8-Bit Software

The BBC and Master Computer Public Domain Library

Reviews From TBI 150-2
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Product : ABYSS
Available on 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 12
ABYSS is described as an unusual adventure game, requiring you to under-
take a succession of mental tasks, aptitude tests and arcade games.
To achieve your goal, which is to get to the end of the trail, you
must complete every test correctly. The tests are randomised as to type
and difficulty so you can be lucky and have a succession of the easier
However, to achieve your goal you will have to prove your intellect-
ual prowess and be able to get the more difficult tests right as well.
After each test you return to the matrix and proceed to the next
stage. To reach the following step you have to cross over rickety brid-
ges. If you're unlucky the bridge will fail and you will be plunged into
the abyss.
It is a game for one player, the rules are simple and no problems
were experienced in loading.
The front of the cassette is labelled CCS adventure games, but to my
mind this not really an adventure game.
As an adventure freak I was bound to dislike this program, since I
had obviously expected an adventure. However having said that I could
find no technical fault with it. It's a capable program, but not the
adventure it purports to be, being more of a quiz than anything else.

Available on DFS 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Neil Graham in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 12
THE Electron acts as your eyes and ears in this all-text adventure game
where you wander a fantasy world trying to rescue a princess from magic
You have a compass, but it is fairly unreliable, often making it im-
possible to retrace your steps. You're well advised to make a map as you
go along.
The keyboard entry uses the standard verb/noun system such as "Take
axe" or "Go West". The vocabulary available is fairly large though the
game leaves you to discover this for yourself, only telling you the most
basic commands.
One annoying feature is that the Electron can get bored if you take
your time - and it tells you so! This is usually when you're completely
lost and it doesn't help. The game can be listed, but this provides no
answers, which annoys me as I still can't get past the fierce rat and
you can't kill him yourself.
As the cassette insert tells you, your recollection of stories from
the Arabian Nights should stand you in good stead. As you might expect,
there are various treasures and objects in the adventure, including a
bottle of potent wine. You can drink the wine but hang on to the bottle.
All in all, the game is well written and the answers may take some
time to work out, but the clues are all there. It's the type of program
that has people looking over your shoulder giving "helpful" hints and
ideas to try.
Although perhaps a little simple for the experienced adventurer, for
the beginner it is an extremely good game.
Neil Graham

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 11
I AM almost at a loss for words to describe this superb program from
Screenplay, previously available for the BBC and the Dragon.
It is brilliantly simple in concept, yet the possibilities for its
use are practically endless, being a program to crete multicoloured
sprites which can then be compiled into machine code for use in fast
graphical action games.
The sprites may be saved to tape, and a library of them may be built
up for future use.
The first program, Creator, allows the design of up to 63 separate
sprites, each with two associated figures formed by 180 degree rotation
about a horizontal or vertical axis.
Larger sprites may be defined, up to 30 pixels square, but in this
case only nine may be created.
They may have any colours, flashing or steady, and during the design
stage the sprite is also shown life size for comparison.
Drawing the sprite is simplicity itself, as indeed is each feature of
this program. When the sprite has been saved to tape, it can still be
recalled and minor alterations made for smooth animation.
The second main program, Compiler, allows previosuly saved sprites to
be compiled into machine code for future use in either Basic or machine
code programs.
Editing may still be performed at this stage, and the compiled code
saved again onto tape. Extremely clear and detailed instructions on the
subsequent CALL statements are given, as is an explanation of the built-
in collision checking routine.
In addition to these excellent programs, there are also two demonstr-
ations. One is a game called Dambuster, with modest but effective graph-
ics, while the other is a marvellous scene in a tropical aquarium which
I found myself staring at for a long time.
However I kept coming back again and again to the superb Creator
program, creating endless multicoloured sprites simply because it was so
easy and such tremendous fun.
This package is excellent value for money, being a very useful tool
for the budding programmer. There is even a competition for an original
program using sprites made with Animator, with a first prize of `200. I
have the feeling that they will receive a lot of entries.
Phil Tayler

Product : BEDBUGS
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Bev Friend in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
TO quote from the game: "Just when you thought it was safe to go to
sleep..." BEDBUGS, the new game from Optima Software, should safely dis-
rupt your calmest dreams.
You begin with a bed alive with little nasties which are liable to
nibble your feet at any time.
However you needn't despair, because you are armed with, believe it
or not, a jam sandwich which you use to swat the bugs.
You also have a sponge to wipe up the sticky jam and a pair of false
teeth that you can use to crunch the irritating fleas.
As a last resort there's a telephone that you can use to call Doctor
Soothe or Pestdeath. These two will help you, always provided that
they're in to answer the phone.
You choose your weapon from a "menu" on the left of the screen and
chase the fleas across the bed. When you land on one you press Return
and the little blighter is no more.
You mustn't, however, swat your feet (ouch!), fall off the bed or get
yourself stuck in the jam, for heavy penalties are given.
The sound is reasonable, especially the familiar introduction tune,
and the graphics are good although not striking.
The keys are sensibly placed and easy to use, avoiding the possibil-
ity of accidentally pressing Break.
All in all an original game for kiddies which will keep them occupied
for hours.
Bev Friend

Product: BLAGGER
Supplier: ALLIGATA
Available on 3.5 DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Steve Yarwood in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 12
FEEL in the mood for some thieving? Like to rob a safe or two? Well
BLAGGER gives you the chance.
As Roger the Dodger, intrepid master burglar, you have four lives and
20 different screens to search for golden keys in houses, shops and
Spectrum owners have made a lot of fuss recently about a game called
Jet Set Willy, but I'm certain that Blagger would give it a run for its
It's nothing is not addictive, and a great deal of patience and
thought are required in order to work out how to get through each scene.
Some surfaces disappear as you walk over them, mysterious gooseberry-
like objects kill you if you touch them and sundry nasties such as
spaceships, humbugs, gnashing teeth, locomotives and RG signs must be
avoided. Don't ask me what RG stands for, I don't know.
After collecting all the golden keys for the safes on one screen, you
have to reach a safety zone before the game progresses to the next
This is difficult if you've eroded away the only escape route while
collecting the keys! Also there's a time limit for each screen, which
adds to the fun.
The game is a winner and is very much a "just one more go" piece of
software. The program makes good use of graphics although the sound can
sometimes get a little irritating.
The keys are easy to use, the instructions clear and the game itself
very enjoyable, sure to give many hours of entertainment.
Steve Yarwood

Product: BUGS
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Bev Friend in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
JUST when you thought it was safe to go out onto the lawn and sunbathe,
along comes BUGS from Virgin Games.
All is not well in the garden. You are being overrun by an army of
marauding bugs.
All you have to repel them is your trusty bug-blasting spray can,
your fast reactions and quick wits.
The bugs start at the top of the screen, slowly working their way
nearer and nearer to where you are at the bottom. Don't concentrate on
them too much or you'll miss the spider that bounces along, just waiting
to gobble you up.
You can jump upwards or sideways to avoid it, but it's a persistent
little beast - always there when you least expect it.
And that's not all. Watch out for the harmless looking little snail
crossing the screen. He may look sweet but that trail he's laying can
stop you hitting the other bugs.
Also the scorpion that crosses the screen leaves a trail of deadly
stings waiting just for you.
The instructions, both on screen and on the pack, are clear and sim-
ple, as is the keyboard layout. The sound is very good and the graphics
are excellent.
Fast, funny and addictive, it's a very good game for the younger
Electron buffs. That's if their parents will let them have a go.
Bev Friend

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Peter Gray in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
ANOTHER entry into the insect world. A long, hungry caterpillar wends
its way from the top of the screen to the bottom where you are located.
Can you stop the vicious little beastie or will it eat you alive?
There are six skill levels to keep you on your toes.
You dodge around the bottom of the screen using the Z and X keys to
control movement, hitting the Delete key to blow the centipede to king-
dom come.
While you're doing this you have to keep your eye open for the nasty
spider that hangs around your end of the screen as he, too, will eat you
if he can.
Also the poor, inoffensive little snail which wanders across the
screen is worth a shot or two for, harmless though it is, it's worth
1,000 points. Collect 10,000 or 20,000 points and you get extra lives.
The sound and graphics are very good, the instructions clear and the
choice of keys simple to use.
It's an amusing and entertaining game for those with fast fingers and
a dislike of creepy-crawlies.
Peter Gray

Supplier : A & F SOFTWARE
Available on 3.5 DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Trevor Roberts in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 11
REMEMBER the old arcade game where you had the unnerving task of leaping
over seemingly endless gaps in your path, climbing ladders and being
chased by ghoulies, ghosties and beasties as you progressed?
Were you addicted, as I was? If so, then CHUCKIE EGG, the new game
from A & F Software, will be right up your street.
You control a cute little man with fast moving legs who starts at the
bottom of the screen and has the task of collecting all the eggs.
This has to be done before the nasties et out and eat all the corn.
And be warned, if you bump into a nasty you're a gonner.
It is also wise to keep an eye on the crazy duck in the cae at the
top left. If she gets out you've had your chips - with or without eggs.
It's not easy, but you do have a stock of lives to get through before
your little man is annihilated.
Once one level is cleared of eggs you progress higher, progressively
harder with lifts and landing stages adding to the action.
You've got to be quick thinking and have fast reactions to collect
all your eggs.
The sound and graphics are excellent and the key allocation is par-
ticularly good. Although the program gives you one set of keys you can
choose your own, a feature more software houses should follow.
It's a great game, compelling and entertaining and should appeal to
all ages. A winner.
Trevor Roberts

Available on DFS 3.5 Haven Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Keith Wilmot in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
AN unusual new game for those older ones among you who fancy taking all
the decisions, CORN CROPPER can really grab your attention.
It brings all the harrowing (sorry!) decisions involved in running a
farm into your front room. But don't be deterred!
There are five levels of difficulty. The higher the level, the great-
er the adversity. So start at the lower levels.
The object of the exercise is to increase your initial assets of
`50,000 to `250,000 pver 55 months.
You are asked to take decisions as to planting, irrigation, harvest-
ing and selling.
You are not on your own though. To help you make decisions, the Elec-
tron gives generous monthly bulletins on the weather, crop progress and
your cash flow situation.
All in all, a challenging program with a nifty rendition of "The
Archers" tune to boot! Hope that doesn't put you off.
Keith Wilmot

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Eileen Young in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 11
ONE of the most original games I've come across so far, DANGER UXB from
Program Power, gripped my attention from the start and kept firm hold.
You are placed in the centre of a block of pathways consisting of
blue squares, some of which bear a skull and crossbones.
The skulls mark the position of lethal TNT bombs. One after another
their timers start, counting down from 60 to 0 when, unless you've de-
fused them, they explode taking you with them.
Not only that but once you've used one set of squares to reach a bomb
they disappear, so you can't go that way again.
You can, however, slide the row of blocks that you are on left and
right but you have to be both fast and cunning.
If you manage to survive the first level you're "rewarded" with
another screen where the countdown starts at 40.
Complete that and the next level has stamping boots that chase you
round the grid. I don't understand that last part, but it's great fun.
With highly impressive graphics and sound, and easy to use keys the
game appeals to all ages and is great fun for all the family. A highly
original and compelling game.
Eileen Young

Supplier : DIALSOFT
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Philip Tayler in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 11
THE cassette inlays from Dialsoft do not really attempt to sell the
product, which is a pity as the cassette inside contains a fairly good
filing system program.
Many people would wish to keep records of the card index type, wheth-
er for personal use (addresses, recipes, etc) or for semi-personal
applications (club membership, software records).
Your micro allows you to keep a file with these details, the data
then being loaded into another database program, in this case File Hand-
The data can be manipulated to produce lists in alphabetical or num-
erical order, or to search for a particular entry.
The trouble with all tape-based database programs is speed - a large
file takes some considerable time to load, whereas a disc system access-
es data far more rapidly. Roll on disc drives for the Electron!
This isn't the best program I have ever seen of its type, although
there are areas in which it will stand comparison with others.
The speed of sorting is acceptable and the screen displays clear and
legible. The program, however, lacks something in the area of user-
friendliness, using jargon phrases like "file extent" without further
However one quickly gets used to these phrases, and it is then relat-
ively easy to enter data or interrogate the file. The size of record
which can be catered for varies with the number of fields. For instance,
200 records can be entered across four fields, while only 80 may be
input if the number of fields is increased to 10.
It is also a simple matter to extend a file (if there is room) or to
alter data, although the new data has to be saved to tape once again.
A sample file is included in the program, although I did not succeed
in loading it.
I also found myself wondering why all serious programs have to be
presented in black and white.
The program is listable, and it is relatively easy to alter screens
to allow colour coding of the various pages.
Incidentally, the program is completely compatible with the BBC
Phil Tayler

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 11
THIS super utility program actually contains a suite of two very helpful
and easy-to-use facilities for the Electron. The loading program pre-
sents the user with the option to select Character or Soundlab.
The first allows the user to define up to 128 different characters
(if PAGE is reset as appropriate), while the second encourages constr-
uctive use of sound ENVELOPES with various SOUND statements.
Neither, of course, allows the user to do anything that cannot be
done anyway with help from the User Guide, but these utilities are ex-
remely user-friendly.
On selecting Character the user replies to various screen prompts in
order to select Mode (all available), and foreground and background col-
Once this is selected the option to start from scratch, or whether to
redefine an existing shape, is offered.
One way in which this may be of considerable use is animation. A fig-
ure may be defined as one Ascii character and then copied to a second.
The second can then be edited to allow the slight changes necessary
for smooth animation. Both versions of the shape thus remain available
for recall.
Single key entry is provided, with the number keys controlling the
various colours, editting and so on.
Key 8 will even list on screen the VDU23 lines, which can then be
copied for future use.
A similar approach has been used in Soundlab, with a very fun
approach to that bewildering world of envelopes.
There are preset ENVELOPES - up to seven can be programmed - and up
to fifteen sound commands may also be accessed.
They are easily tested, using single key again, or edited by use of
the number keys and cursor control.
The sound controls are shown on screen in the format &FC, A, P, D
while the ENVELOPE is shown, although not those numbers which are merely
there for BBC compatibility.
Any ENVELOPE may be paired with any SOUND statement to gain an in-
sight into the possibilities.
In addition the whole range of SOUND commands can be played one after
the other, which in my case always sounded pretty ghastly.
Again, no more is gained than can be learned from the User Guide, but
the program does all the work for you and shows you your current pieces
on screen.
The listings of any good sounds produced may be obtained for future
I found this to be a fascinating program to work with, but I must
warn you that it soon becomes almost as addictive as your favourite
Phil Tayler

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Mike Mahon in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 11
THIS cassette of four programs and a single page of documentation comes
from Garland's educational series, Learning Maths.
The package is aimed at children aged about 9-12 years and is for
school or home use on either an Electron or BBC Micro.
Garland has a good reputation for educational software for the BBC
Micro but this package doesn't really live up to expectations, failing
to make full use of the computer's facilities.
Furthermore its title is slightly misleading in that the programs are
mainly concerned with data collection and display rather than the com-
putation of statistical parameters.
After chaining the Index program, which displays Garland's logo, the
user is asked to pick one of three programs, Barchart, Piechart or
Scatter by typing CHAIN "Program name".
Unfortunately there is much room for operator error here and the
loading sequence could be improved.
Barchart allows the user to label, input, add to and compare up to 10
groups of data in the form of a frequency table or a barchart (not a
histogram, as the documentation reminds us).
The data entry sequence may be upset by entry of large values, and is
also drab as it doesn't utilise colour and sound. The barchart itself is
in colour.
Negative numbers are also allowed on data entry, but are not properly
displayed on the barchart.
Piechart is similar to the previous program and allows the user to
enter and compare values for up to six groups of data.
The frequency table here also shows the angles (in degrees) used in
the piechart. Again, the actual displayed chart is in colour.
In this program however, data cannot be altered or added.
Scatter plots the values of two groups of related data on a scatter-
gram. First the axes are labelled and the maximum limits set, then each
data item is plotted on the graph as the values are entered.
When all data has been entered - up to 100 values - the mean is auto-
matically marked on the display. I like this one with its instant plott-
ing. It would be very easy to fiddle results and enter values which sat
along a nice straight line.
Unfortunately this program does not allow for the correction or addi-
tion of data.
Overall the programs provide good value for money as a simple teach-
ing aid but would be much more valuable for long term use in data col-
lection and display if there were more facilities for error correction,
saving of data and printout routines.
All the programs, however, are written entirely in Basic and can be
used on either cassette or disc based systems and could therefore be
readily amended to suit individual users.
Mike Mahon

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
WHEN I was studying O and A level maths there was only one way to pro-
duce a graph of a function. That was to mark sufficient points to elicit
the shape of the curve.
It was painstaking work and often inaccurate owing to the unsteadi-
ness of my hand.
Micros have now brought about virtual accuracy to this work, plotting
and labelling axes or marking out a grid remains very time-consuming.
This package, however, allows the function to be input, suitable axis
limits to be applied and...there is your graph, perfectly drawn before
your very eyes.
A quick plot feature is also available which uses preset X and Y
axes. This allows an approximation to be gained quite easily and quick-
More advanced graphs make use of parametric expressions, with X and Y
both being defined in terms of a third variable. This again is catered
for, and the same range of options available.
All through the most instructive booklet there is a rich variety of
suggestions and questions which will quickly make the potential of this
program easily understood.
The second part of the tape provides testing in the shapes of curves,
with a multiple-choice format. This again covers an extensive range in-
cluding trigonometrical functions, straight line curves and quadratic
and cubic equations.
Any student from O level to post A level will find this suite of pro-
grams an ideal complement to both private study and revision.
Phil Tayler

Available on 3.5 T2P3 DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
ONE of the points made by many infant teachers about the use of micros
is that the keyboard is composed of capital letters, while infant child-
ren are more familiar with lower case.
This program has gone a long way towards solving this problem by
showing the relationship between the two systems.
It contains a suite of five options which cover matching and identi-
fying letters, with a delightful screen presentation which appealed
greatly to the children I tried it on.
Five letters are displayed on one side of the screen, each with a
fish lying behind it. Another letter moves slowly down the other side of
the screen, pausing next to each of the five.
When the two match, and if the child correctly signifies this by
pressing the Return key, the little fish swims across and collects the
pair of letters. Then it smiles and swims back to its place.
When the sequence of attempts is over, a beautifully drawn crocodile
appears at the bottom of the screen.
Those fish whose answers were correct can swim away, but wrong
answers are gobbled up to shrieks of delight. The child making a wrong
answer is given another chance, so hopefully most of the fish escape.
The first three options cover matching either lower case letters,
lower case words or matching upper/lower cases.
The remaining two options provide necessary practice in finding the
letters on the keyboard - a major stumbling block even with 10 or 11
year olds.
The time delay allowed by the program can be varied, so that the
child can be tested against his previous results.
Monitoring the children's scores is done very well indeed. The adult
can not only see the scores of each child, but also the incorrect res-
ponses made so that the problems can be readily identified.
The program is a fine example of a tape which uses the micro as a
valuable tool rather than merely as a gimmick.
Everything about the program seems to have been well thought out,
from variable difficulty levels to an excellent 16 page booklet for
Phil Tayler

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Alan Turner in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
ARE you a betting man? Do you hate losing money? Then there's the per-
fect answer in a game called HORSERACE.
Allowing up to six players, it gives all the excitement of a day at
the races without risking the cash.
A totaliser showing the betting possibilities, plus a betting slip,
flash on your screen.
All you have to do is choose your horse and state how much money from
your `1,000 you wish to place, press the space bar and you're away.
The graphics are particularly striking, with flags, a grandstand,
waving crowds and even jockeys tumbling from realistic horses. It's
usually your jockey!
The first three horses past the post are printed on a tote board near
the stand and an all-too-accurate check is also kept on your financial
But never mind, you can afford to be rash - just this once.
Alan Turner

Available on DFS 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Peter Gray in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
IT'S amazing really. Only four years ago Space Invaders machines were
the latest thing, original and compulsive.
I must have spent a fortune on them and still I never learnt how to
get the mothership without being hit myself.
Now, however, the alien invaders no longer hold sway. Newer and more
colourful arcade games have taken over my affections.
Or at least they had until I had a go at Micro Power's Electron In-
vaders and learnt that the game was as fascinating as ever.
From the moment the familiar rows of aliens started descending from
the top of the screen showering destruction I was hooked again.
At first they looked slow, but that was my mistake. They're as fast
as ever and seem to be a lot more cunning.
In an effort to avoid destruction, I spent a long time cowering under
the three silos, but even that was no use as the invaders have a new
Not content with the usual rain of laser bolts, they are dropping
fragmentation bombs that can penetrate beneath your silo. This may not
be cricket but it certainly adds a new dimension to the game.
The graphics are excellent, the sounds and instructions adequate and
the game is as compulsive and frustrating as ever.
If you are an arcade game freak and you're looking for a version of
invaders for your Electron then you need no look no further.
But watch out for those motherships - they're deadly.
Peter Gray

Available on DFS 3.5 Haven Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
HAVING never before tried a war game (is this the right term?) it was
with some trepidation and not a little interest that I loaded Johnny
However I think I could quite easily get addicted now!
The object is to select an army of your own devising and, by out-
manoeuvring a second player, or the Electron, capture the enemy army's
flag a predetermined number of times.
The scenario is a confrontation at a river crossing during the Amer-
ican Civil War.
The program, which is recorded on both sides of the cassette, loads
in two parts.
The first plays 'Dixie', displays the Confederate flag and loads in
the main program.
You are then given various optins - one or two player game, whether
you want to be the Johnny Rebs or the Blue-bellies, what units you want
in your army, if you want a time limit and if so, what?
You can choose to play a friend or, by choosing the one player op-
tion, the computer.
Your army can consist of up to twenty units of each of cavalry, in-
fantry or artillery.
If you are playing the computer it can choose a force numerically
equal to yours but not necessarily consisting of the same number in
each unit.
When you have made your choices, the battleground is displayed.
This display and the placement of troops on it, is random. But I no-
ticed a tendency for the Electron's army to keep being slighty more
favourably placed than mine!
Each army in turn makes a move for each of its pieces. After one com-
plete move by each army, the battleground is scanned and updated.
The first army to capture the enemy army's flag a certain number of
times - or alternatively to destroy the enemy - wins.
So what is it like to play? Well, it's like playing a cross between
toy soldiers and chess.
If it seems that the enemy will get you, you can always give them a
blast from a cannon.
I found I liked to play with the maximum number of pieces (60), with-
out a time limit.
If you are called down for tea there is a save-game facility.
Enclosed with the program is a cassette-sized leaflet containing
seven pages of rules. But I found the program very user-friendly, caus-
ing only occasional reference to the instructions.
Some things I didn't like. My major complaint is that the more I
played it, the slower it seemed to get.
After completely exterminating the enemy army (my one and only time)
it took about half a minute while the computer scanned the enemy battle-
field for troops and then again for score-checks for it to announce that
I had won.
Another thing that I'd like to see changed is the method of calling
the save game routine.
I found myself calling it up several times by inputting "S" (Save)
when I had meant to input "M" (Move), <RETURN>, "S" (South).
Perhaps if you had to type in SAVE this problem wouldn't arise. The
error-trapping on the BREAK key didn't seem to be quite right, but that
probably serves me right for messing about with it.
Overall, a little on the slow side. Nevertheless it's a compulsive
game that will keep your interest longer than the average arcade game.
And it will still be going strong when you have solved that latest
adventure. Good value for money.

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Alan Coombes in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
TIRED of solving adventure games? Fed up with educational programs and
glutted with amazingly boring utlities?
Well why not go back to where it all began and zap aggressive aliens
from a far off galaxy? And when you do, make sure that you have a go at
Optima Software's latest Electron game, OMEGA PROBE.
The scenario is fairly familiar. You are in command of a drone ship
investigating the Omega sector, the last great space frontier.
The local aliens look on you as a hostile force and launch a mass un-
provoked attack. You have to defend yourself as best you can.
What is unfamiliar is the speed. It's the fastest game yet for the
Electron that I've come across so far. The aliens come at you thick and
fast, sliding across the screen.
Waster, Ouchers, Pursuit and Interceptor Drones hurtle at you as you
do your best to fight them off. The graphics have to be seen to be beli-
The controls are well designed and easy to use. You even get the
choice of using joysticks, both the Signpoint Joyport and the First Byte
joystick interface work with the game.
This adds a whole new dimension to the game (if that's possible).
It is engrossing and compulsive, the kind of game that you see some-
one playing and immediately want a go yourself.
And if it's you that's playing you don't want to let anyone else have
a go. Recommended.
Alan Coombes

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
YET another superb adventure from Epic. This time you aspire to join
King Arthur's round table at Camelot.
Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple to join as you thought. In
fact Arthur decides that you will have to perform an deed of valour to
prove your worthiness.
After much deliberation he decides that the task you will have to
perform is to find and return the Holy Grail.
To this there are gasps of amazement from the assembled knights and
one even shouts "Impossible!"
How right he is! I've been trying for the last two weeks so I should
You start your quest on a hilltop outside Camelot. Your first task
is to explore the surrounding forest.
You will find various objects scattered around here and two very an-
noying knights who won't actually attack you but do insist on refusing
to let you pass.
You eventually come to a large tree. You can climb it with a ladder
and a plank (hint!) and even fall partway down through the branches be-
fore climbing down to the ground.
But unless I'm missing something, you can't then climb back up it!
Your next task is to find your way through the swamp. Here the save
game facility is a life-saver, literally!
Once through the swamp you have another one of those knights to
thwart. But providing you have successfully investigated the surround-
ing countryside you shouldn't have any real problem here.
Once the knight is vanquished you have a magnificent castle to ex-
plore, complete with dungeons, secret passageways leading to mysterious
and distant locations and doors that refuse to open.
I shan't tell you any more about the adventure - I couldn't if I
wanted to. This is where I got stuck!
Suffice it to say that there are about 230 locations, of which I
visited about 100, a maximum possible score of 8,000 (I got 2,000) and
about 140 words recognised by the program.
The puzzles are superb and I think praise is due to the program's
As is usual with Epic, a small cassette insert gives general instr-
uctions and a synopsis of all their other adventures.
The game loads in three parts. The first program displays the Epic
logo and produces a merry little tune.
The second gives background information on the scenario, with some
simple commands to get you started and then loads the main program.
Overall, while I wouldn't recommend it to an absolute beginner, it is
a superb adventure and excellent value for money. Compulsive!
I think having now tried all three of the Epic adventures, that they
must be the yardstick by which all future adventures for the Electron
should be judged.
P.S. If anyone gets those doors open, please let me know how you did

Available on DFS 3.5 Haven Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
THERE are few subjects which crop up in conversation more than com-
puters. But one that perhaps does appear just as regularly is royalty in
all its forms - people have been fascinated by kings and queens for cen-
Author Anthony Holden has collected a vast number of facts, both tri-
vial and vital, about royal persons from earliest times to modern day.
These are presented as a series of 30 tests, grouped loosely by sub-
jects as diverse as "The Kings Musick" and "1066 and all that", and as
intriguing as "The Bad..." and "Verse and Worse".
The difficulty of the questions varies a great deal, but I am sure
very few people would score highly at first.
It is possible to answer individually or to have two teams competing.
One drawback, of course, is that by loading the data from cassette it is
accessed serially. This can be frustrating.
An introductory passage introduces each test, after which the quest-
ion is posed. The author's answer is then shown so that marks may be
awarded and entered.
This obviously is to prevent an answer such as "Duke of Edinburgh"
being disallowed if the built-in answer was "Prince Philip".
I found this program quite fascinating, addictive and educational. It
is also a welcome antidote to zapping aliens.
Phil Tayler

Product : SEAWOLF
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Derek Schofield in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
SEAWOLF from Optima Software is a new kind of war game, combining logic
with action.
You set about destroying the enemy fleets in the submarine Seawolf,
trying your best not to get wiped out in the process.
You can start off as a rating, where the enemy (bless his sporting
heart) gives you a run for your money, and end up as a captain, where
the enemy (the swine) will try and squelch you as soon as you poke your
nose outside the base.
The second phase is where you line up the target in your sights and
let fly with either torpedoes or lasers.
An average Seawolf target can absorb about twleve hits from torpedoes
and half as many from the lasers before becoming a kill.
All the time you're attacking, if the target is a warship, you are
sustaining damage from his counterattack. The kills accumulate, and fif-
teen is a completed mission.
Unfortunately, the damage accumulates as well and 100 per cent means
You can, however, return to base between attacks if you so wish and
"zeroise" any excitement.
Choosing 'soft' civilian targets is an easy way of ending up with
fifteen kills.
I did this quite often. (I suppose you could say I'm just a sheep in
Seawolf clothing!)
Anyway, Seawolf is slightly different, but I thought only just above
average. Available graphics are under-utilised, and I would have liked
to see more colour used.
Also more imagination could have gone into representing the target
ship - whether it be a tanker or a battleship, the image is exactly the
Having said that, if you want a war game that is out of the ordinary
and isn't just zapping aliens then Seawolf will fit the bill.
Derek Schofield

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Adam Young in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 9
EVER wondered what it must be like to sit atop several milion pounds of
thrust as it blasts you skywards toward a minute hole through which you
must pass?
Ever though how difficult it must be trying to link up with an object
the size of an armchair in the vast emptiness of space while both of you
are hurtling around the earth at 17,000 miles an hour?
What goes through your mind as you pilot the world's biggest and most
expensive glider toward a minute strip of tarmac, knowing that you'll
only get one chance, balancing height and speed to make a good or disas-
trous landing?
Stop wondering. Cease thinking. Put yourself out of your misery. See
for yourself.
Microdeal has got it all on cassette. SPACE SHUTTLE encompasses all
these things.
You lift off and pilot the shuttle toward a small "window" to achieve
a successful orbit near a satellite you have to reclaim.
Your progress is plotted on a screen on your instrument display
Once successfully established in orbit you dock with the satellite
and retrieve it with your mechanical arm.
Retro fire slows you down and you re-enter the earth's atmosphere and
pilot the shuttle down to the landing strip.
Easy, hey? Just you try it! One millimetre out on blast off or re-en-
try and you rendezvous with neither the satellite nor landing strip and
no points are scored.
A mite too heavy with your thrusters on docking and you end up spinn-
ing out of control or crashing into the satellite - with no points.
Fail to balance your height and speed correctly on approach and you
end up as yet another crater - again no points.
The easiest part is picking up the satellite with the shuttle's arm.
Sad to say, these are often the only points I can pick up, and I've been
at it for ages.
For your money you get a full instrument display, a panoramic view
through your windscreen and an extremely interesting and absorbing game.
Any section at which you fail is aborted and the next section is
started, so you always complete the game, even if you're a compete "no-
no" like me.
On the minus side, the game is in black and white, and I found the
music between the games a bit tedious.
You can't turn it off without BREAKing the program. If you want ten
minutes peace and quiet you have to reload the game before restarting.
But don't let that put you off. It is a game well worth buying.
Adam Young

Available on DFS 3.5 Haven Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Adam Young in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 8
WELL, they did it with Battleships, Gomuku, Othello and even Chess. So
why shouldn't they put a really professional version of Hangman on the
IJK Software have taken this pencil and paper game and turned it into
a highly enjoyable video pastime which can be enjoyed by all the family
- something rare in video games today.
The graphics are excellent, especially the hanging man, and also col-
ourful. It all adds to the enjoyment of the game.
They have gone into great detail with the victim. He blinks, smiles
and clicks his fingers. And if you take too long in contemplating your
next choice of letter he will give you quite a surprise.
Forseeing the time when you have learned all the names in each cate-
gory, there is a section where you can include words of your own choice.
All in all, a simple, good value down-to-earth game and a refreshing
change from a screenful of laserbolts and gore.
Adam Young

Product: VORTEX
Available on 3.5 DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Graham Parr in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
ONE of the good things about being a reviewer for Electron User is that
you get to see and play a lot of the latest games.
The bad thing is that you have to take time off playing them in order
to write the review!
It is particularly galling when the game is as good as VORTEX, the
new 3D space game from Software Invasion.
The program gives you command of five starfighters armed with the al-
most obligatory laser torpedoes.
Your mission is to enter the black void and hunt down the opposing
aliens you find there. At the same time, you're trying to survive and
the trouble is that aliens aren't all you find in the void.
As you enter the vortex you are pulled forward faster and faster. The
eneny craft come at you making you dodge and weave to avoid them.
When they're in range you can have a go at destroying them but return
the compliment, every hit lowering the strength of your shields.
Not that my shields ever ran out. By then I'd usually crashed into
one of my attackers!
And when you've run that gauntlet you meet the real guardians of the
vortex, the asteroids that hurtle towards you.
Your weapons are no use in these asteroid storms - your only chance
is to dodge. The longer you survive, the further into the void you go
and the faster the asteroids come at you.
And if you manage to survive them there are more aliens waiting to
take you on at the other side.
The speed has to be seen, or rather experienced, to be believed. You
really do feel as though you are being drawn into the vortex, fighting
for survival.
The graphics are excellent - though the sound could be better - and
the instructions and keyboard use adequate.
A fast, captivating and amusing program, thoroughly recommended for
lovers of action games.
Graham Parr

Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 10
THIS is yet another superb adventure from Epic but one with a differ-
ence. For it includes multiple statement commands and characters you can
talk to!
One day you find a wheel with the words "Spin me and I'll tell you
true, what the future holds for you" written on the hub.
When you spin the wheel, you lose conciousness and, on awakening,
glimpse a beggar disappearing into the distance with the wheel clutched
under his arm.
You soon realise you are in a new and mysterious world. Your task is
to recover the wheel and use it to return to your own world. Of course,
on the way you collect as much treasure as you can carry.
You start your quest above ground where you discover some of the no-
vel features of this adventure.
The characters you meet move completely - well almost completely -
independently of you or your actions. You find that you can talk to them
and sometimes even get a helpful reply!
A useful keyword not usually found in adventures in CONTINUE, abbre-
viated to C. This moves you as far as possible in a given direction or
repeats a given action. For instance, E, C means East, Continue.
I considered the adventure to be harder than the previous ones from
Epic, though this could be because of the added difficulty brought in by
having to talk to the characters and to time your moves to coincide with
theirs (hint!).
I shan't give away too much away though making peace with the beggar
is an absolute must if you want to progress.
I must confess I haven't managed to get very far myself. So if you
get a fair way through, or even finish it, please send me some clues!
This is an exciting new adventure with some novel features. It's not
for the novice but is excellent value for money for anyone else.
The definitive Electron adventure. Highly recommended.

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