10 EDUCATIONAL GAMES
DRAUGHTS AND REVERSI
FELIX IN THE FACTORY
THE GHOSTS OF GRUNLEY GRAMMAR
KINGDOM OF KLEIN
TREE OF KNOWLEDGE
WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?
WHENEVER I see a compendium tape my reaction is to shudder. There is
usually one reasonable program surrounded by a heap of others which
vary from bad to awful.
This one, however, is a pleasant exception, containing ten programs
aimed at the user in school.
One superb innovation is that Dimax makes the listing freely avail-
able. Each program uses the same standard programming format so that
the listing can be adapted to suit special needs.
Indeed, Dimax will even sell the listings separately for just 40p
each should your typing not be up to Olympic standard.
The games cover mathematical themes, letter recognition and a stiff
test on capital cities. There are also quite reasonable versions of
standard games such as Mastermind and Simon.
While none of the ideas is especially original, the versions are well
enough programmed to give interesting screen displays.
There is even a version of Tree of Knowledge, a simple introduction
to the setting up of a datafile.
For less than the price of a normal commercial program this tape
offers a wide range of educational games which can be freely adapted.
Indeed, there are even suggestions printed on the inlay of ideas to try.
Many parents will also find this a worthwhile purchase, especially as
it has been written to run on both the Electron and the BBC Micro.
My main criticism is that the Electron is a sophisticated machine
which can use colour, detail, sound and animation to stimulate children
using the machine. I am not convinced that Max Lang has exploited this
to the full.
CASTLE Frankenstein is a text adventure originally written for the BBC
Micro and has now been converted to run on the Electron.
The plot centres around Frankenstein's monster.
Originally he was thought to have perished in a fire 20 years ago.
But now, because of unsolved murders in the area, there's a growing
suspicion that he's alive and well and intent on vengeance.
The villagers have elected you to be their champion, and your task
is to find and destroy the monster.
To help you the cassette comes with an insert which gives general
information about the game.
Something I found rather strange about this insert was a claim that
the tape was disc compatible. I suspect this was intended for the BBC
rather than the Electron.
However it probably won't be long before the Electron has discs, so
curiousity made me try putting the tape onto a friends BBC Micro with
I found you could not use it on disc without using a routine to
move it down in memory.
Even then the save-game option would only work with cassette. I
would be interested to know if the same is true of the BBC version.
On loading the program presents instructions and background infor-
mation. Then begins one of the best all-round adventures I have ever
seen for the Electron.
I will not reveal anything about the actual playing of the game.
That's a pleasure I'll let you experience for yourself.
Whoever wrote this program has an extremely devious mind, and makes
you work very hard for each piece of progress.
Yet, at the same time, he allows you to roam quite a distance be-
fore presenting you with puzzles to solve. This, I feel, is the proper
way to write an adventure.
The beginner has lots of locations to explore to get the feel of
the game, but the more expreienced adventurer can go through them ra-
pidly to reach the puzzles.
There were a few minor things I wasn't happy with. For instance,
there's no on-screen indication of exits. But I've probably just got
into lazy habits with other adventures.
The program itself responds very quickly to keyboard input, and
the save-game facility - which is an absolute necessity - is very
Overall, an extremely good adventure and excellent value for money.
HAVE you ever felt the need to destroy a defenceless caterpillar? If
you haven't so far, now's your chance.
In a variation of the popular arcade game, you control the black,
moveable weapon at the bottom end of a field of mushrooms.
You are hungry for points. The caterpillar is at the other end,
hungry for you.
Hang on to your nerve as you watch it menacingly winding its way
towards you, weaving between the mushrooms.
As you move from left to right or up and down you fire at the cat-
erpillar, blasting mushrooms out of the way, scoring points all the
When you hit the lengthy beasty, a segment is destroyed. If you hit
it in the centre then it splits in two.
But it still comes towards you. Can you destroy it before it gets
While you're watching it come closer, you mustn't forget to fire at
a scorpion which occasionally appears. A lot of points can be gained
from hitting that particular undesirable.
Watch out, too, for a spider. He's hanging around the bottom of the
screen and ready to grab you if you can't shoot or avoid him.
A nice little game, one that has everyone in the room wanting a go
- while you're reluctant to let them. Graphics and sound effects are
well up to standard.
THE sheer size of the task is astonishing - how does one put a game as
complex as chess into a micro?
How Program Power managed to do so as well as this is truly remark-
able. It is a version I found totally absorbing, and one which I would
On loading, which was straightforward and presented no difficulty, a
menu of options is presented.
Each option is most carefully explained on the cassette inlay, and
they enable one to set the parameters for any chosen game.
The colours of the pieces and/or the board are easily changed to any
combination, so invisible chess becomes possible - and very difficult!
The most obvious choice from the menu is Play, but even then various
other decisions have to be made.
It is possible to play against the Electron, to have the computer
play itself, or to use the micro simply as a medium through which two
human opponents do battle.
There are several skill levels, although one obviously has to trade
power against speed of response.
Average times are given for various levels, with the ninth grade tak-
ing about three hours per move.
At my standard of chess that would rival watching the proverbial
At lower levels the computer still plays a decent game. It inclines
to be orthodox in style, although it enjoys forays with the Queen.
One very helpful feature is the chance to retract a bad move. In fact
by clever use of the built-in facilities, it is even possible to swap
It is also possible to set up any required board layout to allow an-
alysis of various ideas.
I found these powerful options to be a most useful aid with my 10-
year-old chess club members at school.
My favourite choice of play was Blitz Chess, in which one is given
only a limited time to make a move. This time can be set as low as 10
seconds, which certainly stimulates the adrenalin.
If no move is made in time, the computer claims another go. Here the
computer has a great advantage, being troubled with neither fatigue or
panic, nor by the telephone ringing.
Obviously any such complex program is almost certain to include the
odd bug, and this is no exception.
When playing Blitz Chess, as explained before, the turn reverts to
the computer if no move is made within the time allowed.
In one case I was in check but made no move within the limit. The
computer promptly took my king and told me I was still in check!
In another game, with the micro playing itself, play reached a state
where the board alternated between two positions.
This continued for over a quarter of an hour, with the same yoyo
moves, until I put an end to the pieces' misery.
However, with these few minor problems put to one side, all the fea-
tures of chess are faithfully reproduced in this version, including
castling and en-passant.
Illegal moves are disallowed, as well as a very occasional legal
move, and the whole gives the feeling of a well-designed program.
It offers good value at the price, and its range caters from beginner
to advanced club player - and probably beyond.
CROAKER is another version of that well known game in which suicidal
frogs cross busy highways and then hop their way to safety across a
river in order to reach a hole in the bank.
One day I am going to ask someone how come frogs drown if they fall
into a river?
The program loads reliably and screen instructions appear while the
main code is being loaded in.
The configuration of the keys is a little unusual - A and Z for up
and down, while M and N control lateral movement.
However, they soon feel natural enough, although I would imagine a
joystick would improve matters.
The game's format is fairly standard, with five lanes of traffic
travelling in alternate directions and different speeds.
After a brief rest on the riverbank, there are then five more lanes
of logs and turtles before safety is reached at one of the five holes.
When all are occupied bonus points are gained and the screens become
more difficult. The cars move more quickly and are more frequent.
Things are even worse in the river. Some of the turtles dive, and
many logs turn out to be crocodiles with gaping jaws.
The game has little to make it stand out from its clones. But the
graphics are quite presentable, with good use of colour. The key res-
ponse is quick and positive.
I appreciated the first screen starting at a very easy level - my
six-year old son was able to do well at this initial level, although the
crocodiles made him ditch many frogs into a watery grave.
Too often, a game starts with a level of difficulty that doesn't
allow the young or inexperienced to achieve any success.
Here it is possible to gain practice on the lower levels to help
mount an attack on the author's claimed top score of 12,530.
This is a competent and addictive version, but without special
Probably the most used facility will be that which turns off the aw-
ful tune and reverts to the original sound effects.
"ABSORBING", "Electrifying", "Frustrating",
"Addictive" are just a few
of the adjectives I would use to describe Program Power's latest space
Load the program into your Electron and you are immediately convey-
ed into a danger-strewn world of spinners, cyberdroids and spooks. You
may not be sure exactly what they are but you can be certain that
On the first level you are instructed to find a key which can be
used to open a safe.
Doing this conveys you to higher levels, where more dangers await
However things are not as straightforward as just wandering round
the screen until you find the key. Life in space - or at least in
space games - is never that simple.
You'll need every one of your five lives as you battle your way
through a series of maze-like rooms.
You score points each time you zap a spinner, and gain an extra life
when, and if, you reach a pot of gold.
If you survive the first few batches of spinners, you'll find that
clones begin to block your way.
And after the clones come the cyberdroids - vacuum cleaner looka-
likes with nasty dispositions.
Two points to note. First, watch out for the spooks. These little
treasures will comes and get you at every possible opportunity. You've
got to be quick on the draw.
Second, you must have the key in order to open the safe to proceed
to higher levels.
The program is a cross between arcade-style action and an elementary
adventure, combining the two perfectly.
It's exciting with plenty of variety, excellent graphics and inter-
esting sound effects. You'll be a-mazed. And if you are anything like
me, you won't be able to put your Electron down. A winner.
PICTURE it. You're the only interceptor pilot on board an Earth supply
ship. The alarm goes. The Cylons are attacking, wave after relentless
wave determined to stop you getting through.
You launch into space away from the safety of the mother ship to try
and destroy as many of the enemy as you can before your shields give way
or your fuel runs out.
Your eyes search the long range scanners for a glimpse of the enemy
before they stoop to attack, curving and weaving to avoid your defence
That's the scenario for CYLON ATTACK, the compulsive new game from A
& F Software. You play the part of the interceptor pilot, struggling to
get the Cylon ships in your sights so your lasers can lock on to them.
The screen of your micro becomes the view from the cockpit. Ranged
around it are the instruments. They show the state of the lasers, your
fuel, your rates of turn and spin, and a long range radar scanner.
This scanner is not just decoration, but really helps you to track
down and destroy the enemy. The 3-D effect has to be seen to be believ-
ed: the aliens loom out of deep space, growing larger as they approach
to attack distance.
The game is quite simply excellent, with lots more features than can
be described here. The graphics leave most other games standing. And, as
usual from A & F, the instructions are simple but thorough.
The only problem is that I can't find anything about it to criticise.
It really is that good, and sets the standard by which action games will
be judged. Thoroughly recommended.
YOU get two games for the price of one in this package.
The first is DRAUGHTS, where you play the Electron at the age-old
game or, if you're like me, the Electron plays with you!
You have the choice of eight different levels of play and I can't
beat the beast at the easiest level. And it's no use trying to cheat -
it won't let me.
The Electron knows all the rules and won't allow an illegal move. In
fact, if you give it half a chance it will 'huff' you!
It's a lovely version of the game. You play on a tastefully coloured
board, using the keyboard or joysticks to make your move.
Simple to learn and fun to play, it's easy to get carried away and
forget that you've got another game on the tape...and the other game is
REVERSI is an old logic game played on an eight by eight grid of
squares between two opponents. Once again, it's you playing against the
The aim is to trap its pieces between two of yours and so turn them
into your colour. The winner is the one with the most pieces when no
more moves can be made.
It's a classic game, can be learnt in a couple of minutes, but takes
a lifetime to master. And your ever-faithful Electron will be there
waiting to give you practice.
You have the choice of nine levels of difficulty and can use either
the keyboard or joysticks.
The display makes full use of the Electron's graphics and you can ev-
en "take back" any moves that you regret.
All in all, it's a great little package. Each game by itself is good
value. Together they're a bargain.
THE blurb inside the cassette box tells you that DRAW is "an implement-
ation of a sub-section of the LOGO language, principally its turtle
graphics". Offputting, isn't it?
I had two or three programs to review and left this one until last as
it sounded as dreadfully dull. This was a mistake, as I soon discovered.
I loaded the program and turned to the tutorial section of the excel-
lent little manual that comes with the cassette. This led me through all
of the programming techniques available with Draw.
Written simply and clearly, it was a pleasure to use, unlike some of
the other manuals I've come across.
By the time I'd read and worked through it on my Electron, Draw
wasn't offputting, it was fascinating.
At one level, the program allows you to produce pretty patterns on
the screen, quickly and easily.
At another level, it introduces the beginner to the basics of prog-
ramming using a simple graphics-orientated language.
The fact that it is so much fun to use encourages experiment and
The whole thing is menu-driven, which means that your Electron gives
you a series of choices and you can take your pick.
This allows you to get any of the commands by one or two keystrokes,
making the program very pleasant to use.
It's educational, it's fun and it's easy to use, being one of the
nicest programs I've come across in a long while.
If you're looking for something that's both out of the usual and en-
tertaining then Draw might just be it.
YOU know what it's like - you go into work for your shift and no one
else has turned up so it's all left to you. Again.
Well, that's what's facing you as you play the part of Felix, the
hero of this game.
Your main job is to keep the generator oiled. Easy enough, but the
previous shift has left the oil cans all over the factory and you have
to collect them before you can oil it and keep everything running
This is where the work comes in. The factory is a split level affair;
the different levels being joined by letters. Before you are able to
collect the oil cans, you have to negotiate a package-carrying conveyor
It doesn't help that the place is infested with Gremlins and giant
mice which attack you without warning or provocation.
Of course you can use the pitchfork and the bags of poison that are
lying around the place to ward them off but all this takes times and the
generator is running out of oil every second.
And when you've succeeded your only reward is a still harder game!
It's not easy but it is fun; a fast game calling for quick reflexes
and a sense of humour as you try to keep production flowing.
The instructions are clear and adequate, the controls simple and easy
to use. The program's sound and graphics use the Electron's capabilities
to the full.
All-in-all it's a good version of an old idea, and children love it.
If you want an amusing action game for your Electron then FELIX IN THE
FACTORY is one to be considered.
HAVE you ever wondered what became of the grammar schools when the com-
prehensive came along?
Well, I know what happened to one of them, Grunley Grammar. It was
shut up, forgotten and left to decay; the only inhabitants the ghosts of
its own teachers.
These ghosts are doomed to spend all eternity teaching spectral
classes the subjects refused to learn in their lifetimes.
They would far prefer to teach, test and taunt a living child. And
with Magic Software's cassette, THE GHOSTS OF GRUNLEY GRAMMAR, they get
You take the part of a child who has foolishly entered the ghastly
grammar school and fallen into the hands of the ghosts. You go from room
to room and in each room, the master asks you three questions on his
Should you fail any of them, he gloatingly tells you the answer and
back to the beginning you go. But only after the ghosts have taunted you
about your stupidity!
It's amusing and becomes compulsive. All the usual school subjects
are covered and there's a fair selection of questions. It's the kind of
game that kids love - not just playing it themselves but also watching
others make mistakes and get insulted. And they're learning all the
The program is fun and original. No doubt educationalists will say
that it just teaches facts, not understanding, but that's just a
The program is amusing and addictive. In fact it's magic.
THE Electron is capable of supporting a wide range of graphics and text
modes, better in fact than many machines costing much more.
Imaginative programming can be carried out in Modes 0, 1 and 2, al-
though many people would find the GCOL, MOVE, DRAW and PLOT statements
difficult to plan for an involved drawing.
This program takes the difficulty away, substituting it with a series
of simple commands with which complicated, colourful and concise artwork
can be designed.
Only Modes 0, 1 and 2 can be used, and the available colours are
shown on a palette at the bottom of the screen.
Should other colours than the default one by required it is simple to
alter those available.
A flashing cross-hair cursor is used to position elements, and the
coordinates are constantly updated on-screen.
A number of built-in functions can be used, and each has an easily
remembered mnemonic. B draws a box, C sets a circle, F fulfills a FILL
function, L produces a line while A initiates an arc.
For all these, when the cursor is in the correct position, the Space-
bar is the input necessary to start the procedure.
Text can be added at will on the screen, and so many applications
spring to mind.
Pie charts and histograms may be labelled and coloured to relay in-
formation, systems may be designed, and complicated maps and drawings
transferred from graph paper.
Pictures may be built up in a series of pages and may be stored onto
cassette for future use.
One glaring omission, looking to the future, is that there seems to
be no facility for a screen dump.
A hard copy of the screen display would be a fitting final facility
to this useful piece of software.
If fulfills a large variety of purposes, and also stands on its own
as great fun with which to experiment.
IF you're anything like me, you'll realise that all horoscopes are a
load of rubbish and that no one in their right mind would read them.
This doesn't, however, stop me from reading them avidly, especially
when they say nice things about my star sign and promise a rosy future.
From this you'll understand that I was hooked as soon as Horoscope
came into the office.
I loaded it up all eager expectation, but sadly I was a little dis-
appointed as I found it rather limited.
Despite the title you don't actually get a forecast of the future,
just a description of your personality traits.
When you run the program it asks you for your name, date of birth and
sex, and then prints out the personality profile of your star sign. All
interesting stuff and good fun.
The trouble is that the profile for each star sign is the same which-
ever sex you are and whatever day you were born on.
This means that there are only really twelve profiles, one for each
sign. This makes it fairly limited for home use.
Having said that, the program looks ideal for fundraising at fetes,
jumble sales and school open days. I can see it making a fortune for
IF you're one of these shady characters who can go into a pub or
amusement arcade and lose yourself for hours in a Space Invaders or
Galaxians game, then this should be right up your street.
There are fast and slow levels - and you take your pick according to
how big-headed you feel. Then launch into the fray.
You are a lone, ground-based, tank-like vehicle fighting squadron of
aircraft, all intent on sending you to the big electron cloud in the
The skill lies in dodging the bombs and the descending bombers, who
have no fear of ramming you.
At the same time you are trying to shoot them down. But to add in-
sult to intended injury once you've annihilated one squadron another
more challenging one is ready to take its place.
This is not the most original game in the world, but it is certainly
The action is dast and furious with more than adequate sound and
If you are looking for a classic game to test your nerve and react-
ions this is for you.
THIS is the latest in a series of text-only adventures for the Electron
The plot concerns the wicked witch of the mountain who has stolen the
Klein bottle from its pedestal in the king's palace.
She has sworn to lay a hideous curse on anyone foolish enough to try
and recover it. And the hapless citizens of Klein have elected you to be
Your task is to find and kill the witch and return the bottle to the
You start at the scene of the crime and after collecting some useful
items in the palace, set out on your quest.
You have a limited amount of movement before encountering the first
puzzle - how to cross the river. But having solved this, off you go to
the main body of the adventure.
I won't reveal anything else about the game itself. Suffice it to say
you will meet a belligerent giant, learn to fly and end up in an endless
I consider this a fairly hard adventure, and I must confess I decided
to cheat. Imagine my surprise, however, when I found a message in the
memory ot the effect that "peeking won't help, you'll have to do it the
Thus chastened, I returned to the adventure, got a little further and
This time I wouldn't be beaten. A slight alteration to the Ascii
values in my disassembler produced a keywords listing. Thus armed, I
hastened back to the game and promptly got stuck yet again.
As I write this, I am finally near the end - the adventure's and
mine. The effort has been worthwhile, even though I now have a few grey
Overall a definite must for the experienced adventurer, though the
beginner would probably do better with the first of the Epic adventures,
The save-game facility and response to keyboard input are both very
A lot of mapping is required and although the solutions to the prob-
lems are reasonably easy, finding what you need to solve the problem
with can be a headache.
An extremely good adventure and excellent value for money. Recom-
DRIFTING alone in space, your ship is menaced by a sudden meteor storm.
Collision is imminent.
All that you have to fight off the huge rocks are your ship's laser
bolts. The trouble is that as soon as you hit them the meteors break up
into little pieces which are just as deadly.
You have to blast away at these until they've all been destroyed or
they'll destroy you!
Just to make things more difficult, all the firing has attracted the
attention of some extremely hostile flying saucers.
These take the opportunity to snipe at you while you're distracted
by meteors, so you've got to shoot at them as well.
You do have thrusters to help you dodge, and if it all gets too much
you can escape into hyperspace.
It's great fun, a game of quick thinking and fast reactions. Colour-
ful and fast, space flight will never seem the same again.
IN MONSTERS the screen becomes a pattern of walls and ladders, along
which you, in the guise of a little animated man, are chased by a series
of colourful monsters.
You've only got three lives and every time they catch you, you lose a
To make things more difficult, while you're dashing along the tops of
the walls and running up and down the ladders your oxygen supply is run-
You have to destroy the monsters before that happens, and the only
way to do this is to dig a hole in a wall, lure the monsters into it and
fill it in quickly before they climb out.
However, as soon as you get rid of one set of monsters, they're re-
placed by another lot of a different colour.
It gets faster and faster and more and more fun. The graphics are ex-
cellent and the instructions easy to follow.
It's also compulsive, making you ask for the notorious "one more go".
You could say monsters grow on you.
YOU are the commander of a squadron of three fast and highly manoeuvre-
able space attack craft, ordered to raid an alien base on the Moon.
The aliens, understandably miffed at this, set up a series of defen-
sive zones, each more difficult than before, which you must negotiate.
The first three screens depict hilly landscapes, thickly populated by
radar stations, anti-aircraft batteries and missile silos.
Also dotted about are enemy tankers - vital to your mission, for by
hitting them with your bombs you gain a much needed boost to your fuel
This is necessary to enable you to reach your own tanker, which is
sited between stages.
Beware of the space mines that surround your tanker - these aliens
don't miss a trick. Stages two and three have flying bombs and fireballs
just to keep things interesting.
Stage four takes you over the highlands, sown with missiles and not
an enemy in sight until the very end. If you miss this, it's curtains!
Refuel once more and you're through to the final obstacle - a long
winding cavern with sharp bends and vertical shafts.
No problem with fuel here, because flocks of enemy tankers block your
path. Having said that, none but the very skilled will make it through
The enemy base lies tantalisingly beyond, though some may never see
Good graphics, a limitless supply of laser bolts, bombs and poachable
fuel make this a satisfying and compulsive game.
Skillful use of the faster/slower key makes evasive action easier.
Use of this key while refuelling means that you can take on more fuel
and its use is vital while flying through the caverns.
One of the nice features of the program is you can skip stages by se-
lecting games one to five and set the difficulty by selecting A to D.
A good value game, crammed with action and needing skill to test the
most ardent arcade fanatic. A recommended version of the old classic.
I'M not much of an adventure game freak, having spent too many hours
lost on the London Underground for caverns to hold much fascination.
So it was with a distinct air of foreboding that I decided to have a
go at PHAROAH'S TOMB, the "adventure style game" from A & F.
I was entranced from the first moment.
The game isn't really a true adventure. It's more a cross between a
series of anagrams, mastermind-type puzzles and an arcade action game.
A race against the clock is thrown in as well.
The idea is that you enter the Pharoah's tomb in order to get hold of
his mask and 500 pieces of gold.
When you've got them you can return to the start (if you can find
your way) and escape.
At least that's what the instructions say. I must admit that I
haven't got that far. I usually starve to death.
On your way through the tomb, you are attacked by spiders and mum-
mies, have to solve riddles to open doors and rush around collecting
silver and gold coins.
With the coins you can buy useful items like lances, swords and bows
and arrows as well as food.
Sadly, you can't bribe anyone to tell you how to get out.
I could tell you more about this game, but why should I give away my
hard won secrets? Find you for yourself!
It's great fun. The instructions are straightforward, though the game
It's the type of program that has people looking over your shoulder
giving 'helpful' hints. If you are tired of all-action games but are a
bit wary of a full blown adventure, then Pharoah's Tomb may just suit
And if you do manage to escape, let me know how.
YOU'VE seen it all before. The space invaders tramp predictably across
the screen, edging relentlessly earthwards.
You wipe them out mercilessly with your quick firing laser base, rap-
idly clearing the first screen.
It appears all too easy - then all hell breaks loose...
The second wave doesn't follow a set pattern. They swarm about all
over the place setting up defensive boxes. If you don't break them up
they will be your downfall.
Moving quickly earthwards they have landed before you can gather your
And that's only the second wave - there are nine in all, each prog-
POSITRON is a fast moving, colourful and satisfying game. So sharpen
your wits, tighten your sweatband and give it a whirl.
PUNCMAN is a software package containing two programs that aim to help
children from the age of eight upwards learn elementary punctuation in
an enjoyable way.
Puncman, a sort of educated Pacman, writes a short story on the
screen and a character called Nosher swipes the punctuation marks.
In Puncman 1 it's the capital letters and full stops that he takes.
With Puncman 2 he becomes bolder and takes the commas and question marks
The pupil has to help Puncman replace them all correctly by guiding
him, using the cursor keys.
There are seven stories in each game, each of a different level of
difficulty. A good feature is that you can choose the story level you
want without having to go through the others.
One criticism is that it would be nice if you could jump back to the
instructions from the game. It would also be nice to have the option of
varying the speed of Puncman who might be too slow for some children,
too fast for others.
Having said that it's a nice program well written and instructional.
SPACE is getting awfully nasty nowadays. It seems to be full of aliens
all bent on destroying anyone in their path.
In STARSHIP COMMAND you're in charge of a battle starship with the
task of ridding space of these hostile elements.
The only weapons you possess are your torpedoes and your skill. The
skill consists of being able to manoeuvre your ship into a position
where you can zap the other ships which are coming at you thick and
You've got both short and long range scanners which show the enemies'
positions as they approach. The position of your ship and the closer
attackers is shown on the main screen.
Your ship stays still in the middle of the display, the other ships
appearing to move round it as you turn left and right in order to fire
You've also got a rotation meter to tell you how fast you're turning
and an indicator of the state of your energy banks.
Should these banks fall to zero your defensive shields collapse and
the aliens will destroy you. I did warn you that it's getting nasty out
It's not just the aliens you have to look out for, either. At the end
of every mission you are assessed by your superiors. And their judgement
can be worse for than anything the aliens might hand out.
Even if you do well, all you are rewarded with are other, harder
I can't say that it's easy, but all the information you need is there
before you on the various scanner displays.
The game seems to have everything. The graphics are superb, the inst-
ructions thorough and, once you get used to the way your ship stays
still while the aliens move, the whole thing is enthralling.
I'VE never played golf in my life. My only memory of playing anything
like it was taking my dad on the putting green at Gynn Square, Blackpool
more years ago that I care to remember.
So you can see that I'm not really all that well qualified to judge
how realistic SUPERGOLF from Squirrel Software is. I do, however, know a
good game when I see one, and SUPERGOLF is just that.
What you get for your money is a gentle and amusing simulation of a
golf course, with all 18 holes and the usual hazards such as bunkers,
ponds and the wind.
When you load the game the first thing you get is a list of instruct-
ions. These are a model of simplicity, but be warned - you can't get
back to the instruction page from the main program.
I advise taking notes the first time you run the game, though you'll
soon pick up how to play it.
After the instructions page comes the game proper.
The Electron displays one fairway at a time, viewing the course from
It then asks you to select which club you want and what strength shot
you are going to use.
At first it's all a matter of trial and error. Do you use a nine iron
or the wedge? Do you hit the ball with a force of 99 or a more moderate
Soon, however, you learn the uses of all the clubs and are quite hap-
pily knocking the ball all over the place.
And in my case it really is all over the place! I don't know why it
is, but my ball seemed to have a morbid fascination with every bunker on
Happily I'd chosen the one player version of the game so when I dis-
played my score card at the end of each round I was the only person I
The game was fun, entertaining and engrossing. I may never play golf
but I'll certainly be playing Supergolf again. It makes a great change
from zapping aliens, even if I'm not very good at it.
Mind you, I do have an excuse for my poor performance. I was feeling
under par at the time.
HAVE you ever had one of those nightmares where horrible creatures swoop
at you out of the sky? Try as you like, you can't get away from them?
With Program Power's exciting new game SWOOP you get the chance to get
your revenge using your Electron.
You do this by controlling a laser base at the bottom of the screen.
The birdmen are hovering in formation at the top bombing you. Not con-
tent with that, they peel off and strafe you.
All you can do to escape is either to blast them with your laser or
dodge out of the way by moving left or right.
Even if you do avoid them they still cause problems because on land-
ing they turn into eggs which turn into landmines. Run into these when
you're dodging left and right and BANG!
Happily you do have three lives - and you need them! And if you man-
age to shoot the birdmen the eggs they've laid fade away. The trouble is
that as soon as you've shot down one formation another one takes its
place. And they start coming at you thick and fast.
It's a great game, enhanced by good graphics, nice sound effects and
easily used controls. Fast and furious, it needs skill and good
reactions to avoid the swarms that come at you as the game progresses.
It's addictive - and a lot more fun that the nightmare.
SAYING that TREE OF KNOWLEDGE, the new program from Acornsoft, is an ed-
ucational game could be the kiss of death. I mean, who wants to buy
something that's educational?
It sounds like an impossibility - a contradiction in terms! However,
TREE OF KNOWLEDGE is both.
It's a program that shows how computers can organise facts, which
must be educational. But it makes it all so interesting that you don't
realise that you're involved in learning.
Taken at its simplest level it's just a question-and-answer guessing
game. Either you decide to "be" an object and the Electron must guess
what it is or the micro is "it" and you must ask the questions until you
Of course, there has to be a list of objects to pick from, and the
game supplies you with two.
On another level, you're learning how to set up lists of facts, or
databases, and then using them to get the information that you want. At
first, no doubt, you'll use the databases the game gives you but soon
you'll want to create your own.
The program allows you to do this, simply and easily. It also lets
you adjust the ones you already have, so you can throw in the odd unex-
pected object to catch out a know-it-all.
It's fascinating to use and can be anything from an intriguing game
to an educational tool. The range is enormous. The Acornsoft cassette
gives a database that can be used for A-Level Biology students. I'm wor-
king on one using words from my daughter's school books. You're only
limited by your imagination.
The instructions you get are complete and easy to follow and the
whole package professionally produced.
If you're looking for a program that's both different and enjoyable
then this is worth considering. Even if it's educational!
PROBABLY the most fascinating person I know is me! I can speak for hours
and hours on the subject and still not get bored. Or run out of things
to talk about!
And now WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?, a new piece of software from Third
Program, has helped me find out even more about myself.
Won't my friends be fascinated when I tell them?
Trying to be scientific about the human personality is a difficult
business, as may a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist will tell you.
Even so there are two measures that help to provide a rough and ready
guide, and the program uses both of them.
The first is the scale of introversion as opposed to extroversion.
Put simply, this means whether you're shy or outgoing.
The second scale measures whether you are emotionally stable (placid)
or neurotic (anxious, easily agitated).
This may sound a bit dry and academic but it's not at all. In fact
You run the program and your micro asks you fifty questions on seem-
ingly unrelated subjects, one after another.
You're supposed to answer them as quickly as you can.
This is probably because if you think too much about the answer
you'll tend to give one that may be an improvement on the truth!
At the end your answers are analysed and you're shown where you ap-
pear on the two scales.
While the program makes no claim to completeness it is amazing how
accurately it assessed people I've tried it on out.
Not only that but they all enjoyed using it. Maybe I'm not the only
one to find himself fascinating.
Dare I say that it could be used to break the ice at parties? Cer-
tainly it tells you a lot about people, even if it's only their react-
ion to the program.
In fact I was the only person it was wrong about. I'm much more calm,
collected and emotionally stable than it says I am.
And if it doesn't change its opinion of me I'll start sulking!