving the game and more a case of
attaining the solution.
Hampstead Heath is one of the posh parts of London, and since you
start the game in a slum your problem is not just finding your way there
but becoming the type of person who deserves to be there.
I confess that I didn't get very far and so I'm obviously doomed to
remain a total slob forever. Nonetheless I can give you a few tips to
The first thing you have to do after leaving the house is to sign on
You'll obviously need your UB40, but also make sure you have some
transport or you're liable to get mugged. Since you start the game
naked you will need clothes, unless you want to get arrested for in-
decent exposure. You'll find the edge of the Heath close by and it pays
to sit back and admire the scenery.
A nearby maze is easy to map, though if you manage to use what you
find then please let me know how you did it.
I used my money to buy another means of transport and thus found my
way to another section of the adventure.
Apart from satisfying my appetite - though I must have done a "run-
ner" as I had no money to pay for my meal - I only managed to get my
pockets picked in the cinema, so any help from readers would be welcome.
I found it difficult to relate to the game. It took anout five
minutes before I realised what a UB40 was!
There are some extremely witty thinks in the program and I didn't get
most of them first time either. If you manage to solve the game you can
send off to Melbourne House for a diploma in social climbing, though I
hope you'll also send me the solution.
Overall, I was left feeling somewhat baffled by this game, though I
hasten to add that the problem is obviously mine and not the program's.
I would suggest, however, that you try before you buy.
Product: TERRORMOLINOS (Tape) Supplier: Melbourne House
A text adventure of a holiday spoof set on the Costa Brava, in which you
must survive a two-week package holiday and return home with ten snap-
shots to prove it. In this witty game every holiday disaster can and
"Quick Peek" From Electron User Vol. 3 No. 3
THIS is a good old fashioned arcade game containing two vital ingredi-
ents for success - it's addictive and it's fun.
The aim of the game seems to be to navigate the male cousin past all
manner of hazards until he meets his female counterpart.
It all looks very simple. You move the little chap straight across
the screen on a road, jumping him over the odd bush and post box.
The quality of the background graphics is so good that you may find
your mind wandering from the task in hand.
Another problem is the severe shortage of time. You lose a life if
you don't cross the screen quickly enough. Not only that, you are being
bombed as well.
It won't be long before you manage screen one with confidence and can
then tackle screen two. Success here leads you on to the bouncing kan-
garoos, and by shooting these defenceless beasts you can obtain bonus
By now the road has led to the wooded countryside, and you encounter
bats and moving mushrooms. These are pretty taxing, and avoiding them
requires a lot of practice.
Screen six brings you to some rather cute frogs, but also to a long,
dissolving bridge. This one defeats me so I don't know what happens
I have two criticisms. Firstly, a multi-screen game like this should
give you the option of starting on any screen.
Secondly, the game lacks a high score table, merely keeping a record
of the highest score.
Those points apart though, this is an entertaining family game. The
graphics and the animation are of a superb standard and the sound is
An extra bonus is that the tape contains both BBC and Electron ver-
sions of the game. (Make sure you load the right one.)
Recommended for arcade addicts of all ages.
AS the commander of a deep space fuel dump, you are a vital part of
Earth's exploration project. You are also an excellent target for any
passing alien who wants a cheap tank of four star.
Your constant struggle with these thieving aliens forms the theme of
The fuel dumps' defences take the form of a mobile laser base sit-
uated beneath a plasti-steel roof.
Through this roof you can observe the descending aliens. But if you
tried to shoot at them directly you would make a nasty mess of the roof.
The fuel dump designers solved this problem by leaving one end of the
dump open. They then built a large curved mirror at this point.
By moving your laser base left and right you can alter the angle at
which your beam strikes the mirror. By altering this angle of incidence
you also alter the angle of reflection - sounds just like school,
So as you move your base closer to the mirror the beam fires higher
into the atmosphere and vice versa.
The aliens fall from the sky in no set formation and are therefore
quite difficult to hit.
To encourage you to move the laser base around, the instructions tell
you that bonus points are awarded for hitting the aliens while they are
at the top of the screen.
It is tempting to sit at the far left of the screen firing laser
bolts at a very shallow angle and stand a chance of hitting more aliens.
Basically, this is an attempt to squeeze a little more life out of
the Invaders/Galaxian theme. It is a nice idea but it will never be a
Product: WEST (Tape) Supplier: Talent Computer Systems
It is the year 1884 somewhere in the Wild West. You are on the track of
a notorious gang of robbers who have gone to ground near an abandoned
mining town, deep in Indian territory. Your objective is to gain promo-
tion to the rank of Marshal by outwitting the robbers and collecting as
much of their loot as possible.
"Quick Peek" From Electron User Vol. 3 No. 3
IF you fancy a peaceful job like mowing a lawn, then this is the program
designed to put you off. Mind you, the rewards are quite high, with more
than a thousand pounds - in points - to be earned by the keen and care-
Your garden is, presumably, right next to Taunton Cricket Ground with
Ian Botham in full flow. Quite an amazing number of cricket balls join
the elastic bands and other debris lying about.
Any contact with these harmless looking bit and pieces means a new
mower is required and you've only got three. A further problem is that
your mower gets ruined if you venture on to grass that's already cut!
The biggest danger to life and limb is the rival mower. This little
beast is hell-bent on colliding with you, or on making you bump into the
garden walls or one of the nasty objects. You can do the same and try to
trap the maniac mower for additional points.
To complete the misery a karate expert is practising in the garden
and he is very keep to give you the chop.
This game ought to be fun to play but it is too slow for real arcade
action. There is a lot of strategy involved in keeping your mower going
and trapping your rival, andthe game is enjoyable at that level. But
one bad feature is that the chosen colours are awful, producing moving
diagonal lines on black and white or colour TVs. Needless to say, all
is well if you have a monitor.
As seems to be usual with Kansas games, the instructions are excell-
ent and a model for other software houses to copy. A feature of the
program which I like is that it is written in Basic and listable, which
means you can modify it to your heart's content. I'd also recommend the
game to BBC Micro owners where the speed of action is good.
Arcade addicts will unfortunately find this game a disappointment,
but if you prefer a little slow action strategy problem and enjoy tin-
kering with programs then why not consider MANIAC MOWER?
MANY alleged educational programs are not worth a glance and for good
reason: it's doubtful if good educational software can be written with-
out recourse to experienced teachers who can validate and help with de-
MATHS WITH A STORY: 2 is an example of the quality which can be
achieved by an experienced writer supported by good field work.
This package develops spatial awareness through coordinate geometry
and pattern recognition combined in four captivating games.
The first game, PIRATE GOLD, is a treasure hunt. An island is super-
imposed on a grid where hidden gold can be found by moving a cursor
using X/Y coordinates.
A mutlicoloured barometer and a changing bleep tone shows how "warm"
the hunter is. Further help is given by the coloured squares appearing
over coordinates already visited.
The object is to be the first to fill a chest with gold, and the
shorter the route taken the greater amount of gold there is to be found.
Turnflex exploits the concepts of reflection and symmetry by present-
ing the player with two picture tiles, the second being a reflection of
At the first level the picture is composed of numerals, but higher
levels allow the user to design th pictures.
The game starts by the removal of the reflected picture, and the
player has to show an understanding of mirrors and reflections to win it
Dice Squares is a game of chance and strategy for one or two players,
where rows, or squares, are positioned to fill a grid. The size of the
rows and squares you can fill is determined by a simulated dice throw.
Thelastgame, Tile Stretch, introduces the concept of stretching and
enlargement using tiles to fill a grid in order to capture as large an
area as possible.
In each game there is the option of turning the sound off, a choice
of one or two players and a range of difficulties.
Simple screen prompts, along with optional demonstration runs, make
the comprehensive booklet supplied with the tape superfluous, and good
protection from michievous fingers enables the programs to be used by
pupils without supervision. Highly recommended.
HAVING played a variety of football management simulations, I eagerly
loaded the first of these twin cassettes, which deals with the qualify-
Actually it also includes a couple of European friendlies and the
South American tour, which give ample opportunity to review your
strengths and weaknesses. It also gave me the ideal opportunity to do
the same to Qualsoft's program.
In some respects I was a little disappointed, for I began at the
easiest skill level where the results seemed just too random and often
The sound effects are not particularly exciting, but these can be
turned off. The most disappointing aspect was that when I actually man-
aged to reach the final where England beat Italy, there wasn't a cup in
sight - merely a one word message of congratulations!
The graphics, however, do give the impression of a football match,
with 22 little match men rushing up and down the pitch with great effort
although poor skill. This is, naturally, computer-controlled so you can
just watch the action for a minute or so.
At the higher skill levels the whole idea becomes far more interest-
ing with the players' strengths and weaknesses taken into far greater
account. Great skill is needed, as I found it very easy to lose many a
However, when the England team does eventually qualify it is necess-
ary to save the data on to a blank cassette, which can then be reloaded
into the second part, that dealing with the finals in Mexico.
Once there, a squad of 20 is selected from the players used so far.
Yes, there is an option to add extra players, so you too can play for
your country! The stages here are really very authentic, but when you've
won the cup once I would strongly suggest that you try at a more com-
petitive level in order to capture the real challenge the program
Sadly, although the qualifying cassette can obviously be reused,
there is no save facility elsewhere, and the whole program is a bit
monotonous at one sitting. Still, it is a credit to Qualsoft to see just
how complex an idea can be programmed into the Electron.
EACH year a crop of 16-year-old students get into a panic over O-level
or CSE exams. The aim of this package is to assist pupils taking any
exam in physics at age 16+.
Its content has taken into account the new GCSE courses as well as
the more traditional ones.
I was sent this package to review because I am a teacher of physics.
The obvious course of action was to try it out on my present fifth year
I was very pleased that the programs run on both the BBC Micro and
Electron. Virtually every school, of course, has the faithful BBC Micro.
With two whole tapes full of programs on both sides, my pupils could
not cover much of it in school time. We concentrated on the first prog-
ram, called the diagonistic test.
This consists of forty multiple choice questions covering the full
spectrum of physics work. It certainly seemed appropriate to the O level
syllabus which I teach.
If a pupil gets a question wrong, a hint is given. If the question
still can't be solved, the answer is given.
At the end of the test, the pupil's performance is analysed. Areas of
weakness are highlighted and a revision program is suggested.
The verdict of my students was that this program was rather dull and
needed a degree of dedication to work through. The analysis of their
performance, however, was rated useful.
The next program on the first tape deals with relationships. If you
think that sounds physical rather than physics, it really means
In this section a number of graphis are drawn to show how one thing
depends on another, such as volume and temperature.
You then have to pick the correct relationship from a choice of four
(volume is proportional to temperature).
A student who was really involved in revision would find this section
useful but rather limited in approach.
The motion programs on side two of the first tape are very hard to
understand, in fact I don't understand them myself.
They are meant to cover velocity, speed, acceleration, force, energy,
work, power and momentum. I can only recommend O level or CSE students
to leave them well alone.
The program on ray optices is a good, tidy revision program. There is
nothing startling about it though. It presents some information on re-
flection, refraction and eye defects.
The problems which follow are neatly constructed, and even suggest
that you should draw out ray diagrams on paper.
Turning to the second taoe we come to the best program of the lot, on
radio-activity. This topic is usually covered poorly in schools and
little real practical work can be done.
It simulates an experiment to detect the various forms of radiation.
You have a source of unknown radiation and a geiger counter.
These can be moved around the screen along with various blocking mat-
erials (paper, aluminium and lead) and a magnet.
By reading the counter, with or without sound, it is possible to work
out whether the source is emitting alpha, beta or gamma radiation.
As an enhancement, you can use the information gained to work out
This particular program makes the user adopt investigative methods
and is suitable for use in schools as well as by revising pupils.
A multiple choice test on waves follows.
The help and hints are well put together and our revising pupil may
well find them useful. The same could also be said of the two programs
on electricity and magnetism.
One is a multiple choice test, the other a lesson comparing the flow
of electricity with that of water.
The last program is about heat. It is poor and the screen display is
muddled - quite the weakest program in the package.
One criticism I have of the entire package is that the programs
drive the operator. It would all be better if users could have some
peace while thinking.
The system of entering responses is distinctly poor. My pupils com-
plained that they got answers wrong because the text cursor moved on to
the next possible response as they pressed Return.
There's a lot of program here to summarise. The first point is that
you get your money's worth as far as the quantity is concerned.
It's a pity that a couple of the programs are very poor, but the
package as a whole is worthwhile for 16-year-old physics students.
Certainly a number of mine are going to buy it now they've seen it.
IN this, the second in the Scott Adams series of adventures, your task
is to collect and store treasures, though there are only two in this
You begin your quest in an apartment in London and an immediate
search of the premises should be your first task.
Strangely, there seems to be only one room though the stairs do lead
to an alcove. The bookcase has only one book - well worth a read and
then a second look.
The duffel bag is soon found and a window is very interesting. Don't
try any magic yet unless you've realised that the ledge is very
Several things will be confusing you, but if you remember the sea
shanty you may realise that the pirate runs true to form.
That rug will have to be left until later and provides a key to the
solution of a later problem.
By now you should be fully equipped to visit the desert island and so
you go off to the main body of the adventure.
This is a beginners' adventure and classed thus by Scott Adams him-
Although it has only about twenty locations it has its full share of
problems. This was one of the first adventures available for a home
computer, and still manages to compare favourably with later ones.
An ideal adventure for the novice and one worth having on anyone's
THIS package by Mirrorsoft contains two games for youngsters, Sum Vaders
and Robot Tables. Both programs are designed to give practice in number
Sum Vaders requires you to use some quick thinking to stop the in-
vasion of robots.
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems are pre-
sented and you have to get the answer right first time.
An alien spacecraft bearing a number moves across the screen. It re-
leases a robot invader which also has a number.
The object of the game is to destroy the robot before it reaches the
ground. To do that you have to type the correct response to the sum.
In the addition option, you have to add the two numbers, while the
subraction option has you taking the smaller number from the larger.
The product is entered in the multiplication option and the smaller
number is shared into the larger in the division option.
As your skills increase, so does the difficulty, the attackers coming
in lower and faster. Your turn ends when five aliens get past and land
There are five levels of difficulty for the adding and subtracting
options. Only three levels are available in the multiplication and div-
A nice feature of this program is that two people can play in compet-
ition, each player at his own level of difficulty. This enables a child
to compete with an adult, yet still be able to win.
In the two-player game, high scores are separately recorded.
The second program, Robot Tables, is based upon a manic machine de-
signed to frustrate the would-be mathematician.
The aim of the exercise is to create robots - in contrast to Sum
Vaders, where the object was to destroy them.
The robots are produced from lumps of raw material that is fed in
from the left-hand side.
Each lump contains a number. You have to decide whether that number
is the next one in the sequence that is displayed below.
If you reject good material - a correct answer - or if you accept
bad material - a wrong answer - the machine makes a damaged robot.
If the material is OK and it is accepted by you, a perfect robot is
produced. If you correctly reject bad material, it's recycled.
Points are credited for material recycled and each undamaged robot
Bonus points are given for every sequence of ten robots that are
There are two modes for the game - learning and testing. In the
learning mode the correct sequence of numbers is first displayed.
There are much longer response times and answers are displayed after
each robot is made.
The testing mode is much faster and points and lost for incorrect
I'd be happy to use the programs with most youngsters.
IT isn't unusual for me to get stuck in adventures, but to do so when a
cheat sheet is enclosed with the game certainly is, which goes to show
the quality of Adventure International's ROBIN OF SHERWOOD.
While the plot of the game is new, the characters and some of the
events in it follow the recent TV series closely.
You, of course, play Robin of Locksley, the Hooded Man and your task
is to find and safely store the Touchstones of Rhiannon.
You start the game in the Sheriff's dungeons, awaiting trial for
killing deer. Escaping is difficult and probably one of the most well
constructed puzzles I have seen.
Once you are free you should save the game - exploration of the cas-
tle is risky, though necessary.
It shouldn't be too long before you manage to get out of the castle
and when you do you'll find yourself in the middle of a 60-odd room
maze. I suggest you save the game again at this point.
The usual maze-mapping methods won't work here as the objects you
have seen so far can't be collected.
The maze is logical, though, so you can map it linearly. Moving two
moves east and then two west will bring you back to your start position
providing you haven't tried to go off the map.
If you find you need less moves on your return journey then you have
reached the end of the map and should, by reducing the number of moves,
be able to find where the edge is.
Eventually you'll manage to map it all.
I was a bit disconcerted to find myself dumped in the forest maze so
suddenly, and this put me off the game for a while.
Once I had got further into it though, I found it to be one of the
best adventures to have come my way for a while.
Atmosphere ...................... 6
Complexity ...................... 6
Presentation .................... 5
Value for money ................. 6
Overall ......................... 5
Electron User Vol. 3 No. 7
Product: ROBIN OF SHERWOOD (Tape, DFS Disk) Supplier:
IT is over a hundred years since the Normans conquered England, but re-
bellion still flares. Many English secretly believe a Hooden Man - a
fugitive - would be chosen by Herne the Hunter to lead the English
against the Norman tyranny. This time is now ready for the appearance of
the Hooded Man - you. This Scott Adams' adventure includes features such
as the stringing together of commands and input of complete sentences. A
free hint sheet is included with the game.
"Quick Peek" From Electron User Vol. 3 No. 3
READERS may remember a TV program called Mission Impossible in which the
leader of a government spy team always received his instructions on a
tape, which after being played, self-destructed.
SECRET MISSION (Adventure International) is the third in the Scott
Adams series of games and is based on that TV series.
You, like the leader of the spy team, have to play a tape to find out
what your task is.
Your mission is to prevent the destruction of a nuclear plant. A
saboteur has planted a bomb in the reactor and it is up to you to defuse
On playing the tape in the briefing room you discover that the sabo-
teur has been there before you.
A quick exploration shows that you have only got access to eight lo-
Several security doors bar your way, though a visit to the grey room
should give you the means of getting through one of them.
You now have a visitor's pass and a means of getting into the white
room. Wait until you hear a noise though, the saboteur is suicidal and
will provide vital additions to your inventory.
The window is now the place to go and the tape recorder will help you
here. You'll have to fool that camera, so think you you'd send for here,
to repair the window.
You should now have another key and a return to the console should
help you to get through another door. A floor cleaner is soon found and
therefore, two objects that will put you well on the way to finishing
I think this is the hardest of the Scott Adams games I have tried.
An excellent adventure that I highly recommend.
Atmosphere ...................... 5
Complexity ...................... 7
Presentation .................... 4
Value for money ................. 6
Overall ......................... 6
Electron User Vol. 3 No. 7
IF you've ever wondered what it would be like to fly one of the world's
best combat planes then take a look at STRIKE FORCE HARRIER.
Mirrorsoft would probably agree that it's not quite as good as the
real thing, but then it's about five million pounds cheaper!
The display is quite impressive, with excellent graphics.
Your instruments cover the lower half of the screen and consist of a
map and radar, thrust and fuel gauges and the status of the under-
carriage, flaps and brakes.
The windscreen covers the top half of the screen. This is where the
action takes place. Through it you can see the ground, horizon, sky and
clouds, plus a few more instruments.
Flying the Harrier is fairly easy. Within ten minutes I was looping
the loop and doing barrel rolls.
This is only a small part of the game though. The place is armed with
bombs, missiles and cannons to defend youself from surface to air miss-
iles, anti-aircraft fire and enemy aircraft (MIG 23s).
Your mission is to destroy the enemy HQ 500 miles from your starting
position. This is achieved by blasting enemy tanks on the ground with
your cannons and bombs.
A ground site can then be set up and your own forces moved up by an
airborne drop at a speed of around 600 knots.
Each new base needs defending from tanks as you attempt to set up the
STRIKE FORCE HARRIER is more than a single flight simulator, it's a
It requires a knowledge of ground attack techniques and skill in air
to air combat.
The 27-page manual supplied describes these tactics in details, along
with an outline of your mission and tips on flying.
There are several different levels of difficulty, including a prac-
tice mode in which you aren't attacked.
After a bit of practice you can try your hand at combat. Far from
easy this - it takes a long time to master.
If you're after something more than a flight simulator then Harrier
is well worth considering.
The addition of ground and air combat makes this one of the best
games of its type on the Electron.
KOSMOS has developed quite a reputation for its Answer Back programs,
and the latest addition to the collection, the sports quiz, keeps up the
What you get for your money is more than 750 questions divided into
These must cover just about every area of sport.
The questions can be multiple choice, or yes/no answers. The whole
program is regarded as a sporting contest - you against Kosmos.
Every time you get a question wrong, it's a point for Kosmos. But if
you get one right, you will gain the point yourself. [*]
For each correct answer, you also get three credits, and these cred-
its can be cashed in for a choice of two games - football or tennis.
In football, you keep goal against a very competent Kosmos forward
line, while in tennis you score points each time you hit the ball.
Apart from the set questions, the program gives you the ability to
create your own quiz.
This doesn't need to have a sporting theme - I've used it to create
questions on science topics.
The program is well-written and bug-free. The games, while not ar-
cade standard, demand some skill and are enjoyable to play.
The main menu is clear and easy to use.
[* Evidently, an error occured in printing the original review which
reads 'But if you get one enjoyable to play.']
BY far the biggest game I've yet seen for the Electron, STAIRWAY TO HELL
is basically a graphics action game. But it has been produced on such a
scale that it takes on the aura of an adventure program.
It is actually four linked programs - the first three consist of four
separate screens each, and the last of these three, making a total of
15 screens, each of which is nearly a game in itself.
The object is to guide your explorer on his journey to the centre of
the Earth through the various hazards to the last screen - an audience
with the Devil.
T haven't seen this final screen yet, but the preceding fourteen
constitute a bewildering variety of detailed graphics and excellent an-
Each is a variation on a familiar theme - climbing over obstacles, up
and down ladders, jumping holes or moving hazards and collecting objects
Variation is the key word here, and I can't think of a possibility
which has not been covered in some way in one or another of the locat-
Moving is by the usual keys (Z, X, * and ?) and Return for a jump.
Each section of the game has some short instructions, informing you of
the environments, how to score points and bonus marks, and what to look
Part 1 takes you down into the subterranean world through mines, the
pump room and the grotto, each with its own brand of hazard such as rock
falls, trolleys and rats.
From here you move into the realms of ice and snow, which gradually
thaws to become a sub-tropical forest with mutant plants.
The temperature rises still further in part three, where snakes
abound in the jungle, crocodiles in the swamp and mosquitos in the man-
Should you survive the desert and the entrance to Hell, fire and
brimstone are everywhere as your explorer avoids falling lava and jumps
I'd really love to know what the audience with the Devil is like! The
instructions do have the strange observation "Is this your journey's
end?", so perhaps Software Invasion are keeping something up their
My favourite screen is the Grotto, featuring invisible tunnels which
you can only enter when approaching from the correct direction. Walking
happily along you suddenly find yourself on a different level!
Along the way the very skilful will have accumulated enough points
and information to enable them to solve the final screen, and in doing
so stand a chance of winning one of the prizes being offered - the first
worth seven hundred and fifty pounds!
Sound, however, is only adequate but to be fair this is not surpris-
ing when you consider how much has been packed in.
STAIRWAY TO HELL has all the hallmarks of a very classy production.
If you enjoy this sort of game, you'll love this one, and like all good
adventures, it will take a lot of time and perseverance to complete.
One final point. The cassette is one of an increasing number with the
Electron version on one side and the BBC Micro version on the other. The
result is that many shops are now stocking Electron games where pre-
viously they only carried those for the BBC Micro. Manufacturers save on
production costs as one tape is cheaper to produce than two, and of
course more Electron programs in the shops means more tapes sold.
This has to be good for the industry in general and Electron users in
particular, and I would like to see this practice adopted by all soft-
ware houses whenever it is practial.
THIS hacker really has little to do with hacking. However it makes an
interesting and topical story line for the game.
It's actually a Manic Miner-type levels game. There are twelve
screens and man different puzzles and obstacles to overcome.
Your objective is to gain access to the central computer games'
library. You are cast in the role of a small man who is able to pass
through electrical circuits. It's here that the action takes place.
You must pass through your modem into the telephone network.
Then it's out of the mainframe's modem, into its buffer, down its
data bus and into the central processing unit. Then you can access the
On each screen are five floppy discs to collect and a time limit in
which to do it. The time remaining when you've completed the screen is
added to your score.
Any screen can be practised without having to start at the beginning
and go through each one. This is a useful feature which I wish more
The graphics are quite nice but the movement of the characters is
fairly slow and they aren't very smooth. This spoils the game somewhat.
I should imagine it's much better on the BBC Micro with that little
bit extra speed.
However having said that, Firebird software tends to be cheaper than
most, so taking that into account it's a reasonable game.
ELECTRONIC spreadsheets have always had a reputation of being difficult
to use, and I'm sure that this reputation, not entirely unjustified, has
largely been acquired through unfamiliarity.
At first glance VIEWSHEET looks to be incredibly complex, coming as
it does with a 143 page manual and a huge range of facilities.
In fact it is straightforward to use, though the complexities may
take a considerable time to master.
The manual guides you into the subject gently, showing that it is
very easy to set up simple sheets such as the Magic Square, and grad-
ually builds up to the more powerful commands.
On my first encounter with VIEWSHEET I was astonished by just how
powerful these were, and could soon see why spreadsheets are considered
the best way of manipulating data, numbers and calculations.
The program was designed and written by Protechnic, the company res-
ponsible for VIEW, with which it is compatible.
Coming on a 16k ROM it is switched in instead of Basic (by *SHEET)
and so uses little of your precious RAM.
In common with VIEW it is key rather than menu driven, the ESCAPE
key toggling between command and sheet modes.
The sheet has a nominal 255 by 255 size, and is best used in Mode 3.
At the top of the screen is a permanent display of command infor-
mation - your current position within the sheet, and the contents of
The current slot itself is in reverse video - the sheet cursor. This
can be moved around at will by using CAPS LK/FUNC and another key for
the appropriate direction.
Each slot can contain a label, formula or reference. For example, if
in slot A1 you enter PI, you see 3.14159 appear.
Move to B1 and type 2 * A1, and this is calculated and stored in B1
as 6.28319. B1 thus refers to A1, so go back to A1 and alter the con-
tents to another number. In B1 that number multiplied by 2 appears
This is the essential power of the spreadsheet. Any shot referring to
A1 will be updated, and likewise any referring to B1 and so on, pro-
pagating any change across the whole sheet. Slots can also be accessed
by naming the columns and rows, for example "JUNE" Week1" * 0.15.
They can be filled by auto-entry (across or down), replication
(across, down or both, and Absolute or Relative) and by editing existing
As for calculations, a large range of functions are available includ-
ing summing, conditional operators (including IF), pseudo-list functions
such as MAX, MIN, AVERAGE, CHOOSE and LOOKUP (taking lists of slots as
one of their arguments), and most of the Basic maths functions with the
usual operator precedence.
Up to ten windows can be defined to display information from all over
the spreadsheet simultaneously. Printing is also by means by windows and
drivers, and save/load windows cmmands mean that one large spreadsheet
can be used with several sets of windows.
Other facilities include protection, insertion and deletion of rows
and columns, forced recalculation, editing slot formats - decimal
places, ranging right or left and altering the column width.
In addition, Plus 3 owners can transfer data between sheets using
specially created files, and two or more spreadsheets can be linked, so
overcoming memory limitations.
In short, this ROM is sufficiently powerful to provide almost any
conceivable planning, modelling and forecasting that anyone could want
from an Electron.
Many people don't realise the capabilities of spreadsheets. I'd
advise them to go on and try it!
My only reservations are the rather poor bar charts (using rows of
asterisks), the lack of an index in the otherwise excellent manual,
and the speed of the response times - none serious enough to prevent me
from warmly recommending it.
At 29.95 it is now well priced, but beware: some shops are still
selling it at double that.
THIS follows in the same promising steps as the earlier Mr Men programs
from Mirrorsoft. Now the number of little characters is reduced to four,
but the graphics execution is greatly improved.
Mr Noisy's Word Game features Mr Funny and Mr Silly as well as Mr
Noisy, and the intention of the series of activities is to practise
opposites and comparatives.
Any of the nine activities can be selected from the menu, and these
include options in which the child can conjure up on the screen any of
the characters in any given dimensions, so a tall Mr Noisy can stand be-
side a wide Mr Silly.
The young children I tried this with obviously enjoyed these activi-
ties, yet a great amount of vocabulary was being used, orally and in
reading and typing at the keyboard. There is a screen dump facility in-
My favourite program, and that of many of my fellow players, was Read
with Mr Bounce.
Again there is a menu with just five choices and this time the in-
tention is to encourage practice in reading through the repetition of a
number of phrases.
All in all, a fine program with a very real educational purpose, yet
an equally high enjoyment factor. I highly recommend it.
WORKSHOP, from Acornsoft, as you might expect, provides the user with a
workshop environment in which to build things.
The main fun comes from being able to take objects or shapes such as
triangles, squares andcircles,then chop bits off them, drill holes and
glue them to each other.
Educationally, the idea is that users set their own aims, develop
their own plans and experiment as they explore alternative methods of
Experiments are encouraged as their effects can be immediately re-
versed by pressing the Delete key thus ensuring no damage is done.
There are four main pages or operating areas: Shelf, Plan, Machines
At the start you are presented with the Shelf page from which you can
select an object to work on - either a circle, square or triangle.
Once you've made your selection you move on to Plan by pressing
Here your object is shown in a large box in the centre of the screen.
Surrounding the box is a set of icons representing the various machines
you can use.
You can position your object around inside the box by using the cur-
sor keys and then select a machine from the following:
*Drill bores a hole at the centre of the main box, the position of
the object being drilled having been selected by the cursor keys. The
size of the drilled hole increases with each press of the Return key.
*Paint paints your object in any of seven colours.
*Not acts like a mould which surrounds the chosen shape. The mould
then becomes the new shape.
*Scale allows you to enlarge or reduce your object.
*Cut has a blade which can be moved left or right. When Return is
pressed the blade cuts down through your object.
*Squash squashes or stretches your object.
*Glue will glue your present object to one you have previously made
*Rotate turns your object through 90 degrees so that you can work on
These machines are very versatile and the graphical effects quite
One very good feature is the Look option. As you build your object,
each key press you make is stored.
On selecting Look every process you have taken your object through
is impressively replayed in graphic detail.
This is a very useful feature for the teacher or parent who does not
have the time to work through the program with the user but wishes to
review the work later.
The environment provided by Acornsoft's WORKSHOP is definitely con-
ductive to logical thinking and closely simulates that of a real work-