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The BBC and Master Computer Public Domain Library

Reviews From TBI 150-4
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3-D BOMB ALLEY
3-D TANK ZONE
ANSWER BACK SENIOR QUIZ
ARENA 3000
BLUE DRAGON
BUMBLE BEE
CLASSIC ADVENTURE
ELECTRONIC COLOURING BOOK
CONSTELLATION
GALAXY WARS
GHOULS
JET BOOT JACK
JUNGLE JIVE
LISP
NIGHTMARE MAZE
ONE LAST GAME
OSPREY!
PENGI
PINBALL ARCADE
SCIENCE 1
STARMON MACHINE CODE MONITOR
STRANDED
SURVIVOR
SWAG
WARP 1
WHAT'S THE TIME?


Product : 3-D BOMB ALLEY
Supplier : Software Invasion
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Eileen Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
IS it because war is so much fun that we turn it into games? Or is it
because we play so many war games that we go so eagerly to war?
These were some of the more serious thoughts sparked off by playing
Software Invasion's game 3D BOMB ALLEY.
Mind you, there isn't too much time to think when you're actually
playing the game!
The scenario is obviously based on San Carlos Bay in the Falklands.
Your fleet is at anchor in a narrow sea inlet and you are under attack
from enemy planes. These appear in the far distance but rapidly grow
larger as they near.
To defend yourself you have to throw up a barrage of anti-aircraft
fire. The trouble is that, although you can miss the planes, if they get
through they don't miss you.
You get an extra ship for each ten planes downed and the game ends
when you've lost your last ship.
It's a simple game with nice graphics and adequate instructions. The
way the planes appear in the distance and then grow larger is a good
technique but it's annoying when they slow down and even appear to stop
when under fire. You can almost feel the micro thinking.
At first I though that that would mean a slow game, but I soon learn-
ed differently as the planes came in at me five at a time.
The main difficulty comes from the increasing number of enemy planes.
If you like action where quick reactions are at a premium then this is
the one for you.
Eileen Young



Product : 3-D TANK ZONE
Supplier : Dynabyte
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Tony Sinclair in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
IT'S not easy being the commander of a missile silo.
First there are the aircraft attacking you, then there are the tanks.
And you're stuck in a hole in the ground with only anti-tank missiles
and an anti-aircraft gun to ward off this unprovoked aggression. All the
time your energy is getting lower and the shields weaker.
No, it's not easy...
Still, if you think you could do any better, have a go at 3-D Tank
Zone.
Your Electron's screen becomes a view from the silo as you scan for
the enemy. As you guide the sights of your AA gun to attack the jets and
helicopters on the horizon, you have to watch the radar for tanks.
When you see one you have to turn the turret and loose off a missile,
quick. At first the action seems a little slow but as the tanks get
nearer and your energy drops it's all too fast.
The graphics are simple but effective. The tanks appear in 3D wire
form and the missiles fly in an annoyingly realistic manner. I say
annoying because of the way they miss.
The instructions are thorough and the key controls are well laid out.
It's an interesting game, very different from anything else I've ever
seen on the Electron. While not the fastest program around, it should
suit those looking for a change from the usual arcade remakes.
Tony Sinclair



Product : ANSWER BACK SENIOR QUIZ
Supplier: Kosmos Software
Available on 3.5" ADFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Ken Smith in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
THIS marvellous little package is more than a quiz, more than a game and
much more than so many of the educational programs on the market.
High praise you say, but consider what you get for your money.
A choice of fifteen quiz topics, each containing fifty questions,
three different ways of answering - multiple choice, true or false and
fill in the missing letters.
Then there's a facility to pass if you're really stuck, a summary of
your performance and the chance to re-run the ones you passed or got
wrong.
All this under the eyes of the micro timekeeper.
Add to that good graphics in the form of craters, planets, space-
ships and your friendly robot with his laser gun. Mix in a little sound
and you have part two - a game, triggered by correctly answering a
question.
A tone sounds, an alien spaceship appears from behind your planet,
you hit the robot's laser fire button and try to shoot it down.
It's really compelling stuff. But wait...there's more to come. Being
the mastermind that you are, it won't take you long to come to grips
with the correct answers to most of the 750 questions available.
Therefore you can create your own.
Even this can be done using the program's create, save and verify
facility. Now you have a package made for the kids to do their homework
with.
You set the questions, and they get to shoot down all the nasties
from outer space. Peace will reign in your household.
Watch out, Magnus Magnusson. Your job's in jeopardy.
Ken Smith



Product: ARENA 3000
Supplier: Microdeal
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
IMAGINE that you're suddenly transported forward in time to the year
3000 AD. You find yourself the star of the chief entertainment of the
time - the arena - where humanoids battle with mutants.
Your only defence is a death ray and you need it. If you're touched
just once by a mutant, you die. And some of the monsters take several
blasts before they decide to die and leave you in short-lived peace!
A nightmare? No, just a brief description of ARENA 3000. You, of
course, play the part of the humanid, starting with three lives but soon
losing them.
Each mutant you kill adds to your points score and the cassette inlay
tells you that you gain an extra life for every 20,000 points you score.
I wouldn't know as by then I've been swamped by mutants such as The
Dreaded Oh Nos or the Jovial Jovian Jumpers. If they're jovial, I don't
get the joke.
And of course, every time you clear a wave of mutants, along comes
another of a different type.
It's not easy but it is fun. With either keyboard or joystick con-
trol, sound on/off and pause facilities and a a Hall of Fame, the game
is well up to standard.
The graphics are very good and the use of sound reasonable. A good
version of an arcade classic.
Keith Young



Product : BLUE DRAGON
Supplier: MP Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
EITHER these adventures from MP Software are getting harder or I'm los-
ing my touch.
Your task is to find the location of the Sun God's treasure and de-
feat the ferocious blue dragon which guards it.
At the start you find yourself on a beach. To your left is a bird
perched upon a high rock. It's not impressed with your efforts to catch
it.
To your right is an evil-smelling rubbish dump that, surprisingly,
is not to be avoided.
Behind you is an empty gulley. Is this how I got here, you think?
Wrong! Ahead of you is a narrow track up the cliffs to a forbidding cas-
tle high above.
You should be able to solve most of the mysteries surrounding you
and, provided you have found that elusive knight (hint), you should be
able to collect all the goodies and wipe the sneer off that bird's face.
On doing so you find that the bird is in reality a beautiful princess
who has been transformed by an evil wizard. (Surely after all these ad-
ventures there can't be that many evil wizards left?)
Anyway, noble soul that you are, you volunteer to follow the bird to
a land far away and then your quest begins in earnest. After a couple of
hours you reach the same point as me. (I'm the one in the corner with
the beard and pointed hat.)
Can you uncover the secret of the "triangular slot in the wall by an
almost invisible door"? If so, please write to me c/o Electron User and
let me know, because I couldn't!
To be fair (excuses, excuses), I had just reveived MP's two latest
adventures and was eager to try them out.
Anyway, back to BLUE DRAGON. I'm always impressed by any game that I
don't manage to finish. This is no exception.
I daresay there is an object somewhere that will open the door and
one day I am determined to go back and find it.
Overall, definitely superior to earlier MP adventures and of about
average difficulty.
Merlin



Product: BUMBLE BEE
Supplier: Micro Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
MICRO Power have gained an enviable reputation for producing quality
software for the Electron. BUMBLE BEE is yet another addition to the
range.
The game has its origins in Pac man and will appeal to arcadians who
love being chased round a maze by assorted bugs and beasties.
However it requires a lot more thought than the original when play-
ing.
You are the bumble bee in the title, scurrying round a maze of swing-
ing turnstiles collecting pollen grains. Spiders emerge and chase you
making the task more difficult.
When you have collected all the pollen you buzz over to the Out sign
and move on to the next screen. At 4,000 points you gain an extra life
to add to the three provided at the start.
The interesting part of the game is the turnstiles. You can swing
them but the spiders can't. So you can block off the spiders in a diff-
erent section, or swing a turnstile into their path if they are about to
pounce on you.
Entering your name into the high score table is almost as hard as the
game. The letters of the alphabet are printed in a grid and you have to
fly over the correct letters to spell your name - and it's not easy as
you buzz about the screen at top speed.
After an hour the high score table was full of names like RLANDI,
RON AND and ROFLANG!
The only grumblers are the length of the loader - 7k is just too long
so I didn't bother with it and just *ran the main program. And if you
want to use joysticks you need a switch type joystick interface - it ig-
nores the Plus 1.
BUMBLE BEE is a well written addictive arcade game with colourful,
smooth graphics and good sound. It's well worth buying, so start saving
your pennies now.
Roland Waddilove



Product : CLASSIC ADVENTURE
Supplier: Melbourne House
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
IT wouldn't really matter how good or bad this program is - as it is the
only Electron version of the original Colossal Cave adventure, I'd have
to recommend it.
So it comes as a bonus to find that this adaptation is superb.
I haven't played the original Crowther and Woods version so I can't
say how close to the original this is. However, it seems to have all the
problems I have read about so it must be a full - or nearly full - adap-
tation of the original.
In it you play the part of a typical greedy adventurer. You come hot-
footing it, flushed with success from your last adventure. You've heard
of the fabulous treasure to be found in the area and are eager to get
your share.
Armed with the objects you find above-ground you race off to the
grating that gives access to the labyrinth of caves below.
You soon come across your first major obstacle - a large venomous
snake. Its teeth soon puncture your ego as well as your skin. It is at
this point that you realise that things aren't going to be quite as easy
as you thought.
Careful exploration of the earlier locations soon reveals the solu-
tion - though the final answer is for the birds.
You'll also find the first magic word. This returns you to the build-
ing but remember to turn off your lamp - it won't last forever.
You progress slowly, solving a maze and other puzzles and finally en-
ter the main body of the adventure. Eventually you will solve the game
but it is more likely to take weeks rather than days. Well, what else
can I add? Very few adventures ever reach the standards set by this one.
It is deservedly called Classic. Somehow it is exciting to visit all
these locations I have heard so much about before.
In a way it is like a legend coming to life. All I can say is it's a
superb game and one that no true adventurer should be without. Magic!
Merlin



Product: ELECTRONIC COLOURING BOOK
Supplier : Addison-Wesley Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
MANY years ago, when playing with jigsaws was more fun than VDU codes, I
used to love painting by numbers.
There were two main problems, however. The first was that I was too
impatient to wait for the colours to dry so that they ran together.
The other drawback was that each picture could only be painted once,
so I couldn't experiment with colours as much as I liked.
I would have loved a system which allowed me to dabble, change col-
ours as I wanted and where every new day meant a fresh lot of clean pic-
tures.
Well, rather late for me, but still good fun comes this tape which is
compatible with both the Electron and BBC Micro.
Although only priced at `9.95 - a modest enough figure nowadays - it
contains no fewer than 18 pictures waiting for your artistic talents.
The first four each have a file which allows the correct colours to
be loaded onto the picture by first loading the picture file itself
followed by the colour file.
The remaining fourteen pictures do not have this facility, but this
gives full rein to your imagination.
By the way, how many colours would you expect your Electron to sup-
port? Wrong! There is a palette of 35 available, including greys, pinks
and so on and an area is easily filled using machine code.
A cursor is moved around the screen, and on moving into the palette
can select the painting colour. By then moving the colour to an area, it
can easily be filled with the P (paint) key.
Similarly, it may be recoloured by D (delete), selecting another pal-
ette colour and then painting once more.
The speed of the fill is quite impressive as is the speed of the cur-
sor. The picture as drawn is not final, as a mode may be selected in
which it is possible to add lines exactly as required.
Thus the picture of the clown might be improved by the addition of
some balloons which can be added easily.
Indeed, it is quite possible and fun to go immediately into drawing
mode without loading a picture, and thus create a picture from scratch
which can then be coloured using the palette. The finished result can be
saved to cassette.
An amusing but not over-useful feature is the facility to randomly
alter the colours on a displayed picture, or to cycle through the basic
colours in order.
The cassette box claims this program will interest those from six to
96. Well, my three and five year olds would like to be added to that
list as they both think it's smashing fun.
I don't think they realise there is quite a large educational content
to the program, with much evidence of planning, hand-eye coordination
and discussion leading to the final polished result.
Whether it would be of real practical use in schools on cassette is
doubtful. There are so many parts of the program that it cries out to be
put on disc for easier access of a particular picture, or for rapid sav-
ing of little Johnny's masterpiece.
Apart from that reservation, I am most impressed.
Phil Tayler



Product : CONSTELLATION
Supplier: Superior Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Ken Smith in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
THIS well written program enables the user to view the stars from any
point on the Earth's surface on any date and at any time - all without
leaving the comfort of your armchair.
Your monitor can now show a vast array of more than 450 stars in 50
major constellations.
For your part, move the telescope-display up, down, right or left as
well as zooming in or out, all via the keyboard.
The well constructed program allows you to view the heavens in two
different ways - as you might observe by looking up into the night sky
by the varying magnitude of the stars and secondly, the display can be
changed to show each constellation by a code of letters.
For example, a group of letter Gs indicate the position of the con-
stellation Gemini.
Using this letter code, all fifty constellations are listed, the
accompanying notes giving additional information to the user.
All in all a very good educational package which is simple to use.
Amateur astronomers might also like to consider this one if they're for-
tunate enough to own an Electron.
Ken Smith



Product : GALAXY WARS
Supplier : Bug Byte
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
ANOTHER GAME from the Space Invaders' camp with a few differences and a
couple of surprises.
You are the little destroying machine at the bottom of your screen,
moving left and right with FUNC and Q keys, firing with the DELETE key.
F freezes the game.
The first screen of alien bombers are in an easy to pick off format-
ion lined across the screen. That is, easy if you get your rhythm right.
However, watch out for the space pods which land on your level and
can blow you to smithereens if you run into them.
But there's no time for complacency - as soon as you've fought them
off, the H wing fighters appear on the screen. These are both hard to
dodge and at times seemingly impossible to blow up.
And, after all this, you have to dock with your mothership to refuel.
All in all, it's an exciting game for the arcade addict with reason-
able graphics and good sound effects.
Keith Young



Product: GHOULS
Supplier: Micro Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Alan Sergeant in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
HIDDEN away in the creepy mansion at the top of the hill are a number of
power jewels. Many have been to search for them but no one has lived to
tell the tale.
Have you the courage to succeed where others have failed? This is the
challenge issued by GHOULS.
You control the star of the show, a little man with the appearance of
a pac-man on two legs. His ever munching mouth continously snaps up tit-
bits for bonus points as you attempt to reach the various levels in your
search for treasure.
You start off in the first of four screens - Spectre's Lair. Here to
hinder you in your quest you will find the mansion's frowning ghost
who's out to get you.
Let him catch you and you'll die and that frown will change to an
enormous cheeky grin. This chap follows you through every screen, and at
times his appearance is positively painful.
You have a time limit in which to get to the box of jewels at the top
of the screen in order to access the next landing. Titbits and the
occasional stray jewel munched en route count for bonus points.
The jewel has the additional perk in that it makes the ghost dis-
appear for a short while. However, there are other hazards to make life
unpleasant.
In order to make progress you must balance on a moving platform and
leap to and from it to higher levels.
There is also a set of poison-soaked spikes in your way and contact
with any one will prove fatal.
Should you succeed on the first screen you will progress to the more
difficult Horrid Hall.
As well as all the other nasties you also have to avoid contracting
floorboards.
Succeed on screen 2 and Spider's Parlour awaits you. The spider is
something to behold but not touch. The fortunate thing is that he stays
in one spot bouncing up and down waiting patiently for a tasty morsel -
usually me!
The infuriating aspect of the game, as with most multi-level ones, is
that as soon as you "die" you start back at the beginning of the screen
no matter how far you have progressed.
I must confess it is because of this beast that I haven't seen screen
4, the Death Tower.
Even so I've seen enough to consider it excellent value. It is
extremely addictive as there is always that incentive to "crack it this
time".
The graphics are well presented and the eerie sounds make the game
comes to life. We've come to expect high standard games from Micro Power
and GHOULS is one of their best!
Alan Sergeant



Product : JET BOOT JACK
Supplier: Micro Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
A COUPLE of months ago I played this game's BBC version on the big
brother machine and found it fascinating. It is one of those annoyingly
addictive games that Micro Power have the knack of producing.
I was delighted on receiving the Electron version to find that it is
identical - no scaled down sound or fewer features, but the full imple-
mentation with no perceptible change, not even in speed.
Perhaps I should add that I find the game a little too fast, as I
prefer to achieve some degree of success straight away, and my young son
also enjoys trying the games out. But we both found the initial action
too speedy.
I have tried the BBC version on the Electron and found I was able to
accumulate a decent score and develop a strategy.
There are five screens, which may be accessed separately from the
menu. If screen one is chosen, and you are a better player than I, the
other screens are encountered in order.
On each the basic format is the same, with a spaceship on the left
needing to be refuelled with fuel which is on the right. Shades of JET
PAC, perhaps, which I enjoyed greatly in my misspent youth on the Sp*c-
tr*m.
The man is moved across the screen by careful use of the left/right
controls, and the hover motor.
There are safe platforms to rest on briefly, but nearly everything
else is quite lethal to Jack. Each screen has different problems, with
elements of other games appearing, such as the vertically moving mon-
sters which have the same effects as the lifts in CORPORATE CLIMBER.
The graphics are good, the smoothness of the movement superb. Sound
is fair, and can be turned off if required. The key response is quick,
precise and accurate.
I just wish my reactions were!
Phil Tayler



Product : JUNGLE JIVE
Supplier : Virgin Games
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
IN a time when the big game hunter is thankfully a thing of the past,
JUNGLE JIVE lets you release you aggressive instincts without spilling
blood.
It brings all the excitement of a jungle safari onto your TV screen.
You control a little man who waddles up and down the centre of the
screen. The idea is that you blast away at the animals who are closing
in on you to your left and right. You get points for each one you hit
although I pretend they're just tranquillising darts.
As you're getting yourself a life ban from the RSPCA, avoid the
slithering snake who dashes about at random trying to avenge all those
departed elephants, crocodiles, lions and birds.
Whatever you do, don't shoot the cute little baboons which line your
path. They protect you and you'd better protect them or else you're
finished.
And don't try to shoot the blue hippo. Bullets bounce off him.
You start off with the usual three lives, gaining bonus lives as your
point score mounts. You lose them as you bump into things and things
bump into you.
It's a nice action game that promises fun for all the family - once
you've settled the arguments over who's going next.
Keith Young



Product : LISP
Supplier : Acornsoft
Available on ROM Cartridge, Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
LISP - The language that strikes like lightning.
LISP, developed around 1960 by John McCarthy and others at the Mass-
achusetts Institute of Technology in America, is one of the oldest com-
puter languages still in use.
His main objective was to produce a powerful language for defining
and transforming functions. Lisp was designed to manipulate abstract
symbols called atoms and combinations of symbols called lists. It is a
LISt Proceesing language.
Perhaps the most publicised use of Lisp has been in the field of
artificial intelligence research. The expressive power of the language
was recognised by workers who were wrestling with the difficult symbolic
manipulation problems involved.
Programs have been written that hold conversions, write stories for
children and summarise text.
Most mainframe computers support Lisp and now a few micros as well.
There is no generally accepted standard, so as a result there are many
dialects around. However, adapting Lisp to run on another machine is
usually straightforward, making the language fairly portable.
Acornsoft's variant is available on cassette or ROM cartridge. The
cassette version is the one considered here. The ROM cartridge will
have all the facilities offered by the cassette version, plus a few
extra, and a lot more memory.
The cassette and manual are sold separately, which seems a little
strange. Unless you are already an expert Lisp programmer - and not many
people are - then neither is much use without the other. Price of the
package is about `23.
Large scale implementations may contain hundreds or even thousands of
built-in functions. Consequentially a small micro such as the Electron
cannot hope to provide all of them, so only the bare essentials are
built into Acornsoft's Lisp.
However this should be sufficient. Fortunately, many of the standard
utilities can be written in Lisp itself and appendix B in the manual
lists a few of these.
Since many of the functions not provided would only be used occasion-
ally and may have specialised uses, these can be typed in as and when
needed for each application.
Acornsoft Lisp has a few extra functions not normally found in other
systems. These are to allow the use of the Electron's excellent graphics
and sound capabilities.
One of the most powerful is the most VDU command which provides an
easy interface with the Electron's machine operating system.
Lisp takes about four minutes to load. It has 5.5k of machine code
interpreter and 3k of initialised Lisp workspace containing utilities
and constants. These can be deleted, if not required, to gain extra mem-
ory.
When loading is complete the user is asked to select a mode - either
3, 4, 5 or 6. Once one has been selected it is not possible to change to
another using MODE n, so if you want to use graphics or the 80 column
mode 3, you must start up in the correct mode.
There are two main questions to be asked of Lisp:
* What can you do with it?
* How easy is it to use?
Chapter 23 of the manual answers the first question - eleven appli-
cations are listed demonstrating its use. The programs are not complete,
but do provide the building blocks for constructing much larger Lisp
applications, and the user is encouraged to develop them further.
The examples include: Sorting a list into alphabetical order, arbit-
rary precision arithmetic (how to cope with very large numbers), a Lisp
pretty-printer (used to display large pieces of Lisp structure, spread-
ing its output over many lines and using indentation to make it more
legible), an animal guessing game (you think of an animal and the Elec-
tron has to try and guess it), a route finding program (also on the
cassette), graphic displays (how to create pictures) and mazes and dun-
geons (an adventure game).
The answer to the second question is entirely subjective and every-
one will have their own opinion. I have to disagree with the manual
which states, "It provides a complete introduction to Lisp and assumes
no previous knowledge of the language", and that "Lisp is very easy to
learn..."
Lisp seems very strange and confusing at first, operating on lists
and atoms, recursion being very common. Unlike Basic, you need to know
and understand a large proportion of Lisp before you can even think of
writing your first simple program, and this is the main stumbling block.
Lisp operates on the "lightning principle" - the concepts strike you
suddenly when you are almost ready to give up. Once you have been
struck, everything falls into place. Strength, stamina and perseverance
are required.
Acornsoft's Lisp is an excellent package for anyone interested in
programming and computer languages. It will teach pattern recognition,
and recursion will become second nature.
A word of warning though. It is not for the absolute beginner. Be
prepared for a struggle, and remember the "lightning principle".
One last note: If you are unsure whether to invest in Lisp, try to
get hold of The Little LISPer by Daniel P. Friedman (I borrowed it from
the local library).
This is not a manual on how to use Lisp on the BBC or Electron, but
it explains the structure, principles and concepts involved in a very
simple and amusing manner.
You do not need Lisp or even a computer to understand and appreciate
it. I think you will find Lisp fascinating.
Roland Waddilove



Product: NIGHTMARE MAZE
Supplier : MRM Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
NIGHTMARE MAZE, written by Mike Williams, is a descendant of Pac Man,
which was popular ages ago in the arcades. Although it is easy to see
the origins, the game is completely different to play.
Instead of running around the maze in between the walls, you actually
run on top of them. They are drawn in perspective, as if you were look-
ing down at an angle.
There are four screens, each with a different maze and monsters. The
first is inhabited by springy things, the second by bouncing balls, the
third by deadly frogs, followed by hungry hoppers. I can't confirm the
last two as I always got bounced on the second screen.
The object of the game is to collect a number of keys which appear
around the maze. On acquiring the last you can unlock the door which
leads to the next screen.
The inhabitants of the maze don't chase you, they move in fixed patt-
erns. The routes taken are sufficiently complex as to make it very diff-
icult to remember more than the first few.
Help is at hand in the form of a cup of black coffee. Drinking this
awakens you from your nightmare and the nasties disappear. You soon
start to dream again so you must rush round collecting the keys as fast
as possible before they reappear.
The graphics are excellent and the animation very smooth with good
sound to accompany the springy/bouncy hoppers.
Having said that though, I honestly didn't enjoy playing this game,
the reason being that it is just too frustrating, Maybe I'm just too
old!
Not one in three weeks have I made the high score table, not even the
bottom position.
The man is difficult to control when the monsters disappear, often
running straight past the path you wish to turn and run along, and when
you are caught, all the keys you have so painstakingly collected are
lost and you must start again.
This game is for advanced arcadians only, providing an exciting new
challenge to their skill. Us ordinary mortals haven't a chance, it
really is a nightmare!
Roland Waddilove



Product : ONE LAST GAME
Supplier : Clemoes Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
THIS is probably best descibed as a cross between Scramble and Galaxi-
ans. The ground below you scrolls smoothly from right to left, while the
aliens line up on the right hand side.
They peel off, in ones at first, then in groups later on, and blast
your ship on the left.
You can move your ship up and down, dodging aliens and missiles as
they swarm in from the right, and blast them with your laser, more
points being scored if they are on the move rather than in the main
formation.
There are 20 different screens with increasing difficulty - on the
later ones the aliens can only be destroyed when they leave the main
formation for their attack. There is the option to start on any screen.
There are a couple of unusual features. The game can be speeded up or
slowed down with the joystick (plugged into the Plus 1), so you can
whizz through the first few easy screen then slow down when it gets
tough.
The second extra is the way it plays a tune to the accompaniment of a
drum.
The tune is played in the normal way, but as the Electron can only
use one channel at once, how can it also play the drums?
Have you noticed the click of the cassette relay when loading or sav-
ing programs? The author has very cleverly utilised this as a makeshift
drum. By rapidly switching it off and on a drum solo is played. In-
genious. I hate to think what it's doing to the relay though.
I loved this game right from the start and have played it for hours.
If you, like me, like the sort of games where you just blast every-
thing in sight, then you will love this one.
Roland Waddilove



Product : OSPREY!
Supplier: Bourne Educational Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Nigel Peters in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
I WAS lucky enough to be able to spend two weeks in Scotland this summer
and the highlight of the trip was my visit to see the nesting Ospreys at
Loch Garten.
So when OSPREY! arrived in the office, I grabbed it with enthusiasm.
Produced in conjunction with the RSPB, and with an excellent 32 page
colour booklet to complement the program, it's a fascinating simulation
of the problems faced by the osprey as a Scottish breeding bird.
You take the part of the manager of a nature reserve where ospreys
are nesting. The booklet has given you an outline of the history of the
osprey and you have to pick which year you want the simulation to start.
The earlier the year, the harder the game is. Your aim is to make
sure that the brids successfully breed and rear their chicks.
To do this, you have to decide what your limited number of wardens is
going to do during the vital spring and summer seasons.
Some are needed to chase away the egg stealers, while others have to
manage the site and keep disturbance to a minimum. Also wardens have to
be spared to make people aware of the ospreys and to encourage the pub-
lic support.
And, just like real life, when you've made your choices and allocated
your resources you have to sit back and watch what happens.
The graphics are beautiful, painting a picture of the reserve and the
nest site. You can watch the ospreys as they swoop down to fish and take
them to the nest.
Sadly, if you haven't allocated enough wardens to guard duty, you can
also watch the egg theives at work. Even the visitors can be a nuisance,
their cards disturbing the birds if you haven't picked the right number
of site wardens.
And to make it worse, factors totally out of your control such as the
weather affect the final result.
Your success or failure at one reserve is taken as representative of
the whole of Scotland and after the spring season you're shown how the
osprey population has fared under your protection.
You continue until you reach the year 1981 or you've run out of os-
preys - a horrible thought. You can then compare your efforts with the
magnificient results the RSPB achieved in reality which are shown in the
booklet.
It's a smashing program. The instructions, both in the booklet and on
the screen are excellent. The graphics and animation are more than ade-
quate and the whole package has the quality that we've come to expect
from Bourne.
Even the fact that it's educational - the well-illustrated booklet
has a history of the Osprey and a things-to-do section - doesn't spoil
the fun.
So if you haven't been to Loch Garten yet, you can console yourself
playing Osprey! until you get the chance.
Nigel Peters



Product : PENGI
Supplier: Visions
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
PENGI-type games have become quite popular lately with two or three
software houses having their own versions on the market.
The game is derived from Pac Man, but Visions' PENGI is far superior
to any Pac Man program.
You are in control of a cute little penguin who is trapped in a maze
made up of large ice blocks inhabited by snow bees.
The object of the game is to line up three special white ice diamond
blocks without being caught by the snow bees. Fortunately, these can be
killed by squashing them with an ice block which slides along if you
push it.
The graphics are excellent as is the sound, and I found it to be
difficult enough just avoiding the snow bees, never mind lining up the
ice diamond blocks.
There is a high score table of famous penguins, on screen scoring,
redefinable keys and a practice mode in which you can't be killed. If
you're into arcade games, you will love this one.
Roland Waddilove



Product: PINBALL ARCADE
Supplier: Kansas City Systems
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
A COMPUTER version of a pinball machine might sound a little boring, but
PINBALL ARCADE from Kansas is quite enjoyable, and makes a welcome
change from blasting nasties out in space or being chased round a maze.
The interesting part is designing your own pinball machine from the
five pages of bumpers, wires, slings and targets provided.
When you are satisfied with the board it can be saved on tape, to be
loaded and used again.
Quite a number of options are available - you can even alter the tilt
of the bounce of the ball.
When playing, the only keys are Z and / for the left and right flip-
pers and the space bar to compress the spring.
There are a couple of annoying faults however. Firstly, it will not
run with the Plus 1 attached, and I am not going through all the bother
of unplugging everything and unscrewing the Plus 1 every time I want to
use the program.(*)
The reason is simple - part of the code placed in page &D is being
overwritten by the operating system, causing a whopping great crash
when it is called by the program.
The second fault is the fantastic amount of flicker when the ball
moves. Hasn't the author ever heard of *FX 19? The addition of this
command would make a world of difference.
If Kansas cure these bugs and brighten up the loader a bit then it
will be better value.
Roland Waddilove
[* It is probably unfair to cite the lack of compatibility with the Plus
1 as a disadvantage of the game, especially when many titles Electron
User reviews are also incompatible but pass without it being mentioned!]



Product : SCIENCE 1
Supplier : Shards
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 3
THIS package consists of four separate programs on balances, meter read-
ing, thermometer reading and lenses.
The meter program is on twice, in Mode 1 and in Mode 0. The Mode 0
version added nothing - I preferred the extra colours of Mode 1.
The introductory program has a noisy title plus an index. I expected
the index to give single letter entry to load a program, but the options
are to see the index or leave the program.
Leaving the program gives you a blank screen and it is necessary to
CHAIN whichever program you wnat.
The trouble is, you've now forgotten their names and the sheet of
information has different titles for them.
The balancing program collects your name, then gives a menu of op-
tions. You have to decide whether to be nice or nasty - there is no ex-
planation as to what this means at this stage!
The program gives practice in working out how to balance see-saws.
The explanation is rather sketchy, but if you do get the answer correct
a little diver hurls himself into a cup of liquid or, if you chose nas-
ty, he goes splat on the floor.
If you get the answer wrong, large arrows indicate which way the see-
saw tips, and then the diver splats if you are nice or splashes if you
are nasty.
The meter reading program provides practice on reading the two most
common school meter scales. It is well constructed, making good use of
large text, and with an option to magnify the relevent part of the
scale.
The program is rather fussy, four key presses are required before an
answer is put in.
The thermometer program is very similar to the meter program. It pro-
vides practice in reading 0-100 degrees C, 0-150 degrees Fahrenheit and
clinical degrees C thermometers.
Light provides a lesson in ray optics at concave/convex lenses/
mirrors and is, again, well constructed using good text and attractive,
simple graphics. The whole program is rather slow, particularly the six-
teen questions.
Overall these are well-produced programs with the meter and thermom-
eter sections the pick of the bunch.
The major disadvantage of this educational package is total non-com-
patibility with the BBC Micro. If these programs are run on a Beeb, they
have a nasty little trick - they clear the micros memory.
Many schools have BBCs and Electrons. I would choose a program that
would run on both machines to use in my school.
Rog Frost



Product: STARMON MACHINE CODE MONITOR
Supplier : Slogger Software
Firmware
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
IF you've always thought that a monitor was an alternative to the family
TV, you may think that a machine code monitor would be a fast version.
In fact, STARMON is a piece of software stored on a micro chip.
This type of software is sometimes called firmware and to be able to
use it, you will need a sideways ROM card to plug into the expansion
port at the back of your Electron.
A machine code monitor program like STARMON enables you to look at
the contents of the micros memory, both the 32k of RAM and the other
32k of ROM.
The program is very easily loaded. Just type *ST and it's there - in-
stantly.
Once loaded, you may well wonder what to do with it. Well, the clever
part of STARMON is that it uses the memory normally occupied by Basic,
so running STARMON will not interfere with the program in memory.
It is easily possible to study any program - even those unlistable
ones. Of course, you do not get a Basic listing. It is the contents of
memory you see, but STARMON will do its best for you.
The contents of memory can be displayed in decimal, hexadecimal, bin-
ary or even octal. In addition, if STARMON thinks it detects an Ascii
character it will print that. It can also disassemble code - that is, it
produces a listing in assembly language.
This all sound very fearsome, but if you are a beginner to this kind
of thing, don't be put off because you can quickly learn some skills.
For example it is very easy to alter the contents of memory without
spoiling the program. I have personalised halls of fame so that they
load with my name.
For the advanced user, STARMON is a very full program. With it you
can search memory for bytes or strings, or move chunks of code around
from one area of memory to another.
You can block fill memory, write directly to memory locations or
alter the 6502 registers. There are also facilities to single step
through programs, which can greatly help with debugging, or allow you to
learn what machine code instructions do.
It is also possible to dump STARMON screens to a printer for future
reference.
STARMON somes with a well written 42 page booklet, which makes the
program easy to use. This whole package would be very useful to anybody
keen to program, or even just dabble in machine code.
It is a thoroughly professional piece of firmware.
Rog Frost



Product: STRANDED
Supplier: Superior Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
THIS is the smallest adventure that I have ever seen and, despite the
fact that it has graphics, one that I truly didn't expect to like.
However I was wrong. Although I don't think it would pose problems to
the experienced adventurer it is nevertheless an enjoyable romp.
You have been stranded on an alien planet and your task is to find a
means of leaving it and returning home.
It won't take you long to find a spaceship but unfortunately it's
guarded by an unfriendly robot.
A careful search of the planet, along with a spot of hang-gliding,
should provide you with the means of getting past the robot and, hope-
fully, into the spaceship.
After activating the engines you should search your craft. The arti-
cles you find, along with judicious use of Dr. Who's Tardis (!), should
be enough for you to find your way home.
The graphics are quickly drawn and are the clearest I have seen in an
adventure.
As with all graphical adventures the trade-off between the program
size and quality of graphics is something you need to judge for your-
self.
Do you choose a complex adventure with limited graphics or an easy
adventure with well drawn graphics? This program falls into the latter
category. I liked it.
Merlin



Product: SURVIVOR
Supplier: MP Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
THE year is 1910 and you're on a cruise of the tropics when there is an
accident and the ship sinks. The result is that you find yourself swim-
ming in a shark-infested sea.
Can you survive and find your way back to civilisation, or alternat-
ively find happiness on a tropical island?
There are very few actual puzzles to solve in this adventure. Almost
everything is accomplished by choosing between two alternatives - HIDE
or STAND, EAT or STARVE, ACCEPT or REFUSE.
The results of these choices can be hilarious. For instance, on en-
tering a village you have to bribe the tribal chief. If you have what he
wants, he then offers you his daughter's hand in marriage.
If you accept, you are given your own hut. You are then given a fur-
ther choice - STAY or ESCAPE. If you STAY, the game ends and presumably
you live happily ever after. If you REFUSE, the chief gets anry and
swops you with another village for a pig.
Here you are offered some food and again, you have a choice - EAT or
REFUSE. If you REFUSE, you become lunch for the tribe. If you EAT, you
are imprisoned in a hut and have to steal the witch-doctor's clothes to
escape.
You'll also meet Robinson Crusoe who asks you to stay and be his
friend. If you accept...end of game again. There is also a secret civi-
lisation in the depths of the island. If you find them, guess what? Yes,
end of game yet again.
I'm not sure I'd call this an adventure as such and I'm sure I didn't
manage to find all the endings - how do you get past the rhino?
Overall, a departure from the usual MP style of adventure but there
are so many alternatives in the course of the game for you to choose
from that I'm sure, like me, you'll spend your time discovering the re-
sults of all of them. It's an unusual and highly entertaining adventure.
Merlin



Product : SWAG
Supplier: Program Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
SWAG is a rarity in arcade style games - it is a genuine two player game
with the option of the second player being the micro.
The aim is to acquire jewellery to the value of `250,000 by moving
your man to randomly placed jewels and returning with them to your
house.
If that sounds easy, then don't forget that your opponent is after
the same treasure as you and is quite prepared to shoot you to get it.
You may also hae insurance company robots on your trail. Any colli-
sion with them means a quick, empty-handed return home.
Of course you have the same advantages as your opponent. There is a
different type of robot after him.
Robots can be converted from one kind to another by shooting them or
by travelling to a special symbol which occurs on the screen from time
to time.
Attempting to keep order in this lawless area are the police. There
are three police cars which score points for your opponent if you go
near them.
If you shoot one, it relentlessly follows you until you drink a can
of beer and shoot it again. You can use that to your advantage by stop-
ping the car near your opponent's home.
With all this shooting you will probably run out of ammunition, but
they sell it at the bank, provided you've got gold.
Regrettably, in translating this program from a BBC Micro version,
one or two things have been forgotten, The instructions give a most un-
suitable group of keys to player two, but fear not, the actual keys are
O (up), L (down), + (left), * (right) and Return (fire).
More seriously, you do not seem to be able to redefine the keys as
you might wish.
The game is provided with many options: Sound on or off or a start
for either player.
I personally worry about the glorification of theft and violence. Is
this what we really want for our teenagers? The trouble is that like so
many of these games, it is addictive.
Rog Frost



Product: WARP 1
Supplier: Icon Software
Available on 3.5 Haven Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Norman Keynes in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
THE cassette insert describes Warp 1 as "a strategical space adventure",
which is handy as I can't think of any other way of describing it.
It's like no other game I've played, a cross between Battleships,
Space Invaders, an adventure and Lunar Lander.
You're commander of a Federation Starship, your mission to seek out a
fellow captain who is lost in space. As you work your way through the
six quadrants and 48 sectors of deep space, the Klingons attack.
When you engage your phasers, the Klingons appear on the starship's
viewing screen. As you fight them off inevitably you incur damage and
use precious energy, necessitating a risky docking maneouvre with the
nearest starbase.
If it sounds complicated that's because it is. Despite three full
pages of excellent instructions in the cassette inlay, it took three
games before I understood WARP 1 fully.
Having said that, the controls are easy to use and the screen layout
is excellent - once you get used to the amount of information coming at
you.
It's very easy to forget that you're running low on energy, and dock-
ing can be tricky. So if you are tired of space action but don't want a
game that's too hard on yur brain, then you have to look at WARP 1. It's
different.
Norman Keynes



Product: WHAT'S THE TIME?
Supplier : Collins Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 4
THIS is one of a series of early-learning tapes previously available for
the Spectrum, but which have now been brought to the Electron.
The packaging verges on the ridiculous, being about 11in x 9in - to
contain one cassette. There is actually a work book included as well
which presumably is meant to excuse the size but some manufacturers are
really going to extremes.
Four programs actually comprise the package, dealing with hours,
half-hours, quarters and minutes. Together they cover an extensive age
range and also quite a wide band of ability.
The trouble I found with most of them was that the unDRAWing and
DRAWing of the clock hands seemed to be rather a slow and laborious pro-
cess.
Hours introduces a little figure called Microman who works through
his day to illustrate the passing of hours. There follows a fairly stan-
dard kind of test on hours, with appropriate responses from the com-
puter.
Half-hours extends this idea, and follows a similar format which
again means rather tedious drawing. Quarters starts in the same vein,
but then asks the child to move the hands of the clock using the H and M
keys.
Although this was much more meaningful to the youngsters I tried this
on, even they showed signs of frustration at the slow rate of action.
Minutes was altogether better, attempting to explain the difference
between the numbers on the clock face and those curious expressions we
use with minutes to or minutes past an hour.
The final part of Minutes asks the child to enter the time, by press-
ing the hours followed by the minutes.
If only the screen display could be made a little speedier on occa-
sions, this would be a good piece of software for the parent to use at
home.
Phil Tayler




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